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Labadee Snorkel Safari Review: Snorkeling in Haiti

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to go snorkeling in Labadee, Haiti? There’s no place for snorkeling like Labadee! Read all about the Labadee Snorkel Safari excursion in Haiti.

The first stop on our Royal Caribbean cruise was Labadee, Haiti. We decided that the best way to kick off our cruise was to mix a little culture and a little adventure with a snorkeling excursion and a history tour.

Here’s what to expect on the Labadee Snorkel Safari excursion.

Labadee, Haiti

Labadee Snorkel Safari

Our Labadee Snorkel Safari tour began after lunch. This excursion boated us out to the better spots for snorkeling in Labadee; you won’t find much worth seeing if you snorkel yourself on the beach.

Coral, Labadee, Haiti Snorkeling

The boat ride gave us a great view of the mountains and our massive cruise ship set against it all.

We were provided with our snorkels, goggles, and fins. Then our guide took us out into the water to explore the beautiful reef and tropical fish that call Haiti home.

If you didn’t want to snorkel or weren’t a strong enough swimmer to keep up, you could instead ride along with a guide in the rescue canoe. When you’re on one of the tours with the double-deck catamaran, you’re also allowed to stay on the boat and sunbath.

This was my first snorkeling experience, and it went completely against my instincts to breath with my face in the the water. I’ve since discovered that I am just not a snorkeler.

Coral, Labadee, Haiti Snorkeling

It was truly incredible being able to see all the coral. And I refused to be the person who needed the rescue canoe, so I powered through (even though I was struggling). Besides, I wanted to see the ocean’s secrets, and you can’t do that from a canoe.

We were in a large group, and that made it difficult to navigate when everyone is swimming into each other. Our guide pointed things out as we went and passed around some sea life. Unfortunately, most of the time it was hard to hear him, so we just spent our time exploring on our own on the edge of the group.

Kevin took control of the underwater camera (a cheap waterproof digital camera we bought specifically for this purpose that served us very well) and had plenty of fun observing the sea life and coral reef.

It started to rain as we headed back to the boat. As the boat leaped over the water back toward our ship, our guides broke out the rum and punch and we had a party in the rain.

What is Labadee?

Labadee, Haiti Activities

Unlike the other stops on our cruise, Labadee isn’t a town but a private resort leased by Royal Caribbean. The cruise line has been leasing the property since 1986 and has recently extended the lease to 2050, creating a tourist oasis full of activities and non-stop fun.

Royal Caribbean employs about 300 Haitians at the resort and pays the Haitian government $12 for every tourist that comes ashore.

It is important to remember that when you step off the boat in Labadee, you aren’t seeing the real Haiti, but a private paradise created by Royal Caribbean, and the largest source of tourism to the country.

Labadee Historic Walking Tour

Labadee, Haiti History Tour

Our first activity of the day, before our Labadee snorkeling excursion, was the Labadee Walking Tour. The Royal Caribbean website touted as being a history and culture tour of Labadee.

But of course Labadee has no history other than Royal Caribbean.

Though the cove is named for Christopher Columbus, he did not land near Labadee. Our guide spent the majority of his time telling us the various medicinal properties of plants and explaining the difference between buccaneers and pirates.

The most useful information came at the end of the tour when members of the group began asking our guide about the government of Haiti and the culture, and he told us about working for the cruise line.

More Things to Do in Labadee, Haiti

Labadee, Haiti Beach

If you’re looking for relaxation, Labadee has plenty of beach to kick back on. You can spend your day sleeping in a hammock or reading a good book by the beach.

But if you’re looking for something more active, Royal Caribbean has packed Labadee to the brim with things to do. Labadee offers ziplining, a water slide, a roller coaster, an aqua park of inflatable fun, parasailing, kayaking, jet skiing, walking tours, and of course, snorkeling.

You can try snorkeling yourself at the beach, but the best snorkeling in Labadee happens further off the coast, so you’ll likely want to book a tour.

You can also walk through the artisan market where 200 locals will try to sell you their wares; this is where you will get a glimpse of the real desperation of Haiti.

All of the “handmade” items are the same across the hundred stalls, and most merchants will push a “free” item on you and sell you another at an inflated price.

The 200 merchants who sell here pay a fee to set up shop, and they were lucky enough to make the draw. When they run out of something, they will go to the hundreds waiting at the fence dividing Labadee from the rest of Haiti and restock their items as cheaply as they can.

It’s a truly overwhelming experience. And it’s again important to remember that the paradise of Labadee is an entirely tourist-centric oasis that doesn’t at all represent the true state of Haiti.

More Destinations From This Cruise

Check out more of our Caribbean cruise adventures at the ports below:

Ready for a Caribbean cruise vacation? Plan your trip with these tips.



Snorkeling In Labadee, Haiti

Have you been snorkeling in Labadee, Haiti? Did you find this Labadee Snorkel Safari review helpful? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Labadee looks like a great place to relax. I tried to snorkel but was not able to breath in a mask, but my husband enjoyed it and took great pictures of fish with his underwater camera, when we were in Kauai. We would love to go on a cruise to see some of the Carribien Islands. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    1. I felt the same way! I just couldn’t get the hang of breathing with the mask, but my husband loved it. It was still a nice experience, though!

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