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The Marianne River, Blanchisseuse

What’s inside Production credits...........................................6 Meet our interviewees....................................8

Trinidad

Welcome message........................................12 Where to stay................................................ 14 Food & dining (Foodie Nation & our roundtable).............................................. 18 Shopping ......................................................24 Arts & culture roundtable........................... 26 Nightlife & entertainment roundtable........ 33 Carnival roundtable...................................... 38 Festivals roundtable......................................48 Eco adventure with Courtenay................... 52 Editor’s tips Hikes & waterfalls................................ 55 Tour operators...................................... 55 Turtle-watching..................................... 56 Birding................................................... 58 Chaguaramas........................................ 62 Beaches................................................. 63 Sightseeing............................................ 66 Sports.................................................... 72

Essentials

Trinidad maps................................................ 72 National calendar of events........................ 82 Getting here & getting around.................... 86 Tips for safe and sustainable travel............89 T&T history and society in a nutshell ..................................................... 90

Tobago..................................................92 Welcome message........................................96 Editor’s picks: where to stay........................98 Shopping & leisure.....................................104 Beaches, sightseeing & waterfalls with Aisha ................................................... 106 Editor’s tip: tour guides & operators........110 Beaches & turtles.........................................111 Ocean adventures with Duane................... 112 Birding & nature escapes...........................114 Diving with Derek........................................ 118 Culture & festivals with Jared................... 121 Roundtable: the best dining & liming spots..................................................126 Tobago map..................................................132


Banquet Centre


Credits

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Editor: Caroline Taylor Consulting editor: Jeremy Taylor General manager: Halcyon Salazar Designer: Bridget van Dongen Advertising sales: Evelyn Chung Editorial & design assistant: Shelly-Ann Inniss Consulting designer: Kevon Webster Production: Jacqueline Smith Finance director: Joanne Mendes Some vectors by: Vecteezy.com Cover Trinidad: Harts masquerader, Kenya Baird, on Carnival Tuesday; photo by Jason Audain Cover Tobago: A diver spots a French angelfish at Japanese Gardens, Speyside; photo by Kadu Pinheiro

Collared trogon

A publication of Media & Editorial Projects Ltd. (MEP) 6 Prospect Avenue, Maraval, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago T: (868) 622-3821 • F: (868) 628-0639 E: discovertnt@meppublishers.com W: discovertnt.com

Intro

Connect with us online:

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his year, we invite you to discover both Trinidad and Tobago with the people who call Trinidad and Tobago home — the people who live, work, and play here. As always, we continue to share with you our very favourite experiences and things to know through our Editor’s Picks and Editor’s Tips. Make sure to visit us online, as there’s so much more we talked to our expert interviewees about. The full Q&As and unabridged interviews — plus years’ worth of articles and photos from past issues of Discover Trinidad & Tobago — are all on our website at discovertnt. com!

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ISSN 1680-6166 © 2018 Media & Editorial Projects (MEP) Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the prior written consent of the publisher.

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Meet our interviewees Foodie Nation is a food marketing and food tourism

company, promoting T&T through their website, videos, and social media. Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Shaun Alexander draws on his culinary background to create signature dishes that are posted on their website. foodienationtt.com

Nigel Campbell is a music businessman who writes for newspapers and magazines, including Caribbean Beat, doing music reviews and covering the music business. He is a producer and promoter of Jazz Artists on the Greens (jaotg.com), and publishes Jazz in the Islands magazine (jazz.tt). Derek Chung became a diving instructor in 1987,

and has done more than 12,000 dives over 34 years. He is the Tobago Museum Trust’s representative for Underwater Cultural Heritage, and runs Undersea Tobago (underseatobago.com) — one of the island’s premier dive centres — with his wife.

Laura Dowrich-Phillips

has been a journalist for over 20 years, and is currently the Regional Lifestyle Editor for Loop News, a regional digital news platform. She co-hosts the Music Matters podcast (iradiott.wordpress.com), which looks at the music industry in the Caribbean.

Duane Kenny is the owner of Zoe Snorkelling Char-

ters (snorkeltobago.com), Stand Up Paddle Tobago (standuppaddletobago.com), and villa rentals at Blue Falls Investments (bluefallsinvestments.com). He’s a life-long lover of the ocean, surfing, diving, guitar, adventure and, most of all, living in Tobago.

Maria Nunes

(marianunes.com) is a photographer who specialises in the documentation of cultural heritage. She’s deeply interested in our history, and uses her camera to have conversations about history — to meet people she might ordinarily not get to know, and to explore the diversity and complexity of who we are in T&T. Her book In a world of their own is available at bookshops, and at robertandchristopher.com.

