Trinidad and Tobago: Caribean Home of Carnival and Adventure

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carnaval drummers
Carnival Drummers
Credit: Tourism Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago

When the warm season draws to a close in the northern climes of the world, people in those areas begin to think about where they can go for a winters getaway. One destination, often not considered, is the two island caribbean archipelago Republic of of Trinidad and Tobago (often referred to as T&T). This country the two main islands (Trinidad & Tobago) as well and numerous smaller landforms – including Chacachacare, Monos, Huevos, Gaspar Grande (or Gasparee), Little Tobago, and St. Giles Island.

The two main islands, that are located in the south caribbean and off the coast of Venezuela, are as different as night and day. Trinidad, the larger of the two islands is more populated and has typical sandy beaches, some of which can be very busy. Unlike much of the caribbean, Trinidad’s economy is based on the petroleum and petrochemical industry (Ergo the steel barrels developed Trinidad’s musical drums for steelpan bands) The island’s smaller neighbour, Tobago is less populated, more agrarian and has an excellent selection of, for the most part, unpopulated beaches! The island is also an eco destination, with its Main Ridge Forest Reserve (protected since 1776).

Getting There & Major Cities

The airports for T&T are Piarco International Airport (POS) at Port Of Spain, on Trinidad and Crown Point Airport (TAB) on Tobago. Port of Spain is the capital and Scarborough is Tobago

The capital is Port of Spain and the largest city, on Trinidad is San Fernando and the the largest population on Tobago is in the town of Scarborough.

Accommodations

Trinidad and Tobago don’t have the massive beach resorts, so often associated with caribbean destinations. Trinidad has an excellent selection hotels and both islands have many guest houses, lodges and hostels. Bookings in advance of travel is always suggested.

Beaches

Trinidad’s beaches are located on specific parts of the island, with some being on the smaller islands off the coast.

  • North-West Peninsula:Bombshell Bay, Chacachacare Island, Chagacabana – Chaguaramas, Chagville Beach, Macqueripe, Scotland Bay, Williams Bay.
  • North Coast: Blanchisseuse; Las Cuevas; Maracas Bay; Tyrico.
  • North-East Coast: Balandra; Grande Rivire, Manzanilla, Mayaro, Saline Bay, Salybia Bay, Sans Souci Bay.
  • South-West Coast: Cedros, Guapo Beach, Granville, Quinam Beach and Vessigny.

Eco travelers, seeking beaches in Trinidad, may want seek out these sites:

  • Paria Beach Trail (4- 6 hours round trip) leads to a deserted beach and waterfall. Start where the North Coast road ends and take the suspension bridge across the Marianne River.
  • Matura, in the north-east, is a protected beach as it is a major leatherback turtle nesting site.

The less populated beaches on Tobago include: Castara Beach, Englishman’s Bay, King’s Bay, Man ‘O War Bay, Mount Irvine Bay, Pigeon Point, Speyside Beach, Store Bay and Turtle Beach.

Tasty T&T (Food & Beverages)

Like several other destinations in the Caribbean, T&T has it’s own very specific cuisine, that includes a lot of seafood as well local meats (often goat) and greens and often involves curry, borrowed from the east indian peoples that came as workers. Street food abounds and it includes corn on the cob, BBQ meat, jerk meat often served in a roti (flat bread). There are also many Cantonese Chinese restaurants, that have their own T&T inspired fare. T&T’s rarity is Shark and bake, which is deep fried shark served between two pieces of fried bread. Add your toppings and it’s good to go!

Carnival

https://youtube.com/watch?v=l9iDDBcuch0%26hl%3Den%26fs%3D1%26rel%3D0

T&T is known for its Carnival and the birthplace of steelpan, calypso, soca, limbo and a way of walking and dancing called…Chippin’ ‘n Winin’ (above) All of which are naturally associated with having a great caribbean party with excellent opportunities to travel there at that time.

Traditionally, in Christianity, carnival marked the last opportunity to celebrate and to use up special foods before Lent. The Lenten period of the Church calendar, being the six weeks directly before Easter, was marked by fasting and other pious or penitential practices. While the starting day of Carnival varies, the festival usually builds up to a crescendo in the week before lent, ending on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

Adventure

Tobago is an adventure traveler’s dream! The Main Ridge Forest Reserve (protected since 1776), is spread over the island’s mountainous spine. Nature trails will allow you to explore the forest’s diverse flora and fauna. Throughout T&T you can find opportunities for birding, hiking, mountain biking, sailing, diving, snorkelling, sea kayaking, caving, nature and fishing.

Attractions

https://youtube.com/watch?v=t-YKG5aPbic%26hl%3Den%26fs%3D1%26rel%3D0

If you go to Tobago during Easter, there is one thing you don’t want to miss…Goat racing (above)! At this annual event at Buccoo, owners of the competing “critters” run with their goats on a lead. The betting is hot and heavy and the entertainment is awesome!

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