Owned by the Royal Caribbean International, Labadee is located on a private peninsula on the north coast of Haiti (Hispanola) that is separated from the rest of Haiti by a mountain range and is used by the cruise line as a port of call for select itineraries. For those looking for the perfect getaway, it is the experience of a lifetime. Enjoying the splendid landscape and the gentle breeze, visitors can participate in various activates—swimming in the clear water, enjoying colorful paintings by local artists, savoring delicious lobsters, and sipping on rum punch to the sound a steel band. Labadee provides a plethora of activities that include beach volleyball, swimming, sun-tanning, and water-skiing. Restrooms and bars are also available. Beach floating mats are rented all day for $10, and beverage can be purchased using SeaPass card. The beach destination features neighborhoods, each with a distinct style such as the Adrenaline Beach located near the city's town square and offers the opportunity for cruise passengers to play several sports, including beach volleyball, basketball and soccer. The beach is also home to the Dragon's Tail coaster, which offers a scenic view of the island and beaches at 30 miles per hour. The Buccaneer's Bay is located near Labadee's pier. This beach is the designated sign-up spot for island tours and excursions once the cruise ship has docked. Buccaneer's Bay is also the meeting and departure point for cruise passengers registered for personal watercraft and boat tours. The Columbus Cove and Dragon's Plaza are also attractions not to be missed.
"…besides the magnificent arts and crafts from some of the most talented artists in the Caribbean, this beautiful city in Southern Haiti offers splendid architectures and beautiful beaches under the crisp and azure sky…"
Jacmel is made for cool shades, t-shirts, shorts, and sandals. It is a pleasant and laid back place. Besides the magnificent arts and crafts from some of the most talented artists in the Caribbean, this beautiful city in Southern Haiti offers splendid architectures and beautiful beaches under the crisp and azure sky. After a day of fun activities, which include tanning and swimming, visitors can expect succulent seafood, griot—a flavorful Haitian dish made of fried pork—and local Creole specialties from some of the greats spots like Karic Beach Club and Hotel-Restaurant Cyvadier Plage. Jacmel offers a few guesthouses and hotels for visitors. Even the nicest ones will be much cheaper than you are accustomed to paying in many other beach destinations, especially those in the Caribbean. Some of the more well-known properties include the Hotel Florita located one block from the beach, and the Hotel Cyvadier located on the beach on the outside of town. If you prefer a more upscale property, consider staying on the beach at the Cap Lamandou Hotel. If you plan to visit Jacmel, expect to take either a local bus or hire a cab. In addition to heading to one of the local beaches, quaint Jacmel offers a variety of activities and attractions. After you walk around town and see some of the historic buildings such as Maison Cadet and the Cathédrale de St Phillippe et St Jacques built in 1859, head to the market, where you can buy some of Jacmel's famous Papier-Mâché Carnival masks for its famous Carnival parade. Make sure to sample the local fare at one or more of Jacmel's cute cafes and bistros, where you can enjoy a variety of authentic Creole dishes.
The Citadelle Laferriere or simply the Citadelle, is a large historical fortress in northern Haiti built on a 910 meter mountaintop by Henri Christophe, a prominent leader during the Haitian slave revolution. It was constructed to protect Haiti from a looming French assault after Haiti gained independence from France at the beginning of the 19th century. It is the largest fortress in the Americas and was designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site in 1982—along with the nearby Sans Souci Palace. The mountaintop fortress has itself become an icon of Haiti. The Citadelle is the emblem of pride, victory, and freedom for the Haitian people. The architecture is splendid and grandiose, containing more than 350 cannons and several bakery ovens. Visitors pay a minimal entrance fee. Renting a horse is also recommended for the uphill journey. Popular activities include stair climbing, going up to the roof, and hiking.
"…the mountaintop fortress has itself become an icon of Haiti. The Citadelle is the emblem of pride, victory, and freedom for the Haitian people…"
Port-au-Prince, the capital of the Republic of Haiti, suffered an earthquake in 2010. The region sustained widespread loss of life and structural damage including historic buildings and residences. Port-au-Prince remains, all the same, a good starting point for travel in Haiti and offers numerous things to do.
