Haiti is a Caribbean country that occupies the western third of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola is occupied by the Dominican Republic. To the north lies the North Atlantic Ocean, while the Caribbean Sea lies to the south. Haiti is a country with a troubled, but also a revolutionary and exciting past, and its future still remains uncertain. Though Haiti has faced hard times during the passed decades, Haiti's tourism industry that bustled in the 60s to the 80s is returning. Resorts and investments are transforming this misunderstood gem into a Caribbean tourist spot once again
Haiti,officially the Republic of Haiti and formerly called Hayti,is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea. It occupies the western three-eighths of the island, which it shares with the Dominican Republic.Haiti is 27,750 square kilometres (10,714 sq mi) in size and has an estimated 10.6 million people,making it the most populous country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the second-most populous country in the Caribbean as a whole.
The region was originally inhabited by the indigenous Taíno people. Spain discovered the island on 5 December 1492 during the first voyage of Christopher Columbus across the Atlantic. When Columbus initially landed in Haiti, he had thought he had found India or Asia. On Christmas Day 1492, Columbus' flagship the Santa Maria ran aground north of what is now Limonade. As a consequence, Columbus ordered his men to salvage what they could from the ship, and he created the first European settlement in the Americas, naming it La Navidad after the day the ship was destroyed.
Though Haiti is a beautiful nation, it is poor as well. For those with patience and an open mind, Haiti reveals a rich culture that is unique among post-colonial nations. If you are planning on taking your family with you, it's best to stay in resorts, but try to go to richer areas such as Pétion-Ville,if you're in the Port Au Prince area.
It is extremely helpful when travelling in Haiti to have a local contact, through a church, a hotel, or just through making friends with someone. Experiences like dining locally, riding on a tap-tap, or strolling through one of the insanely crowded outdoor markets are great fun and very worth doing but are much safer and easier if you have a trusted Haitian to go along as a guide and interpreter.
The island was named La Española and claimed by Spain, which ruled until the early 17th century. Competing claims and settlements by the French led to the western portion of the island being ceded to France, which named it Saint-Domingue. The development of sugarcane plantations, worked by slaves brought from Africa, led to the colony being among the most lucrative in the world.
The name Haïti comes from the indigenous Taíno language which was the native name given to the entire island of Hispaniola to mean, "land of high mountains."
The name Haïti was restored by Haitian revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines as the official name of independent Saint-Domingue, as a tribute to the Amerindian predecessors.
In French, Haiti's nickname is the Pearl of the Antilles,La Perle des Antilles because of both its natural beauty,and the amount of wealth it accumulated for the Kingdom of France, as it was considered the richest colony owned by any of the European powers at the time.
After a period of disorder, in September 1957 Dr. François Duvalier was elected President of Haiti. Known as "Papa Doc" and initially popular, Duvalier was President until his death in 1971. He advanced black interests in the public sector, where over time people of color had predominated as the educated urban elite. He stayed in power by enlisting an organization known as Tontons Macoutes ("Bogeymen"), which maintained order by terrorizing the populace and political opponents.
Haiti's brief tourism boom was wiped out by the rule of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his unstable government. When his son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier succeeded him as President for Life, tourism returned in the 1970s. Vive la différence has long been Haiti's national tourism slogan and its proximity to the United States, made Haiti a hot attraction until the Duvalier regime was ousted in 1986.
Papa Doc's son Jean-Claude Duvalier – also known as "Baby Doc" – led the country from 1971 until his ouster in 1986, when protests led him to seek exile in France. Army leader General Henri Namphy headed a new National Governing Council. General elections in November were aborted after dozens of inhabitants were shot in the capital by soldiers and Tontons Macoutes. Fraudulent elections followed. The elected President, Leslie Manigat, was overthrown some months later in the June 1988 Haitian coup d'état. The September 1988 Haitian coup d'état, which followed the St Jean Bosco massacre, revealed the increasing prominence of former Tontons Macoutes. General Prosper Avril led a military regime until March 1990.
In December 1990, a former Catholic priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected President in the Haitian general election. In September of the following year, Aristide was overthrown by the military in the 1991 Haitian coup d'état. In 1994, an American team negotiated the departure of Haiti's military leaders and the peaceful entry of US forces under Operation Uphold Democracy. This enabled the restoration of the democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president. In October 1994, Aristide returned to Haiti to complete his term in office. Aristide vacated the presidency in February 1996. In the 1995 election, René Préval was elected as president for a five-year term, winning 88% of the popular vote.
In November 1994, Hurricane Gordon brushed Haiti, dumping heavy rain and creating flash flooding that triggered mudslides. Gordon killed an estimated 1,122 people, although some estimates go as high as 2,200.
The November 2000 election returned Aristide to the presidency with 92% of the vote. The election had been boycotted by the opposition, then organized into the Convergence Démocratique, over a dispute in the May legislative elections. In subsequent years, there was increasing violence and human rights abuses. Aristide supporters attacked the opposition. Aristide spent years negotiating with the Convergence Démocratique on new elections, but the Convergence's inability to develop a sufficient electoral base made elections unattractive.
