I’ve been back from Haiti a little over a month now, and have spent most of my time since my return procrastinating on getting my stories surrounding the trip published. Not due to Haiti’s lack of inspiration, amazingness, beauty, life changingness, or any other vividly explosive adjective I could muster up to describe the experience – I just simply needed to take a break. From writing, blogging, instagramming, photographing, everything. Because truth be told, I've been feeling majorly burned out as of late. Ironic, considering I just came back from what most would consider a vacation. But the reality is I’m never actually on vacation during a trip because I never sit still long enough to rest; due mostly to my insatiable thirst to see this, do that, meet them, go there, and experience it all. As a result, sleep is never a priority so I'm left feeling exhausted by the time I get back home.
I know, I know - you’re thinking I should get myself some real problems, yes? You’re probably right.
But we’re not here to discuss my first world woes of traveler's fatigue – rather the cozy resort Village Vacances which could very well be every nature lovers dream. Built on the strikingly beautiful island of Ile a Vache (Cow Island), the environmentally and socially conscious hotel was the perfect base for me while I explored one of Haiti’s most stunning remote satellite islands located off its southwest peninsula.
I first heard of Village Vacances after interviewing Simon some time ago, where he shared details surrounding his stay along with his adventures exploring Ile a Vache. Left immediately intrigued, I began to wonder why this paradise isn't more prominently known. Why was this relatively untouched island hardly ever mentioned in the media’s incessant coverage of Haiti? And more importantly, how could I get myself there? Would it be possible for me, a solo female traveler to navigate there safely on my own?
Lucky for me, the answer was yes – all it would require was for me to take a bus, taxi, then boat to get there due to the island’s remoteness. My journey into Ile a Vache would require a 3.5 hour bus ride from Port au Prince to Les Cayes, a 20 minute taxi ride from the Les Cayes bus station to port, followed by a 45 minute scenic boat ride onto the island. But as the saying goes, fortune favors the brave. Once I finally arrived, I was left speechless. Not just by the island's beauty, but the resort's simple, care-free and peaceful flare. And although it was a far distance to travel to, Ile a Vache was hands down the most restful and beautiful region I visited during my stay within the country. Due to its isolation, the island was also sparsely developed allowing me to fully appreciate the natural landscapes, completely undisturbed from industrialization – a rare feat in the Caribbean indeed.
Finally at Village Vacances, I was happy to be so well received by staff who made every effort to make me comfortable. Everything was rustic, as the island maintains an old-fashioned way of living, but my room was spacious, clean, and well ventilated. I was a little disappointed in the inconsistency of the wifi - but who needs an internet connection when you're in paradise?
Nestled cozily in a hammock with a book on the beach at sunset, I decided there was no way I would sleep in my room that night; not when the crisp clear waters of the ocean were so close. So, I slept there. Right on the beach, in a peaceful slumber that lasted through the night only to be awoken by the gentle sounds of waves crashing against the beach and roosters crowing just before sunrise. Talk about paradise! But don’t attempt this unless you have a mosquito repellant on hand with a DEET percentage of at least 40% unless you want to wake up to a million burning mosquito bites on every part of your body and an 85% chance of getting the mosquito-borne bone breaking virus Chikungunya.
Interestingly enough, the most endearing part of my stay was learning about how committed the resort was to building and developing the local community. I was impressed by their environmental pledge to improve the local environment, while still maximizing the use of the land without causing negative effects on the resources, the economy or culture.
In an effort to encourage travelers to experience the vast beauty that exists within Ile a Vache for themselves, Village Vacances has granted Spirited Pursuit readers a 10% discount towards their stay (which includes 3 meals) for a limited time with offer code: SPIRITEDPURSUIT.
SPIRITED PURSUIT GUIDE TO ILE A VACHE
Bus > Moto/Taxi > Boat
Bus: Take the comfortable & air conditioned Transport Chic bus located near Sylvio Cator football stadium in front of Rue de la Reunion and 71 Oswald Durand St. Bus makes multiple departures from Port Au Prince to Les Cayes daily at 7am, 9am, 12:30 and 3pm. I would strongly advise you get there early to secure a window seat, but be patient once you do. Buses will not leave until they have reached capacity. Tickets are available for $10 USD each way, with the drive lasting about 3.5 hours.
Moto/Taxi: Once at the Les Cayes bus station, several taxis and motorcycles will be available to take you to the port. Motorcycles are less than $3 USD and a taxi will be roughly $15 USD, with either ride taking less than 15 minutes.
Boat: Depending on where you decide to stay, your hotel/resort can coordinate a boat taxi upon arrival for you. The commute is well worth it, as it will be a scenic and peaceful 30-45 minute ride into Ile a Vache.
**If you're ballin and have no interest in going the bus + taxi + boat route, you can instead go luxe by taking a helicopter directly from Port au Prince onto Ile a Vache (40 minute trip one-way). Abaka Bay & Port Morgan resorts have their own helipads and can organize this mode of transport for you.
Alternatives: Abaka Bay, Port Morgan, or family owned guesthouse
Cash (hardly anyone will accept credit cards throughout Haiti). It’s cheaper to use gourdes, but USD is widely accepted.
Sunscreen, mosquito repellent (with at least 40% DEET), mosquito net, & bug spray
Portable fan, flashlight, portable chargers for electronics (in case of power outages)
Swimwear & your favorite beach essentials (sunglasses, hats, etc.)
Lightweight clothing & flats/sneakers/sandals
Camera(s), laptops, recording devices, etc.
Visit Lovers Island
Fish with local fishermen before/during sunrise
Hop through the surrounding islands by fisherman’s boat
Horseback riding, kayaking, sailing, diving, snorkeling, etc
Explore secluded beaches and caves throughout the island such as Anse à l’Eau and Petite Anse Dufour
Consider a trip into Les Cayes to explore the city as well as Port Salut, Gelee Beach, Bassin Zim, and Saut-Mathurine
Hike to the peak the island near Abaka Bay for gorgeous panoramic views of the lagoon & surrounding areas (accompanied by a local if you want to learn more about the land)
Prestige Beer or Barbancourt Rhum punch
Roasted chicken, goat stew, griot (fried pork), and rice & beans
Pain Frais (fresh bread) with spicy peanut butter (locally known as manba)
Tom Tom (breadfruit mash), Accra (fried yucca), or Bannane Pesee (fried plantain)
Fresh squeezed limeades, handmade juices (orange & mango), or fresh coconut water
Fresh caught & delicious seafood available daily at Village Vacances. Lobster, conch (lambi), and whole roasted fish galore!
Wall geckos, lizards, & relentless mosquitoes
Did I overlook any of your local favorites? Be sure to let me know down below in the comments.
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