Labadee, Haiti is Royal Caribbean’s private cruise resort with all the beach attractions, watersports, and fun activities that cruisers look forward to. Private island destinations are popular ports of call for cruises in the Caribbean but Labadee, Haiti is a little different. This 260-acre resort is actually on a coastal peninsula rather than a private island.
One of the advantages of visiting Labadee is that even the largest Oasis-class ships can moor at the pier, avoiding the need for tenders. The secure gated resort is just over 800 meters long and 400m wide and is very easy to walk around.
Paved trails make it wheelchair-friendly and easy to navigate on foot. Alternatively, you can take the free tender to quieter Columbus Cove for the day. There’s also a free tram around Labadee with stops at the Dragon Zipline Station near the pier and at Barefoot Station and Town Square. Why not just hop aboard for a quick ride around Labadee!
Labadee is a thrilling place to spend a day. It has four beautiful white sandy beaches and the warm Caribbean waters are perfect for swimming and a host of watersports. Labadee also has some adrenalin rides including an alpine roller coaster and one of the longest zip-lines over water anywhere in the world.
Other things to do in Labadee include the massive Arawak Aqua Park with Dragon’s Splash water-slide, cabana rentals, parasailing, jet-skiing, fishing, speed boat adventures, catamaran trips, cultural experiences, kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, cafés, bars, and children’s play areas. Prepare for some serious fun!
Where is Labadee?
Labadee is located on a peninsula on the north coast of Haiti in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea. Haiti occupies the western end of the island of Hispaniola while neighboring Dominican Republic covers the central and eastern end of the island. The two countries are separated by a very high mountain range.
Labadee is 32 miles west of the border with Dominican Republic and 134 miles south of Grand Turk, the nearest island. It is 567 miles from Miami, the main departure point for Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.
A little history about Labadee, Haiti
The island of Hispaniola was originally inhabited by indigenous Taino people before being “discovered” by Christoper Columbus on his first Voyage of Discovery in 1492.
In 1697, the western end of the island (now Haiti) was ceded to France and the lucrative sugar plantations made it one of the richest colonies in the world. During the 17th century, the Marquis de La Badie settled in the area and it became known as “Labadee”. Then, in 1804 Haiti gained independence.
Labadee is currently leased to Royal Caribbean as a private resort destination until 2050.
Who owns Labadee, Haiti?
Labadee is a 260-acre private resort that was leased to Royal Caribbean Cruises in 1986. In 2009, RCI upgraded the facilities at a cost of $55 million which included building a deep-water dock for visiting cruise ships. The lease runs until 2050.
Labadee is a popular port of call for Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara. This single port contributes the largest amount of tourist revenue to Haiti, employing 300 local people and allowing others to sell their merchandise and services to cruise visitors in the flea market.
In 2019, 160 cruise ships spent a day at Labadee with 720,000 passengers (and crew) enjoying the resort facilities.
What’s the Weather Like in Labadee, Haiti?
Labadee is in the Caribbean and has beautiful warm weather all year round. The average temperature is 80°F with a variance of around 10 degrees.
It has a dry season with almost no rainfall between December and March, which is the main cruise season in the Caribbean. The wet season is during the summer when it is also the hottest.
It has more chance of rain and tropical storms between August and October. The hottest month is July.
How to Visit Labadee
Labadee, Haiti is privately owned and the only way to visit is by booking a cruise with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity or Azamara cruise ships that include Labadee in their itinerary.
Ships berth at the 400-metre-long pier in Buccaneer Bay and only one cruise ship can berth at any time.
Things to Do in Labadee, Haiti
At the end of the pier/walkway, one of the first things you’ll see is the Trading Post. There’s a desk where you can book tours, rides and experiences if you have not already done so. This is also the place to enjoy a little shopping and help support the local economy.
There is a First Aid Station near the tram stops. The resort also has several dedicated smoking zones in an otherwise smoke-free environment.
From this central point you’ll find lots of things to do while visiting Labadee and many activities are free.
Shopping in Labadee
There are 3 Trading Posts selling beachwear, hats, T-shirts etc.
There’s also a covered Artisan’s Market with excellent shopping opportunities at 70 different booths. Look out for Rum of Haiti for purchasing local alcoholic treats and browse the goods at Carlos which sells beautiful hand-decorated skirts and clothing.
The Artisan’s Village is an open-air market with many local traders and artisans selling wood carvings, paintings, jewelry and unique souvenirs. You can see them working on their crafts and there’s the chance to haggle a little.
All Labadee beaches have complimentary beach chairs and hammocks available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Labadee has four beautiful sandy beaches:
- The largest is Adrenalin Beach and has a swim-up floating bar!
- Home of the Arawak Water Park, Columbus Cove is the furthest beach from the pier. Getting there is easy aboard the free tram, the Columbus Cove Express. Hop aboard at the Dragon Tram Station near the pier.
- Nellie’s Beach is on the south shore of the bay and is a little rocky in places. Small and secluded, it has gorgeous cabana rentals.
- Barefoot Beach is exclusively for cruisers staying in Grand Suites.
