Once the vacation destination of choice for jet-setting travellers, Haiti is vibrantly rebuilding its tourism industry. Its sun-soaked hotels and resorts mirror other Caribbean hot spots, but minus the hordes. It’s the perfect island for getting away from it all.
Discover the human spirit at “The Unknown Slave,” Port-au-Prince’s monument to the freedom fighters who won emancipation at the end of the 18th century, and whose success made Haiti the first independent black country in the New World.
Next, pay a visit to the Musée du Panthéon National, where the bodies of some of these slaves are buried. The anchor from the Santa Maria, one of Christopher Columbus’s ships, is also on display here.
Travel to the Côte des Arcadins, whose immaculate beaches and unique sceneries are to be discovered.
For a truly magical Haitian experience, journey to Bassin Bleu. These three cobalt blue pools near Jacmel are thought to be visited by nymphs who disappear at the sound of mortal footsteps. Tread lightly and you may see one!
The white sands and emerald waters of Kokoye Beach, one of the most beautiful in the country, can be difficult to get to, but they are well worth the trip. Eat traditional Creole seafood prepared by the community-run organization that controls the beach, and camp out together beneath the stars.
Take turns with your friends practicing Haitian Voodoo, a religion brought in by the 16th century African slaves that includes prayers, dances and songs in its ceremonies. Jacmel, the centre of Voodoo in the south of the island, boasts several temples open to tourists.
Back in Port-au-Prince, pick up the necessary accoutrements for a Voodoo ceremony at the Iron Market. Rebuilt after the 2010 earthquake, the market also sells fruits and veggies, Caribbean spices, and authentic Haitian arts and crafts.
Haiti’s official currency is the gourde (HTG). US dollars are also widely accepted for large purchases. Traveller’s cheques are nearly impossible to change in Haiti, but there are ATMs in Port-au-Prince. These can be unreliable though, so always make sure you have US dollars.
Haiti has two official languages: French and Haitian Creole, which is a blend of French, Spanish, Portuguese, English and some African languages.
For more information about passport and visa requirements, visit the Government of Canada travel website.
Visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website or ask your health professional about vaccination requirements.