For a town so far out of the way, Môle Saint-Nicholas punches well above its weight in terms of reasons to visit.
Getting to Môle Saint-Nicholas can feel like getting to the end of Haiti. Unless you’re flying in on a private plane, you’ll have endured some of the bumpiest roads in the country and its most arid landscapes, seemingly populated by little more than cactus, agave and a few scrubby trees. It’s ironic, because in some ways, the town could be called the start of Haiti: it was here, on 6 December 1492, that Christopher Columbus first made landfall in the country.
Môle Saint-Nicholas sits in a large bay enclosed by a narrow peninsula. The land is particularly barren and littered with fossils – this part of Haiti was formed by marine uplift of ancient coral terraces, and there are hundreds of caves between here and Jean Rabel that are only now beginning to be surveyed by speleologists. There’s little agriculture here, and for those not involved in fishing, charcoal production and export to the capital is an economic mainstay.
For a town so far out of the way, Môle Saint-Nicholas punches well above its weight in terms of reasons to visit. It has a fabulous beach that offers great snorkelling, and its past has bequeathed it a good selection of colonial forts. But better yet, the municipality seem to be trying very hard to develop tourism in the area, and information boards at the different historical sites. If Môle Saint-Nicholas was close to Port-au-Prince, it would be a popular weekend destination. As it is, those making it here can get a real sense of discovering an unknown corner of the country.