ABOUT Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Tourists who are unsettled by grinding poverty probably should visit elsewhere. However, for those with patience and an open mind, Haiti reveals a rich culture that is unique among post-colonial nations. It is extremely helpful when traveling in Haiti to have a local contact, through a church, a hotel, or just through making friends with someone. Experiences like dining locally, riding on a tap-tap, or strolling through one of the insanely crowded outdoor markets are great fun and very worth doing but are much safer and easier if you have a trusted Haitian to go along as a guide. Due to recent political instability, tourism - once a significant industry - has suffered in Haiti, with the exception of Labadee, a port located on the country's northern coast. Labadee is a resort leased long term by Royal Caribbean International. Although sometimes described in advertisements as an island in its own right, it is actually contiguous with the rest of Hispaniola. Labadee is fenced off from the surrounding area. The cruise ships anchor offshore, and passengers are tendered to the resort, often without being told they are in Haiti. Attractions include a Haitian Flea Market, traditional Haitian dance performances, numerous beaches, watersports, and a waterpark. Lately the city of Jacmel, due to its reputation as being less politically volatile, its French colonial era architecture, its colorful cultural carnival, pristine beaches and a nascent film festival has been attracting local tourists and a small amount of international tourism.
CLIMATE The climate is tropical, with some variation depending on altitude. Port-au-Prince ranges in January from an average minimum of 23° C to an average maximum of 31° C ; in July, from 25–35° C. The rainfall pattern is varied, with rain heavier in some of the lowlands and on the northern and eastern slopes of the mountains. Port-au-Prince receives an average annual rainfall of 54 in. There are two rainy seasons, April–June and October–November. Haiti is subject to periodic droughts and floods, made more severe by deforestation. Hurricanes are also a menace.
BEWARE Haiti suffered widespread disorder, including looting and gun violence following the 12 January 2010 earthquake. Crime figures have largely returned to pre-earthquake levels. The risk of crime is high and the general security situation unpredictable. 5,000 prisoners, many violent, escaped the National Penitentiary and are still at large. Many Haitians carry guns. There have been random shootings of civilians in incidents of street robbery. Foreign nationals have also occasionally been caught in the crossfire of gang violence. You should seek professional security advice and make arrangements for your security throughout your visit. You should exercise caution during the day, and avoid travel at night. We advise against all travel to the slum districts of Port-au-Prince including Carrefour, Cite Soleil and Martissantas there is minimal policing in these areas and personal security cannot be guaranteed. You should avoid displaying expensive items of jewellery or carrying large sums of money. You should not leave property in vehicles and always travel with doors locked and windows up. You are advised to park close to any venues that you visit and not to leave a venue alone, and to always check your surroundings. There is a serious threat of kidnapping across Haiti. Kidnappers do not discriminate on the basis of nationality, religion, gender, age or profession. We advise those travelling in Haiti to exercise a high degree of caution. You should take the following precautions: You should always travel with a knowledgeable and reliable guide You should avoid all public transport and only use rented cars with a local driver from a reliable agency (Avis, Budget, etc) Ensure you have all supplies you might need for your stay, as fuel, food and water shortages are likely You should be aware that the security situation in Haiti can change at short notice Road conditions have been badly affected by the recent earthquake. Many roads, particularly near the epicentre of the earthquake, are difficult to use if not impassable. There are reports of attacks on those using the road between Port-au-Prince and the border with the Dominican Republic. Although fuel is now available supplies can suddenly run short; you should therefore carry sufficient spare fuel.