In 2004, a revolt began in northern Haiti. The rebellion eventually reached the capital, and Aristide was forced into exile, after that the United Nations stationed peacekeepers in Haiti. Some including Aristide and his bodyguard, Franz Gabriel, stated that he was the victim of a "new coup d'état or modern kidnapping" by U.S. forces. Mrs. Aristide stated that the kidnappers wore US Special Forces uniforms, but changed into civilian clothes upon boarding the aircraft that was used to remove Aristide from Haiti.
The United Nations Stabilisation Mission (MINUSTAH) was establishing after the 2004 coup d'état and remains in the country to the present day. Boniface Alexandre assumed interim authority. René Préval was elected President in February 2006, following elections marked by uncertainties and popular demonstrations.
In 2004, Tropical Storm Jeanne skimmed the north coast of Haiti, leaving 3,006 people dead in flooding and mudslides, mostly in the city of Gonaïves.In 2008 Haiti was again struck by tropical storms; Tropical Storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Hanna and Hurricane Ike all produced heavy winds and rain. There were 331 dead and about 800,000 in need of humanitarian aid.The state of affairs produced by these storms was intensified by already high food and fuel prices that had caused a food crisis and political unrest in April 2008.
On 12 January 2010, at 4:53pm local time, Haiti was struck by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake. This was the country's most severe earthquake in over 200 years.The 2010 Haiti earthquake was reported to have left up to 316,000 people dead and 1.6 million homeless,though later reports found these numbers to have been grossly inflated, and put the death toll between 46,000 and 85,000.
The country has yet to recover from the 2010 earthquake and a subsequent and massive Haiti cholera outbreak that was triggered when cholera-infected waste from a MINUSTAH peacekeeping station contaminated the country's main river, the Artibonite.The country has yet to fully recover, due to both the severity of the damage Haiti endured in 2010, as well as a government that was ineffective well before the earthquake.
General elections had been planned for January 2010 but were postponed due to the earthquake. The elections were held on 28 November 2010 for the senate, the parliament and the first round of the presidential elections. The run-off between Michel Martelly and Mirlande Manigat took place on 20 March 2011, and preliminary results, released on 4 April, named Michel Martelly the winner.
On 7 February 2016, Michel Martelly stepped down as president without a successor, but only after a deal was reached for a provisional government and leaving Prime Minister Evans Paul in power "until an interim president is chosen by both chambers of Parliament."
In 2013, Haiti called for European nations to pay reparations for slavery and establish an official commission for the settlement of past wrong-doings. The Economist wrote, "Any assistance to the region should be carefully targeted; and should surely stem from today's needs, not the wrongs of the past." The topic, however, has more than a passing reference to a country that, as Lord Anthony Gifford wrote, "was forced to pay compensation to the government of France."
On 4 October 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall near Les Anglais, making it the worst hurricane to strike the nation since Hurricane Cleo in 1964. The storm brought deadly winds and rain which left Haiti with a large amount of damage to be repaired. With all of the resources in the country destroyed, Haiti received aid from the United Nations of around US$120 million.
The death total was approximately 3,000. Thousands of people were displaced due to damage to infrastructure. Also, the cholera outbreak has been growing since the storm hit Haiti. With additional flooding after the storm, cholera continued to spread beyond on the control of officials. The storm also caused damage to hospitals and roads which created a larger problem in helping victims and moving resources. The devastation and damage that Hurricane Matthew caused was unpredictable and left Haiti in a state of emergency.
Haiti is on the western part of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Greater Antilles. Haiti is the third largest country in the Caribbean behind Cuba and the Dominican Republic (the latter shares a 360-kilometre (224 mi) border with Haiti). Haiti at its closest point is about 45 nautical miles (83 km; 52 mi) away from Cuba and comprises the horseshoe-shape peninsula and because of this, it has a disproportionately long coastline and is second in length (1,771 km or 1,100 mi) behind Cuba in the Greater Antilles.
Haiti is the most mountainous nation in the Caribbean and its terrain consists mainly of them interspersed with small coastal plains and river valleys. The climate is tropical, with some variation depending on altitude. The highest point is Pic la Selle, at 2,680 metres (8,793 ft).
The northern region consists of the Massif du Nord (Northern Massif) and the Plaine du Nord (Northern Plain). The Massif du Nord is an extension of the Cordillera Central in the Dominican Republic. It begins at Haiti's eastern border, north of the Guayamouc River, and extends to the northwest through the northern peninsula. The lowlands of the Plaine du Nord lie along the northern border with the Dominican Republic, between the Massif du Nord and the North Atlantic Ocean.
The central region consists of two plains and two sets of mountain ranges. The Plateau Central (Central Plateau) extends along both sides of the Guayamouc River, south of the Massif du Nord. It runs from the southeast to the northwest. To the southwest of the Plateau Central are the Montagnes Noires, whose most northwestern part merges with the Massif du Nord. Its westernmost point is known as Cap Carcasse.
The southern region consists of the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac (the southeast) and the mountainous southern peninsula (also known as the Tiburon Peninsula). The Plaine du Cul-de-Sac is a natural depression that harbors the country's saline lakes, such as Trou Caïman and Haiti's largest lake, Étang Saumatre. The Chaîne de la Selle mountain range – an extension of the southern mountain chain of the Dominican Republic (the Sierra de Baoruco) – extends from the Massif de la Selle in the east to the Massif de la Hotte in the west. This mountain range harbors Pic la Selle, the highest point in Haiti at 2,680 metres (8,793 ft).
