Eleven kilometres northeast of Venezuela sits the intriguing twin islands of Trinidad & Tobago – a destination known for the origin of the annual Carnival celebration and rhythmic steel pan. But this tropical member of the Lesser Antilles has so much more to offer. Our Travel Consultant Elspeth shares five unique things you can only experience in Trinidad and Tobago.
1. Argyle Falls (Tobago)
Tobago, (the smaller of the islands) is a mere hop, skip, and a jump away from Port of Spain – a short twenty minute flight will get you there quickly, and leave you with plenty of time to explore this amazing paradise.
Located just outside of Scarborough, Argyle Falls is a not-to-be-missed attraction. The picturesque falls can be found after a leisurely fifteen-minute walk within a lush rainforest. On the way you’ll be met with gargantuan sized bamboo and other flora and fauna native to the island. Wildlife is also abundant here, including hummingbirds and snakes. The short (but humid) hike is the perfect way to set up this experience. You’ll appreciate the first dip you’ll take in this refreshing pool! Don’t let the small fish swimming around your legs unnerve you – they’re harmless. A small word of warning – the pool at the base of the falls can get deep quickly, and the rocks are slippery. A mere $50TT makes this experience a must-do!
2. Buccoo Reef – Nylon Pool – No Man’s Land (Tobago)
This really is a three-in-one experience! Make your way to Pigeon Point Heritage Park, and for a small fee of $20TT, you’ll be granted entrance onto the most breathtaking beach in Tobago. Board a glass-bottom boat off the infamous thatched roof pier and you’ll be whisked away to Buccoo Reef, a protected coral reef marine park. Throw on a snorkel and some flippers and prepare to be blown away by what lies underneath the turquoise waves. You’ll see a unique variety of marine life you’ve only seen in pictures!
Next stop is Nylon Pool, a shallow pool and coral sandbar in the middle of the ocean, just a short distance from the reef. The white sand is composed of ground coral, and works as an excellent exfoliant if rubbed softly on your skin. Sip on a tropical drink and let the calm water encircle you; the feeling of sitting on the sand with the ocean surrounding you is both surreal and serene. No Man’s Land is a small strip of beach that juts out from Bon Accord Lagoon, and is only accessible by boat. This deserted beach is surrounded by mangroves, and sometimes serves as a location for local picnics and barbeques – but for the most part, it’s a private paradise for anyone who visits. Try the rope swing or bury yourself in the softest sand imaginable. An amazing venue for sunsets!
3. Maracas Beach (Trinidad)
By far the best beach in Trinidad, Maracas Beach is popular with locals and tourists alike. And it’s no wonder why – the combination of fine, warm sand and amazing blue water set amidst the mountainous landscape offers each visitor a slice of heaven. The beach is surrounded by a bay, which offers a serene atmosphere and calm waves. Lie down and soak up the sun with a good book, buy a coconut from a wandering salesman, or lime with the locals and jam to some soca music.
Once you’ve built enough of a base tan (or your stomach starts rumbling), cross the road over to the food vendors and enjoy a Trinidadian staple, ‘bake & shark’, at the infamous Richard’s Shark & Bake. Filleted and deep fried shark is sandwiched between two pieces of bake, a savory fried dough. What makes the sandwich are the condiments! Go to town with safe choices from back home, or for those with a strong palette, try the pepper sauce – a staple on many local dishes.
4. Queen’s Park Savannah (Trinidad)
This public park takes the title of Port of Spain’s largest open space. It serves as the site of many of Trinidad’s annual events, including Carnival and the Panorama steelpan competition, as well concerts and sporting events, such as cricket. An outdoor enthusiast’s haven, many a jogger or dog-walker can be spotted here throughout the day. It comes alive on the weekends, when food vendors welcome locals and tourists alike to sample authentic Trinidadian cuisine.
Local dishes such as pholourie, doubles, sahina, and aloo pie are served fresh and hot – both in temperature and flavour! Wash the slow burn down with fresh blended fruit juice. Check out Dr. Fresh’s stall for some interesting flavours, such as Guinness soursop, seamoss, peanut crunch, or just plain guava. He’ll mix anything together, and encourages sampling of his inventive juice creations.
5. Gasparee Caves (Trinidad)
Have you ever been able to boast about swimming in a beautiful limestone cave? No? Then cross it off your bucket list after taking the time to see the eerie Gasparee Caves, located on the island of Gaspar Grande. A speedboat is the quickest way to get there, and also provides you the opportunity to see the other members of the Bocas Islands, as well as hundreds of magnificent brown pelicans and vacation homes of the wealthy. Upon docking, your guide will take you along a winding wooded path up to the cave. If you’re lucky, you’ll be accompanied by a local mutt who knows the way!
A metal staircase leads you into the depths of the humid and mysterious cave. With caves come bats – but don’t despair, they keep to themselves. Look out for the interesting limestone formations found in the cave, including an angelfish, lovers embracing, a t-rex, and even Michael Jackson! Work up the courage to jump off the rocks into the dark pool to cool off. The pristine water creates an illusion of the bottom appearing much closer than it actually is. Float on your back and catch a stream of sunlight as it beams down from the roof of the cave. This is surely a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t soon forget.
Looking for more information on a vacation to Trinidad and Tobago? Elspeth is an International Travel Consultant at Flight Centre Scotia Square in Halifax and can be reached online or by calling 1-866-788-5077.