Is Labadee, Haiti on your Royal Caribbean cruise itinerary? You're in for a treat. 🙂
Labadee is a small peninsula on the northern coast of Haiti. It is a private beach leased to Royal Caribbean and you can only get there on a Royal Caribbean cruise. All of the beaches and activities at Labadee are located within a 10-15 minute walk of your cruise ship.
We recently took our kids on their first cruise and they loved it! Labadee, Haiti was one of our cruise ports and we had a lot of questions about it before our trip. I'm answering all of them in this post.
Here are my tips to help you make the most of your day in Labadee, Haiti.
Labadee has four beaches: Adrenaline Beach, Columbus Cove, Nellie's Beach, and Barefoot Beach. The “best” beach depends on what activities you enjoy most. Barefoot Beach is reserved for suite guests of Royal Caribbean.
There are plenty of complimentary beach chairs for everyone, but shade is somewhat limited. Arrive at the beach within the first hour if you want to be choosy about your spot. Assume that any beach you choose will be crowded. We arrived early and got a beautiful shady spot, but were soon surrounded on all sides by our fellow passengers.
If you'd like more space and comfort, consider reserving a cabana a month or more before your trip. We considered a cabana, but waited too long and all but the most expensive ones were gone 2-3 weeks before we left home. We still had a great day at Labadee, but plan ahead if you really want a cabana.
Adrenaline Beach is the longest beach, running most of the length of the peninsula on the far side. You'll see it on your left soon after you disembark. Most activities on Adrenaline Beach, including swimming, will be found at the far end. Dragon's Breath Zipline, Dragon's Breath Coaster, and sports courts for volleyball, basketball, and soccer can be found at Adrenaline Beach.
Columbus Cove is at the end of the road. It's a nice beach with palm trees and family activities. Arawak Water Park and Dragon's Splash Water Slide are located at Columbus Cove.
We spent most of our day on Nellie's Beach. It's a lovely little cove in the middle of the peninsula on the right side of the road. Kayak tours begin here, but there isn't a whole lot more going on. If you just want to relax with a good book and play in the water all day, it's a great option.
Related: Tips for Your First Cruise
There are lots of things to do on Labadee. Whether you want a relaxed beach day or an exciting day filled with adventure, Royal Caribbean has you covered.
All the activities, including a zip line, water park, tours, beach coaster, and more are listed in the Labadee excursions when you create your online Royal Caribbean account prior to your cruise. You will pay extra for these activities. Some may sell out, so if it's a priority, be sure to book in advance.
One of the most exciting activities is Dragon's Breath Flight Line. It's the longest overwater zip line in the world. Click HERE to get more info and tips for Dragon's Breath Flight Line.
We didn't reserve any activities in advance but kept an open mind. In the end, we just rented two floating mats. The sturdy mats made it easy to paddle past most of the people in the shallowest part of the water and relax with a little more space. Other than that, we were happy to walk around Labadee and play in the water at Nellie's Beach for a few hours.
Hair braiding is another fun thing to do at Labadee. My 12-year-old daughter spent $20 for five short braids and it was one of the favorite things she did on the cruise. The tight braids stayed in for about a week, so she was able to show them to friends at school before taking them out. Bring cash for this activity.
Local craftsmen and women have booths in the Artisan's Market (indoor) and Artisan's Village (outdoor). They sell bracelets, clothing, wood carvings, and many other crafts and souvenirs.
I visited both the indoor and outdoor markets with my teen daughter. The indoor vendors were less assertive, but also less willing to negotiate.
We found the outdoor vendors to be so aggressive that after walking one way through Artisan's Village we took the shuttle back so they could not call out to us. I didn't feel unsafe – it's just not how I like to shop.
The main road to Columbus Cove takes you right through Artisan's Village. You can skip it via the footpath from Nellie's Beach, or take the shuttle. But if you'd like to meet some locals and shop for crafts to take home, this is your chance.
A complimentary barbeque lunch buffet is served on Labadee. It included hot dogs, hamburgers, BBQ ribs, side dishes, fresh fruit, cookies, water, and punch. We arrived right as it opened and briefly enjoyed short lines and open tables.
Drinks, food, and snacks are available for purchase in several locations on Labadee. You can also return to the ship for lunch.
Related: Tips for Cruise Ship Dining
What to pack
A swimsuit and cover-up or casual clothing are good choices for your entire day at Labadee. Beach towels are provided by the ship as you disembark, so you do not need to bring your own.
Sunscreen is essential. The tropical sun on Labadee was intense.
Nellie's Beach was OK for bare feet, but there were some rocky spots in the cloudy water. I wore my Teva sandals both in and out of the water.
If you have your own reusable water bottles, fill them on the ship and bring them with you. I love insulated stainless steel bottles like the EcoVessel Boulder because they keep water cold all day. Disposable water bottles were sold as we left the ship and drinks were sold throughout Labadee.
Bring cash for shopping and tips. Most of your food, drinks, and activities on Labadee are either included or can be charged to your ship account. However, we used cash to tip the man who set up our beach chairs, pay the woman who braided my daughter's hair, and purchase souvenirs.
Related: What to Pack for a Caribbean Cruise
Want to visit Labadee, Haiti?
You can only get there on a Royal Caribbean cruise. We booked our cruise through Get Away Today Vacations. Get Away Today is a family-owned company with 25 years of cruise travel experience and a commitment to customer service. You’ll never pay booking or agency fees for a cruise at Get Away Today.
Call 877-510-2929 to speak to a cruise expert who can help you find the right cruise for your family at the right price. When you call to book your cruise, tell your Get Away Today agent that Tips for Family Trips sent you. They’ll add $25 shipboard credit to your account!
My family had a wonderful and relaxing day at Labadee and I hope that yours will too! Labadee may not be a typical or authentic Haiti experience, but it may be the only opportunity we get to visit this country and meet people who live there.
Have you visited Labadee recently? Do you have a question? Please share tips and questions in the Comments below.