Postcard from Haiti
A hidden gem, Haiti, balancing on the western side of the island of Hispaniola, offers the more intrepid traveller an untouched, culturally-rich and authentic Caribbean experience. Whether you choose to spend your time by the sandy coastlines of the north or meandering through the vibrant streets of Port-au-Prince, this under-the-radar country is drenched in alluring adventure that will leave you wanting more.
Words and photography by Monica Walton
MOVE. Don't stay in one place. Haiti lies on the second largest island in the West Indies. Almost 11,000 square miles, this country has seen its fair share of tragedy over the years, but with its diverse offerings, it’s becoming more of a sought after tourist destination. From the charming fishing village of Labadee to the artsy Jacmel and exciting city of Port-au-Prince, there’s too much to see in this exhilarating country to stay in one place.
EXPLORE the largest fortress in the Western Hemisphere, La Citadelle Laferrière. A majestic, mountaintop fort close to the city of Cap Haitien in northern Haiti, it is a UNESCO world heritage site and a symbol of the country’s power and independence from France. The fortress still holds more than 365 canons and with a backdrop of vast, sprawling mountains, the view is phenomenal.
BOAT over to the remote Amiga Island from the Cormier Plage resort and spend the day watching the fisherman bring in their fresh catch. Nearby you’ll find one of the wealthiest villages in Haiti, Labadee. Surrounded by emerald green waters, here you can kick back with the coconut-wielding locals and watch a voodoo ceremony.
BUY lots of local art at the March en Fer (Iron Market) in Port-au-Prince. This towering structure was intended to be a railway station for Cairo, but ended up in Haiti and has since become a market for hundreds of Haitians selling goods. You’ll find everything from voodoo to hand-crafted art at this architectural wonder that’s steeped in culture.
RIDE a colourful open-air tap tap through the city of Port-au-Price to properly take in the chaotic, yet exciting city atmosphere. These are impossible to miss, as they’re painted with flamboyant patterns and vibrant colours and will be blasting Caribbean music at full volume, making them a spectacle for the eyes and the ears. Like everything in Haiti, these cost a fraction of what you pay in other countries, so sit back, enjoy the ride, and tip your driver.
VISIT the Village Artistique de Noailles close by to Port-au-Prince. The hub of the famed metal artwork that Haiti is known for, you’ll hear the clanking of the hammers before you see them. Artists begin at an early age, pounding metal into creative shapes to sell their masterpieces. Fill up on Creole cuisine and culture while there.
SWIM in the milky blue waters at Bassin Bleu. A short drive from the city of Jacmel in the south, Bassin Bleu is a group of glistening, untouched swimming holes and waterfalls, and one of the most breath-taking attractions in Haiti. Take a guided tour through the brush to four, aquamarine pools that make up this private sanctuary in the hills.
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