Haiti's most important valley in terms of crops is the Plaine de l'Artibonite, which is oriented south of the Montagnes Noires. This region supports the country's (also Hispaniola's) longest river, the Riviere l'Artibonite, which begins in the western region of the Dominican Republic and continues most of its length through central Haiti and onward where it empties into the Golfe de la Gonâve. The eastern and central region of the island is a large elevated plateau.
Haiti also includes various offshore islands. The island of Tortuga (Île de la Tortue) is located off the coast of northern Haiti. The arrondissement of La Gonâve is located on the island of the same name, in the Golfe de la Gonâve. Gonâve Island is moderately populated by rural villagers. Île à Vache (Cow Island), a lush island with many beautiful sights, is located off the tip of southwestern Haiti. Also part of Haiti are the Cayemites and Île d' Anacaona. La Navasse located 40 nautical miles (46 mi; 74 km) west of Jérémie on the south west peninsula of Haiti,is subject to an ongoing territorial dispute with the United States.
The Citadelle Henri Christophe also known as Citadelle Laferrière is a fortress located on a high mountain in Haiti overlooking the city of Milot, Haiti. At the base of the mountain stands the ruins of Palais Sans Souci.
Labadie - a private port used by cruise ships.
The 27 historic vestiges of Mole Saint Nicolas, North West, a strategic bay at the enter of Canal du Vent, also called Gibraltar of America. Good site for sports too (wind surf, kite surf, mountain bike, hiking..).
Île á Rat
Macaya National Park - Often forgotten, a lot of Haiti's forestation still stands here. Lots of fauna and animals in this park. It's best to tour around this place with a professional
Île de la Tortue
Massive de la Hotte - Beautiful flat in Haiti's south, fit for hiking
Île de la Gonäve - Preferably not a tourist spot, but boating and water actives is some - what preferred for this area
La Grand Caye
Cotes de Fer
Cotes de Aracadins
Forêt de Pins - a pine forest in the South East of Haiti containing the highest mountain in Haiti, Pic La Selle.
Labadee, a cruise ship destination
In 2014, the country received 1,250,000 tourists mostly from cruise ships, and the industry generated US$200 million in 2014.In December 2014, the US State Department issued a travel warning about the country, noting that while thousands of American citizens safely visit Haiti each year, a few foreign tourists had been victims of burglary, predominantly in the Port-au-Prince area.
Several hotels were opened in 2014, including an upscale Best Western Premier,a five-star Royal Oasis hotel by Occidental Hotel and Resorts in Pétion-Ville, a four-star Marriott hotel in the Turgeau area of Port-au-Prince and other new hotel developments in Port-au-Prince, Les Cayes, Cap-Haïtien and Jacmel.Other tourist destinations include Île-à-Vache, Camp-Perrin, Pic Macaya.
The Haitian Carnival has been one of the most popular carnivals in the Caribbean. In 2010, the government decided to stage the event in a different city outside Port-au-Prince every year in an attempt to decentralize the country.The National Carnival – usually held in one of the country's largest cities (i.e., Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haïtien or Les Cayes) – follows the also very popular Jacmel Carnival, which takes place a week earlier in February or March.
Toussaint Louverture International Airport is located 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) North/North East of Port-au-Prince. It has Haiti's main jetway, and along with Hugo Chavez International Airport located near Cap-Haïtien, handles the vast majority of the country's international flights. To travel on from the international airport at Port-au-Prince to other Haitian cities requires boarding a smaller plane. Cities such as Jacmel, Jérémie, Les Cayes, and Port-de-Paix have airports that are accessible by smaller aircraft. Companies that fly to these airports include: Caribintair, Sunrise Airways and Tortug' Air.
In 2013, plans for the development of an international airport on Île-à-Vache were introduced by the Prime Minister.
A "Tap tap" bus in Port-Salut
Tap tap buses are colorfully painted buses or pick-up trucks that serve as share taxis. The "tap tap" name comes from the sound of passengers tapping on the metal bus body to indicate they want off.These vehicles for hire are often privately owned and extensively decorated. They follow fixed routes, do not leave until filled with passengers, and riders can usually disembark at any point. The decorations are a typically Haitian form of art.
In August 2013, the first coach bus prototype was made in Haiti.
The 2017 CIA Factbook, reported that around 54.7% of Haitians profess to being Catholics while Protestants made up about 28.5% of the population (Baptist 15.4%, Pentecostal 7.9%, Adventist 3%, Methodist 1.5%, other 0.7%). Other sources put the Protestant population higher than this, suggesting that it might have formed one-third of the population in 2001.Moreover, Haiti is affected by a common Latin American phenomenon, i.e. a Protestant expansion, which is largely Evangelical Protestant and Pentecostal in nature.Haitian Cardinal Chibly Langlois is president of the National Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church.
Vodou, a religion with African roots similar to those of Cuba and Brazil, originated during colonial times in which slaves were obliged to disguise their loa or spirits as Roman Catholic saints, an element of a process called syncretism and is still practiced by some Haitians today. Since the religious syncretism between Catholicism and Vodou, it is difficult to estimate the number of Vodouists in Haiti.
