Haitian Flag Day parade in Cap-Haitien
Women wearing red, blue and gold folkloric dresses in a Haitian Flag Day parade in Cap-Haitien on May 18, 2022. Photo by Oldjy Francois for The Haitian Times

The first time I visited Cap-Haitien was in 1991, shortly after Jean Bertand Aristide was elected president. There was an air of optimism blowing throughout the country, and it seemed like better days lay ahead. 

I found Haiti’s second largest city charming and rather small for its population. The cobblestone streets were narrow and, oddly enough, the entrance of the city was rather grubby. But its elegance was unquestioned.  

The Capois are a welcoming group, but they harbor a slight resentment of the folks from the capital, whom they say look down on them even though their northern city is the cradle of Haiti’s patrimony, home to the Citadel and majestic Sans-Souci Palace.


Cap-Haitien has become a bigger draw for cultural and leisure travelers seeking to enjoy Haiti's charms, especially as Port-au-Prince falls further into the hands of dangerous gangs. But for how long can Okap serve as a get-away?

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Garry Pierre-Pierre

Garry Pierre-Pierre is a Pulitzer-prize winning, multimedia and entrepreneurial journalist. In 1999, he left the New York Times to launch the Haitian Times, a New York-based English-language publication serving the Haitian Diaspora. He is also the co-founder of the City University Graduate School of Journalism‘s Center for Community and Ethnic Media and a senior producer at CUNY TV.