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Franka Philip and Ardene Sirjoo both

enjoy developing and executing interesting creative projects. Their backgrounds in media and general curiosity led them to co-found Trini Good Media, including the podcast Talk ‘Bout Us and OpedTT, which curates opinion writing. Franka is an experienced journalist who’s worked at the BBC World Service and Guardian Media, and writes the Cookup column for Caribbean Beat. Ardene co-hosts the popular radio programme The Mandate on i95.5FM, is a frequent event host and moderator, and works with the Bocas Literary Festival as the media and marketing coordinator. trinigoodmedia.com


Jared Prima is a Tobagonian actor, director, writer, and singer currently on a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a Master’s in Film Production at Florida State University. He runs Triple Spade Studios, and his film work includes the awardwinning shorts The Witness and Redman. He is working on two features, Midnight Robber and La Diablesse Lives. Courtenay “Bush Man” Rooks has over 25 years of eco adventure tourism experience. He founded Paria Springs Tours in 1993, and runs Bush Mountain (facebook.com/ bushmountaintt) — an eco-project that brings together his passions for health and conservation with trail walking, running, yoga, boot camp, forest bathing, rappelling, and much more. Penelope Spencer has worked in the entertainment industry for over 30 years as an actor, writer, director, teacher, producer, television host, and casting agent. She cohosts OMG Live on Facebook and The Sisterhood on TV6; and is the artistic director of Necessary Arts School/Productions. She recently completed her first children’s book with Lylah Persad, Tales from the forest. Aisha Sylvester is a digital marketer loving life in

Tobago. She spends a lot of her free time exploring the island, and loves being out and about indulging in some of Tobago’s most authentic experiences. She shares her excursions and discoveries through comprehensive guides on her travel blog, Island Girl In-Transit (islandgirlintransit.com).

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Welcome to the twin-island Republic of Trinidad & Tobago!

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hank you for making us your destination of choice. No matter the duration of your stay, consider yourself an honorary citizen and take every opportunity to discover the treasures of our islands. Immerse yourself in our diverse culture, journey to the past through the traditions preserved in many of our communities, or delight your taste buds with menus in our fine dining restaurants or eclectic street food. At the Ministry, we understand that tourism offers enormous potential for successful national economic growth and development. To ensure that our country remains a key player in the industry, the Ministry continues to monitor emerging trends in international tourism. In addition to our well-known leisure and cultural offerings, we identify effective tourism niches

for destination Trinidad & Tobago. Our industry is competitive and technological changes have an immediate impact. We are supporting and encouraging our tourism operators to ride the digital wave. From raising the bar on business operating standards and customer service to embracing digital transformation, destination Trinidad & Tobago is deepening its footprint in the international tourism market. Whether you are here to conduct business, enjoy international sport, rest and relax, or appreciate our heritage, an adventure awaits you. There is always something to do in Trinidad & Tobago. Have a safe and memorable stay! — The Ministry of Tourism

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The National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain

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EDITOR’S PICKS

Where to stay Luxury in the capital

courtesy The hyatt regency trinidad

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he high-end hotels feature soughtafter amenities, like top-class restaurants and excellent pool, gym, business, and conference facilities. In downtown Port of Spain on the waterfront, the recently upgraded Hyatt Regency Trinidad offers views of the Gulf of Paria, a range of dining, a roof-top pool, and an on-site spa. The Radisson, just across the road, boasts a revolving restaurant at the top; while the Courtyard by Marriott, situated just west of Port of Spain, is a draw for business travellers who can pop into MovieTowne next door. The iconic Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre and classy Kapok boutique hotel both offer superb views of the Queen’s Park Savannah. Out west in Chaguaramas, the CrewsInn Hotel & Yachting Centre brings you close to nature while still in striking distance of the capital.

All rooms and suites are air conditioned and outfitted with modern facilities for your every comfort including internet access and direct dial telephone. Enjoy a meal at our restaurant which specialises in a variety of tasty Caribbean and International cuisine, or just sit back and relax at our bar and lounge or around our swimming pool. Our new building includes conference facilities as well as an ideal settingfor wedding receptions, cocktail parties and other special functions. Other facilities include our complimentary gym and business centre with email and internet access, ideally suited for business or vacation. We also offer special group and long term rates.

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courtesy crewsinn hotel

Southern charms Down south in San Fernando, Tradewinds has both nightly hotel and monthly residency options, while the charming Royal Hotel is located near to San Fernando Hill, and the Cara Suites Hotel & Conference Centre overlooks Claxton Bay.

Gems of the east In the east, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites is five minutes from the airport, Trincity Mall, and a world-class golf course. Also near the airport are the Grand Diamond Trinidad and the Monte Cristo Inn. Academic visitors and researchers will appreciate the recent addition of the University Inn at the University of the West Indies’ campus in St Augustine.

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Beloved boutiques, B&Bs, and beyond Among the most popular guesthouses, B&Bs, and self-catering options are The Allamanda (Woodbrook); Forty Winks Inn (Port of Spain); Thanna’s Place and Savannah Maison Guest House (Belmont); Kiskadee Korner (St Clair); Culture Crossroads Inn (St James); The Inn at 87 (Newtown); Crosswinds Villa Bed & Breakfast (Santa Cruz); Willard’s Bed and Breakfast (El Dorado); and the Coblentz Inn, Heritage Inn, and L’Orchidée Guesthouse (Cascade).

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Grande Rivière is the world’s second largest nesting ground for endangered leatherback turtles

Green retreats & eco escapes If you want to see the stars at night, head to Paradise Villas (Paramin); Asa Wright Nature Centre (Arima-Blanchisseusse Road); Hacienda Jacana (Talparo); Petrea Place (Pointeà-Pierre Wildfowl Trust); Xanadu Resort (Lopinot); Pax Guesthouse (Mt St Benedict); Anise Resort & Spa (Sans Souci); or Acajou, Le Grand Almandier, and Mt Plaisir (Grande Rivière).