Minority religions in Haiti include Islam, Bahá'í Faith, Judaism, and Buddhism.
The two official languages of Haiti are French and Haitian Creole. French is the principal written and administratively authorized language (as well as the main language of the press) and is spoken by 42% of Haitians. It is spoken by most educated Haitians, is the medium of instruction in most schools, and is used in the business sector. It is also used in ceremonial events such as weddings, graduations and church masses. Haiti is one of two independent nations in the Americas (along with Canada) to designate French as an official language; the other French-speaking areas are all overseas départements, or collectivités, of France.
Haitian Creole,which has recently undergone a standardization, is spoken by virtually the entire population of Haiti. Haitian Creole is one of the French-based creole languages. Its vocabulary is 90% derived from French, but its grammar and influences are from some West African, Taino, Spanish, and Portuguese languages.Haitian Creole is related to the other French creoles, but most closely to Antillean Creole and Louisiana Creole variants.
Culture of Haiti
Haiti has a unique cultural identity consisting of a large blend of traditional customs of French and African, mixed with sizeable contributions from the Spanish and indigenous Taíno culture.The country's customs essentially are a blend of cultural beliefs that derived from the various ethnic groups that inhabited the island of Hispaniola. Haiti's culture is greatly reflected in its paintings, music, and literature. Galleries and museums in the United States and France have exhibited the works of the better-known artists to have come out of Haiti.
Haitian art is distinctive, particularly through its paintings and sculptures, known for its various artistic expressions.Brilliant colors, naïve perspectives, and sly humor characterize Haitian art. Frequent subjects in Haitian art include big, delectable foods, lush landscapes, market activities, jungle animals, rituals, dances, and gods. Artists frequently paint in fables. People are disguised as animals and animals are transformed into people.
As a result of a deep history and strong African ties, symbols take on great meaning within Haitian society. For example, a rooster often represents Aristide and the red and blue colors of the Haitian flag often represent his Lavalas party. Many artists cluster in 'schools' of painting, such as the Cap-Haïtien school, which features depictions of daily life in the city, the Jacmel School, which reflects the steep mountains and bays of that coastal town, or the Saint-Soleil School, which is characterized by abstracted human forms and is heavily influenced by Vodou symbolism
Tropical and semiarid where mountains in the east cut off trade winds, Haiti lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and is subject to severe storms from June to November. Experiences occasional flooding, earthquakes and droughts.
When travelling to Haiti it is very important that you bring a first aid kit. Be sure to include the following in the first aid kit a lighter, and flash light due to Haiti’s constant power outage. Pepto-Bismol, instant ice packs, Motrin, and Tylenol. Be sure to not drink the water and any drinks made with the water
Mostly mountainous, with a wide, flat central plain to the north. The highest point is Chaine de la Selle at 2,777m. Haiti's mountainous terrain make it heaven for those who love to hike and explore
Haiti's population center at the heart of the country—the sprawl surrounding the capital, and lands to the north.
Home to the country's most important cities outside the capital, as well as the foreign tourist's favourite beaches near Cape-Haïtien.
The Caribbean side of the country is the nation's less hectic region, with the up-and-coming Haitian backpacker destinations of Jacmel, Port Salut, and Île à Vache.
Port-au-Prince — Haiti's capital. You will find museums, art galleries, and many street vendors, etc. Many hotels and business is found around here. You can find beautiful beaches here like everywhere else in the country. The most popular Carnival celebrations are held here, specifically in Chanmas Park
Cap-Haïtien — the country's second biggest city, on the Atlantic coast near some beautiful beaches and interesting old forts. Also has many amazing French colonial architecture
Gonaïves — here, on 1 January 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines signed Haiti's Act of Independence, establishing the world's first black republic. The cathedral there is it's most popular landmark.
Jacmel — a relaxed town with a beautiful historic centre and a claim not easily dismissed to be the country's artistic and cultural capital, and going through lots of renovations. Carnival celebrations are popularly celebrated here
Île à Vache — Small island off the coast of Les Cayes. Many resorts and development is going on here, especially and airport, and many resorts
Les Cayes — Southern Haiti's principal port and a popular jumping off point for Île à Vache. Also a great place for water activities.
Petionville — a wealthy and much safer suburb of Port-au-Prince, where you will find most of the capital's nightlife, restaurants, wealthy Haitians, and foreigners. Home to the picturesque favela named "Jalousi", which is painted in different bright, Caribbean colors
Port-de-Paix — Quiet city, with the opportunity to hail a ferry to Tortuga Island, a virtually undiscovered tropical paradise— a place with a history of having pirates around this land.
Port-Salut — President Aristide's birthplace, home to miles of gorgeous, empty white sand beaches.
Aquin — Beautiful flat, which is an ideal place for hiking
Music of Haiti
Haitian music combines a wide range of influences drawn from the many people who have settled on this Caribbean island. It reflects French, African rhythms, Spanish elements and others who have inhabited the island of Hispaniola and minor native Taino influences.
Styles of music unique to the nation of Haiti include music derived from Vodou ceremonial traditions, Rara parading music, Twoubadou ballads, Mini-jazz rock bands, Rasin movement, Hip hop Kreyòl, Méringue,and Compas. Youth attend parties at nightclubs called discos,and attend Bal. This term is the French word for ball, as in a formal dance.
