Travel Guide to Cap Haitien and my Experience Crossing the Border From The Dominican Republic To Haiti

Kach Umandap - Howe Destination, North America, Travel Blog, Travel Guides 2 Comments

Haiti which came from the word ‘Ayiti’ literally means ‘The Land of the Mountains’ which is true enough because they are the most mountainous area in the Caribbean. During the 18th Century when it was still under the control of the French Empire, they were the richest colony and was given the name ‘The Pearl of Antilles’. More than the beautiful island, the breathtaking mountains, underground caves, and waterfalls, Haiti has a history rich enough to be worth the visit for.

In my quest to visit every country in the world, I just landed in one of the most unusual destinations for tourists– Haiti. This has been my 121st country ever since we’ve started traveling and it’s very heartwarming to see it for myself. I’ve read a lot of bad things about this country but unlike most people, I try to see what’s beyond what I’m reading. More than these nasty headlines, I know they have a good side, just like everybody else. I know there’s something else in this country other than what the rest of the world perceives it to be.

A lot of people warned me not to go because it’s DANGEROUS. Is it really?

They think I’m crazy for visiting countries like Iraq, Venezuela, Somaliland and now a trip to Haiti… but nobody can stop me! I will visit every single country in the world! 🙂 I was supposed to travel solo but my good friend Kelly of Sailing Satori was up for some adventure so she decided to join me. Here’s our adventure in crossing the border to Haiti.

HOW DO I GET TO HAITI?

By land: Fly direct to Santiago or Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, go to the Caribe Bus Tours terminals in Santiago or Santo Domingo and catch the bus to Cap Haitien. Make sure to arrive a few hours before the bus departure to get your ticket. You can’t book it online. This will roughly take you around 6 hours which includes the Immigration procedures in both countries. Another option is to get a car rental to cross the border, make sure they’ll allow you to cross the border with the car.

By sea: The only option to get here by sea is by joining a cruise with Celebrity Cruises or the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line– they both have a private port in Labadee, Haiti which is just a 12.5 km. drive from Cap Haitien.

By air: Fly directly to Aeroport International Toussaint Louverture which is located in Haiti’s capital, Port Au Prince. They also have domestic flights

CROSSING THE BORDER FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TO CAP HAITIEN, HAITI

The Dominican Republic and Haiti share a common border so, from Luperon where we are currently based, we traveled to Santiago by bus to cross the border and to reach Cap Haitien. It took us literally the whole day– we left the boat at 7 AM, reached the immigration and border control at 3 PM, and arrived at our hotel around 5:30 PM Haiti time.

It’s easy to buy the bus ticket, we went to Caribe Tours terminal in Santiago because you can’t book the ticket for this journey online. When you arrive, they’d ask for your passport to add on their system and will charge you $27 for the one-way ticket but additional $25 for the exit tax of Dominican Republic and entry tax in Haiti. You can’t buy the return ticket here because you need to buy it in the office in Cap Haitien.

The bus was filled with 12 people, including me and Kelly. We actually thought it would be full so we got in a little early. The bus was rather basic and the 27$ fare comes with a free lunch. Good thing there was a lot of space since we were able to take an entire row each and we had a comfortable journey. They have two crews on the bus – first is the driver and the other one is the lady who handles the food & paying the taxes at the immigration.

When we arrived at the border, the bus stopped first at the Dominican Republic immigration. Everyone would have to go down the bus to get the exit stamps themselves. The only requirement is just the passport and the fully filled up immigration blue form (the bus company would give you this). Then the lady collected all of the passports for the taxes (I think when you fly out of the country, the airport tax is already added on your flight ticket) then the bus crossed the bridge with two gates that separate both countries. In Haiti side, we also had to go down of the bus then go in line.. the immigration officer gave us a form to fill up to enter & exit the country. You have to keep the exit paper with the immigration stamp! We also didn’t expect that upon entering we have to pay an extra $10 for the exit tax!

On our way back to the Dominican Republic, we only paid $35 ($25 for the ticket and the $10 Border Tax) to enter DomRep!

QUICK FACTS ABOUT CAP HAITIEN

Name: They had quite a lot of name changes but people often call them the Le Cap or Au Cap

Languages: French and Creole but you’ll meet a lot in the city who speak English & Spanish

Currency: Gourde

IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL AROUND HAITI?