Located in one of the most convenient districts in Port of Spain. Everything on your doorstep, carnival, cricket, embassies, a variety of restaurants, stadium, churches. Quick transportation. S elf-contained rooms and fully equipped studio apts. Swimming pool. We go the extra mile to ensure your comfort and safety.

Great Comfort, Unbeatable Service... Our Hallmarks! Tel: (868) 622-1480, 628-0050 email: theallamanda@yahoo.com www.theallamanda.com 61 Carlos Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain, Trinidad, W.I.

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joanne husain

Twilight at Hacienda Jacana

tevin mills

Escape to Grande Rivière

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The

Foodie Nation

Foodie nation food marketing entrepreneurs

way of life

Tell us a bit about the island’s culinary heritage.

W rnival e

e started off with our Amerindian cuisine thanks to our indigenous peoples, followed by creole or Afro-Caribbean and Indian cuisines which dominate the island. Our culinary heritage tells the story of the meals created by all our country’s immigrants — Chinese, Middle Eastern, European, and so many others.

What makes the island’s food distinctive? Our food has key ingredients such as chadon beni or bandhaniya, first cousin to cilantro (sawtooth coriander or culantro) and pimento peppers, and there’s nothing like fresh pimento peppers. Our island’s food is centred on the Roundtable availability of fresh ingredients. We celebrate the abundance of our produce as it comes. Lastly, you might say, we “over-season” our food, but we just want you to taste it! There’s no “lightly seasoned with just salt and black pepper” in Trinidad. There must be garlic, chives, chadon beni, pimento peppers, hot pepper, and — yes — salt and black pepper. T&T’s food should always taste fresh and lively. The variety and fusions in our cuisine put our food and dining scene on par with the best in the world. Every year, our food scene gets more diverse and experimental. People are taking risks and getting creative with indigenous ingredients. Street food as a main attraction is something that has exploded, as it has in the rest of the world. Chefs and cooks are being more innovative and getting into the food truck and pop-up restaurant model and it’s exciting.

Arts & Culture

Roundtable

Curry with “buss-up-shut” are a Trini staple

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photo courtesy foodie nation TT

More foodie favourites


courtesy foodie nation TT

What local cuisine should both visitors and Trinis try at least once? Doubles (pictured) is life. It might not look appetising, but trust us, you must have this street food. While you’re at it, head down to Debe and visit the food stalls selling not just doubles but golden fried East Indian delicacies such as saheena, baiganee, kachori, and aloo (potato) pies. Pelau: browned rice and pigeon peas cooked in coconut milk with chicken, beef, pork, or even vegetarian options. It’s better than any rice and peas you’ve ever had. Nick’s Channa & Cheese on Caroni Savannah Road: curried channa and a thick slice of New Zealand cheddar (or government cheese, as Trinis like to say) sandwiched in a warm dinner roll. They also have stewed chicken, stewed liver and gizzard, and chow mein sandwiches available. Bake & fish: Foodie Nation promotes sustainable fishing practices. So get a Maracas bake and fish with all the toppings (pineapple, lettuce, tomatoes, slaw) and all the sauces (chadon beni, garlic sauce, a touch of ketchup — because Trinis love ketchup), and you will make the best tasting sandwich ever. For more great street food, head to the food courts at the Queen’s Park Savannah food court (at night) and Eddie Hart Grounds (Tacarigua); D’Cross in San Fernando (at night); and St James Main Road to get one of the best street vendor rotis in Trinidad.

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EDITOR’S TIP

About that bake & shark... Sharks are being unsustainably caught in T&T’s waters. We encourage you to try more sustainable alternatives with your bake — flying fish, mahi mahi, squid/ calamari, carite, tilapia, or lionfish.

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More foodie favourites Roundtable

Franka & Ardene journalists & media entrepreneurs

EDITOR’S TIP

Foodie Fiesta

In terms of fine dining, several restaurants set an extremely high standard like Chaud, Buzo, Prime, and Aioli around Port of Spain; and Krave in San Fernando. Other very good restaurants include Apsara, Town, Chaud Café (all around Port of Spain), and House of Chan (Curepe), as well as Adam’s (Maraval) for a great breakfast on a Saturday morning. For tea with amazing cake and pastry, visit Jardin (West Mall). For good and reasonably priced burgers, we highly recommend Burger Joint (Woodbrook) — ask for a side of cassava fries too. Sunday brunch at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad (Port of Spain) is also a great option for treating yourself. For the best artisan bread, a visit to Zabouca Breads (Woodbrook) is a must.

courtesy buzo osteria italiano

At MovieTowne, there are several dining options, including authentic Japanese cuisine at Kaizan Sushi, and international favourites at Zanzibar. They also both deliver!

What are your favourite places to dine?

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What are some of our finest locally grown/produced goods, and where can people find them?

courtesy green market santa cruz

For the best locally grown produce, the NAMDEVCO (The National Agricultural Marketing & Development Corporation) markets are our pick. You can find their locations and opening hours online (namdevco.com). There is also the Green Market in Santa Cruz (Saturday mornings). In terms of brands, Angostura’s premium rums make great gifts as well as the legendary bitters. For cocoa, there’s a lot to choose from — Cocobel, Sun Eaters, Gran Couva come to mind immediately. Pepper sauce — Bertie’s is best in class.

