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Haiti: Ile à rats/Paradis

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Ile à rats/Paradis | Haiti | Americas

[Visited: July 2007]

Although Labadie is a very attractive town where one could easily spend several days exploring or just relaxing, close to it is Ile à Rats, a small island off the northern coast of Haiti. It was discovered by none less than Christopher Columbus, the explorer who put the Americas on the western maps. He named the island Amiga, and according to some, used it to retreat with his local lover. Locals refer to it as Lilet, from French l'Ilet: small island. Chartering a boat in Labadie, it now takes some forty minutes to reach this uninhabited island. From a distance, while racing over shallow waters with corals, you can easily spot this small dot on the horizon as it becomes bigger on your approach.

Picture of Ile à rats/Paradis (Haiti): Haitian fisherman hunting on a turquoise sea off Ile à Rats

It seems like a green cloud hovering over a white line on the sea, then the cloud turns into a densely grown green cover of the island, and the white line is the beach that actually encircles the entire island. So small, in fact, that walking around it takes less than ten minutes. Waves on this island are not wild: they are broken off the coast by the surrounding reef. Despite the trees it is not easy to find a shadow on the beach, but the sea is so marvellous here that you are drawn in over and again. Snorkeling is exciting when you discover old cannons and cannonballs on the sandy bottom of the sea. On the beach, a fisherman might come up to you with ultra fresh fish fried on a fire on the beach, served on a leaf of one of the trees. This definitely is a very romantic place (pity for the boatman waiting to go back!) and it is not difficult to imagine why Columbus liked to come here to play around with his lover.

Picture of Ile à rats/Paradis (Haiti): Ile à Rats or Isla Amiga just before arriving

I could easily have stayed longer on the island, but we had to go back. On our way, we visited Cadras beach, better known to locals as Paradise. I thought we had just seen that, but indeed, when you enter the bay surrounded by hills completely covered in green trees, you don't realize what is coming up. A small white beach at the end is also the place where a small river comes down the hills, forming a small pond of cold fresh water right at the beach. It is a great sensation to lie on the beach in the water: at your feet, the warm waves lapping against your toes, your head in the cold water. The water here is brilliantly translucent: boats seem to be suspended in the air. Another place where I could have spend more time...

Picture of Ile à rats/Paradis (Haiti): Boat floating on transparent water at Cadras beach, also known as Paradis
Picture of Ile à rats/Paradis (Haiti): Boat on blue waters near Ile à Rats
Picture of Ile à rats/Paradis (Haiti): Boat on the beach of Ile à Rats
Picture of Ile à rats/Paradis (Haiti): Beach and tranquil waters of Ile à Rats
Picture of Ile à rats/Paradis (Haiti): Waves on the beach of Ile à Rats
Picture of Ile à rats/Paradis (Haiti): Beach and turquoise water of Isla Amiga or Ile à Rats
Picture of Ile à rats/Paradis (Haiti): Green and turquoise sea and the beach of Ile à Rats
Picture of Ile à rats/Paradis (Haiti): White strip of beach in a green forest in the bay of Cadras
Picture of Ile à rats/Paradis (Haiti): Cadras beach or Paradise, dwarfed by tree-covered hills
Picture of Ile à rats/Paradis (Haiti): Cold freshwater and sea at Paradise, or Cadras beach
Picture of Ile à rats/Paradis (Haiti): Paradise: cool water, white beach, transparent sea at Cadras

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