Haiti: Traveling Tips and Recommendations

Haiti: Traveling Tips and Recommendations

Haiti is known for its culture, history, and natural beauty, including beaches, mountains, and waterfalls. It is a country located in the Caribbean, sharing the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. It is the western part of the island and its capital is Port-au-Prince.

Port-au-Prince is located in the western part of the country, on the Gulf of Gonâve. It is the largest city in Haiti and serves as the economic, cultural, and political center of the country. The city has a population of over one million people and is home to a diverse mix of cultures and languages. Port-au-Prince has a rich history that dates back to the colonial period, and today it is a vibrant and bustling city with a unique blend of traditional and modern influences.

Short History

Haiti was inhabited by indigenous peoples for thousands of years before being colonized by the Spanish in the 16th century. The French later claimed Haiti and brought over enslaved Africans to work on plantations. The Haitian people revolted against French rule in the late 18th century, led by Toussaint L’Ouverture, and became the world’s first black-led republic in 1804. Haiti has faced political turmoil, natural disasters, and economic challenges throughout its history, but it remains a lively and culturally rich nation.


Haiti has a valuable history of architecture, influenced by various cultures such as French, Spanish, and African. The most prominent architectural styles in Haiti are French colonial, Caribbean, and Creole. French colonial architecture can be seen in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, with buildings like the National Palace and the Iron Market. Caribbean architecture, which is characterized by colorful buildings and ornate details, can be found in the coastal towns of Jacmel and Cap-Haitien. Creole architecture, a unique style that blends elements of African and European design, is prominent in rural areas and smaller towns throughout the country. Many buildings in Haiti were severely damaged or destroyed by the 2010 earthquake, but efforts are underway to rebuild and preserve the country’s architectural heritage.

Museums and Galleries

Haiti has experienced significant challenges in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, including damage to many of its cultural sites and institutions. As a result, the country does not currently have many museums or galleries open to the public. Some institutions that were damaged, such as the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien (MUPANAH) in Port-au-Prince, are currently undergoing restoration efforts. However, there are still some cultural institutions that visitors may find interesting, such as the Iron Market in Port-au-Prince, which showcases traditional Haitian crafts and goods, or the Grand Rue artists’ community in the capital, which features street art and installations by local artists. Additionally, visitors can experience Haitian culture through music and dance performances, as well as through the country’s diverse culinary scene.

Landmarks and Monuments

Haiti has several landmarks and monuments that reflect its heritage:

  • Citadelle Laferrière: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this fortress was built in the early 19th century by the Haitian army to protect against a possible French invasion. It is the largest fortress in the Americas and an impressive example of Haitian architecture.
  • National Palace: The former residence of the President of Haiti, the National Palace is an iconic building in Port-au-Prince. Sadly, it was destroyed during the 2010 earthquake and has yet to be fully rebuilt.
  • Sans-Souci Palace: Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, this palace was built in the early 19th century by Haitian King Henri Christophe. It is a beautiful example of Haitian architecture and a must-visit for history buffs.
  • Iron Market: Located in the heart of Port-au-Prince, the Iron Market is a vibrant and colorful marketplace that sells everything from handmade crafts to fresh produce.
  • Fort Jacques: Built in the early 19th century, Fort Jacques is a historic fortress located on a hilltop overlooking Port-au-Prince. It offers breathtaking views of the city and surrounding landscape.
  • Place Saint-Pierre: Located in the heart of Port-au-Prince, Place Saint-Pierre is a public square that is home to several important landmarks, including the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption and the National Museum of Haiti.
  • Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien: This museum is dedicated to preserving Haitian history and culture. It features exhibits on everything from Haitian art to the country’s political history.

Overall, these landmarks and monuments provide a glimpse into Haiti’s history and culture, and are definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in learning more about this fascinating country.

Parks and Green Spaces

Despite its tumultuous history and ongoing struggles, Haiti boasts many beautiful parks and green spaces that are worth visiting. These parks not only offer a chance to enjoy nature, but they also provide an insight into Haiti’s culture and history.