Cocoa and cocoa products on sale at the Green Market

Laura lifestyle journalist & editor

My list of faves — Bertie’s pepper and pimento sauces; Twigs Natural tea; Gourmet Pop popcorn; 11 Degrees North sorrel wine; local chocolates (Cocobel, Brasso Seco, Bushe, and Cush Machel Montano); Angostura Bitters; CGA flavoured coconut oils; and anything from Karibbean Flavours.

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&

chris anderson

Shopping Leisure

ere to stay

Y

Non-stop shopping

ou can buy just about anything here: from distinctive locally hand-crafted souvenirs, to top international brands in fashion, jewellery, electronics, cars, and gourmet food. If you can’t find it in one of the major malls (Long Circular, The Falls at West Mall, Trincity, Gulf City, Grand Bazaar, C3 Centre, South Park Shopping Centre, Centre Pointe Mall, Centre City Mall), it’s sure to be in one of the many plazas (the older ones are Ellerslie Plaza, Price Plaza and MovieTowne Mall) or specialty shops. For local art, craft, food, fashion and accessories, check out the artisan markets (San Antonio Green Market in Santa Cruz, and UpMarket at the Woodbrook Youth Centre).

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Fresh fruit and vegetables are available at markets like the Arima market


Diego Martin Port of Spain

San Juan

Tunapuna

Arima Sangre Grande

Chaguanas

Couva

San Fernando

Rio Claro Princes Town

Point Fortin

Mayaro

Penal Siparia

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Arts & Culture Roundtable

Music Nigel

Tell us a bit about the island’s musical heritage and landscape.

music journalist & businessman

This country’s ability to assimilate everyfoodie favourites thing and everybody that lived and still live here has allowed for evolution of music that drives island festivals, parties, and allows for a new direction in some popular music. Calypso (or kaiso) is the musical response of African-Caribbean people to slavery, emancipation and colonialism. Once it was recorded for consumer uptake (1912, five years before jazz), it signalled the growth of the sound of the Caribbean, and ultimately of Trinidad-styled carnivals worldwide. Soca (a mash-up of Indian- and African-Caribbean musical impulses, named by one originator, Lord Shorty, as sokah) has for the

last 50 years been the driving force of Carnival. The steelpan, born during the WWII years, transformed “found” metal dustbins and discarded oil drums into polyphonic musical instruments. That sound drives fervent fans into a frenzy when performed at its orchestral best at carnivals and music festivals. Today, fusion with Latin beats and Indian rhythms has enhanced the pool of musical forms unique in the Caribbean. That soca beat is now invading electronic dance music (EDM) and pop music being produced by the children of diaspora in cities in Canada and the USA, and there are independent souls making island folk, rock, calypso jazz, tropical pop, and CDM (Caribbean dance music).

courtesy jazz artists on the greens (JAOTG)

Elon Trotman at JAOTG

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For live music experiences, what are some of the names to look out for?

Musicians I appreciate include 3canal for their cutting edge rapso style, thought-provoking and catchy music; Vaughnette Bigford and Bri Celestine — their mellow voices can hook you in; the intoxicating Mavis John; Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin, and Olatunji. Their work speaks to me — Olatunji’s mix of traditional soca and African beats are to die for.

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Voice performs at Dimanche Gras

RAPSO IMAGING

You could make the case that these islands are the Caribbean music capital. The spread of genres mean there is something for most — clubs, festivals, concerts both mammoth and intimate. Music in T&T has “seasons”. During Carnival (Boxing Day until Ash Wednesday), soca reigns. The week before Carnival sees the most significant events — including over 50 fetes. Listen out for Bunji Garlin, Fay-Ann Lyons (the soca First Couple); Voice, the new generation’s leading artist and three-time winner of Soca Monarch. Calypso tents still hold a place for understanding the roots of calypso as social commentary and reportage of scandal, obsessions, and life here. The “centre season” (post-Carnival) is where jazz festivals, reggae, opera festivals abound. Jazz Artists on the Greens kicks off the short jazz season, which culminates with the Tobago Jazz Experience in the last weekend of April. Elan Parle, Clifford Charles, Theron Shaw star among a recent generation of artists. Clive Zanda, a pioneer in kaiso-jazz fusion, is still a standing icon. Many top musicians are resident overseas: Etienne Charles, Leon Foster Thomas, David “Happy” Williams. Lastly, there’s Christmas for choral and parang music, where leading choral groups deliver annual Christmas shows — the Marionettes Chorale, the Lydians, the Love Movement. Parang, music from the old Venezuelan tradition, signals the Trinidadian experience of the season. The fusion genre of parang-soca serves as the musical fuel for endless liming and drinking and conviviality. Scrunter, Crazy, Kenny J, and Relator are key figures.

Pennie actor, educator & TV host

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Shari Cumberbatch

Which designers do you think are the most distinctive?

Laura lifestyle journalist & editor

I love the work of Shop Shari and Loud by Afiya with their distinctive use of prints and colour. Charu Lochan Dass, trading as CLD, creates elegant and sophisticated outfits. Christian Boucaud caters to the plus size market in her portfolio. Lisa Sarjeant-Gonzales (Lisa Faye) creates beautiful hand-dyed caftans and free-flowing gowns in silk. For swimwear, Rebel is super sexy, and TROPIX by Keisha Als plays around with different fabric and designs that stand out. For original jewellery, see Rachel Rochford, Bene Caribe, Cocoa Vintage and Shop Shari.