Compas is a complex, ever-changing music that arose from African rhythms and European ballroom dancing, mixed with Haiti's bourgeois culture. It is a refined music, with méringue as its basic rhythm. Haiti had no recorded music until 1937 when Jazz Guignard was recorded non-commercially.
Haitian cuisine is an eclectic blend of the various cooking practices and traditions of the various ethnic groups that populated the island of Hispaniola; chiefly French and African culinary elements with notable influences from the Spanish and indigenous Taíno as well. Haitian cuisine is similar to the rest of the Latin-Caribbean, however it differs in several ways from its regional counterparts, notably in its bold seasoning and emphasis on spices.
Dishes tend to be seasoned liberally. Consequently Haitian cuisine is often moderately spicy. The staple diet are rice and beans; in several variations; and it is the de facto national dish.
One such dish is mais moulu (mayi moulen), which is comparable to grits that can be eaten with sauce pois (sòs pwa), a bean purée made from one of many types of beans such as kidney, pinto, chickpeas, or pigeon peas (known in some countries as gandules). Mais moulin can be eaten with fish (often red snapper), or alone depending on personal preference. Some of the many plants used in Haitian dishes include tomato, oregano, cabbage, avocado, bell peppers. A popular food is banane pesée (ban-nan'n peze), flattened plantain slices fried in cooking oil (known as tostones in the Spanish speaking Latin American countries). It is eaten both as a snack and as part of a meal is, often eaten with tassot and griot (deep-fried goat and pork).
Traditionally, the food that Haitians eat on the independence day (1 January) is soup joumou.Haiti is also known globally for its rum; Rhum Barbancourt is an internationally renowned rum, the most popular alcoholic beverage in Haiti.
Haitian cuisine is typical of Caribbean métissage, a wonderful mix of French and African sensibilities. It is similar to its Spanish Caribbean neighbours yet unique in its strong presence of spices. Roast goat called 'kabrit', morsels of fried pork 'griot', poultry with a Creole sauce 'poulet creole', rice with wild mushroom 'du riz jonjon' are all wonderful and tasty dishes.
Along the coast fish, lobster and conch are readily available. Haiti has a very fine collection of fruit including guava, pineapple, mango (Haiti's most prized fruit), banana, melons, breadfruit, as well as mouth watering sugarcane cut and peeled to order on the streets. Restaurants in the bigger cities provide safe and delicious meals, and precautions are taken with the food and water to keep things safe.
A Haitian typical meal usually contains rice (usually brown or white). A popular meal you might find is pressed fried plantains, fried pork, and a cole-slaw like topping commonly known as "pikliz".
Haitian street vendors also serve delicious food as well, particularly fried foods. Be sure to watch them cook the food, and it's best that you ask the vendors to fry their foods well-done, especially if it's meat.
However, even in resorts with purified water, it is not always safe to assume that raw vegetables (such as lettuce and tomatoes) have been properly washed. In smaller or more humble venues make sure to eat fruit and vegetables that can be skinned or peeled, drink bottled drinks only, make sure any ice is from a clean water source, and make sure any meat is well-cooked.
When bottled water or boiled water is not available, a freshly opened coconut provides water and electrolytes with minimal health risk.
The most festive time of the year in Haiti is during Carnival (referred to as Kanaval in Haitian Creole or Mardi Gras) in February. There is music, parade floats, and dancing and singing in the streets. Carnival week is traditionally a time of all-night parties.
Rara is a festival celebrated before Easter. The festival has generated a style of Carnival music.
Visas are required only by citizens of Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Panama. However, citizens of Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Panama may enter visa-free for three months if they have a valid United States, Canadian or Schengen visa or resident permit.
Citizens of other countries can stay for three months without a visa.
lInternational travellers will arrive in Haiti at Port-au-Prince (PAP) at the Aéroport Toussaint L'Ouverture Airport or (CAP) Aéroport International Cap-Haïtien in the North. The plane tickets can be purchased via many online ticketing sites and agencies.
There are intra-Haiti flights available as well. Prices on these flights can fluctuate from time to time due to inflation but, depending on the airline, are usually between USD125-132 return from and to Port-au-Prince, cheaper between Port-au-Prince and Jacmel. A really cheap, dependable and popular airline is Sunrise Airways
There is a regional airport in Jacmel, but it doesn't have a regular flight schedule.
Airlines flying into Haiti
Lynx Air flies from Fort Lauderdale and Miami to Cap-Haïtien. MFI (Missionary Flights International) fly to Cap also from Florida, but only registered non-Catholic Christian missionaries are welcome aboard. Other international airlines serving Cap-Haïtien include Sky King, Turks and Caicos Air and Pine-apple Air.
From Santo Domingo, Caribe Tours runs a once-daily bus to Pétion-Ville (in the hills above Port-au-Prince) that leaves at 11:00. A ticket costs USD40 one-way, USD26 tax and and DOP100. Unfortunately, this bus drops you off in Pétion-Ville after dark so make prior arrangements with a trustworthy person to meet you and transport you to your lodging.
There is also a crowded border crossing between Dominican Republic and Haiti in Dajabón/Ouanaminthe. The border is open only during the day. From here you can catch local transport to Cap-Haïtien.
