Marie-Claire Heureuse Félicité, the wife of Jean-Jacques Dessalines died here in August of 1858. In September of 1892 José Martí, a leader of the Cuban independence movement and a poet and writer, visits the town.
The Gulf of Gonaïves is named after the town.
In September of 2004, Hurricane Jeanne caused flooding and mudslides in the city and the surrounding area. Over 3,000 people died as the result of the hurricane.
- Toussaint Louverture letter to Jean-Jacques Dessalines - Letter by Toussaint Louverture from Gonaïves (February 8, 1802), Toussaint's headquarters at that time.
- Gonaïves. The Columbia Gazetteer of North America, edited by Saul B. Cohen. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. . [accessed March 11, 2006].