Etang Saumatre in Port-au-Prince – Haiti

The Etang Saumatre in Port-au-Prince is the biggest lake in Haiti. It is home to many different types of flora and fauna.

Location and How to Get to This Specific Site

The lake is situated 14 miles (22 km) to the east of Port-au-Prince. It is at the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac. The eastern border forms part of the Dominican Republic and Haitian border. The Jimani city in the Dominican Republic is a kilometer from the lake’s southeast end.

What to See There

The lake is home to over 100 waterfowl species. The lake is also home to the Rhinoceros Iguana, the Painted turtle, fresh water turtle and American crocodiles. There are also species of tilapia found in the lake.

There are more than 400 bird species by the lagoon’s eastern side. Etang Saumatre in Port-au-Prince is also known for the small shrubs and cacti around it. The vegetation consists of dry forest plants. Trees and bushes abound as well.


The lake is a part of the saline lake chain situated in the Hispaniolan rift valley. In Haiti, this is called the Cul-de-Sac Depression. Numerous parts of the rift valley are set below sea level.

When there is heavy rainfall, it joins up with the east lake known as Enriquillo. There is no surface outlet, so the lake is landlocked. The western portion is a bit less saline compared to the east, which is freshwater.


Taxi fares cost about 50 Haitian Gourdes or $11.53. Taps taps are modified vans or trucks that can carry people. These colorful vehicles are the most common and cheapest form of transport in Haiti. Majority of the routes cost 10 Gourdes (2 Haitian dollars, $0.25 USD).

One of the nice things about these tap taps is they can drop you off at any point during the journey. Say “merci!” and the driver will stop. Some school buses have also been converted into tap taps. The fares will be slightly higher as they are used for long trips. Minibus fares cost 150 Gourdes (30 Haitian dollars, $3.75 USD).

Other Info

There are now efforts to promote the lake as an eco-tourist attraction. Steps are also being undertaken to protect the American crocodiles that inhabit it. The conservation is being jointly undertaken by the Haitian and Dominican Republic.

Etang Saumatre in Port-au-Prince is 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) at the widest portion. Overall, it covers an area 170 km2 (66 sq mi).