Another, less expensive, option from Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince, is to take a gua-gua (Dominican minibus) from Santo Domingo (departing a few blocks north of Parque Enriquillo) for DOP380 (about USD10, 5h) and arrive in the border town of Jimani. From there, it is a 4km walk or a DOP50 ride by motoconcho to the border post.
The border is apparently open 09:00-18:00 (but don't rely on those times). It is very easy to cross the border without submitting to any immigration procedures on either side, and although it would probably be illegal, it saves a few dozen dollars on bribes and is much faster too.
Apart from entering the DR when a soldier takes a look at the passport, nobody does any inspection: immigration or customs. Entering Haiti legally is quick: fill out the green form and pay whatever amount the official asks (around DOP100). There are no ATMs at the border.
Moneychangers give Haitian gourdes in exchange for Dominican Republic pesos and US dollars. Rates are fair. There is plenty of local transportation from the border to Port-au-Prince. Crowded tap-taps and buses can take you to Croix-des-Bouquets for HTG50 (1.5-2h), from where it is another hour to Port-au-Prince proper (bus, HTG5).
The road has variable conditions and and is prone to flooding. Peruvian UN soldiers at the border have confirmed that the road to Port-au-Prince is safe to travel with no incidents of robbery or kidnappings, but definitely try to arrive in Port-au-Prince before dark.
You can hire a chauffeur to drive you around while you are in Haiti. It is more expensive than a city bus or tap-tap, but is similar to renting a car. Chauffeurs own their own vehicles, usually 4-wheel drive, and can take you most any place you want to go. There are very few road signs so it is difficult to navigate the roads without help. Chauffeurs can also interpret for you and recommend places to eat and stay.
When looking for a driver, the Oloffson is an easy place to start; drivers often hang around the driveway looking for fares. Regardless of where you stay, it is easy enough to have the front desk phone a taxi, which will most likely be driven by a friend or a relative. If you have the chance, Alix Toyo is a particularly reliable and fair driver, who is full of interesting stories about the various visitors and celebrities he has driven around the country. If you are lucky enough to find Toyo, be sure to ask him about the time when he drove Jean Claude Van Damme to Jacmel. Very amusing.
Cars may be rented through Hertz, Avis, etc. Taxis in Haiti are usually in the form of SUVs or trucks, as most of the roads are long overdue for repairs, in addition to plethora of unpaved roads one faces while travelling in Haiti. The price is often fair (i.e., HTG450, or USD11.53 at 39 gourdes to a dollar, from Port-au-Prince to Léogâne), but offers safety and comfort that cannot be found in riding tap-taps or buses.
Tap Taps are the most economical way to travel in Haiti. Haitian tap-taps are modified trucks or vans and are ubiquitous throughout Haiti. A raised wooden canopy-like cabin usually sits over the truck bed while wood benches are attached to the bed and serve as seats. Tap-taps are frequently painted bright colours, and often bear a religious slogan, such as Jesus vous aime ("Jesus loves you").
In Port-au-Prince, most routes cost 10 gourdes (USD0.25). They are also quite convenient as they will stop anywhere along the route: simply yell "merci!" to get the driver to stop. However, they are sometimes overpacked and can be quite dangerous to ride in the mountain roads where the road conditions are less than ideal. First time travellers who do not speak conversational Creole are advised not to travel by tap-tap without assistance. There are also school bus versions of tap-taps used for longer voyages. These are often modified school buses.
A more comfortable alternative for long distance travel are minibuses. These congregate at various lots throughout the city, organized by destination. Seats to Jacmel, for example, cost about HTG150 (USD3.75), while the more comfortable front seat may go for 200 gourdes (USD5).
The official languages of Haiti are French and Haitian Creole (Kreyòl Ayisien), which is a French-based creole language, with 92% of the vocabulary being derived from French and the rest primarily from African languages and native Taino, with elements of Spanish. Haitian Creole is the native language of the masses, while French is the administrative language, even though only 15 % of Haitians can speak it and only about 2% can speak it well.
Creole is mutually intelligible with French on the most basic level, so the competent French speaker should be fine in limited circumstances. Many Haitians are very appreciative if you take the trouble to learn a little bit of one of the official languages (preferably Creole), rather than using an interpreter or expecting them to speak English. Haitians working in tourist areas usually speak English well enough for conversation. In towns along the border with the Dominican Republic, it is easy to find people who speak a conversational level of Spanish.
Mission groups/teams often find a translator very helpful in order to communicate during their trips.
Labadee is a resort leased long term by Royal Caribbean International. Although sometimes described in advertisements as an island in its own right, it is actually contiguous with the rest of Hispaniola. Labadee is fenced off from the surrounding area. The cruise ships arrive and dock at a newly constructed pier.
Attractions include a Haitian Flea Market, traditional Haitian dance performances, numerous beaches, water sports, and a waterpark. Lately the city of Jacmel, due to its reputation as being less politically volatile, its French colonial era architecture, its colourful cultural carnival, pristine beaches and a nascent film festival has been attracting local tourists and a small amount of international tourism.
