8 Hours in Labadee, Haiti

Here’s how to make the most of your day at this private destination.
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If temperatures have dropped where you are, why not plan an escape to warmer weather with Royal Caribbean?

Credit: Royal Caribbean

Labadee—Royal Caribbean’s private destination on the northern coast of Haiti—is a slice of paradise with something for everyone, from families with kids looking for adventure to a group of friends, to couples after a little romance. Whether you’re looking for a jolt of adrenaline on the world’s longest overwater zip line or a spot to cozy up on the white sand beach to relax and kick back, there are plenty of reasons why Labadee is a top Caribbean cruise destination.

Imagine sunbathing at a tucked-away beach called Columbus Cove, walking with a guide as you learn of Haiti’s history or snorkeling with wildlife in turquoise waters. You can only get to Labadee by ship—consider Wonder of the Seas, decked out with activities for all ages (waterslides and your choice of 40-plus restaurants, lounges and bars, anyone?)—and what awaits is an idyllic getaway.

With so many ways to play, here’s how to maximize your day in Labadee:

The ultimate rush on the island is the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line, the longest zip line over water.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

If you’re an adventure junkie …

Dragon’s Breath and Fire Flight Line

Time it takes: 1.5 hours

Recommendation: Come with fitted clothing and courage.

Enjoy breathtaking views as you fly down feet first on Dragon’s Breath Flight Line, the world’s longest zip line over water—more than 2,600 feet long—at high speeds. Or soar headfirst (Superman style) from on the Dragon’s Fire Flight Line. Either way, you’ll end your thrilling ride at Dragon’s Breath Rock, a unique rock formation where air and water forced through the cracks in its surface make a dragon-like “hissing” sound. Make sure to open your eyes because you’ll have the best seat in the house on the way down.

 

Speedboat and Snorkel

Time it takes: 1.5 hours

Recommendation: Bring a camera.

Take an exciting speedboat ride to one of Haiti’s beautiful reefs. On the way, you can catch a glimpse of local villages and picturesque Acul Bay. Once you arrive, you’ll receive equipment and instruction so you’ll be ready to discover marine life—keep an eye out for sea urchins, sand dollars and colorful fish.

 

Dragon’s Tail Coaster

Time it takes: It’s up to you.

Recommendation: Sit in front for the best view!

Hop in, buckle up and make your way down the side of the mountain on this alpine coaster. Built for thrill-seekers of many ages—kids especially love it—the coaster zooms at around 30 miles per hour, taking 360-degree twists and turns. Before you set off, make sure to take in the breathtaking view from 680 feet. Then get ready to dip, wind and weave your way from Santa Maria’s lookout mountain to the beach below.

 

Arawak Aqua Park

Time it takes: 1 hour

Recommendation: Fuel up before diving in.

Arawak Aqua Park is a water course made up of the “icebergs” of the Caribbean. Take on giant floating trampolines, waterslides, a rolling log and a lot of other fun. Taking a beach day to the next level, the young and young at heart will enjoy this dose of adventure as they jump from one obstacle to the next. Even better, the beach is in sight, so adults can relax with a tropical drink in hand and cheer on the kids.

 

Malfini is a serene beach spot to take in the beauty of the destination.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

If you’re a beach bum …

Nellie’s Beach

Time it takes: It’s up to you.

Recommendation: Bring a book.

Nellie’s Beach is the perfect place to chill out and enjoy the coastal scenery. You can take a leisurely kayak trip along the shoreline, rent floating mats or sit back on the complimentary beach loungers. If you’re looking to splurge, an overwater cabana nestled on the hillside offers you your very own cabana attendant and furnishings like lounge chairs, floating mats and food.

Pro tip: There are several other beaches on Labadee within walking distance, including Colombus Cove and Adrenaline Beach, where you can sign up for the Dragon’s Tail Coaster!

 

Castaway at Malfini

Time it takes: 3 hours

Recommendation: Order a Malfini punch.

Escape to a hidden getaway to enjoy a day of uninterrupted relaxation. A catamaran takes you to a remote, pristine cove covered by lush vegetation, where you can kayak near coral reefs, swim in crystal clear waters looking for tropical fish and lounge in the soft sand. The only sign of civilization in this tranquil paradise is the Canoe Bar, where you can take a sip of the Malfini punch, a rum cocktail served in a coconut.

 

Sandbar Island Getaway

Time it takes: 2.5 hours

Recommendation: Bring a bottle of water.

Take a catamaran through Haiti’s reef systems to a sandbar and experience the unique sensation of standing in the open waters of the Caribbean Sea. Listen to the local tunes as you swim, chill out and enjoy a Labadoozie, Labadee’s specialty frozen drink made of dark rum, coconut rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, papaya juice and cream of coconut.

 

Take a walk back in time and visit some of Haiti’s most historic spots such as Citadelle Laferriere and Nellie’s Place.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

If you’re into culture …

Labadee Historic Walking Tour

Time it takes: 1 hour

Recommendation: Come ready to ask questions.

Haiti’s culture is all on its own. Take to the trails to learn more about the traditions, nature and folklore of this Caribbean country. A Haitian historian will tell the tales of several prominent events that impacted both the land and its people in the last 500 years. The experience includes stops at Dragon’s Breath Rock, where you can hear the famous effect of water and air pushing through rock; and the ruins of Nellie’s Place, a trading post allegedly named after an Englishwoman who established it for visiting ships long ago.

Pro tip: In Haiti, dancing and music are full of emotion, history and cultural resonance. Experience a live performance of a traditional dance like yanvalou, meant to mimic the movement of a snake, or learn the popular jazz-based compas, similar to merengue, with a quick, driving tempo.

 

Labadee Traditions

Time it takes: 2 hours

Recommendation: Bring pocket money in case you find a keepsake.

Begin with a boat tour to get a feel for the landscape before diving into artifacts and practices that bring Haitian history to life. You’ll see a giant furnace (or an earth oven, a pit in the ground that traps heat) commissioned by Henri Christophe—a leader of the Haitian Revolution and later the country—which produced materials for the towering, 19th-century fortress Citadelle Laferriere as well as antique Haitian weaponry and furniture. Haitian Vodou (different from Louisiana Voodoo) shaped the history of the nation, too, so you’ll also explore the traditions of the religion.

Pro tip: Want to bring a piece of Labadee home with you? Visit the marketplace where local artisans sell handmade crafts and other goods that will remind you of this destination and the people for years to come.

 

Ready to learn more about Labadee, Haiti, and the other Caribbean islands you can visit on a Royal Caribbean cruise? Explore the private destination and more here.