Barbancourt Rum Distillery and The Countryside
On the northern border of Port-au-Prince sits the historic Barbancourt Rum Distillery. The facility's distillery is open to free-of-charge public tours from December to June. You can learn about rum-making and also a bit about Haitian history. Make sure you make an appointment for a tour prior to arriving at the distillery. In addition, you will have a chance to purchase a bottle of the distillery's rum after your visit. The lowland area known as Plaine du Cul de Sac sits only 12 miles from Port-au-Prince and offers stunning scenery filled with mountain ranges and crystal blue lakes. Blue, saltwater Etang Saumatre Lake is home to the waterfowl, and the region's tropical climate makes it an ideal place to catch glimpses of wading pink flamingoes.
Cultural things to do in Haiti
Haiti has a vast and diverse cultural heritage, drawing from French, Spanish and African traditions as well as its Caribbean island culture. Although the earthquake profoundly affected daily life in Haiti, not to mention tourism, the country's traditions and celebrations continue to thrive. Visitors to Haiti during its festivals have an opportunity to see these ancient traditional in action.
"…like New Orleans' Mardi Gras celebration, Haiti's carnival involves parades, costumes, local music and dancing in the streets to herald holy season…"
Food and Hybrid Art Traditions
Haiti is known for its art and its African, Spanish, French and island cultures merge in its rich artistic traditions. Paintings and sculptures often feature naive styles and reflect native Tainos culture. The subject matter might be as simple as a village landscape or a street scene, but artists often incorporate humorous elements into their compositions. One of the country's largest collections of Haitian art is held at Port-au-Prince's Musee d'Art Haitien. This gallery houses an extensive collection of contemporary Haitian works from artists such as Hector Hyppolite and Philome Obin. Art is diplayed in a series of rotating exhibits that include paintings and photography. Also in Port-au-Prince, the Centre d'Art is housed in a two-story residence. This combination school and gallery was founded in 1944 and many consider it directly responsible for the development of modern Haitian art. In the late 19th century, a deal fell through in Egypt that resulted in the construction of the Haiti Iron Market in 1889 which was purchased by Haiti's president for Port-au-Prince. The original market burned following the earthquake, but it has since been rebuilt in the same location at the corner of Grand Rue and Rue des Fronts Forts. Locals and tourists flock to the Iron Market for fresh vegetables, fruit, meats and Caribbean spices. Here, you will also find authentic Haitian arts and crafts.
Carnival and Rara Festival
Haiti's largest annual event takes place throughout the country. Like New Orleans' Mardi Gras celebration, Haiti's carnival involves parades, costumes, local music and dancing in the streets to herald holy season. Fat Tuesday falls before Easter and has families dining on banquets at home. Meanwhile, in the streets, the festivities continue far into the night. Indigenous to Haiti, the Rara Festival is a peasant carnival. Rara, though, has several incarnations beyond wild street parties. Rara also refers to a distinctly Haitian style of music and dance. Musicians play vaskin, a type of bamboo horn, as well as drums and tin trumpets. Ancient as well as pop songs make up the musicians' repertoire. As the rhythms speed up, dancers fall in. In some cases, protesters use the Rara form to communicate regional concerns and spread political messages.
Although weather can vary considerably due to the geographical features of the region, Haiti is primarily tropical and semiarid in the east. Tropical storms are frequent. November through March is Haiti's dry season; while the rainy season is April through October, with May usually being the wettest month. Haiti has suffered through colonization, slavery, brutal government regimes and devastating natural disasters compounded by widespread poverty and lack of infrastructure. However, visitors to this Caribbean island nation will find a range of cultural, historical and scenic attractions, from innovative music and local artwork to colonial-era architecture and sandy, tropical beaches. As an added benefit, Haitian tourism represents a lifeline toward economic recovery. In planning a trip to Haiti, contact a professional tour operator or the Department of Tourism for more information. It is advisable to hire a guide to show you around the Cool Hot Spots in Haiti…Enjoy!!