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Nicaragua vs Haiti: The ultimate Comparison

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Nicaragua vs Haiti: These are two countries with rich histories and cultures that are often overlooked by tourists. Although both countries are located in Central America, they are very different in terms of their geography, economy and political history.

Nicaragua vs Haiti: The ultimate Comparison
Nicaragua vs Haiti: The ultimate Comparison

Nicaragua is known for its stunning natural beauty, from towering volcanoes to pristine beaches along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. The country has a rich cultural heritage, with indigenous communities living alongside Spanish colonial towns and vibrant cities such as Granada and Leon.

Located in the Caribbean, Haiti is a unique blend of African, European and indigenous cultures. The country has a turbulent political history, having experienced slavery, revolution and dictatorship, but its resilient people have maintained a strong sense of pride in their culture and traditions.

When you compare Nicaragua and Haiti, you’ll find that each country has its own unique strengths and challenges. From the bustling markets of Port-au-Prince to the lush rainforests of Nicaragua, there’s plenty to explore and discover in these two fascinating destinations.

Top Things to Do

Riva, Nicaragua - Volcano Momotombo
Riva, Nicaragua – Volcano Momotombo

Nicaragua and Haiti are two countries in the Caribbean that offer tourists a variety of travel experiences. Both countries are rich in history, culture and natural beauty, making them ideal destinations for anyone looking for a unique holiday. Although the two countries have certain similarities, there are also many differences that set them apart.

Corn Islands, Nicaragua

When it comes to things to do as a tourist, Nicaragua has a lot to offer. Visitors can swing from a hammock or zip across a forest, sail around islands or surf down a volcano. Rivas is the place to go for beaches, turtles and party life, while Managua is the bustling capital. The Corn Islands, Solentiname Islands, Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, Masaya Volcano National Park, Rio San Juan, León’s Cerro Negro, Estelí Nature Reserve and San Juan del Sur are other popular tourist spots. For an adrenaline rush, visitors can also take a cable car ride over Mombacho volcano.

Citadelle, Haiti
Citadelle, Haiti

In Haiti, visitors can admire the architecture of the 200 wooden gingerbread houses that survived the 2010 earthquake, explore the bustling commercial centre of Pétitionville and visit the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien.

Jacmel is a seaside town known for its graceful architecture, while the mountaintop fortress of Citadelle and the ruins of Sans-Souci Palace are two World Heritage sites. Nightlife and entertainment are also available at the Hotel Oloffson, the Art Hostel and the Café des Arts. Other attractions include Ile-a-Vache, an island with exquisite, secluded beaches. And Port Salut, a small coastal town with stunning white sand beaches.

Ile a Vache, Haiti
Ile a Vache, Haiti

In terms of what the countries are famous for, Haiti is known as the world’s first independent black republic. However, tourism in Haiti has suffered due to political upheaval and inadequate infrastructure.


Mombacho Stratovolcano in Nicaragua
Mombacho Stratovolcano in Nicaragua

Both Nicaragua and Haiti offer tourists a wide variety of activities and attractions. From Nicaragua’s golden sunsets and silver beaches to Haiti’s characterful gingerbread houses, these countries have something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation, an adrenaline-pumping adventure, or a cultural exploration, Nicaragua and Haiti have something to offer.

Tourist SpotsRivas, Managua, Corn Islands, Solentiname Islands, Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, Masaya Volcano National Park, Rio San Juan, León’s Cerro Negro, Estelí Nature Reserve, San Juan del Sur, cable car ride over Mombacho volcanoPort-au-Prince, Pétitionville, Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien, Jacmel, Citadelle, Sans-Souci Palace, Hotel Oloffson, Art Hostel, Café des Arts, Ile-a-Vache, Port Salut
Famous forGolden sunsets, silver beachesWorld’s first independent black republic
BeachesPacific coast, Playa Maderas, El Tránsito, Popoyo, Las Peñitas, Pearl Cays, Playa La Flor, Jiquilillo, Corn Islands, Miskito Cays.Kokoye Beach, Anse Mitan, Pinson, Malendure, Milot, Fond Doux, Labadee, Wahoo Bay Beach, Port-Salut and Jacmel Beach.
Where to go in Haiti vs Nicaragua

Food and Drinks

In Nicaragua, traditional dishes include gallo pinto (fried rice mixed with black beans and other spices), nacatamales (corn dough stuffed with pork or chicken, rice and vegetables, all wrapped in a banana leaf and boiled) or sopa de mondongo (tripe and vegetable soup). Some more dishes:

  • Rondón (traditional local stew made with whatever meat and vegetables are available)
  • Liquados (fruit juice mixed in a blender with water or milk).

