I can’t think of a better way to experience more, than on the historically important Caribbean island of Haiti 🇭🇹. It’s always nice to travel by air, but road trippin’ is the way to go for the adventure junkies. I’m going to break up the experience into 2 posts. For this one, many of you may wonder how to go about planning a road trip in Haiti and what’s it really look like there. For a future post, I want to address some of the pros and cons to traveling by car to North Haiti and other sites to check out on the way… Now to the fun stuff!
Planning a Road Trip in Haiti
Things to consider when planning a road trip in Haiti include: the car rental, the hotels, and the tours. Once you throughly understand these 3 things, you will be able to plan better based off your budget and comfort levels.
The Car Rental
If you plan to rent a car in Haiti to travel outside Port-au-Prince, the #1 rule is to rent an SUV, TRUCK, or JEEP. Road conditions in Haiti can be rough depending on where you are going. They have combinations of paved roads, dirt roads, and paved roads with not potholes but CRATERS that could possibly give you whiplash lol. On our way up to cap the first half of the trip was all paved roads and smooth rolling. Then you get to a mountain you have to drive over which is partially paved, but they are also doing construction on other parts so that takes awhile. Then on the last stretch of the journey from Gonaïves to Cap-Haitien is where you get the foot deep crater potholes. So to insure protection to your rental and provide yourself the maximum amount of comfort, dO NOT rent a normal compact, economy, or intermediate car. Dimy and I rented a compact SUV from AVIS for the trip and it did fine.
Things to be aware of for rentals
The Cost – For the compact SUV we rented for 10 days was around $465 (tax included).
The Gas – We drove up to Cap-Haitien, back, and around Cabaret, Haiti for the last 3 days cost around $80-$100.
The Insurance – This is one of the most important things to keep in mind if you are renting a car anywhere abroad. If you do not buy the insurance through the car rental company they will place a very large hold anywhere from $1000 to $3000 on your credit card, even if you got insurance elsewhere. This happened to me in Chile and in Haiti, so if you want insurance from Orbitz or your credit card because it’s cheaper (that’s what we did) they will place a large hold on your car until the car is returned in the same condition. We got insurance from Orbitz where we booked the car for $11 a day, $110 total. I do believe it is important to get insurance on a car in Haiti because they do drive quite crazy which you would find out very quickly. Also it’s best to have an international drivers license which you can get from any AAA or other travel places alike.
Cap-Haitien and the nearby city of Milot have a variety hotels in varying price ranges, as well as Airbnb options. You can find bunkbed style rooms for groups on a budget, standard rooms, luxury rooms, it all depends on your preference and price range. In general though, hotels in Cap-Haitien whether luxury or basic tend to be pricer than Port-au-Prince and other travel destinations cities in the country.
For our stay we opted for a hotel. We chose to stay at Habitation des Lauriers due to the fact they had a sale on booking.com. We got a standard budget room initially that had two twin beds. James who’s parents own the hotel was nice enough to upgrade us to a standard room with a full-size bed. The hotel was nice way up on a hill with nice views and good breakfast that was included with our stay. James was also nice enough to take us to a nearby restaurant on our first night for food, and save us from a rainstorm on another day all out of courtesy. Our only issue with this place was the fact that the road to get up to it is quite intimidating on a good day and even more intimidating during a time when it’s pouring rain. Also, the mosquitos were feasting on my blood due to the fact that there was no mosquito net in the room. Cost of our room for 3 nights with breakfast included was $180.
In Cap-Haitien, the main historical attractions are Citadelle and Sans Souci. Both built in the early 1800’s after Haiti gained their independence from France in 1804. To me, if you really want to learn about Haitian history these are the 2 most important places to see. Even as a Black American I learned a great deal of how the Haitian Revolutions contributed to the changes that happened here in the U.S. back during those times.
Dimy & I scheduled to have a tour with a gentleman named Jean Cyril Pressoir who owns a company called Tour Haiti. He’s Haitian, he holds a wealth of information, and is quite an impressive historian. If you want to learn the most you can about Citadelle’s importance, architecture and the historical leaders of the time, he is your guy.
My Thoughts on the Experience
I absolutely LOVED this trip. Although if you read my initial post about this, we didn’t make it to Jacmel. However, that decision gave us more time to enjoy the trip and the views. The wealth of knowledge I gained from touring these two historic sites has made me realize even more how Haiti helped change the world. As an African American, Haiti’s Independence eventually led to the expansion of the U.S. and the freedom of my ancestors. Without getting to preachy, I’ll just say that I hope everyone gets a chance to experience Haiti one day. It truly is a beautiful gem!
Mesi anpil Ayiti pou tout bagay! (Thank you Haiti for everything!)
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