  • Parc National la Visite: Located in the mountains outside of Port-au-Prince, this national park is home to some of Haiti’s most stunning natural landscapes. Visitors can hike the trails to see breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
  • Bassin Bleu: This series of three natural swimming pools is located in the hills above Jacmel. The crystal-clear water and lush surroundings make for a serene and relaxing day trip.
  • Botanical Garden of Les Cayes: Established in 1893, this garden is one of the oldest in the Caribbean. Visitors can explore the gardens and see a wide variety of plant life, including many rare and exotic species.
  • The National Botanical Garden of Haiti: Located in Port-au-Prince, this garden is home to over 1,200 species of plants, including many that are unique to Haiti. Visitors can take guided tours to learn more about the plants and their cultural significance.
  • Parc Historique de la Canne à Sucre: This park, located outside of Cap-Haïtien, is dedicated to the history of Haiti’s sugar cane industry. Visitors can explore the park’s many exhibits, which include artifacts and historical documents related to the industry.
  • Parc Macaya: This national park is located in the southwestern part of the country and is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, including many that are endangered.
  • Parc National La Citadelle: This park, located near Cap-Haïtien, is home to the Citadelle Laferrière, a massive fortress built in the early 19th century to protect Haiti from invading forces. Visitors can explore the fortress and learn about its history.

While some of these parks require a bit of travel to reach, they are definitely worth the effort for those seeking a unique and unforgettable experience.


Haiti is known for its beautiful beaches that offer clear blue waters and pristine sands. Some of the best beaches in Haiti include:

  • Labadee Beach – located on a private peninsula, this beach offers stunning views of the ocean and lush green mountains.
  • Kokoye Beach – a secluded beach that can only be accessed by boat, Kokoye Beach is perfect for those looking for a quiet and peaceful escape.
  • Jacmel Beach – a popular spot for surfers, Jacmel Beach offers large waves and a beautiful shoreline.
  • Pointe Sable Beach – located on the southern coast of Haiti, Pointe Sable Beach is a hidden gem that offers beautiful scenery and calm waters.
  • Gelee Beach – known for its crystal-clear waters and soft sand, Gelee Beach is a popular spot for swimming and snorkeling.
  • Port Salut Beach – a beautiful white sand beach with calm waters, Port Salut Beach is perfect for families with children.
  • Cormier Plage – situated near Cap-Haitien, Cormier Plage is a serene beach surrounded by lush vegetation and palm trees.

Overall, Haiti offers some of the most beautiful and secluded beaches in the Caribbean. Visitors can enjoy a variety of water activities and soak up the sun on the pure sands.

Shopping Districts

It’s important to note that Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere and it does not have well-established shopping districts. The country has been facing various challenges such as political instability, natural disasters, and economic struggles, which have affected the development of its infrastructure and businesses. As a result, it might be difficult to find traditional shopping districts in Haiti. However, there are some markets and stores where visitors can purchase local products such as arts and crafts, clothing, and spices. It’s advisable to research beforehand and seek advice from locals or travel guides to identify safe and reliable places to shop in Haiti.

Food and Drink

Haitian cuisine is a unique blend of African, French, and Caribbean influences, offering a variety of flavors and dishes that are worth trying. Here are some popular Haitian foods and drinks to try:

  • Griot: Fried pork served with pikliz (spicy pickled vegetables), marinated in citrus and spices.
  • Tasso: Spicy beef jerky, dried and smoked beef, often served as a snack.
  • Accra: Fritters made of malanga (taro root) or plantains, served with a spicy sauce.
  • Fried plantains: Served as a side dish or snack.
  • Rice and beans: A staple dish in Haiti, usually served with meat, vegetables or fish.
  • Legume – A vegetable stew with meat or seafood, served over rice.
  • Soup joumou: A hearty soup made with pumpkin, beef, and vegetables, traditionally served on Haitian Independence Day.
  • Kremas: A sweet, creamy alcoholic drink made with coconut milk, spices, and rum.
  • Prestige – A popular Haitian beer.
  • Haitian coffee: Known for its smooth, rich flavor and grown in the mountains of Haiti.
  • Piman bouk: A hot sauce made with scotch bonnet peppers, vinegar, and garlic.
  • Rhum Barbancourt: A popular Haitian rum with a smooth and flavorful taste.

These dishes can be found in restaurants and street vendors throughout Port-au-Prince and other parts of Haiti.


The best way to move around Haiti depends on the location and the type of transportation available. In urban areas like Port-au-Prince, the most common mode of transportation is shared taxis known as “tap-taps,” which are colorful pickup trucks with benches in the back. These are an affordable and convenient way to get around, but they can also be crowded and uncomfortable.

For longer distances, buses are available, but they can be unreliable and uncomfortable. Private taxis are also an option, but they can be expensive.

In rural areas, the best way to get around is on foot, by bike, or by motorcycle taxi known as “moto-taxis.” These are small motorcycles that can navigate rough roads and narrow paths.