Popular drinks in Nicaragua include chicha (a fermented corn drink) and local beers such as Victoria and Toña.

Gallo Pinto
Gallo Pinto

Haitian cuisine is a combination of African, French and Caribbean flavours. Common dishes include griot (fried pork), pikliz (spicy Haitian coleslaw) or banan peze (fried green plantain). Some other typical dishes are:

  • Cabri boucane (grilled goat)
  • Akra (fritters made from malanga, a root vegetable),
  • Diri ak djondjon (rice and black mushrooms),
  • Pate (savoury pastry stuffed with chicken, beef, cheese and smoked or unsmoked fish).

Popular drinks in Haiti include Barbancourt rum, Prestige beer and cremas (a mixture of condensed and evaporated milk, coconut cream, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and lime).

Griot in Haiti 
Griot in Haiti 

In both Nicaragua and Haiti, breakfast is usually taken early, followed by a long, leisurely lunch to avoid the midday heat. Breakfast usually consists of eggs, cheese, gallo pinto and sweet plantains, served with white bread or corn tortillas. Lunch usually consists of a meat dish such as chicken, pork or fresh seafood, fried plantains, rice and beans and a cabbage salad. In Haiti, coconut milk is also a main ingredient in many recipes.

In both countries, it is customary to leave a 10-15% tip in fine dining establishments, and the legal drinking age is 18


Food and Drinks: Nicaragua vs Haiti
Food and Drinks: Nicaragua vs Haiti

Overall, Nicaragua and Haiti share many similarities when it comes to food and drink, but there are also distinct differences between their cuisines. Whether you’re looking for traditional Creole dishes or international flavors, you’ll find plenty of delicious options in both countries.

Traditional DishesGallo pinto (fried rice mixed with black beans and other spices), nacatamales, sopa de mondongo, rondón and liquados Griot (fried pork), pikliz (spicy Haitian coleslaw), banan peze, cabri boucane, akra diri ak djondjon, diri kole (rice and beans) and pate
Popular DrinksChicha (a fermented corn drink) and local beers such as Victoria and ToñaBarbancourt rum, Prestige beer and cremas
BreakfastEggs, cheese, gallo pinto and sweet plantains, served with white bread or corn tortillasEggs, cheese, diri ak djondjon and sweet plantains, served with white bread or corn tortillas
LunchA meat dish such as chicken, pork or fresh seafood, fried plantains, rice and beans and a cabbage saladA meat dish such as chicken, pork or fresh seafood, fried plantains, rice and beans and a cabbage salad
TippingIt is customary to leave a 10-15% tip in fine dining establishmentsIt is customary to leave a 10-15% tip in fine dining establishments
Legal Drinking Age1818
Comparison What to Eat: Haiti vs Nicaragua


Corn Island, Nicaragua
Corn Island, Nicaragua

Nicaragua and Haiti are two beautiful countries in Central America that offer stunning beaches and a great experience for tourists. Both countries have a variety of beaches to choose from, ranging from pristine white sand beaches to wild black sand beaches.

Playa Maderas, Nicaragua - Nicaragua vs Haiti
Playa Maderas, Nicaragua

In Nicaragua, the Pacific coast offers some of the best beaches for all levels of surfers. Playa Maderas is the most famous beach in Nicaragua, located on a bumpy dirt road 20 minutes north of San Juan del Sur. It is known for being a year round surf spot. El Tránsito is a short 90-minute drive from Managua airport, where you can immerse yourself in a tight-knit community of locals and expat families. Further south you can stop off at Popoyo, where consistent offshore winds and epic waves make it one of the best surfing spots in Central America. Nicaragua’s more top beaches include Playa Maderas, Las Peñitas, Pearl Cays, Playa La Flor, Jiquilillo, Corn Islands and Miskito Cays.

