Beaches & Islands

How to Spend a Day at Île-à-Rat (Amiga Island)

Île-à-Rat (Amiga Island)

Photo: Jean Oscar Augustin

Discover the Charm of Amiga Island (aka Île-à-Rat), Haiti's Secluded Caribbean Jewel

Picture this: pristine white sands underfoot, waters dancing in hues of azure and turquoise with the sun's every move, amidst wild greenery that frames the perfect seaside evening. The melody of the waves crafts a serene backdrop, beckoning every nature lover closer to its untouched beauty.


This isn't just another island getaway; it's Île-à-Rat. Forget the crowded beaches of Bora Bora or the commercialized shores of the Fiji Islands—we're about to show you something far better, far more magical.

Amiga Island or Île-à-Rat? Let's Clear the Air

Before we dive deeper, let's address a common question: Are Amiga Island and Île-à-Rat two separate islands?


In fact, they're one and the same, known by two names. The original name, Île-à-Rat, translates to "Rat's Island," but rest assured, it doesn't mean the place is teeming with rodents—there aren't any rats. It's believed the name reflects the island's modest size rather than its fauna.


However, when Royal Caribbean Cruises began offering day trips to Île-à-Rat from their nearby Labadee Beach Resort, they opted for a more appealing (and marketable) name, introducing "Amiga Island" to their guests. Despite the change, we've chosen to use the original name throughout this article to honor its history. Now, with the name mystery solved, let's explore what makes this island so captivating.

Beach on Île-à-Rat

Photo: Jean Oscar Augustin

Stepping onto Île-à-Rat

Once you arrive on the island, a world of tranquility and natural beauty awaits. Here, you're guaranteed peace and the freedom to bask in the riches of the Caribbean Sea, enjoying serene evenings no matter the season. If you're anything like us, finding joy in an afternoon nap under the shade of a coconut tree, then Île-à-Rat is your dream destination. That's exactly what we did last time we visited, laying our blankets on the immaculate sand, just a few meters from the inviting turquoise waters.


Île-à-Rat is not just beautiful; it's picture-perfect, with its towering coconut trees setting a scene that seems straight out of a childhood fairy tale. Feel free to set up a camp right after you disembark, creating a spot that's sure to spark envy in your friends when they see your snapshots.

Fisherman with the days catch at Île-à-Rat

Photo: Ryan Bowen

A Thousand and One Things to Do on Amiga Island

Right by the sparkling beach, you’ll find a hidden nook ideal for a BBQ or grilling fresh seafood, uniquely flavorful thanks to Île-à-Rat’s magic. We recommend lambi (conch) or crab. Enjoy these treats with local Prestige beer or esteemed Haitian rum, directly from fishermen eager to share their stories and culinary secrets.


Île-à-Rat isn't just about the food; if you’re seeking a moment of Zen, a quaint porch awaits, where you can meditate and practice yoga amidst nature's embrace. Just beyond the shore, a quintessential Caribbean adventure beckons with an array of water activities.


Kayak along the island's breathtaking coastline, swim in the crystal-clear waters, and snorkel to uncover hidden treasures like ancient cannons and anchors resting on the ocean floor. Alternatively, explore a nearby coral nursery, carefully tended by a local organization, and immerse yourself in the underwater world's wonders. And for those who love the simple joys, why not relax in the shade with a book, letting the hours slip by in blissful peace?


For the energetic spirits, a brisk walk or run around the island, which takes about 10 minutes, offers a refreshing way to revel in its beauty.

Boat sailing to Labadee from Île-à-Rat

Photo: Ryan Bowen

How to get there

Reaching the island is straightforward: From Cap-Haïtien head towards the Labadee jetty by moto or taxi, where you'll find boat captains ready to set sail. Expect the 30-minute voyage to cost no more than $50 USD for a return trip — negotiating the fare with your captain beforehand is advisable.

Best time to visit

Visiting Île-à-Rat offers a delightful experience year-round, thanks to its tropical climate. For a quieter visit with cooler weather, aim for September to February, though summer months offer perfect conditions for sunbathing and enjoying the island's serene beaches. Note that the island becomes livelier on days when Royal Caribbean ships dock, bringing cruisers for daytrips to the island.

Boats on the coast of Île-à-Rat

Photo: Ryan Bowen

Written by Melissa Beralus.


Published April 20204.

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