It’s important to note that Haiti’s roads can be in poor condition, and traffic can be chaotic, so it’s important to exercise caution when traveling by any mode of transportation.


Haiti has had a history of political instability and high crime rates, including robbery, assault, and kidnapping. While the security situation has improved in recent years, travelers are advised to exercise caution, particularly in certain areas. It is recommended to travel with a reputable tour company or guide, avoid walking alone at night, and keep a low profile. Petty crime such as pickpocketing and theft can also occur, so it is important to keep valuables secure and be aware of surroundings.

Expensive or Cheap

Haiti is generally considered a low-cost destination, with prices for food, accommodations, and transportation being relatively affordable compared to other destinations in the Caribbean. However, the cost of living in Haiti can vary depending on the location and the type of experience you are looking for. For example, luxury accommodations and upscale restaurants in Port-au-Prince can be more expensive, while more budget-friendly options can be found in smaller towns and villages. Overall, travelers should be able to find affordable options for their trip to Haiti.

Best Time to Travel

The best time to travel to Haiti is during the dry season, which runs from November to April. The weather during this time is warm and pleasant, with little rain, making it ideal for exploring the country’s beaches, landmarks, and parks. It is also the peak tourist season, so be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices. The wet season, which runs from May to October, brings heavy rainfall and the risk of hurricanes and tropical storms, making travel more difficult and less enjoyable. However, prices may be lower during this time, and some visitors may enjoy the lush greenery and fewer crowds.

Date Ideas, Activities or Experiences

Here are some activities or experiences to enjoy in Haiti:

  • Visit the Citadelle Laferrière: This impressive fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited landmarks in Haiti.
  • Relax on the beaches of Labadee: Located on the northern coast of Haiti, Labadee is known for its clear waters and sandy beaches.
  • Hike to the Bassin Bleu: Take a hike through the tropical forest to reach the stunning Bassin Bleu waterfall, which is surrounded by turquoise blue water.
  • Explore the National Museum of Haiti: Located in Port-au-Prince, the National Museum of Haiti houses a large collection of artifacts and exhibits related to Haiti’s history.
  • Take a cooking class: Learn how to prepare traditional Haitian dishes and enjoy a romantic meal together.
  • Visit the Iron Market: This vibrant marketplace in Port-au-Prince is a great place to explore local crafts, foods, and artwork.
  • Take a boat tour: Explore the coastline of Haiti by boat and enjoy stunning views of the ocean and surrounding landscapes.
  • Attend a Haitian carnival: Haitian carnivals are famous for their colorful parades, music, and dancing.
  • Tour a rum distillery: Haiti is known for its delicious rum, and many distilleries offer tours and tastings.
  • Explore the art scene: Haiti is home to a thriving art scene, with many galleries and museums showcasing the works of local artists.

Fun and Interesting Facts

Haiti is a popular destination for travelers seeking adventure and exploration. Its people, cuisine, and traditions make it a unique and fascinating destination to visit.

Some fun and Interesting facts about Haiti:

  • Haiti was the first independent nation in Latin America and the Caribbean, gaining its independence from France in 1804.
  • Voodoo is a popular religion in Haiti and is practiced by many Haitians. It is a unique blend of West African, Catholic, and native beliefs.
  • Haiti is the birthplace of many famous musicians, including Wyclef Jean, Michel Martelly, and Toto Bissainthe.
  • Haitian Creole is the official language of Haiti, although French is also widely spoken.
  • The Citadelle Laferrière is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most impressive fortresses in the world.
  • The Carnival of Haiti is a famous cultural event that takes place every year in February or March. It is a celebration of Haitian culture, music, and dance.
  • Haiti is home to many beautiful beaches, including Labadee, Kokoye, and Jacmel.
  • The National Palace in Port-au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti, was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake but is currently being rebuilt.
  • The Haitian flag is a symbol of pride for the Haitian people and features the colors blue and red with the coat of arms in the center.
  • The cuisine of Haiti is a blend of African, French, and Caribbean influences and features dishes like griot (fried pork) and plantains.

In conclusion, Haiti is a country with a rich history and culture that is influenced by African, French, and indigenous traditions. Despite facing significant challenges, including political instability, poverty, and natural disasters, Haiti has a lively arts and music scene, beautiful natural scenery, and a unique culinary tradition. Visitors to Haiti can enjoy exploring its many landmarks and historical sites, experiencing its cultural festivals and music, and enjoying its delicious cuisine. While there are safety concerns in some areas of the country, with proper precautions and guidance, Haiti can offer a rewarding and unforgettable travel experience.