If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know that I have written several times about my visits to Haiti. Additionally, you would know, that I, as a first-generation Haitian-American, am seeking to change the narrative of Haiti. I’ll admittedly say that it’s a little weird to hear other people with no ties to Haiti express interest in visiting. Although there are many Whites, Chinese, and other races/ethnicities that frequent and/or call Haiti home, I’m used to those with Haitian backgrounds going to visit.
With the recent deplorable comments made by the current U.S. president about Haiti, there are many travel experts that have encouraged individuals to visit. I want nothing more than to have people visit and grow the tourism in Haiti, however, there are things that I think are helpful to know. I’m not sure if you’re planning on traveling to Haiti but hopefully you’ll find this information helpful before you book your next trip to the island.
Book a Group Experience
The tourism economy is still in its infancy despite other’s interest in visiting. I encourage those not familiar with Haiti to travel there with an established travel group. It’s a great way to explore a new place and meet new people. There are several companies like Jet Black, My Haiti Travels, and G Adventures just to name a few. They coordinate visits to Haiti that allow you to immerse yourself in the culture, learn about the history, and get various flavors of what Haiti has to offer. By the way, if you know of any different group trip organizers, please share. I am attempting to grow this list to help others.
Communication is Key
The official languages of Haiti are French and Kreyol. If you don’t speak the language, I would suggest that you go with someone familiar with the island and language. Doing this will help you to feel more at ease and will help you to better navigate the island. While there are some Haitians who speak English, there are places where you may not find anyone who does. Depending on your personal adventurous meter, this may get you excited in a good or bad way.
Use Common Sense
There can be reasonable reason to be nervous about navigating around Haiti. However, you should use your common sense that you would apply to any city or country that you visit. Be aware of your surroundings. Do not be careless with your belongings and/or flashy with cash. Another piece of advice that can go a long way is being kind to others. Use the previous tips among other common sense tips and you should be good.
Be respectful of the land and the people. This advice really applies to any country that you visit. Specifically, in Haiti’s case, it is an island that has been exploited in many ways (I can go on with this subject, however, that’s not the point of this blog post). Do not be that person who travels to X country and violates people’s privacy by taking pictures of people from said country to post on your social media. Think of the narrative that you are spreading. These photos perpetuate stereotypes that can do more damage than good to Haiti’s reputation and the people of Haiti. Also, they are human just like you. Would you like for someone to take your photo (especially without permission) and post it on the internet?
There are great accommodations in Haiti. These include (in no particular order) Kinam Hotel, Karibe Hotel and Spa, NH EL Rancho, Abaka Bay, Wahoo Bay, Kaliko Beach Club, Moulin Sur Mer, and Royal Decameron Beach Resort. This is by no means an exhaustive list but these are very comfortable accommodations that I am comfortable referring. You may also be mindful of Haiti’s rainy seasons. This season is generally from April through October with the heaviest time being July through September.
So Much to Do
There are various experiences that you can have. There’s nightlife that you wouldn’t believe, beautiful beaches, substantial art scene, delicious cuisine, and much more. Haiti has a lot to catch up to in terms of what tourists are used to when visiting it’s neighboring islands. Growth to Haiti’s tourism will hopefully bring about more income for the island and more jobs to the people instead of padding the pockets of corrupt policymakers and law enforcers.
If you’re planning to visit Haiti, be prepared to have a life-changing experience. The resilience of the people and their constant faith will have you questioning how you live your life. Furthermore, if you’re any bit of a socially conscious person, some of the things you see will be upsetting and/or solidify thoughts you have about social structures. Perhaps these thoughts will get you motivated to do more to help the situation and not add to the growing issues.
Have you traveled to Haiti? What are some tips that you would add to this list?
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