For a romantic escape or to enjoy some quality time with family and friends, rent a private beach bungalow or luxury cabana for the day. Prices range from $263 for a beach bungalow for 8 guests up to an over-the-water cabana at Nellie’s Beach for $579.
You can also rent shady beach loungers from $48 for two and the ultimate couple’s four-poster beach beds from $175.
Labadee is a haven for all types of watersports including kayaking, snorkeling, parasailing over the bay, paddleboarding or just relax on a floating mat.
The Arawak Water Park at Columbus Cove offers the chance to hop on cooling icebergs, navigate obstacles, water trampolines, slides and more. For youngsters there’s a smaller scale water park called Adventure Ocean Oasis with water toys, buckets and fountains.
If want to enjoy the calm clear waters, floating mat rentals are available at Nellie’s Beach and Columbus Cove for around $19.
There’s a 300-foot-long Dragon’s Splash twisting water-slide at Columbus Cove ending in a big splash!
If you want to stretch your legs, the resort has paved trails that are color coded. There’s a Leisure walk (green), Moderate walk (amber) and Strenuous Walk (red).
Food and Drink in Labadee
All the food and drink is prepared onboard your cruise ship and then transported ashore. This ensures the same standard and quality that you are used to onboard.
Lunch is complimentary and served at three locations: The Dragon’s Café near the pier, Café Labadee at Adrenalin Beach and Columbus Cove Café. All venues offer a selection of tasty barbecue meats, hot dogs, burgers, chicken, salads and tropical fruit served buffet-style.
There are five bars dotted around the resort including Dragon’s Breath Pub near the pier, the Floating Bar and Schooner Bar on Adrenalin Beach, Nellie’s Tavern and Columbus Cove Barr.
They all serve signature cocktails (try the frozen Labadoozie!), virgin mocktails, sodas and beers. Drinks are typically charged to your account by scanning your stateroom pass. If you have a drinks package as part of your cruise package, it will also be honored at all the bars and restaurants while in Labadee. Hurray!
Cruise Excursions in Labadee, Haiti
Cruisers are required to stay within the secure fenced resort area so there are no land excursions around the island.
However, you can book some amazing experiences in Labadee such as:
- Sport fishing charters
- 3-hour cruise experience aboard a luxury sailboat
- A trip to Paradise Cove and the chance to learn about everyday life with a Haitian Village Cultural Experience
- Half-day snorkeling trip to nearby Amiga Island from $69
- Catamaran trips along the coast from $54 seeing fishing villages, a fortress and a shipwreck
Add-on Experiences in Labadee
There’s plenty of free things to do in Labadee, but you might want to take the opportunity to do a once-in-a-lifetime experience while you’re here. Don’t forget to book early to avoid disappointment!
Dragon’s Breath Zipline
The thrilling Dragon’s Breath Zipline is Labadee’s main claim to fame. When it was constructed, it was the longest over-water zipline in the world. It stretches across the shoreline for 2,600 feet (almost half a mile!).
The zipline starts 450 feet up the hillside and the speedy ride lasts for two exhilarating minutes at speeds of around 35mph. The cost is currently around $89.
Climb the steps and ride the Little Dragon training ride then hop aboard an open shuttle to transport you to the zipline launch platform. You’ll be zipping right across the curving bay so keep your eyes open if you dare as the views are absolutely amazing! Book your time slot well ahead of time as places are limited.
Dragon’s Tail Coaster
Those who enjoy thrilling Alpine coaster rides can spend the whole day riding the Dragon’s Tail roller coaster with an all-day pass.
The 2-person coaster cars wind along the hillside above the beach and drivers can slow down or control the speed of the cars with a brake pedal for the perfect ride. Best time ride and to avoid the lines is as soon as you reach the resort.
Tips When Visiting Labadee, Haiti
Use the locker (around $10) to secure your valuables when riding the Dragon’s Breath Zipline. You can keep the locker for the whole day which is useful when swimming and doing watersports too!
You will need cash (US dollars) when shopping at the Artisan’s Market and the Artisan Village. It’s also useful for tipping local beach staff and watersports assistants who greatly appreciate the extra income.
The best months to visit weather-wise are between December and April.
Avoid the lines at the Dragon’s Tail Coaster by heading there as soon as you arrive.
Hop aboard the free tram and see the highlights of Labadee. It stops at Barefoot Station, the Dragon Zipline Station and Town Square.
Take an insulated drinks bottle ashore. You can refill it free at the buffet area and stay hydrated at the beach. NB. Water in the restrooms is not safe to drink.
Don’t forget to take your beach towel ashore as there are no towel stations in Labadee.
Labadee is located on the north coast of Haiti, on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea. Labadee is 32 miles west of the border with the Dominican Republic and 134 miles south of Grand Turk, the nearest island.
The Dragon’s Breath Zipline in Labadee stretches across the bay for 2,600 feet (almost half a mile!). When it was constructed it was the longest over-water zipline in the world.
Labadee is a 260-acre private resort which is leased to Royal Caribbean Cruises. The lease runs until 2050.
Main Photo Credit: NAN728 / Shutterstock.com