EDITOR’S TIP

More names to look out for

Courtesy Lisa Faye

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Clothing designs by Ecliff Elie, Adrian Foster, Heather Jones, K2K, the Lush Kingdom, Meiling, Claudia Pegus, The Cloth, and the Wadada Movement; and hand-crafted jewellery from Chris Anderson, Gillian Bishop, Janice Derrick, Akilah Jaramogi, Barbara Jardine, Rachel Ross, and Jasmine Thomas-Girvan. Also check out Dreamstones for silver and gemstone jewellery from a range of international designers.

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courtesty shop shari

Fashion


Literature Who are some of the local authors that you recommend?

Franka & Ardene journalists & media entrepreneurs

Barbara Jenkins, Shivanee Ramlochan, Kevin Jared Hosein, Lisa Allen-Agostini, and Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné are fiction writers at the forefront of a new dawn in T&T literature. Judy Raymond is a writer of non-fiction who is an asset to the genre. Maria Nunes is dedicated to capturing the best of traditional mas — her photos of fancy sailors are beyond brilliant.

Laura lifestyle journalist & editor

For children’s books, see Aarti Gosine’s Her Magic Caves; Jeunanne Alkins’ Hatch; Machel Montano’s Boy Boy & the Magic Pan. Maria Nunes’ debut book, In a World of their Own: Carnival Dreamers & Makers, perfectly captures the passion embodied in those who are preserving our traditional mas. Aliyah Eniath’s The Yard is probably the first book by a Caribbean author to centre on the life of a Muslim family navigating life in the Caribbean. Very compelling. The late Angelo Bissessarsingh’s A Walk Back in Time, Walking with the Ancestors, and Bridges of Trinidad & Tobago

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perfectly captures our history. Among the classics, I favour VS Naipaul’s earlier work based on life in T&T — they are hilarious and timeless and scarily in many ways still resemble life today. Michael Anthony has written several books, but if you are yet to read Green Days by the River, get this. Sam Selvon’s Lonely Londoners is a classic everyone ought to read.

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Visual arts Which artists and venues should people look out for?

Laura: The local art scene is a vibrant one. The Art Society based in St Clair hosts a number of exhibitions and pop-up shops. Horizons Art Gallery, Medulla Art Gallery, 101 Art Gallery, Y Art Gallery, and Uncorked Wine Shop are good places to view local art.

Pennie: I love Che Lovelace and Ashraph Ramsaran’s artwork — I love the vivid colours and textures and the boldness of their pieces.

Feel At Home (2018, pen and ink watercolour, 7.5” x 5.5”), by Shalini Seereeram

EDITOR’S TIP More top artists Isaiah Boodhoo, Edward Bowen, Carlisle Chang, Leroy Clarke, Chris Cozier, Ken Crichlow, Jackie Hinkson, Paul Llanos, Dermot Louison, Shastri Maharaj, Wendy Nanan, Lisa O’Connor, Shalini Seereeram, Peter Sheppard, Irénée Shaw, Sundiata, Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, and the late Michel-Jean Cazabon, Pat Bishop, and Boscoe Holder.

Franka & Ardene: Some names art lovers should note are Halcian Pierre, Ozzy Merrick, LeRoy Clarke, Brianna McCarthy, Sarah Burrows, Marielle Barrow, Che Lovelace, and Sabrina Charran.

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Theatre What can people expect from Trinidad’s theatre scene?

karen johnstone courtesy coco dance festival

Pennie: The theatre scene boasts a mixture of genres — from farces to drama, historical to comedy. The main venues are Central Bank Auditorium and Queen’s Hall (Port of Spain); Naparima Bowl (San Fernando); CLR James Auditorium (Valsayn); and National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) north and south.

Do you have any favourite plays, playwrights, producers?

EDITOR’S TIP

RS/RR Productions; Raymond Choo Kong Productions; the Creative Arts Centre up at UWI; the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, which was headed by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott and continues with small dinner theatre productions. I love Tony Hall, Derek Walcott, Earl Lovelace, Richard Ragoobarsingh as playwrights.

Keeping traditions alive (or creating new ones), local schools and dance companies present shows in a range of styles — regional folk, ballet, jazz, modern, and Indian classical, plus experimental multi-media productions — at many of the same venues as Pennie listed for theatre.

Dance

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Nightlife & Entertainment

courtesy movietowne

Roundtable

A jab jab entertains the crowd at Fiesta Plaza, MovieTowne

My favourite spots are Drink Lounge & Bistro; Fiesta Plaza at MovieTowne; and Frankie’s (all around Port of Spain). The Big Black Box has some form of entertainment on most weekends — parties, readings, workshops, shows, right in the heart of Woodbrook.

Pennie actor, educator & TV host

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courtesy uncorked

courtesy cspot sip n paint studio

Laura lifestyle journalist & editor

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At Uncorked (Port of Spain), you can purchase a bottle and enjoy it in-house with friends. They also support local artists with an exhibition every month by a different artist. CSpot Sip n Paint studio (St Clair) provides a fantastic way to enjoy an evening with friends, painting and connecting over cocktails. Drink Lounge & Bistro (Woodbrook) is one of my favourite hangouts too. It’s a joint where many creatives hang out, and they serve the most amazing meatballs and sangria. I also love hanging out at Kaiso Blues CafÊ (Port of Spain) because they are a haven for live music in a very intimate atmosphere.

