Cap-Haitien has a population of 100,000 and is the second largest city in Haiti. It has a rich history and there are plenty of places to visit in the surrounding area. The best beaches are to the northwest, about a half hour by car. The city lies on the west side of a small cape on Haiti's north coast.
The best places to stay are Les Jardins de l'Ocean, Brise de Mer, and Hotel Mont Joli. The extremely cheap places are mostly long-term for local residents, sailors, and taptap drivers. There are no phones and little security. One thing to know about though is that some of the mid-range hotels cost the same as a luxury hotel, so it is good to choose the better ones, which will cost the same in the long run. Also, sharing a room is not cheaper, as most will charge extra for that. This is good to know if you are traveling in a group.
Most of the restaurants in town serve either Haitian food or French cuisine and a few pizza joints. The best places to eat are Roi Christopher (262-0414 on Rue 24B part of the Hotel, Brise de Mer (262-0821 at 4 Carnegie), and the Feu Vert Restaurant on Bouvelard at Rue 24, open 9am to 10pm. Boros Bar is diverse and is a nightclub later on in the evening. Also, the Ozan Nan Na at 46 Rue 18A.
Cap-Haitien is a very relaxed city with a reportedly very low crime rate. The tourist market is very casual in comparison with Port-au-Prince. The traffic is lighter and calmer because of the narrow street. Remember, as with the rest of Haiti, do not drink the tap water. Always carry bottled water with you.
Around Cap-Haitien is the Henri Christophe's splendid palace, Sans Souci, and the mountaintop fortress, the Citadelle. Sans Souci is on the edge of the small town Milot. Entrance tickets are sold at the parking lot which also includes the Citadelle. You can rent horses to ride up to the Citadelle and it is a lot of fun. Some people walk and make just as good time. When we were there, they had touristy things to buy from local vendors and Haitian music was playing; a little hokey but entertaining.