Tourism is slowly making a comeback in this nation on the lovely Island of Hispaniola it shares with the Dominican Republic. Following decades of political strife and the devastating earthquake of 2010, Haiti is back on the radar for many who are looking for a warm, relaxed place to unwind and have a blast.
Known as the Pearl of the Caribbean, Haiti is the region’s most mountainous land, and that adds to its beauty.
An independent country since 1804, Haiti has had a long, tumultuous relationship with France. French is one of the country’s official languages. Spoken by about 40% of the populace, it is used in business and education. The second official language, Haitian Creole with a vocabulary heavily of French origin, is used in daily life by nearly all Haitians.
Most Haitians have African heritage as the descendants of slaves. Minority populations include white European, Levantine, East Asian and East Indian.
Life is Returning in Haiti
After years of devastating events, Haiti is moving toward stability, and optimism is on the rise throughout the population. Tourists are returning too, mostly arriving via cruise ship, but the number of visitors making Haiti a primary destination is increasing. If you venture to this Caribbean gem, here’s a taste of what you’ll discover.
- Haitian Food: Cuisine in Haiti reflects a combination of influences including Spain, France, West African nations, the US and other Caribbean cultures. Haitians’ diet consists in large part of rice and beans favored with sauces, peppers and herbs. Fish including salted cod, beef, chicken, tomatoes, onions, eggplant, spinach, chayote, watercress, yams, carrots and other common garden vegetables are used in a wide range of recipes. You’ll enjoy dishes ranging from familiar to exotic when you bring a hearty appetite to Haiti.
- Music in Haiti: Just like the food, the music in Haiti has many influences. For example, Compas (aka konpa) is a varied musical style bringing together elements of African rhythms, European ballroom dancing and a meringue base. When visiting Haiti, you’ll hear local types of music as well as popular music from North America, Europe and South America.
Things to Do in Haiti
Here are the top activities in Haiti to consider as you plan your visit. Keep in mind that tourism is only now recovering, so the range of options is more limited here than it is in most Caribbean nations.
- Look Back: The Citadel, Cathedrale Notre Dame Cap Haitien, Musee du Pantheon National Haitien, Petionville, National History Park, Fort des Anglais, Musee de Guahaba and Marche de Fer are among the favorite historical sites in Haiti that allow you to discover the varied and rich past.
- Leap into the Beautiful Blue Sea: The clear waters off Haiti’s beaches are, “an undersea paradise” according to a recent review. Visitors enjoy swimming, riding jet skis, snorkeling and scuba diving. There are several diving outfitters in Haiti including PADI scuba instructors and guides to help you have an outstanding experience.
- Lend a Helping Hand: Charity tourism is a wonderful way to see this gorgeous country and make a difference too. Check with the charity of your choice to find ways to help in Haiti for a week or two while also enjoying the food, music, sites, beaches and other things to do in Haiti. As a recent volunteer said, “you’ll come to help and leave a changed person.”
- Lay Back and Enjoy: Haiti has marvelous beaches where sand meets surf in very inviting fashion. The best beaches in Haiti include Kokoye Beach, Gelee Beach, Grann Beach, Jacmel Beach and locations with lovely waterfalls like Bassin Bleu and Saut-Mathurine.
Who Should Consider Visiting Haiti?
There are many fabulous resorts in Haiti, and they are putting their best foot forward right now to attract tourists from North America and Europe. If you’d like to be on the leading edge of travel to a beautiful Caribbean destination with interesting food, cuisine and music, Haiti awaits your arrival!
Haiti Office of Tourism: http://www.haititourisme.gouv.ht/pages/home/index.php
History and Governmental Structure of Haiti: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_of_Haiti
Experience Haiti: http://www.experiencehaiti.org/