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Nigel music journalist & businessman

EDITOR’S TIP

More popular liming spots

Melinda Nagy/shutterstock.com

Around Port of Spain: 51° Lounge; HAZE; Luce; More Vino; Old Havana Lounge; Paprika Bistro; Queen’s Park Oval; Sails (Chaguaramas); Smokey & Bunty; Studio Lounge; Trotters; Tzar Nightlife; Vas Lounge; and Zanzibar Heading east: Trevor’s Edge (St Augustine) Around San Fernando: Club Next; Hi RPM; and Privé.

Port of Spain, the capital city, has been targeted as a must-do in the Caribbean. It has an energy that resonates throughout the year. The Ariapita Avenue strip in Woodbrook boasts a mile of bars, eating places, and a few live venues that come to life in a huge way on weekends. Kaiso Blues Café, near downtown Port of Spain hotels, is the premier space for intimate live performances from a wide range of genres. Restaurants and bars at One Woodbrook Place offer an urban oasis of sophisticated nightlife. Increasingly, the casino (or members club) is showcasing popular and prominent performers. Island Club Casino in Grand Bazaar (Valsayn) has become a new hotspot for live music. Woodford Café (Chaguanas) offers live performances in music genres outside of soca, and Space La Nouba and Sting Nightclub (around San Fernando) are major hotspots.

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Eat and drink

FREE

while you play! Live entertainment

Local & international DJs

Safe and secure

Members Clubs in: Port of Spain Chaguanas San Fernando Next nightclub, San Fernando

www.worldofprincess.com info@worldofprincess.com


Carnival Roundtable

Arts & Roundtable maria Photographer & Cultural Activist

Carnival is so multi-faceted — it is experienced in so many ways, and means such different things to different people. Many limit their experience to just the party element, but there’s so much more to Carnival. For me, it is about an indescribable energy, a spirit that’s somehow in our DNA. The heart and soul of Carnival come to their fullest expression in the street on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. Taking over the street is an essential part of the experience. You get to release so much through the music, through the rituals. If you’re willing to really let go, it’s truly cathartic. 

More foodie favou RoundtableThe week before Carnival:

The perfect itinerary

chad lue loy

There is so much to experience in such a short amount of time. The intensity ramps up two weeks before Carnival with Panorama semis. The atmosphere on what we call the drag or the track, where the bands practise and play their final warm up before they go on stage, is such a wonderful way to get close to the pans and the players. It’s special. The Wednesday after pan semis, head to the St James Amphitheatre for the Traditional Mas competition. It’s free and it’s a great event for children. I’d recommend going to the stickfighting preliminaries, which take place in locations like Moruga.

Stickfighting

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The Old Yard: UWI Creative Arts, St Augustine (two Sundays before Carnival) Traditional Mas Competition: Woodbrook (Wednesday) Stickfighting Finals Kambule Riots re-enactment (or Canboulay): Piccadilly Greens (Carnival Friday) Dragon Festival: Port of Spain (Carnival Friday) Junior Carnival Parade: Port of Spain (Carnival Saturday) Blue Devil Competition: Paramin (Carnival Monday).


Nigel

jason audain

music journalist & businessman

“Trinidad Carnival is not a spectator sport but a series of participatory events.” That is the first lesson to be a Carnival explorer. For starters, get here early, at least a week before Carnival Monday and Tuesday. The first rite of passage is the panyard crawl, where a moving audience samples sessions of performance and rote learning in preparation for the Panorama competition. Then: Stickfighting finals (typically the Wednesday before Carnival): this combative display also showcases the precursor to steelband music, the tamboo bamboo bands, and the chantuelles chanting in the gayelle. On that same night, the traditional individual Carnival characters compete in Port of Spain. This is what mas was before the invasion of bikinis, beads, and feathers. These events are miles apart, so choose wisely! The re-enactment of the Canboulay Riots is a historical street theatre production early on Carnival Friday that approximates a critical incident that was the catalyst for the recognition by the society that Carnival was here to stay. On Carnival Monday evening, in the hills of Paramin, the blue devils have their parade. Walk with some dollars and prepared to get painted — or scared. Carnival Monday, one could opt to move away from Port of Spain and discover more than 50 A fancy sailor competes at the masquerades throughout traditional mas competition the island that maintain (Adam Smith Square) traditions more than a century old.

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It should look something like this: visits to pan yards and mas camps (Phase II pan yard is a Pennie actor, educator & TV host must); the Old Yard (where you get to experience and interact with Trinbago ole time mas characters); a 3canal show; Panorama semis; Ladies Night Out; at least one all-inclusive party; J’Ouvert with 3canal; and Tuesday mas with Exodus steelband and Peter Minshall or with K2K (medium bands); or with Lost Tribe or Fantasy (large bands).

Franka & Ardene journalists & media entrepreneurs

Stickfighting; 3canal show; calypso category competitions (extempo, social commentary, most humorous etc.); traditional characters competitions and parades; Carnival Kings & Queens competition; pan yards; and Panorama finals.

