Caribbean Tourism

Haiti

Where the Buccaneers Came From

The French and English freebooters who began settling on Tortuga Island in 1630 were drawn by the south coast’s coves, beaches and small anchorages, and a protective line of reefs with few openings. Pirate raids had led Spain to withdraw from the north and west coasts of Hispaniola in 1605, leaving livestock that multiplied and was hunted by the freebooters...

Culture

Although Haiti wiped out slavery in its 18th century revolution, its society still suffers from the racial, cultural and linguistic divisions inherited from slavery. Toussaint’s tolerant statesmanship was unable to resist Napeolon’s push to reimpose slavery. It took the tyranny and despotism of Dessalines and Christophe. Haitian despots stepped into the...

Excursions

Port-Au-Prince The central reference point for visitors is the large, irregularly shaped park called the Champs de Mars which begins to the east of the commercial quarter. The northwest corner is dominated by the white, triple-domed presidential palace. It was built in 1918 on the site of a predecessor that was blown up in 1912 with its president inside. In...

Hispaniola

One might expect that a relatively small island such as Hispaniola (from Spanish 'Isla Espanola' the Spanish island) lying in the heart of the Caribbean would be occupied by one nation, or at least that its people should demonstrate ethnic and cultural similarities. This is not so. Hispaniola, with an area of just over 75,800 sq km, not much more than half...

West of Port-au-Prince

The southwestern peninsula is the greenest and most beautiful part of Haiti: its rugged western tip has forests, rivers, waterfalls and unspoilt beaches. west of port-au-prince The Route Nationale 2 to Les Cayes is very scenic but is frequently almost non-existent and where there is any surface it is often seriously potholed. For the first 92 kilometres it...

South of Port-au-Prince

Set off on the Route Nationale 2, the highway heading west toward Les Cayes. The lush, densely populated coastal Léogâne Plain, 45 minutes west of the capital, offers a look at rural life. East and west of the town of Léogâne, the plain is dotted with small villages and criss-crossed by bumpy lanes. After Léogâne at the Dufort junction fork left. The road...

Northeast of Port-au-Prince

Grandly called the Route National 3, the 128-kilometre dirt road northeast from Port-au-Prince to Hinche requires a four-wheel drive and takes at least five hours (much longer by public transport). It starts by crossing the Cul de Sac plain via Croix-des-Bouquets. Here, a newly improved road branches off southeast through a parched, barren region, skirting...

North of Port-au-Prince

The seaboard north of the capital is arid or semi-arid most of the way to Gonaïves, and all round the northwest peninsula as far as Port-de-Paix. This area was hit by drought and famine in 1997 and severe ecological damage has occurred. From Port-de-Paix to the Dominican border, it is quite lush and green. The Route Nationale 1 is asphalted to Cap-Haïtien,...

Port-au-Prince

What Port-au-Prince(metro area: 2,000,000) lacks in architectural grace, it makes up in a stunning setting, with steep mountains towering over the city to the south, La Gonâve island in a horseshoe bay on the west, and another wall of mountains beyond a rift valley plain to the north. Over the years the city has spilled out of its original waterfront...

Northwest

Except for Tortuga island and a coastal strip running east from Port-de-Paix, the northwest peninsula is Haiti’s driest, most barren region. In recent years, especially since the 1991 coup, it has teetered on the brink of famine and toppled over in 1997 when international agencies had to bring aid. The 86-kilometre mountain road from Gonaïves to Port-de-...

Petion-Ville

Pétion-Ville was once the capital’s hill resort lying just 15 minutes from Port- au-Prince but 450 m above sea level. Now it is considered a middle-class suburb with restaurants and boutiques. Three roads lead up from Port-au-Prince. The northernmost, the Route de Delmas, is ugly and dusty. Preferable to this is the Panaméricaine, an extension of Avenue...

Cap-Haïtien

Cap-Haïtien, Haiti’s second city, has a dramatic location on the sheltered, southeast side of an 824m high cape, from which it gets its name. It was the capital in colonial times, when it was called Cap-Français. Nowadays it usually referred to simply as Cap, or Okap in Créole. Its wealth and sophistication earned it the title of ‘Paris of the Antilles’....

Shopping - Jacmel

There are lots of artists painting and selling their work along Portail Leogane. Most of the handicrafts are sold in the small shops by the entrance to La Jacmelienne.

Shopping – Port-au-Prince

Art & Craft Some galleries have a near monopoly on certain artists, so don’t expect to see a cross-section of all the major artists in any one, good gallery. The paintings hung at the Oloffson are for sale. Galerie Carlos Jara (T2457164) has a fine collection at 28 Rue Armand Holly, Pacot, 10 mins’ drive uphill from the Oloffson. Le Centre d’Art, 58 Rue...

Shopping – Petion-Ville

Recommended is La Promenade at the intersection of Grégoire and Moïse (southeast corner of Place St-Pierre), a garden turned into small shopping promenade with an outdoor café, 1000-1800. Art & Handicrafts Galerie Nader, 50 Rue Grégoire, PO Box 15410, T2575602, 2570855. Exceptional range of naïve and other modern Haitian artists, also exhibitions....