When you book a flight to Haiti, prepare to enter a land of surprises. Known formally as the Republic of Haiti, this land has had its fair share of ups and downs, both in its political structure and in its physical collapse. Overall, traveling to Haiti has become a complex deal, and whether you’re planning on visiting for either business or pleasure, you should stay aware of what the Department of State has to say about security.
The first independent island country in the Caribbean, Haiti gained independence through slave rebellion. Despite its peak-and-valley struggle for power with the U.S. between 1915 and 1933, Haiti is now an established country on its own two feet, determining the rest of its future day by day. Cultural outlets like fine dining, live music, and a growing art scene as propelled Haiti into its own right, making way for tomorrow.
Gorgeous beaches surround Haiti’s exterior, and although treacherous storms from August and September of 2008 have left the shores in repair, when you book flights to Haiti, there’s no escaping the natural beauty of this warm Caribbean island.
Haiti has extremely seasonal weather. It’s hot from April to November with a dangerous hurricane season lasting from August through September. The rains can cause big mudslides that halt traffic. February, when Carnival is on, is the best time to visit Haiti, but hotels can fill up fast.
Best Time to Fly to Haiti
When you book flights to Haiti, timing is everything. Some seasons are dangerous to fly in due to storm warnings and common hurricanes. While the physical climate is certainly important, the political climate should also be considered. As of Jan. 29, 2009, the Department of State discourages any unnecessary travel to Haiti due to security issues, so continue to check online before you book a flight to Haiti.
Most people book flights to Haiti in February to take advantage of the Carnival Festivities. Filled with color, music, and ambience, this jovial festivity takes place in gorgeous 70-80 degree weather that makes the perfect conditions for enjoyment.
The closer you get to October, the closer you get to the hurricanes. While it’s not a popular time to plan Haiti travel, you’re likely to find serious deals on accommodations and cheap flights to Haiti during this rainy, windy (and sometimes dangerous) time period.
Getting around Haiti
If you’re looking to make the most out of your travel to Haiti by hoping around from Port-au-Prince to Jeremie, to Cote des Arcadins, then you’ll need to catch the ferry. Sometimes uncomfortable, and always crowded, these boats don’t leave on a timetable. When everyone’s on, and the captain wants to leave, the boat moves, so don’t bother clockwatching if you’re running late. Sometimes, these vessels tend to act like water taxis, so be sure to establish a fee as soon as you get on, or you may be stuck paying a lot more than you need to.
On land, buses are big and cheap but also unreliable. No schedules means that they run the same way boats do – when they're filled and the driver feels like going. Tap-taps are minibuses or pickup trucks that cruise within city limits.
You’ll notice taxis because of the red ribbons in the window. At any given moment though, the driver of your taxi may remove the ribbon, meaning that he has decided to turn the meter off and charge you whatever he or she wants to charge. You’ll need to negotiate the fee. It’s all quite the adventure, especially when roads are poorly kept and traffic laws are rarely considered.
Haiti Travel Information
Port-au-Prince: Port-au-Prince is Haiti’s bustling capital city, with a population of 1 million. When you book flights to Haiti, this should undoubtedly be your first stop. Once you’re there, you’ll see the iron market, near the beautiful neo-romantic cathedral. The Museum of Haitian Art and Statue of the Unknown slave are other landmarks and historical references to watch for. If you’re interested in staying in the city’s outskirts, then head to the hillside suburb of Petionville for a calmer atmosphere. Here, the restaurants, galleries, and nightlife rival that of the city’s.
Cap-Haitien and the North Coast: When you book a flight to Haiti, the perfect historical location to settle down and soak up all that the country’s annals have to offer is the Cap-Haitian and North coast. The wreck of Columbus’ ship, the Santa Maria is nearby, and as you wander through the lush green mountains and the fine beaches, you can’t help but enjoy every bit of pure Haitian landscape. This town is much more laidback than Port-au-Prince, and its Spanish-style buildings are absolutely gorgeous. Stop by the Citadelle (built by Herni Christophe) which was erected when the French were overthrown, for a bit of national appreciation.
Jacmel and the Southern Coast: For a picturesque place filled with stucco palaces, terraces, and balconies, book flights to Haiti to enjoy every bit of what Jacmel and the South Coast has to offer. A center for voodoo and mystic temples, Jacmel lures artists from all over the world to come here and use the intrigue as inspiration. People book flights to Haiti from Europe and America to come work here in the lively arts scene, especially at the awesome Carnival time. Here, dancers on the streets perform, and music plays night and day.
Beaches: When you book flights to Haiti, you’re entering a Caribbean island that specializes in one thing: sun. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the country’s bold culture, but it’s also nice to just take a moment to relax on the beach. Kyono and Ibo on Cacique Isle are the best by far, and most people go to either to take advantage of swimming, snorkeling, spear fishing, sailing, and waterskiing. La Gonave is the most popular for fishing, so if you’re interested in casting a line, this is the place to do it.