Best time to go to Haiti

temperature & rainfall

Rainfall begins to increase in April, falling heavily by May – at the same time as the temperatures soar up to unbearable – particularly given the high humidity. Haiti is at its hottest in June to August, and while the rainfall slumps a little during these months, August and September are peak hurricane season, so be warned. Hurricanes hit harder here due to poor building standards and mass deforestation leading to floods and landslides. Carnival season lasts for several weeks throughout Jan/Feb, with floats, processions, music and dance, ending on Mardi Gras.

Things to do in Haiti

what to do in Haiti & what not to

Things to do in Haiti…

Architecture fanatics can swoon over Haiti’s pastel-painted “gingerbread houses”: classically colonial-Caribbean with a whole rainbow of shutters and balconies. Many have been restored in recent years across Cap-Haïtien and Jacmel. The wrought iron markets are works of art in their own right, while Haiti’s most astounding piece of architecture comes in the form of its monumental Citadelle Laferriere. This impenetrable fortress was built right into the rock of a steep mountain, and was designed to defend the country from an attack which never came.
Despite the hardships, this is a phenomenally creative island, and the African, Caribbean and spiritual influences combine with a deep rooted resourcefulness to create beautiful, one-off artworks, often from recycled items. Rainbow coloured paintings depict fantastical scenes of Haitian life; oil drum lids are cut and hammered into trailing vegetation, trees and birds, while beer bottle tops, driftwood and other items are repurposed into character-filled sculptures.
Most tours of Haiti will hop from city to city, with trips out to the odd waterfall, beach or historic site. But as with anywhere, spending time in rural areas gives a real insight into local life. Guided tours in Haiti allow you to do just this, with treks through the mountain, homestays in the farming villages of the Central Plateau, and visits to the village of Furcy, tucked away in steep, verdant hillsides outside Port au Prince.

Things not to do in Haiti…

They say that Haiti is 60 percent Catholic, 40 percent Protestant and 100 percent vodou. But don’t come here in search of a doll to stick pins in; these have nothing to do with this syncretic religion. Vodou means “spirit”, and these beliefs, along with drumming, fetish objects, human skulls and mirrors are a way for Haitians to make contact with and ask for assistance from their many gods. Following the devastating 2010 earthquake, these beliefs became more important than ever, and vodou has seen a surge in popularity.
Arrive by cruise ship. Until recently, the only tourists to set foot in Haiti were cruise passengers, although few of them would have known it: Royal Caribbean promoted their private resort as an "oasis on the island of Hispaniola." To be fair, this resort could hardly be described as Haiti. Closed off to Haitians, it is a bizarre amusement park of waterslides, ziplines, and all you can eat barbecues, all paid for using passenger cruise ship cards – with the exception of a few local souvenir stalls, the only things that derive any financial benefit from these thousands of tourists.
While every other Caribbean island features on the covers of glossy brochures, Haiti never seems to be featured anywhere other than newspapers – having fallen victim to earthquakes, hurricanes and crazed despots. But there are two sides to every story, so don’t focus purely on the poverty. Instead, learn more about the landscapes, culture, beaches and creole cuisine that, in many other ways, make this such a rich nation.

Haiti travel advice

top tips from our friends in Haiti

Why Haiti?

Aled Evans, from our leading Haiti supplier Undiscovered Destinations, shares his advice on traveling to Haiti: “Haiti is not like any other place in the Caribbean. If you want a ‘Caribbean’ vacation, then Haiti is not for you! The best description I have heard of Haiti is that it is a small part of West Africa that just happens to be in the Caribbean. History, culture, beautiful scenery and beaches combine to create a unique vacation destination. If you go with an open mind and a friendly smile you will have one of the best experiences that travel can offer.”

Headlines vs reality

Casey Mead, from our supplier G Adventures: “Keep an open mind at all times. Haiti is a surprising destination and unlike other Caribbean locations. It’s a great mix of experiences, but it’s recent history can’t be ignored. You’ll be doing a world of good by visiting and help spread the wealth in a place that really needs it. The people are extremely friendly and above all else – they are in desperate need of tourists to help them rebuild their island nation following the devastating earthquake that occurred back in 2010.”
Aled Evans, from our leading Haiti supplier Undiscovered Destinations: “There are many issues in the country and as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere you have to expect a lack of infrastructure and services. Despite this, you will find a warm and friendly welcome. Having an experienced guide with you is important as this will keep you from wandering in to areas that may not be safe for tourists. Do not let this worry you though, this is the same for somewhere like New York as it is for Haiti. The once high crime levels have dropped dramatically in recent years and are now comparable if not better than most Caribbean nations.”

Haiti highlights

Casey Mead, from our supplier G Adventures: “Haiti has such variety – every experience is different so it’s really hard to pick just one. Visiting the Citadelle (a large fortress) in the far north was highly impressive; not many people expect to find a UNESCO world heritage site in Haiti. It was built in the early 1800s to protect a newly independent Haiti from the French. And visiting a Vodou (note, not voodoo) priest was especially memorable. Vodou is very far from what Hollywood would have us believe.”

And a tip from our vacation reviews:

Photo credits: [Temp chart: Web Travel Map] [Why Haiti: Feed My Starving Children ] [Headlines vs reality : Ricardo's Photography ] [Review: Stefan Krasowski]
Written by Vicki Brown
Haiti vacation, small group

Haiti vacation, small group

Discover Haiti on this tour to the Caribbean's hidden gem

From £2995 12 Days ex flights
Photo credits: [Page banner: Feed My Starving Children (FMSC)]
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