Despite obstacles, Haiti's rich culture and history has allowed the country to maintain a moderate and potentially rising tourist industry. For the most part independent travel around Haiti is not really practical or recommended, however there has been a slow revival of tourism since the earthquake. Tour Haiti is one of a few travel companies based in Port-au-Prince and is a useful point of call if you are planning a trip to Haiti.
Champs De Mars (Chanmas) - Haiti's capital park. You will find monuments, a stage, a movie theater, many playgrounds, and a lot of construction going on
Marché an Fer - This is an iron market located in Port Au Prince. Here, you can find crafts, produce, food, clothes, and possibly jewelry
Barbancourt Distillery - Haiti's famous rhum, Barbancourt, is manufactured here. You can get samples, buy some bottles, and see how it's manufactured
La Citadelle - The largest fortress in the Western Hemisphere. See the canonballs and old weaponry that lies there. You can travel by foot or horse
Palais San Souci - This palace is what was left of King Henri Christophe's huge Versace styled castle. You can tour around and take many fun pictures!
Fort Jaques - Another one of the many fortresses in Haiti. Again, there are many canon balls that lay around and it's fun to explore
Bassin Bleu - Jump into the cool, blue kissed waters of this beautiful basin
MUPANAH - Museum located in Port Au Prince. Lots of historic figures are stored there
Musée Ogier Fombrun - This museum is located on Haiti's beautiful coast, Cote des Arcadins. It is also apart of the hotel/resort by the name of "Mulin Sur Mer". The museum includes old documents, weapons, uniforms, and a slave plantation replica. This is quite a place for the history lovers.
Art Galleries - You will come across many art galleries when in Haiti, all with breathtaking art.
Cathedral de Cap Haïtien - Classic Spanish architecture with a playground in the front.
Gelee Beach - Home to one of Haiti's best music festivals, and includes some bars
Jacmel Boardwalk - It's simple, but still beautiful. You get a nice view of the beach, while there are vendors, restos, and a small stage to watch steer performers
Saut-D'eau - This waterfall is located near Port-Au-Prince. It's a religious place for some of Haiti's voudoun believers, so you may see people praying around there. It's fine to jump around and swim in there, but as always, stay careful
Furcy Forest - Forest located near Jacmel and Port Au Prince. It's and amazing experience hiking up mountains, and crossing plains
Pic la Selle - climb the highest mountain in Haiti and feel on top of the world
The Haitian gourde (HTG) is the currency of Haiti.
As of April 2014, the exchange rate was USD1 = HTG48.85
Although merchants are required to quote prices in gourdes by law, virtually everything is priced in "dollars" not US but Haitian dollars, equivalent to 5 gourdes. This practice is a holdover from the US occupation of Haiti in the early 20th century, during which the gourde was pegged at 5 gourdes to the US dollar.
Haiti has become famous for its very informal yet interesting bustling marketplace. Everything is sold here ranging from the curiously appealing to the dullest of objects for rather inexpensive prices. Haggling is both wise and recommended, as most Haitians will charge foreigners at least double the market rate. There are various large retail supermarkets in the capital that offer a variety of items at fixed prices. Haiti has a world of crafts waiting to be sought after.
You will best be able to find stores and legitimate shops in certain hotels and resorts.
Tap water should be avoided. Drink bottled water only.
The legal drinking/purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 16.
Haitian rum is well-known. 'Barbancourt 5 star' is a top drawer drink. 'Clairin' is the local firewater made from sugarcane that can be bought on the street, often flavored with various herbs that can be seen stuffed into the bottle. 'Prestige' is the most popular beer, and is of good quality and excellent taste. Also be sure to try the 'Papye' drink, a sort of papaya milk shake that is deliciously refreshing beyond words on a hot day. Cremas is a tasty, creamy alcoholic beverage that is derived from coconut milk.
Guest Houses - There are many guest houses throughout Haiti. However, these are quite hard to find while overseas. Many of these guest houses run about 25 to 35 dollars a night and include 2 to 3 meals during the day. Sometimes these houses are associated with orphanages,such as Saint Joseph's Home for Boys.
Camping - Camping is an activity to becareful with if doing so in Haiti. It's best to stay near authorities when doing so. Furcy Forest is a great place to do this activity, as well as some of Haiti's other national parks. Remember to take all precautions seriously, and watch everything closely.
Hotels - there are several very nice hotels and resorts in Haiti. In Port-au-Prince there is Le Plaza which is in the heart of the city. It is a very comfortable place to stay and has a nice restaurant. Staff speak English to varying degrees. Another very nice hotel is Visa Lodge, which is near the airport. It also has a restaurant and a swimming pool. The staff also speaks English and they accept American money and credit cards.
A classic hotel worth visiting even if you do not stay there is the Oloffson, in a French planter's home (these homes are the most interesting colonial buildings in Haiti). However, it has not been well maintained, and service is mediocre at best. Big, commercial hotels have also landed in Haiti as well. Royal Oasis has came to Haiti (specifically Port Au Prince) along with the newly built Marriot, Best Western, and the Hilton which will be finished next year.
Haiti is home to NH El Rancho, which includes a casino. In the north near and in Cap Haitian new hotels are being or are built to service a resurgence in tourism to Haiti. Current ones there that are very nice are Roi Henri Christophe Hotel, Habitation Joussaint, as well as Mont Joli Hotel. Jacmel, will soon be home to new hotel chains in the coming year or so.