Haiti, known as the art capital of the Caribbean, has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Kokoye Beach is a must for anyone visiting Haiti with its clean white sandy beaches and calm crystal clear waters. Other popular beaches in Haiti include Anse Mitan, Pinson, Malendure, Milot (the first one), Fond Doux, Labadee, Wahoo Bay Beach, Port-Salut and Jacmel Beach.

Cayo Crawl, Laguna de Perlas - Nicaragua
Cayo Crawl, Laguna de Perlas – Nicaragua

When it comes to choosing between Nicaragua and Haiti for a beach holiday, it really depends on what kind of experience you are looking for. Nicaragua has some of the best surfing beaches in Central America, while Haiti has some of the best sunsets in the world.

Conclusion Beaches: Nicaragua vs Haiti

Both countries have their own unique attractions and experiences to offer. If you’re looking for a great surfing experience, Nicaragua is the better choice. However, if you’re looking for a more relaxed beach experience with stunning sunsets, Haiti is the better choice.


  • Nicaragua’s Pacific coast offers a variety of beaches known for surfing and laid-back vibes. Popular beach destinations include San Juan del Sur, Popoyo, and Las Peñitas.
  • The Corn Islands (Big Corn Island and Little Corn Island) located in the Caribbean Sea are known for their pristine white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and excellent snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities.


  • Haiti’s beaches are less developed for tourism and can offer a more authentic and less crowded experience. The island of Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, has numerous beautiful beaches.
  • Some popular beach destinations in Haiti include Labadee, Port-Salut, and Île-à-Vache. Labadee is a private resort leased to Royal Caribbean International, while Port-Salut and Île-à-Vache are more off-the-beaten-path options.
Beach in Haiti
Beach in Haiti
Beach destinationsPlaya Maderas, Las Peñitas, Pearl Cays, Playa La Flor, Jiquilillo, Corn Islands, Miskito CaysKokoye Beach, Anse Mitan, Pinson, Malendure, Milot (the first one), Fond Doux, Labadee, Wahoo Bay Beach, Port-Salut and Jacmel Beach
Surfing opportunitiesOffers some of the best surfing beaches in Central AmericaNot known for surfing, but has calm waters and beautiful sunsets
Unique attractions and experiencesTight-knit community of locals and expat families, consistent offshore winds, and epic wavesKnown as the art capital of the Caribbean with stunning sunsets
Comparison: Beaches Nicaragua vs Haiti

Transportation: Nicaragua vs Haiti

Street in Nicaragua - Nicaragua vs Haiti
Street in Nicaragua

Travelling in Nicaragua and Haiti can be an exciting experience, but the two countries have very different transport systems. Nicaragua has a variety of transport options, from buses to cars and planes, while Haiti relies mostly on buses, walking and hitchhiking. 

In Nicaragua, the most authentic way to travel is by public people-mover, nicknamed ‘chicken buses‘. These old, decommissioned American school buses rattle and lurch like a dilapidated rollercoaster – but that’s part of the fun. Plus, you’re guaranteed to chat to a friendly local.

Bus in Nicaragua
Bus in Nicaragua

If you do decide to rent a car in Nicaragua, make sure you get one that can handle the rough terrain. Although Nicaragua’s main roads are well paved and maintained, once you get off the beaten track you are likely to encounter more difficult terrain. La Costeña Airlines offers domestic flights from Managua to several Nicaraguan destinations, including the Corn Islands, Bluefields and Puerto Cabezas. Flights can be full around Easter, Christmas and New Year. 

In Haiti, air travel is often the quickest and easiest way to get around. Tortug’ Air and Sunrise Airways offer several domestic routes. Buses and minibuses (tap-taps) are the cheapest way to get around Haiti. The 5 main private bus companies, Capital Coach, Haiti Trans, San Souci Tours, Caribe Tours and Terra Bus all have comfortable 52-seat air-conditioned buses.