I can’t answer for the whole country but I definitely felt safe in Cap Haitien, the reason for this is that we stayed at a really good hotel called Satama Hotel who also toured us around through their own travel agency called Destination Creole. They took all the necessary precautions, took us to nice places, and assured us that our safety is their priority.

Because of them, not once did we feel threatened or scared. The locals we met were in fact very friendly. I felt very secure the entire time we were there so my answer would be yes for Cap Haitien but make sure you stay at a good hotel and book your tour with a trusted agency.

Always take necessary precautions, refrain from walking alone at night, and beware of pickpockets and snatchers. This applies not only to Haiti but to whichever country you may be.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti share a common border so, from Luperon where we are currently based, we traveled to Santiago by bus to cross the border and to reach Cap Haitien. It took us literally the whole day– we left the boat at 7 AM, reached the immigration and border control at 3 PM, and arrived at our hotel around 5:30 PM Haiti time.

The bus was filled with 12 people, including me and Kelly. We actually thought it would be full so we got in a little early. The bus was rather basic and the 27$ fare comes with a free lunch. Good thing there was a lot of space since we were able to take an entire row each and we had a comfortable journey.

WHERE TO STAY IN CAP HAITIEN

I think the biggest factor why we felt safe in Haiti is because we chose a very good hotel so if ever you’re visiting, you really have to book a good hotel in a good location.

We stayed at Satama Hotel for 3 nights– a brand new and luxurious hotel perched up the mountains of Cap-Haitien. The owner, Mr. Gael, was kind enough to host us and not only that– he also showed us around with Destination Creole, their own tour agency.

The hotel is massive, bright, and airy. Being located on top of the mountain, expect to get a nice view of the sea or the city, relaxing peacefulness, and fresh air from wherever you may be. The room we got is huge with a beautiful city view, the beds comfortable, the towels and linens are fresh, there is absolutely nothing to complain about and everything to brag about. All the staff are very friendly albeit very professional. One of the highlights of this lovely property is the infinity pool overlooking the ocean and the city, with gorgeous mountains serving as the backdrop.

The hotel features a bar and a restaurant: the Satama Bar & Lounge, an outdoor terrace overlooking the city where you can grab your favorite cocktail matched with tapas, and the Satama Restaurant which offers a fusion of local and international cuisine. Imagine waking up from a peaceful sleep straight to a superb buffet breakfast with an amazing view, that’s what you’d get in your stay here and so much more. I absolutely recommend staying here! 🙂

MY EAT LIST (WHERE TO EAT AND WHAT TO EAT IN CAP HAITIEN)

If you know me personally then you know I love eating! That’s one of the reasons why I actually travel and gained a lot of weight in the last 4 years. Hahaha. You should also not leave the country without trying their local rum and beer (only 50 Haitian Gourde or 120 Gourde above in restaurants). Here are some food and restaurants that made it on my Eat List:

Cap Deli Haiti– I’m not being biased just because the co-owner is a Filipino but because the food is really good! We tried their pizza and also the seafood platter while drinking their Rum sour and beer! The place looks very cute on the outside and so cozy on the inside esp they have a rooftop terrace where they do Friday Karaoke night. Haha. Thank you, Kuya Adrian!

LOLO Restaurant– Gael, the owner of Satama Hotel highly recommended this restaurant to us and there’s no better way to know good places than from the locals. Our favorite is the freshly made pasta and pesto as well as the pizza with yummy pork toppings (which tastes like the Pinoy food Sisig! YUM!). Through Gael, we were also able to meet Lolo, the owner of the restaurant! 😉

Lakay Restaurant–  One of the best restaurants in Cap Haitien is this restaurant but I didn’t go there because our time was pretty limited, check out their reviews online though! I’ve heard their pizza is everybody’s favorite.

5 AMAZING THINGS YOU CAN DO IN CAP HAITIEN

Destination Creole made sure we see the best in Cap Haitien. Again, thanks to Gael and his brother Stephan, the General Manager of Destination Creole for arranging the tours for us and making sure we experience the best out of our 4-day trip to Haiti. Here are some lovely things we did around which I highly recommend you do too!

