Trinidad and Tobago is a lot like my sister and I, anything but identical and proud of what makes them unique. Don’t be fooled. Although this is an island nation, it takes more than one part to make the whole, and each part has a personality of its own. As a traveller, it is important to know what you want to get out of your destination and which experiences will make your heart explode with happiness.
Here’s some quick insight to help you create a trip to remember.
Tobago is the beach lover’s paradise
Even Trinidadians will tell you, if you’re looking for conventional Caribbean beaches, go to Tobago. There you will be enthralled by an abundant supply of brilliant waters that come in many different shades of blue, white sand, and the relaxing sound of coconut trees swishing in the wind. With a population close to 61,000 and very little focus on industry, there are breath-taking views on every coast.
If you’re a beach bum like me, take a day trip around the island and visit multiple beaches all in one day. Beat the crowds on secluded beaches like Speyside on the west coast and Englishman’s Bay on the east, or join them on more popular beaches like Store Bay and Pigeon Point. Whatever you’re looking for regarding beach life, Tobago has your back.
Beyond splashing in the water and laying on the sand, Tobago caters for the adventurous beachgoers. From kayaking around Bon Accord Lagoon or through the beautiful waters in Charlotteville, to surfing the waves of Mount Irvine Beach and Bacolet Point; the braver water babies will have the time of their life! You may even choose to sail, kite surf, windsurf, parasail, wakeboard, or stand- up paddle. It’s all up to you.
Boasting exceptional coral reefs such as Buccoo Reef, a designated marine park since 1973, divers and snorkelers have over forty-five registered dive sites to choose from, with veritable gardens of corals to explore. Meander through Kelliston Drain to see the largest single brain coral colony in the world!
Chase waterfalls in Trinidad
Although Trinidad’s lovely beaches may not measure up to Tobago’s, it racks up points with freshwater spaces that will blow up your Instagram. The Northern Range is a hiker’s heaven. Start off with beginner trails like Rampanalgas, Three Pools, Sobo, or Maracas Waterfalls, or go straight adrenaline junkie with advanced hikes to Saut D’Eau, Paria, Sombasson, or Ricon Waterfalls. There are so many to pick from, most leading to thunderous and refreshing waterfalls flowing into deep, green pools. The weather is hot year-round, but with a dip in popular rivers like Grande Riviere or Shark River, you will be rejuvenated for further explorations.
Continuing the freshwater delights, Caroni Swamp is a must-see in Trinidad. This estuarine system comprises of 5,611 hectares of mangrove forest and march, numerous channels, and brackish lagoons, with extensive intertidal mudflats on the seaward side. Take a tour to be amazed by the ecological diversity of the island, where you will be up close and personal with brilliant red Scarlet Ibis, the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago, which decorates the mangrove trees like Christmas balls.
48-hour days in Tobago
Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, like those of other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have an admittedly twisted sense of time. It is a very common practice to minus at least an hour from the time an event or lime is supposed to start to try to get people to reach on time. But in Tobago, it goes beyond this. When you disembark the plane or the ferry, it’s as though time embodies a sloth, slowly moving from one branch to the next. This slow pace allows for a stereotypical island feel and true relaxation, where one day feels like forty-eight hours. This goes out to the man who told me the place I was looking for was a five-minute walk and I only arrived at my destination after forty-five minutes of walking. #TrueStory
Driving through the backbone of the island, the Tobago Main Ridge Rainforest, with the windows down is a meditative experience in itself. Enjoy panoramic views of the ocean from Flagstaff Hill or atop Fort King George. Whatever your heart’s desire, take your time and Tobago will treat you right.
On the other hand, Trinidad is well-known as a regional and international business travel destination. The pulse in Trinidad is completely different from Tobago. Port of Spain is known as the meetings, conferences, and events capital of the Southern Caribbean. There is a thriving all-day and all-night type of energy. Business sectors are a catalyst for increasing airlift, advancing technology, and ever-increasing internationally branded hotels.
Trinidad has a definite city feel and a very active nightlife. Every night of the week you’re sure to find a place to dance the night away. Trinis come out in full force, with weekends starting as early as midday on Fridays. “Today is Wednesday, the day before the day before Friday!” – Real exclamation overheard on a maxi in Trinidad.
Feel the music of soca and calypso pass through you at one of the many clubs in St. James, San Fernando, Chaguanas, or Port of Spain. Visit a panyard for a musical experience you’re sure to remember. If you’re not certain what to do, follow the locals as they wine and jam to the variety of rhythms.
Beach hop in Tobago or bar hop in Trinidad? Business connections or slow and steady vacation time? Trinidad and Tobago has all this to offer and so much more. Don’t limit yourself as a traveller. Now that you know a little more, make time to stay on both islands and craft the trip that allows for a wider array of travel experiences. What are you waiting on?