Trinidad & Tobago: From Rags to Riches
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has clearly evolved from a poor country with a somewhat tumultuous past to one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean. With an abundance of natural resources, this small country consisting of two islands has good infrastructure and offers plenty to see and do.
The capital city, Port of Spain, lies on the island of Trinidad, and if arriving by air will likely be your point of entry. Trinidad is the southernmost island in the West Indies and is located only seven miles off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. When visiting Trinidad, be sure to experience the following:
For those who enjoy it, go fishing! This is one of the best places in the world to catch Atlantic tarpon.
Visit the Asa Wright Nature Center to birdwatch. Interact with rangers who are eager to pass on their extensive knowledge of local wildlife to willing listeners.
Spend the day on a beach. Three of the best all have soft white sand and crystal-clear water. Maracas Beach has some big waves to play in but might be too much for some children. Las Cuevas Beach is less crowded than Maracas and has calmer water. Tyrico is another great choice, not far from the other two.
Eat what some consider to be a National Dish of Trinidad. Callaloo is a thick stew with more of a soup consistency. Cooked with many local herbs and spices, it is primarily made from dasheen leaves and often has crab, chicken or even salted pork mixed within.
Take a boat (or hike) to Paria Falls. Though you’ll be tempted to stay at this gorgeous white sandy beach, make sure you find your way to the waterfall for some postcard perfect scenic photos. This is a fabulous place to enjoy an afternoon picnic.
Break out the pedometer and see how many steps it takes to walk around the world’s largest roundabout in Queen’s Park Savannah. While here, have a look at Trinidad’s magnificent seven buildings and enjoy some of the island’s best foods sold by the vendors here.
Visit Gasparee Caves to cool down, the Mount St. Benedict Monastery for panoramic views of the capital city and the Bamboo Cathedral for a peaceful stroll through what some people consider to be paradise.
While Trinidad might occupy more square miles and sport a higher population, Tobago holds its own in terms of excellent opportunities for tourists to enjoy. Known for its beautiful and wide sandy beaches, forest, mountains, birdwatching and SCUBA diving, it would be remiss to visit Trinidad without hopping a daily ferry for the 22-mile ride to visit Tobago. Once there, here is a list of must see and do’s to experience the best Tobago has to offer.
The quaint port capital of Scarborough is home to fewer than 20,000 residents. Stroll through the streets to feel the Caribbean vibe and then grab some local food at its central food market.
There are so many amazingly beautiful beaches to enjoy and you should visit as many as you can possibly fit in. While each is unique, every beach listed here is great and deserves a visit. Pirate’s Bay is accessible by boat or a combination of driving on a narrow dirt track on the edge of steep cliffs and then hiking down (and then back up). The clear turquoise water here is usually mostly deserted, likely due to the difficulty in reaching it. Mount Irvine Bay has a small reef for snorkeling and a great little resort to stay the night, Mount Irvine Bay Resort. Here you can relax with a round of golf, lay out on the sandy beach, enjoy the swim-up, poolside or beach bars. Down the beach you’ll find the Anchor Bar, a lively local pub with good food. Other great beaches are Pigeon Point Beach, Englishman’s Bay, Castara Bay, Store Bay, and Stonehaven Bay.
If you enjoy snorkeling, the Nylon Pool is accessible via a glass bottom boat tour. This shallow pool in the middle of the ocean is a great place to play or snorkel in the crystal-clear water. Other great locations for snorkeling are Buccoo Reef and the Amos Vale Reef.
Tobago has the oldest protected rainforest in the western hemisphere. Arrive at the Tobago Forest Reserve in the morning to hear calming sounds of the awakening rainforest inhabitants. Trek through the forest under the dense canopy either on your own or with a hired guide. With a plethora of available trails, there is something for everyone.
During the heat of the afternoon, take a break from the ocean and visit the Tobago Historical Museum. Here, you’ll find food, artifacts and exhibits that take you through the history of the small island.
By Lisa Osborne Blalock
Footloose Travel & Tours