Jason audain

The Old Yard

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edison boodoosingh

Invaders Steel Orchestra performs at Panorama

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J’Ouvert Maria: There’s something indescribable about the J’Ouvert tradition of covering your entire body in mud and heading out into the street with a steelband or a rhythm section at 4am. Everyone should experience it at least once in that traditional form. It’s truly a ritual of renewal.

Nigel: Mud, oil, and a pair of throw-away sneakers are a necessary part of the ritual. And plenty water. Chipping to music until sunrise is not for the weak of heart, but a necessary elixir to understand the Carnival.

elLiot francois

3Canal J’Ouvert

Franka & Ardene: Options are endless, but it depends on the experience you’re after. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive road party in the dark with paint, check out Dirty Dozen (a younger crowd); Cocoa Devils (more mature crown); Friends for the Road (mixed ages). For something a little more raw, traditional, dutty, with a mix of live and DJ music plus rhythm truck — and if you care to cross the big Savannah stage in all your painted glory — definitely try 3canal. Walk with cash to patronise road-side vendors!

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Pennie: Definitely, 3canal J’Ouvert is the best — safe and very creative. The band takes off from Woodbrook with live music, a rhythm section, and DJ music. This band doesn’t venture into the city, which I love … If you’re into pan music, Phase II steelband has a wonderful J’Ouvert experience with a mature crowd and mellow vibes while chipping to pan.


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Masqueraders from K2K Alliance & Partners, Medium Band of the Year (above), and Minshall Mas with Exodus Steel Orchestra (below) cross the Savannah stage on Carnival Tuesday

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Kaisokah moko jumbies


jason audain


The best fetes — for Carnival & year round Nigel: Carnival fetes come in three categories: the high value all-inclusive; the young people cooler fete and its cousin the breakfast party; and the general mass-market public fete. The Hyatt LIME is a pick for the all-inclusive set. Soaka in Chaguaramas is becoming the de facto standout breakfast cooler fete. Army Fete, the safest party for

Carnival, has all the best soca singers and serves all people as value for money. And did I say it was safe — the Army is literally the security! As a precursor to Carnival, the bands are now launching the next year’s presentations as early as July. Among the best opportunities is the Festival of the Bands from TRIBE Carnival.

Machel Montano performs at Tribe Ignite

Laura

courtesy lime.tt

lifestyle journalist & editor

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It depends on a person’s taste, age, and budget. If you are looking for a swanky allinclusive experience, any of the school fetes such as Fete with the Saints, Fatima AllInclusive, and Presentation College’s PREStige are definite must-dos — plus, the money raised goes to the schools. Hyatt LIME, Beach House, Soca Brainwash, KAIRI People’s Different, and Fall Out are quality all-inclusives during Carnival week. Early morning breakfast fetes such as AM Bush, Soaka, Black to Blue, Jam Nation, Breakfast Is, and Vale Vibe are high on my list of must-dos. The latter two are all-inclusives held on Carnival Sunday. For younger adults, Bacchanal Road, a Caesar’s Army fete where you are required to wear a costume and parade around a route, is a definite must. Other party opportunities during the year are: Caesar’s Army’s In de Paint dance on Independence Day, Cocoa Devil’s J’ouvert in July, Josie’s Jamishness in May, and Point Fortin Borough Day fetes.

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courtesy candy coated events

Pennie: The season starts off with Soka in Moka — a must for all real party people. It’s an all-inclusive fete hosted by Trinity College. Veni Mangé is a mini-inclusive fete, which is hosted by the Woodbrook restaurant of the same name. Nice crowd, great venue. Any fete hosted by KAIRI People is excellent — highly recommended, safe, creative entertainment, best soca artistes, proper food and drinks … You get your money’s worth with their fetes.

Candy Coated Love Fest is held on Carnival Friday

Franka & Ardene: School all-inclusives — St Mary’s, PREStige (Presentation College South), Fatima. Other all-inclusives — Different, Soca Brainwash. Wet/paint fetes: Soaka, Soaka Street Party, AM Bush. Cooler fetes: Bring It, Army, Bayview. Shows/concerts: Machel Monday, Tuesday on the Rocks. Carnival Sunday breakfast parties: Vale, Breakfast Is. One-off events during the year: Cocoa in July, Josie’s Jamishness, Beach House Mayfair. Regular events: a lot of parties take place on party boats like the MV Harbour Master; these are usually hosted by private promoters and popular DJs. discovertnt.com

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Festivals Roundtable

maria Photographer & Cultural Activist

maria nunes

Everyone should attend the First Peoples Heritage Week activities at least once in their lifetime — the water and smoke ceremonies in Arima, along with the procession around the Red House where the remains of First Peoples ancestors were discovered in 2013. Experiencing parang in Paramin is also really special. It’s a place everyone should go at least once.

Obatala Festival

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In addition to that: Obatala Festival — January (Ita Oosa, Woodbrook) Annual Ancestral (Egungun) Festival — February (Ile Isokan, Febeau Village, San Juan) Phagwa (or Holi) — February/March (Hindu Prachaar Kendra, Longdenville, and also around the island) Emancipation Day parade — 1 August (Independence Square, Port of Spain) Emancipation Steelband Street Parade — first Saturday in August (Laventille Steelband Festival Foundation, Eastern Main Road, Laventille) Pan on d’ Avenue — late August (Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook) First Peoples Heritage Week — October (Santa Rosa, Arima) Divali — November (Felicity, Chaguanas, and around the island) Parang festival — December (Paramin).


maria nunes

A young member of the Laventille Rhythm Section plays during the Laventille Steelband Festival

Laura lifestyle journalist & editor

Divali has always been my favourite festival because I grew up next to a Hindu family and one of my cherished childhood memories is going over to their house, eating what seemed like an unending supply of food on a soharee leaf, and later helping to light deyas. My father would then take us driving through south and central Trinidad to see the display of lights. The twinkling lights in the dark are so pretty to see. I think everyone should also experience the spring festival of Holi, where people spray abir on each other.