  • Explore the historical Citadelle Laferrière or Citadelle Henry Christophe and the Sans Souci Palace- This is the largest fortress on the western hemisphere located on top of the mountain and you’ll be surprised that all of this was built by hand. The way going up is steep so we decided to ride a horse. Seeing this magnificent architecture up close, seeing the view from above, and hearing its history from our local guide gave me chills. It’s that interesting.
  • Join the Amiga Island Tour- The sun is out and so should you. You’ll be totally rewarded with the Caribbean vibes as you take a boat to this beautiful island, enjoy the sun and the sand, grab your drinks, and swim/snorkel to the coral reef just a few yards from the beach. We were supposed to do this tour but the weather didn’t cooperate. Good thing Destination Creole always have a Plan B. They took us to their beach hotel/ resort (Cormier Plage) instead and had some really good rum starting at 11 AM. Haha!
  • Walk around town and explore the Rue Market, the Cathedral Notre Dame, and feel the distinguished “Havana” vibe at the city center- One of the best things we did with them is just to walk around town and see the colorful buildings in the market and the buy things from the local vendors. We instantaneously bought a nice hat which looks stunning for our sailing life. Haha
  • Take a Daytrip to Cadras aka The Paradise Bay- Experience luxury as you step out of the patio which leads to a bright and beautiful sea as you go to the Paradise Bay. The surrounding mountains make it even more breathtaking!
  • Try the local rum and the local bars- The locals sure know how to party and they know how to make good drinks that come with the excellent cuisine. Our favorite is the Rum Sour and Rum Punch (anything rum) and their award-winning local beer called Prestige! 🙂  

Overall, we had an absolutely good time at Cap Haitien thanks to Satama Hotel and Destination Creole who have been such gracious hosts! I don’t think our experience will be the same without them. It was indeed a very insightful trip from the Dominican Republic and I am happy to prove myself right, there are so many good things about Haiti and their people which is worth crossing the border for

FAQS ABOUT CAP HAITIEN AND HAITI IN GENERAL

1) What kind of clothes should I wear in Haiti?

Anything as long as it’s not too revealing. 

2) Is it safe to drink tap water?

No. I highly suggest you bring a reusable bottle so you can always refill it with the water provided by your hotel.

3) Is there electricity?

Of course! Haha.

4) What is the currency used?

The Haitian Gourd but a lot of people are using USD here.

5) How much is a beer in Haiti?

If you buy it at supermarkets or small stores you can get it for 50 Gourds per bottle but restaurants sell it for 100 Gourds.

6) Is it okay to wear open shoes like sandals, flip-flops, etc?

Of course yes unless you’ll go to the market or mountains! haha!

7) Can they speak English?

Their native language is French and Haitian Creole but a lot of people speaks English. You’ll also meet a Haitians here who used to live in the United States or Europe and just returned a few years ago.

8) What is their religion?

Christianity and Vodou have been both recognized as their official religion.

9) Do I need a visa to enter Haiti?

For Filipinos, it’s visa-free. This is the same for residents of the USA and Europe. Please check with the Embassy if you do not fall under any of these.

10) What do they ask for at the border if I don’t need a visa?

Just your passport which must have a remaining validity of 6 months past your stay. If you’re arriving by air, they require you to fill-up a landing card (which you shouldn’t lose) and you will be asked to present your return/forward ticket.

11) Do they have a wifi?

Yes! This isn’t a different planet you guys!

12) Can I wear my bikini at the beach?

Sure!

13) Do I need to have any vaccines before visiting Haiti?

Nothing is required but make sure to check with your doctor if you are in a good state to travel.

14) What’s the weather like?

It is warm and humid almost all year round. It’s a tropical country.

15) When is the best time to visit?

All year long but avoid the month of August as it is the hurricane season.

Comments 2

  1. Hello! I am traveling to Dreams Punta Cana for a week (Jan 12 – 19). I love animals and want to see monkeys, but not “trained” monkeys. I don’t want to ATV or ride horses or binge drink on a catamaran or hang out with screaming kids, but I want to see the natural eco-beauty. Help? What do you recommend? Everything looks so touristy.

    Of the two, would you go to Higuey or Santo Domingo? Thank you!!

    PS I have a friend who lives in Milot near Cap Haitien, and I dream of going to Haiti for a visit! I met him in the vendors’ market while visiting Labadee from a cruise ship.

  2. I’m so inspired! Pls! Add me! I’m from Somaliland! I wish I could show you more! @mercy_of_Allah_needed on Instagram 😀🤗

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