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5 REASONS TO VISIT THE FIRST FREE BLACK REPUBLIC

Carnival time in Port-au-Prince

Mention Haiti to most people, and they’ll surely conjure up images of strife and devastation. Although the island nation has had its troubles, it’s so much more than the single story of suffering the media are quick to promote. Historically rich, culturally vast and tremendously beautiful, it is a destination that is well worth a visit. Here are five reasons to make this Caribbean country your next trip:

Oneika Raymond is an educator and travel writer whose adventures abroad have taken her to over 90 countries. Follow her journey around the world on Instagram at @oneikatraveller or on her blog at oneikathetraveller.com.

By Oneika Raymond

1. THE HISTORY

Even if you’re not a history buff, Haiti’s remarkable past will intrigue you. The nation, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, was once under Spanish and then French rule. But in 1804, Haiti shed the shackles of its colonial keepers when, after years of revolting, enslaved Africans made the country the world’s first independent Black republic.

2. THE SIGHTS

Haiti is chock-full of impressive architectural wonders. The Palace of Sans Souci and the Citadel, a large mountaintop fortress, for example, are perhaps the most majestic remaining symbols of the proud and prosperous period following the Haitian Revolution. Found in the northern part of Haiti, both structures were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are considered icons of the country.

3. THE CULTURE

With its European, African, Latin American and indigenous influences, Haiti’s cultural fabric is both vibrant and multifaceted. The arts are highly valued, with music and dancing comprising an integral part of daily life. In particular, revelers extol the life-giving properties of Haitian Kanaval (Carnival), which fills the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, with eye-catching color and rib-shaking music every February.

4. THE FOOD

Although Haiti’s cuisine is varied and has something to suit every palate, you can’t leave without sampling the country’s most beloved dish. The much-heralded griot (fried pork) is often paired with another Haitian staple, rice and beans, and topped with a side of pikliz, a zesty local condiment made of cabbage.

5. THE BEACHES

Haiti’s beaches are perhaps the Caribbean’s best-kept secret: The country is awash in pristine stretches of sand lapped by clear turquoise waters. The beaches around the northern coast are the country’s most touristy, so if that’s not your preference, head to the south. Port Salut Beach offers stunning sunsets, and the eclectic city of Jacmel is the jump-off point for a number of Haiti’s other coastal beach gems.

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