Travel in Haiti
Travel in Haiti

Taxis in Haiti offer prices that are competitive with rental cars, but you have the added benefit of a dedicated driver who knows the local roads. Traffic is extremely congested in urban areas and hours-long tailbacks are common throughout the country. Driving in Haiti must be done with extreme caution.

Conclusion Transportation

The best way to get around Nicaragua and Haiti really depends on the type of experience you are looking for. Nicaragua offers more varied transport options, while Haiti is more limited. Nicaragua is a great option for those looking for an adventurous experience, while Haiti is better for those looking for a more budget-friendly option. Whichever country you choose, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local laws and traffic regulations, and to drive carefully.

Main TransportBuses, cars, planesBuses, walking, hitchhiking, air travel
Authentic wayPublic ‘chicken buses’Not specified in the text
Car RentalNeed a car that can handle rough terrainPrices are competitive with taxis
Domestic FlightsLa Costeña Airlines offers flights to several destinationsTortug’ Air and Sunrise Airways offer several domestic routes
Bus CompaniesNot specified in the textCapital Coach, Haiti Trans, San Souci Tours, Caribe Tours and Terra Bus
TaxisNot specified in the textPrices are competitive with rental cars
Traffic ConditionsOnce off the beaten track, more difficult terrainExtremely congested in urban areas, hours-long tailbacks are common
Transporation Nicaragua vs Haiti

Travel Time 

Surfing in Nicaragua - Nicaragua vs Haiti
Surfing in Nicaragua

When it comes to travel time, Nicaragua and Haiti offer a lot of variety for tourists. Nicaragua is best visited during the dry season between November and April, when temperatures are mild and there is little rainfall. From January to March, there is little rain in western Nicaragua, but daytime temperatures can be quite high. If you want to visit the rainforests in the Caribbean lowlands, the best time to travel is between February and April. The rainy season in Nicaragua should be avoided as it can disrupt travel plans.

Haiti’s dry season runs from November to March, with temperatures ranging from 77 to 82°F. There will be some humidity and the occasional tropical shower, but overall conditions are pleasant. During carnival season, which lasts several weeks in January and February, visitors can enjoy floats, processions, music and dancing. However, June to August are the hottest months in Haiti, and August and September are peak hurricane season.

Haiti - Nicaragua vs Haiti

When to travel: Nicaragua vs Haiti

Overall, both Nicaragua and Haiti offer travellers plenty of opportunities to enjoy their visit. The best time to visit Nicaragua is from November to May, while the best time to visit Haiti is from November to March. Nicaragua is ideal for those seeking a dry climate and pleasant temperatures, while Haiti offers the carnival season and other festivities. Visitors should be aware of the risk of hurricanes when planning their trip to Haiti.

Best Time to VisitNovember to April (dry season)November to March (dry season)
TemperatureMild daytime temperatures, can be hot from Jan to Mar77°F to 82°F during dry season
RainfallLittle to no rainfall during dry seasonOccasional tropical shower during dry season
FestivalsNone specified in the textCarnival season (January and February)
Hottest MonthsNot specified in the textJune to August
Hurricane SeasonRainy season should be avoided to avoid travel disruptionPeak hurricane season in August and September
When to Travel: Nicaragua vs Haiti

Weather and Climate

Volcano in Nicaragua - Nicaragua vs Haiti
Volcano in Nicaragua

Both countries have tropical climates with generally hot and humid temperatures throughout the year. However, Nicaragua has two distinct seasons – a dry summer (verano) and a wet winter (invierno) – while Haiti has a less hot period from November to March and a humid period from May to October.

Nicaragua typically has a dry season from mid-November to the end of April and a rainy season from early May to the end of October. In contrast, Haiti has a dry season from December to February and a rainy season from April to October, with two rainy peaks at the beginning and end of the period.

Temperatures in Nicaragua vary little, with daytime temperatures in coastal areas ranging from 86°F to 93°F and nighttime temperatures from 68°F to 73°F. The hottest months are April and May, when temperatures can reach 102°F. Temperatures in Haiti range from 19°C and 28°C in winter to 23°C and 33°C in the summer months. The village of Kenscoff, at an altitude of about 1,430 meters (4,700 feet), has an average temperature of about 16°C (60°F).

