Labadee, Haiti – More than Meets the Eye

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Labadee is a port on the northern coast of Haiti which is leased to Royal Caribbean until 2050. I wasn’t really sure if I would like this stop on our Caribbean cruise, since the thought of a port built by Royal Caribbean sounds extremely commercialized.
 

While the port is definitely geared towards selling tours and souvenirs, there is much more to Labadee than meets the eye.
 

My initial reaction to a huge cruise ship company leasing a portion of an untouched paradise is to automatically assume the worst, but it’s important to see the bigger picture and learn how it can actually improve the lives of some of the locals.

According to Wikipedia, “Royal Caribbean International has contributed the largest proportion of tourist revenue to Haiti since 1986, employing 300 locals, allowing another 200 to sell their wares, and paying the Haitian government US$6 per tourist.”

Not only that, after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Royal Caribbean donated $1 million to fund relief efforts and to use cruise ships to ferry relief supplies and personnel.

In Haiti, going to school isn’t a birthright. Parents must pay up-front for their children to attend school and it’s not cheap. The boat captain who led our shore excursion in Labadee was extremely grateful to have a job so he could send his children to school that year. Free education for children is something we often take for granted and it surprised all of us to learn this unfortunate fact about the education system in Haiti.

For those of you who are interested, I found a great cause called the Haiti Education Foundation, where you can donate to help put a child through school.
 

Labadee grew on me, that’s for sure. During our visit, we found one of the best things to do in Labadee, Haiti.
 

Private Beach in Labadee, Haiti

Private Beach in Labadee, Haiti

 

Your Own Private Beach

While most of our fellow cruise ship passengers chose to lounge on the crowded beach just steps away from the dock or zipped through the air on the Dragon’s Breath Zipline (the longest zipline over water), we found a little piece of heaven.

My dad, an extremely generous guy, looked into booking a catamaran for all 14 of us to float away to the privately owned beach of Malfini, just a 20 minute boat ride away from the main beach.

They limit this private beach to 25 people, so we almost had it all to ourselves. When we ask the kids which stop was their favorite, they all unanimously say Haiti because it felt like one of those once in a lifetime moments.

The beach is set up with comfortable chairs in the shade, plenty of rafts for lounging in the water, cheap beer and fresh (straight from the tree) coconut water for the kids. Needless to say, none of us wanted to leave when the boat came back for us three hours later.
 

Private Beach in Labadee, Haiti
 

We booked this tour after we arrived in Labadee, but if you want to book it ahead of time, you can do so on Royal Caribbean’s website.
 

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Christy Woodrow is a travel photographer and professional blogger based in San Diego. She has been traveling around the world with her partner in crime, Scott, since 2006. Join them in their quest to find off-the-beaten-path destinations by signing up for weekly emails and following her on .

    • http://www.traveluniversally.com/homepage.aspx Susan Mcguire

      Labadee’s beaches are so relaxation giving. I would love to have sun bath and get refreshed over there!

    • http://www.aladdincafe.com/aladdin-restaurant-reviews.php Aladdin Cafe

      There are sad things that a paradise hides in its beauty like the case of education in Haiti. However, it’s hard to ignore how relaxing and tranquil the private owned beach seemed. What are the contact details of that beach for reservation purposes?

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        You can click on the link we provided at the bottom of the post. :)

        • shadcius@yahoo.com

          Your trip to Haiti was amazing ! Thank you for sharing it with us. I was there for the first time in 2010 after the quake. I never knew this paradise existed, even though I was born in Haiti. I would very much like for to read ” Haiti Beyond The Rubble” I wrote it after the earthquake. This story is more than a retelling of an earthquake; It is the story of how one person can make a difference in the lives of others. I’d like your feedback.

    • http://www.1000fights.com 1000 Fights

      Looks like paradise! As winter comes…that water looks better and better.

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        The water was so warm!

    • Rease Kirchner

      You look so cute in that photo. I’ve read some stuff about Haiti and their lack of public education It is really sad. It’s great that the cruise line helps out a bit.

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        Aww.. thank you, Rease. It was my relaxed face. :) I was glad to hear about Royal Caribbean’s presence there was actually making a good impact. I guess I forget how tourism can help the locals sometimes.

    • Ali

      I agree, my initial thought when you said resort built by a cruise company was not a pleasant one. But it’s really wonderful to see how much they’re actually helping locals who really need it.

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        Yea, I guess I shouldn’t always assume the worst when it comes to things like this. ;)

    • Abby

      Huh. This sort of blew my mind. And I love that first photo of you!! I truly had no idea that any cruise stopped in Haiti. This information was really fascinating.

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        I didn’t know it either until our cruise. At first I got really excited thinking I would see the real Haiti, but this was better than nothing. ;)

    • Jaci

      Hi, my family and I are traveling to the this location coming July. We origanlly had the Malfini beach booked until I noticed it said 12 and up. My daughter will be 4. I see you might have younger kids by looking at these photos. Did it have an age restriction when you booked it? Did anyone say anything about it when you went?

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        Hi @disqus_QlDa6LsI5p:disqus. Yes, we did have a couple of young kids, a one year old and three year old. I’m not sure if it makes a difference that we booked the tour once we were already at port. Did you book it through Royal Caribbean?

        • Jaci

          Yes, we booked through Royal Caribbean. It let us book the excursion under our reservations with her name/age. But when I saw the age thing we canceled. Now I’m thinking maybe we should re-book it.

          • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

            @disqus_QlDa6LsI5p:disqus I would try giving Royal Caribbean a call if you can. I’m pretty sure we still booked through Royal Caribbean, but maybe they have different rules if you book it while at port. Good luck!

    • http://www.hotelurbano.com.br/ Luizze Oliveira

      Labadee is a Port of Haiti. It is luxury private resort leased to Royal Caribbean International until 2050. It has suitable weather so people can go here to enjoy their vacation.

    • http://www.qhint.com/ Online RSA

      Wow! What a paradise! Clear beach and white fine sand. I hope I can visit that lovely place too!

    • http://www.facebook.com/christineabergman Christine Bergman

      Looks like you’re enjoying the Prestige Beer – good stuff! Thanks for such a good article. My daughter is spending part of her summer doing volunteer work in Haiti again this year, and it’s good to know that Royal Caribbean is doing good things in a country that is so near and dear to our hearts.

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        @facebook-1681480131:disqus Oh yes, the beer was yummy! :) Wow… what a great thing for your daughter to do. We really fell in love with the Haitian people we met during our short visit.