You can learn many things while traveling to Haiti, professionally, or unprofessionally. Haiti has a museum located in Port Au Prince where you can learn about Haiti's history. This includes learning about the founding fathers of Haiti, defense tactics they used, old documents, and even the crown of Henri Christophe who ruled north Haiti in the 1800s.
The Citadel and the Palais San Souci are also great ways to learn about Haiti's past history. The fort includes many cannons, cannon balls, old weaponry, and many other things to learn from. Tour operators can help you with understanding some of the stuff you can find there.
A Taïno Museum,Taïnos being the first inhabitants of Haiti is being developed, and more information regarding that are underway
Haiti's educational system isn't at it's best, and trying to improve, though, if you are coming to see a college, you can learn a little from the universities that are present there
The most work you can do in Haiti is missionary work. That can be running orphanages, adoption centers, building houses, supplying food, and over all sending aid. It's good to learn Creole or French so it's easy to communicate.
Haiti's crime rate compares to Long Beach California's crime rate, so it's a pretty safe country, though this is not always the case; it is still regarded as the most dangerous and lawless nation in the Caribbean. Even moreso, most crimes committed by criminals often go unsolved due to the inadequacies of local law enforcements in Haiti who don't always do their jobs right.
When traveling to Haiti, be sure to keep up with latest news. Demonstrations can happen, but aren't very common.
It's not the best to travel at night, but there are tourist, police, and UN officers marching around, especially during the night.
Be sure not to carry large amounts of money, or show in some way that you have a lot of money on you. Though it does not happen much, you can risk being mugged or injured. Be especially careful when carrying money around beggars.
Be very careful in Haiti, as the country is having issues with cholera. You should be safe if you stay away from contaminated water, and poorer areas. If you come across with anyone who is infected, be sure to immerse, and wash your hands and apply anything to kill germs
Sanitary conditions in Haiti are poor. Tap water should be avoided. Drink bottled water only.
Health care, while well below the standards of that in developed countries, is available in all large towns and cities. Many smaller towns and villages also have health clinics. However, medical equipment and a wide variety of medicines may be in meagre supply.
The biggest concern in Haiti for travellers is malaria, and dehydration. One should make an appointment with a travel clinic for anti-malarial prophylaxis. Hydration requirements can be fulfilled by preparing one of the many water purifying systems as if one were going camping or by buying bottled water once in Haiti, which is widely available and inexpensive by western standards. Washing oneself with water from places such as creeks or lakes is not recommended due to the risk of water-borne diseases.
Depending on your itinerary, you may have to walk a lot. Comfortable footwear is crucial for avoiding blisters. Hiking boots are recommended as well as comfortable sandals.
One thing a missionary or other visitor to Haiti learns very quickly is that Haitians are a very dignified people; they have their pride, despite all they have had to endure. There are some beggars and pedlars in the cities, but they are the exception, not the rule. Expect no kow-towing. Impoverished Haitians will always accept gifts, but they will almost always stand straight, look you in the eye, and repay you with a sincere "Mesi" (thanks).
Haiti is a nation of fairly conservative norms. Modest dress when exploring Haiti's cities is advised, especially for women. The smart visitor should look people in the eye, wave hello, and treat them with friendship and respect, as equals, no matter how poor or desperate their living conditions may seem.
Try to learn some basic words of Haitian Creole.
Ask permission before taking pictures of locals,they often ask you for money. Never walk about sticking your camera in people's faces or taking pictures randomly. Do not solely take pictures of the piles of trash you may see in some of the bigger cities or anything else that Haitians are not proud of as it is offensive. However, people have no problem with foreigners taking pictures of beautiful scenery, cultural events or historical sites.
Carry a few gourdes in your pockets for the kids who carry your luggage/shine your shoes/hail your tap-tap at the airport,but be alert for pickpockets.
Sometimes visitors to Haiti walk about handing out candy or dollar bills. While many people, especially children, will accept your offering, this is offensive to most people as it compromises the dignity of Haitians. Carry an extra water bottle and food to share with your driver, guide, or interpreter.
Be patient as nothing moves fast in Haiti. Most people will find your whining amusing at best and severely insulting at worst.
Carry a few photos of the area where you live, your workplace, or your family to share with friends you make. These are the things that transform you from just another tourist into a real person. More often than not, the people will return the favour, and you might just find a friend.
Your emotions are real. It is okay to feel overwhelmed if you have not experienced this type of culture difference before. If you are easily affected by signs of poverty, Haiti is not for you. Be polite but not intrusive. It is normal to ask questions of the locals.
Remember that you are a guest in their country. Do not expect to be treated as a king or a queen,though you might get some extra privileges because you are foreign. Haitians are warm and helpful people.
The people on the Gonâve Island have quite possibly less contact with Westerners than say those Haitians in Port-au-Prince. The children shout "blanc, blanc, blanc" as you walk by. The children on the saline flats will readily walk with you, show you how to skip stones off the water and try very hard to communicate with you.
They may try to charge you for picking up a shell from the flats and up to USD6 to take a picture of their donkey. You do not have to pay, but out of respect, do not take the picture. They appreciate being asked if you may take their picture.