Amount of Rain

Weather in Haiti - Nicaragua vs Haiti
Weather in Haiti

Rainfall also varies considerably between the two countries. Nicaragua receives abundant rainfall on the Caribbean coast, ranging from 3,000 to 4,000 millimetres per year. The central plains, where the city of Managua and Lakes Nicaragua and Managua are located, receive much less rainfall, around 1,200-1,300 mm or 47/51 inches. Along the Pacific coast, rainfall is 1,700/1,900 mm (67/75 in).

In Haiti, the northern and windward slopes of the mountainous regions receive up to three times more rainfall than the leeward side, with an average of 1,200 mm. The Plaine du Gonaïves and the eastern part of the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac are the driest regions of the country, with annual rainfall of only 550 mm.

Overview: Climate Nicaragua vs Haiti

In conclusion, Nicaragua and Haiti both have tropical climates with similar temperature ranges, but there are significant differences in rainfall between the two countries. Nicaragua has two distinct seasons, while Haiti has a more constant hot climate with two rainy seasons. Nicaragua receives more rainfall overall, but Haiti has higher rainfall in certain regions.

Climate TypeTropicalTropical
Distinct SeasonsDry summer and wet winterLess hot period and humid period
Dry SeasonMid-November to end of AprilDecember to February
Rainy SeasonEarly May to end of OctoberApril to October with two rainy peaks
Temperature RangeCoastal: 86°F to 93°F, Nights: 68°F to 73°FWinter: 19°C to 28°C, Summer: 23°C to 33°C
RainfallCaribbean coast: 3,000 to 4,000 mm; Pacific coast: 1,700/1,900 mm; Central Plains: 1,200-1,300 mmNorthern and windward slopes: up to 3 times more than leeward side, Plaine du Gonaïves and eastern part of Plaine du Cul-de-Sac: 550 mm
Climate Nicaragua and Haiti


Some Houses in Haiti
Some Houses in Haiti

When it comes to tourist accommodation, Nicaragua and Haiti offer different options. Both countries have hotels, bed & breakfasts and other accommodation, but the quality and availability of these options can vary. 

In Nicaragua, budget travelers will often find themselves in a hospedaje, which is a small, simple pension-like hotel, usually family-run. Prices range from ~US$5-15 for a double room, and usually include a bed and fan. Shared bathrooms are common and breakfast is usually not included. Hostels are popular in tourist hotspots such as Leon and Granada, with dormitory beds costing ~US$5-10.

Hotels are also available and usually have air conditioning, cable TV and other services such as car rental. Camping is rare due to the low cost of accommodation, although it is possible in beach resorts such as San Juan del Sur, Isla de Ometepe and the Corn Islands. The hotel industry in Nicaragua has grown in recent years, with 4 and 5 star hotels in the main cities for business travelers and other options for different types of travelers. Boutique properties, lodges and haciendas can be found throughout the country.

Petionville, Petionville, Haiti
Petionville, Petionville, Haiti

Haiti’s hotel scene is more limited, with most accommodation being either inns, guesthouses or palatial-style hotels. Most of these are located in Port-au-Prince and Pétionville, with beach hotels further north on the road to St Marc or west towards Petit-Gonâve. Other places to stay include Cap-Haïtien, Les Cayes, the Gonâve Bay area, Jacmel and the Petit-Gonâve beach area. Swimming pools and air conditioning are essential in central hotels to combat the heat. A 10% room tax is added to all hotel bills. 


In terms of accommodation, both Nicaragua and Haiti offer a range of options to suit different budgets. Nicaragua’s hotel industry has grown in recent years, with more luxury options available, while Haiti’s remains more limited. Both countries offer bed & breakfasts, hostels and other options, although availability and quality can vary. If you are visiting either country, it is important to do your research and book in advance to ensure you get the best deal.

TypesHospedaje, hostels, hotels, boutique properties, lodges, haciendasInns, guesthouses, palatial-style hotels
AmenitiesSimple accommodations with shared bathrooms in hospedajes, air conditioning and cable TV in hotelsSwimming pools and air conditioning in central hotels
CampingRare due to low cost of accommodation, possible in beach resorts
Nicaragua vs Haiti – where to stay


Cruise in Haiti
Cruise in Haiti

Nicaragua and Haiti are two countries in Central America and the Caribbean respectively. While both countries have similar geographical locations, the economic situations of the two countries are very different. 

