Candle-Lit Beach Safari: Haiti
Let’s start off by saying this isn’t your typical hotel review. Haiti is a unique and wonderful place, best explored as part of a group that can offer you the ins and outs of the local culture.
That being said… if you’re interested in a unique, off the grid, sustainable tourism experience in which you are immersed in the local food, people, and traditions then this trip is for you.
When you think of Haiti you’re probably imaging a third world country that is still struggling from the effects of poverty and the natural disasters that have plagued it. Well, unfortunately, you’re right. But (and this is a big BUT) what you probably didn’t know is that the people of Haiti are INCREDIBLE. They’re proud, they’re kind, they’re happy, and above all else, they’re resilient. On top of that, Haiti has some of the prettiest white sand beaches and warm turquoise water. It IS a part of the Caribbean after all!
So, when I decided to join Kin Travel on a “Beach Safari” adventure I didn’t know quite what to expect. Here is what I found out…
There is only one flight in and out of Cap Haitien every day. Because of that, you arrive on the same flight as the rest of the crew and kick-start the adventure from the get go. For this experience, the group was kept to an intimate 15 people; and, as a solo female traveler, this made me feel incredibly comfortable as you ultimately become one big family as the trip progresses.
In terms of the camp, we were set up on our own private, 150-acre mangrove beach that is only accessible by boat. No foot traffic. No roads in and no roads out. We first arrived to camp after sunset which was a magical experience. I’ve never seen the stars shine so bright and the ocean was lit up with a glimmering blue bioluminescent light.
The main camp featured a large family area beautifully designed in natural, nude tones. There were candles, burning incense, pillows, rugs, decorative corals, hammocks, a designated yoga area, and a massage table where an on-site masseuse was available to help relieve any stress.
The entire set up was completely eco friendly and sustainable. In accordance with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, everything that was brought in was packed up and brought out at the end of the trip. The jungle shower was powered by the gravity of the fresh river water collected and carried in each day and although there was no electricity, the kitchen was fully functioning and manned by our “Chopped” champion chef (more on that later)!
Moving down the beach and away from the main camp, there was a row of tents set up about 15 feet from a small, handmade retaining wall that the shoreline crashed against. The tents themselves (either single Queen, Double Queen, or Double Singles) were chicly designed. Structured like a teepee, there was a high vaulted ceiling which tapered down to the floor covered in cozy, airy rugs. There was a night stand, a lounge chair, and a clothes rack. At night the tent was lit solely by flickering candles making it warm and romantic. Imagine falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing and a consistent, warm, breeze flowing through your tent. I’m still missing those moments!
Let’s talk about food. Wow. The trip featured a private chef who was a challenger and winner on the popular Food Network show “Chopped.” Using 100% fresh, local foods from the market, we were prepared healthy, innovative recipes each day. There was quinoa fried rice, Nutella crepes, coconut corn bread, and (my personal favorite) loads of fresh papayas and bananas. While it wasn’t in season during our trip, the Summer month menu includes locally grown avocados and mangos! Before each breakfast, I liked the start my morning off with a cup of fresh pressed coffee while reading a book in one if the ocean-side hammocks. It doesn’t get much better than that.
- Intimate group experience that immerses you into the local culture
- An off the grid opportunity with a good balance of relaxation and exploration
- Falling asleep in a beautiful, candle-lit tent as you listen to the waves crash along the beach
- A private chef and masseuse
- Environmental benefits of sustainable tourism
- Cold Showers. While some might say they are refreshing, I say “Brr”!!
- Traveling by Kannot, which are the local Haitian boats. Let’s just say you shouldn’t be afraid to get a little bit wet on windy evening rides
- Bug Bites! It’s humid there and the bugs are hungry. While there was bug spray and the tents were GREAT at keeping them out, you should be prepared to do some itching
As a part of the trip, you are taken on a handful of pre-planned adventures. The first day we hiked 1,350 ft up to the mountain village of Port Francais to play soccer with the children. The next day we traveled to the town of Milot to explore the historical Citdel and visit a beautiful artisan business, Haiti Design Co., where we worked with locally employed women to make our very own bracelets. The following days were filled with sun bathing, cocktails, games, and a nautical cruise on a 62 ft. sail boat, Balance.
written and rated by Ashley Elizabeth