Welcome To Haiti
Best Things to Do in Haiti
La Citadelle la Ferriere
Clinging like a great stone limpet to the ridges of Bonnet a L’Eveque mountain a short drive south out of Cap-Haitien, this colossal fortress (one of the largest in the entire Americas in fact) rarely fails to draw a gasp.
It was raised by the Haitian slave rebels in the early years of the 19th century, intended as a visible bulwark against French invasion in the wake of the country’s newfound independence.
Once upon a time the great crenulations and keeps were dotted with nearly 400 cannons, while today the castle is tagged as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It can be reached on an arduous mountain trail that goes for seven miles into the hills from the town of Milot.
Go to the majestic Jacmel Bay
Sat on the south coast just a short drive from the capital at Port-au-Prince, pretty little Jacmel (a tentative addition to the UNESCO World Heritage list no less) is the reigning arts and crafts kingpin of all Haiti.
Boutique galleries and countless local souvenir emporiums line the tight-knit streets, and it’s possible to purchase the likes of multi-coloured fruit bowls carved out of coconut wood, eerie Voodoo-esque trinkets and reggae-flavored headgear.
Jacmel isn’t just about shopping though.
Not when the town’s got such a pretty municipal beach and promenade, fringed with palm trees and dotted with enticing seafood grills smelling of jerk and spices!
A voodoo pilgrimage to Saut-d’Eau
Crashing in two mighty streams through the tropical greenery of central Haiti, the Saut-d’Eau are not only famed for their breath-taking natural beauty but also their religious significance.
Held in esteem by both local Voodooists and Catholics, the falls become the focus of a mass pilgrimage each July, when the Our Lady of Carmel festivities take place and Voodoo practitioners come to bathe in the cleansing streams.
The site is a wonder to behold no matter the month though, and offers a prime chance to swim and cool off after hiking through the jungles.
Tour the Sans-Souci Palace
Nestled in the northern hills close to the mighty Citadelle la Ferriere, which towers high on the mountaintops above, this crumbling palatial complex was once the home of Henri Christophe, the Haitian king and leader during the wars of independence against the French.
It was built atop an old plantation, mimicking the grandiose styles of European manor houses in a symbolic show of Haitian prowess and superiority.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its great halls and grounds can be toured on trips out of nearby Milot and Cap-Haitien.
Visitors can also see the spot where King Henri committed suicide, supposedly with a silver bullet, in 1820.
Unwind in Labadee
Magnet for cruise ships and a favorite of beachcombers, little Labadee is a privately-owned enclave of sand, sea and sun that comes under the Royal Caribbean International banner.
It can be found cut-off form the north coast and Cap-Haitien by a ring of high mountains, separated from the rest of Haiti by a low fence.
Inside the area is where travelers can expect to find a taste of the more traditional Caribbean.
A gorgeous curve of white sand and tropical flower beds and palms all coalesce around the turquoise-blue sea.
Little beach bars bustle with life, and snorkelers bob next to boats along the shore.
Authentic? No. Gorgeous? Every inch!
A taste of Creole kitchen
Set to the sounds of reggaeton and samba (played only by local bands, of course), little Lakay is a charming and earthy eatery in Cap-Haitien that’s famed for its mastery of the Creole kitchen.
Ignore the smattering of Italian pizzas on the menu and go for that spiced chicken or the lobster salad topped with cashews – regional favorites.
Dessert wise there’s a medley of chocolate sundaes and brownies, while fruity cocktails like the in-house pina colada are just the perfect accompaniment to sunset sessions on the seafront seats!
Visit Musee du Pantheon National Haitien
If you only intend on hitting one museum when in Haiti, make it the acclaimed Musee du Pantheon National Haitien.
This large concrete building in Port-au-Prince is topped with white cones and mosaic decorations, and houses the country’s most in-depth collections pertaining to national history.
There are exhibitions dedicated to the native Tainos tribes of the island, rooms that unravel stories of the Spanish and French invasions, and other sections that reveal the plight of Haitian independence in the 1800s.
Two real pulls are the silver gun used by Henri Christophe to commit suicide in 1820, and the anchor from Christopher Columbus’ exploring ship!
Haggle around the Marche an Fer
Rising in a mass of red and green iron in the very midst of the Haitian capital, the historic Marche an Fer still pulses with local life and produce throughout the week.
Now considered something of a national symbol, this colossal bazaar was first raised in the 1890s (notice the curious oriental architectural style – the building was originally intended for Cairo, Egypt!). Since then it’s hosted some of the best craft and food stalls on the island.
Head down to haggle your way through Voodoo trinkets and stacks of jackfruit, fresh fish and curious artistic carvings alike!