If the essence of each Caribbean island could be bottled and sold Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) would be a one-stop shop for a true West Indian experience.
Located just off the east coast of Venezuela, Trinidad, the larger of the twin-island republic, is widely regarded as the business hub of the region. Its personality is one of an intense vibrant nightlife mirroring its vast energy resources. Tobago, situated 12 miles further east, is the easy-going sister. Sleepy hills filled with exciting flora and fauna roll towards the center of the island while hundreds of beautiful beaches dot its white sandy coastlines.
This unique dichotomy of the Caribbean experience is what makes T&T a must see of the Caribbean Sea. It’s the best of both worlds packaged into one affordable destination.
Trinidad is the place to start. With a hot chick pea sandwich, the locals call ‘doubles’, awaiting your arrival at its Piarco International Airport. And so starts every adventure on the island. Food tourism plays a huge part in your immersion into Trinidadian culture. Fear not, the island’s multi-ethnic cultural background ensures you a vast menu from which to choose, with injections of East Indian, Arabian, Chinese, Latina American and African flavours. *
Once you’ve sated that grumble in your midsection you may want to whet your musical appetite. Trinidad is the birth place of the Steelpan, the only musical instrument to be invented in the 20th century. Calypso music also found its root, during the late 1800’s, in the creative soil of the island’s people. As did Soca music; an infectious mash up of East Indian and African rhythms.
These unique sounds of Trinidad breathe identity into its most famous cultural export, Carnival. Traditionally a farewell to flesh celebration, in preparation for 40 days of meat abstinence during the Lenten period, Carnival in Trinidad has evolved into a dynamic, energetic, colourful display of artistic expression. There are not enough superlatives to express the euphoria of Carnival Monday and Tuesday. It is an experience that must be lived. +
In and out of the Carnival season Ariapita Avenue remains a hotbed for nightlife in Trinidad. The two mile stretch connects the bustling capital Port of Spain to middle class suburbia on the western side of the island. But also moonlights as an entertainment hotspot with its many casinos, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Trinidad is also known for its eco-tourism product. The national bird The Scarlet Ibis ignites the mangrove of the Caroni swamp creating a breathtaking illusion of red trees. There is much more for the nature lover. The Asa Wright Nature Centre in Arima and the Wild Fowl Trust in Point a Pierre provides a safe haven retreat. While several hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty ascend into the island’s Nothern Range.
Tobago is one of the most desired tourist locations of the world. The natural beauty and the cultural diversity of the island attracts thousands each year. It's the perfect retreat from the bustle of life in Trinidad. It is island life at its simplest. Quaint narrow streets through the capital of Scarborough open into the island’s one highway, the Claude Noel, which takes you due east to the world famous Pigeon Point beach.
There you can board a glass bottom boat and sail a few miles north to the Bucco Reef one of the few living coral reefs in the world. There you will also encounter one of the wonders of the western hemisphere, the Nylon Pool, a shallow clear swimming pool located in the middle of the ocean.
The calm Caribbean sea to the north of the island provides the perfect sailing spot for yachters. There are hundreds of secluded coves to explore, as well as, excellent deep sea diving and snorkeling. The beauty of Tobago is by no means exclusive to its waters. Golfers will find two immaculate championship 18-hole courses in play at the Mount Irvine Bay Hotel & Golf Club and the Tobago Plantations Golf & Country Club. Bird watching is also big with visitors. There are over 200 species of birds on the island, including several species of the exotic humming bird and the much storied Bird of Paradis, a rarely seen bird that makes its home in Little Tobago, an islet off the north-eastern coast.
Tobago is one of the most visited locations from the perspective of eco tourism. The primary reason for this is that Tobago combines all the flora and fauna of the Caribbean giving a detailed and holistic view of the all the islands combined into one. One can do hundreds of activities in Tobago like foresting, water sporting, hiking and bird watching.
By now you would have worked up quite an appetite. Like Trinidad, Tobago is known for its food. Here the dish of choice is curried crab and dumplings. You can get the best on the island at the Store Bay beach food court.
Be it for work or play, a yen for the spotlight., or a getaway for rest and relaxation, Trinidad and Tobago is your destination for the authentic Caribbean experience.
*The world famous Bake and Shark, dubbed ‘probably the best sandwich in the world’ by acclaimed food writer Andrew Zimmern, is a must try. The journey through the cool northern range toward Maracas Beach, home of the sandwich, is equally gratifying. The breathtaking picturesque view of the north coast beach front completes the 360 experience of great food, scenery and ambience.