Jump into the Cobalt Waters of Bassin Bleu
Bassin Bleu waterfall near Jacmel
Photo: Frank Fontain
No visit to Jacmel, in Haiti’s south-east, is complete without a trip to the natural wonder of Bassin Bleu.
Guarded by imposing rock formations, this series of four cobalt-blue pools linked by waterfalls is just 12km west of Jacmel.
Jacmel is Haiti’s sixth largest city, and although it was once named the City of Light (after becoming the first city in the Caribbean to get electricity), it’s the secluded jungle basins of nearby Bassin Bleu that make Jacmel one of the most visited cities in Haiti.
Cobalt Blue Water
With four basins of pristine natural beauty to choose from - Cheval, Yes, Palmiste and Clair - you can take your pick, but the star of the show (in our humble opinion) is undoubtedly Bassin Clair.
Bassin Bleu, Jacmel, Haiti
Photo: Anton Lau
Explore Four Bassins
Hiking through the dense, humid greenery of the surrounding jungle to find the falls, you can expect to break a sweat, but as the rush of the waterfalls grows louder, the forest clears, and the marvellous turquoise of Cheval basin comes into focus, you’ll be glad you made the effort.
Cheval is the first basin on the trail, and although striking in colour, the water is quite safe to wade into. Cheval doesn't make it into many travel guides, but it’s shallow depth makes it suitable for everyone, including children (under supervision of course). If you’re planning on seeing the rest of Bassin Bleu, take the time to pause at Cheval: sit back, relax, and enjoy the impressive view of the southeastern coastline while you soak your feet in the bright-blue water.
For intrepid explorers who want to continue, a short walk will bring you to the 15 ft deep Bassin Yes. Beyond Bassin Yes, you’ll be rewarded with the perfect stop for a drink and bite to eat (and another swim of course), in the form of Bassin Palmiste, an impressive 57 ft deep. A series of uniquely-crafted concrete tables and seating areas, designed to meld into and complement their natural surroundings, provide convenient places to enjoy the view in comfort.
To see firsthand the impressive Bassin Clair, you’ll need extra effort, a rope, and the help of an experienced guide. Not far past Bassin Palmiste you’ll find a narrow staircase set into the natural rock formations, which will lead you up to the top of a rock hunkered into the side of the mountain. The short descent - just 10 feet - down the other side will feel much further, and is best done under the watchful eye of a guide, assisted by the aforementioned rope. Welcome to Bassin Clair.
Bassin Bleu, Jacmel, Haiti
Photo: Anton Lau
For the thrill-seekers among you, mere floating may not be enough. Join the ranks of experienced (or just adventurous) locals who climb up the rock surface to one of the jumping-off points and perform dives and backflips, taking turns breaking the serene surface of Bassin Clair. Just make sure you save some of that energy - it’s easy to forget you still need to hike back out at the end of the day.
Want to see for yourself why a visit to Bassin Bleu is considered one of the best day trips in Haiti?
Getting to Bassin Bleu
Join a tour from either Jacmel or Port-au-Prince. A veteran guide will lead you through the jungle and delivery you safely to your dream destination. With transportation included (from Port-au-Prince and typically from Jacmel as well), this option takes the effort out of the journey, leaving you with more energy to explore Bassin Bleu itself.
It’s possible to get to Bassin Bleu from Jacmel on foot. Head towards the Riviere Gauche and look for the sign that directs visitors ‘this way’. You’ll want to pack plenty of water for your hike through the dense vegetation up the side of the mountain. Following the inclines of the path, you’ll see plenty of interesting landscape and get a commanding view of the south-east coastline, and the reward of the swim at the end will be all the sweeter.
A note on guides:
Getting to Bassin Bleu can be tough but rewarding and we recommend hiring a local guide.
When it comes to finding a guide, don't worry - they'll find you! In fact, if you don't pick a guide and insist that the other hopeful candidates leave you alone, you can end up in the awkward situation of having several guides accompany you, all expecting to be paid at the end. Choose one (or more) guide, and insist that the rest leave you to it.
Make sure you negotiate a price with your guide before you start - 250 to 500 HTG is a reasonable price. Bring the right bills with you.
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