Nicaragua has a population of 6.8 million, while Haiti has a population of 11.8 million. The GDP (PPP) of Nicaragua is USD 36.2 billion, while that of Haiti is USD 33.2 billion. Nicaragua’s growth rate is -3.0% while Haiti’s is -3.7%. The compound annual growth rate is -0.3% for Nicaragua and 0.1% for Haiti. Per capita GDP is $5,575 in Nicaragua and $2,916 in Haiti. The unemployment rate is 5.8% in Nicaragua and 14.5% in Haiti. Inflation (CPI) is 3.7% in Nicaragua and 22.9% in Haiti. Nicaragua has an FDI inflow of $182.0 million while Haiti has an FDI inflow of $30.0 million. 

The top personal and corporate income tax rates are 30% in both countries. Other taxes include VAT and capital gains taxes. Nicaragua’s total tax burden is 25.9 per cent, while Haiti’s is 7.4 per cent. Government expenditure in Nicaragua has averaged 28.2 per cent of GDP over the last three years, and budget deficits have averaged 2.3 per cent of GDP. In Haiti, government spending has been much lower and the budget deficit much higher than in Nicaragua. Public debt is equivalent to 46.0 per cent of GDP in Nicaragua and much higher in Haiti.

Summary Economic: Nicaragua vs Haiti

On the whole, Nicaragua has a more stable economy than Haiti. Nicaragua’s GDP and per capita income are higher than Haiti’s, and the unemployment rate is much lower. The inflation rate is also lower and the inflow of foreign direct investment is significantly higher. Government spending is higher in Nicaragua and public debt is lower. Nicaragua also has a more progressive tax system than Haiti, which allows the government to collect more revenue.

These factors have allowed Nicaragua to have a more stable economy and a better quality of life for its citizens than Haiti. However, Nicaragua still has a long way to go in terms of reducing poverty and inequality, and improving infrastructure and public services.

Population6.8 million11.8 million
GDP (PPP)USD 36.2 billionUSD 33.2 billion
Growth rate-3.0%-3.7%
Compound annual growth rate-0.3%0.1%
Per capita GDP$5,575$2,916
Unemployment rate5.8%14.5%
Inflation (CPI)3.7%22.9%
FDI inflow$182.0 million$30.0 million
Top personal and corporate tax30%30%
Total tax burden25.9%7.4%
Comparison Economy Nicaragua and Haiti

In conclusion: Nicaragua vs Haiti

In conclusion, our comparison of Nicaragua and Haiti has revealed distinct and captivating attributes for each country. Both countries offer a rich tapestry of culture, history, and natural beauty, making them worthy destinations for travelers seeking diverse experiences.

In terms of attractions, Nicaragua boasts impressive volcanoes, colonial cities, and lush rainforests, while Haiti’s unique appeal lies in its vibrant art scene, historic landmarks, and strong cultural heritage. The beach-lovers will not be disappointed in either country, as both provide stunning coastlines and idyllic Caribbean waters.

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NICARAGUA TOP 7 PLACES | This is why you should visit Nicaragua

When it comes to food and drink, both countries showcase their own unique flavors and local ingredients, providing travelers with a true taste of the region. Nicaragua’s gallo pinto and Haiti’s griot are just a few examples of the culinary delights one can expect in these countries.

Accommodation options in both countries cater to a wide range of budgets and preferences, from luxury resorts to charming guesthouses. While Nicaragua may offer a broader selection of lodging, Haiti has seen significant growth in its tourism industry and is making strides to enhance its accommodation offerings.

Ultimately, whether you choose to visit Nicaragua or Haiti, you are guaranteed to encounter unforgettable experiences and warm, welcoming people. Each country has its own distinctive charm and allure, making it difficult to declare a clear winner in this comparison. The best decision is to visit both and embrace the unique wonders that each destination has to offer.

Article: Nicaragua vs Haiti! You can find more Haiti articles here: Haiti blogs or looking for a comparison of Honduras vs Haiti!

Marcel Kuhn

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