Jan 6, 2014

Haiti's Arcadin Coast is for beach lovers

Did you know the Clinton’s honeymooned in Haiti? Actually a lot of people have. The Arcadin Coast north of the capital of Port-au-Prince is the most popular beach destination in Haiti.   The beaches are lovely with all the fun-in-the sun activities readily available – snorkeling, fishing, jet skiing, sailing, diving, and so on.  Most of the people we met at the beach resorts had come with Transat Holiday, a Canadian company. According to an Arizona couple traveling with the group the company also books from US locations. 

We stayed at several resorts and it was hard to say which one was the best because they were all a bit different and looked like they had recently been freshened up with new paint and other upgrades.  Wahoo Bay Beach is a wonderful, boutique-like, family-owned resort.  We opted for a quiet room away from the pool with an incredible view of the sea.  And, as a special treat we had a wonderful breakfast on our porch outside our room.  At Kaliko, a midsize resort, the staff was very well-trained and our room was a large round colorful bungalow that would have been perfect for a family with young children.  The colorful resort reflects the Gingerbread architecture usually identified as typically
Haitian Creole. One of the things I thought spoke volumes about Haitian hospitality was the musical group that entertained at dinner. They were Kaliko employees who volunteered without pay.  Another hotel was a former Club Med that is now Club Indigo with rooms located in colorful buildings on a long sandy beach. They boast the largest pool in Haiti. Typical of Club Med the rooms are small but in keeping with the Club Med philosophy they feel the small rooms encourages people to get out and enjoy the beach and beautiful surroundings. 

One day we went on a walking tour through a nearby village that
ended in a market.  Our guided tour offered by Touris Lakay started at the Ogier Fombrun Museum, a place to learn about the area’s history from pre-Colombian times to Haiti’s colonial era. It the 1700s Haiti was the largest producer of sugar in the Caribbean and the richest country in the Americas. There is an authentic stone aqueduct and the 20-foot wooden wheel used to extract juice from the sugar cane. Our guide, Sala, led us at a slow pace identifying plants and trees along the way, past the cane fields where cows graze with the mountains as a backdrop, and continued to a spring where the community gathers to wash clothes, bath and where sacred, secret voodoo ceremonies are
purported to take place. However, authentic voodoo practices are not usually open to casual tourists. Darn! Voodoo is a serious African-based religion not to be confused the popular concept of voodoo in the United States. The walk along quiet, serene paths continued to a port and to the village of Montrouis where there is a lively market.  While most of the vendors were selling fruits and vegetables there were many other things for sale, bargaining is the usual practice. I wish I had known a little French or Creole so I could have chatted with the friendly people. It was a great way to get the feel of the “real” Haiti. At the end of the walking tour we returned to the historic mill in the back of a Tap-Tap. A Tap-Tap is a brightly painted truck that serves as taxis in Haiti.