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Pennie

Phagwa is a colourful, fun ritual that takes place in different areas of Trinidad … recommended for the whole family! In Blanchisseuse, we have a new jazz festival (North Coast Jazz) that is gaining steam — lots of local acts in a country setting with plenty local food and craft.

actor, educator & TV host

avinath ramadhin

The University of the West Indies (UWI) Hindu Society’s Phagwa celebrations

Franka & Ardene journalists & media entrepreneurs

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The NEW FIRE Festival (March); Bocas Literary Festival (April); T&T Film Festival (September); Ramleela (before Divali); Hosay … The Emancipation Village opens in the run-up to Emancipation Day (August), and the Divali Nagar hosts events which takes place in the week before Divali.

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In Trinidad, primarily in St James, the Muslim remembrance of Muharram, or Hosay, is a celebration that all partake in. The Trinidad version is one of drumming, ornate tadjahs (mosque-shaped model tombs), and dancing of the handcrafted moons. It is Trinidad from another perspective, and the accompanying food is a small celebration that is recommended at least once.

Nigel music journalist & businessman

giancarlo lalsingh

Muslim devotees at Hosay in Cedros prepare to push a tadjah out to sea after dusk. It is then moored overnight and dismantled on land the next morning

jason cazoe

The drum circle at the NEW FIRE Festival

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Eco adventure with Courtenay

QA &

courtenay “Bushman” & eco-tour operator

What makes the island special?

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What are the must-visit local sites?

RAPSO IMAGING

e were connected to South America, so you’re really getting South American flora and fauna on a Caribbean island with a rich culture. When I hike in Suriname or Brazil or go birdwatching, it is more familiar to me than if I do that in Dominica or Barbados. From an eco-tourism point of view, you can’t get better than that.

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If you’re doing bird-watching, then the Asa Wright Nature Centre, Yerette, and Caroni Bird Sanctuary are a must. You can build your itinerary around those three. If you’re a general naturalist and nature lover, then I’d time the visit around the nesting of the leatherback turtles (March–September), because that really is an opportunity of a lifetime. There’s also a supporting cast with things like the Tamana Caves with the tens of thousands of bats — that really is amazRuby topaz hummingbird ing. Then you can see the red howler monkeys in places like Nariva Swamp, where the atmosphere is pretty awesome. Then there are several hikes you can do — places like Guanapo Gorge, going up El Tucuche, a trip down Chaguaramas for the Gasparee Caves are some of the best eco adventure things. And for me, within eco-tourism, no trip to Trinidad or Tobago, whatever you’re doing, is complete without a genuine cultural interaction … really getting some true Tobago blue food, a proper buss-up-shut or roti, sitting down with Trinidadians. Because you can get other places that are amazing — other amazing birding lodges, other Guanapo Gorges, caves with millions of bats … The real thing that separates Trinidad is getting all of them in such a compact area, and tying it in with the culture makes it a really special experience.

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What are some of your favourite treks, from easy to advanced?

What are your favourite beaches?

A really easy hike would be Avocat waterfall, Rio Seco waterfall — those are lovely. Guanapo Gorge is one of my favourites, and of course the Tamana Bat Caves, which is a moderate sort of hike with big adventure. And for me, depending on how you’re doing it — like with camping — the Matelot to Blanchisseuse trek is a big adventure. And of course, El Tucuche is a tough, done-in-a-day hike.

There is something about Las Cuevas that I have always loved. It’s a combination of ease of access with still very rugged scenery — and that’s from my personal point of view, like going surfing and things like that. I think our best beach for eco-tourism is really Grande Rivière — it’s a combination of nature hiking with access to the piping guan, the birds, the turtles … It truly is a multi-dimensional destination that’s hard to beat.

RAPSO IMAGING

Scarlet ibis fly home to roost in the Caroni Swamp & Bird Sanctuary

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Tarun jagessar

The Gasparee Caves, off Chaguaramas

Even more hikes & waterfalls Maracas Falls: Trinidad’s tallest waterfall (91m/299ft); a gentle 30–45 minute trek Paria Bay: a roughly two-hour, intermediate hike from Blanchisseuse (or Brasso Seco) to Cathedral Rock/Paria Arch. A pristine white sand beach where turtles nest (in season), and a nearby waterfall, await Turure Water Steps: enjoy the pools and these natural limestone “steps” after an intermediate 60 minute hike.

What day trips or tours do you recommend? An easy day if you’re just popping in to Trinidad is Asa Wright Nature Centre and the Caroni Bird Sanctuary. If you’re looking for adventure, I do mountain biking down in Chaguaramas combined with the Covigne River, so you get the biking, hiking, and river swimming. Even though the river is small, it’s very pretty and it’s lots and lots of fun where you can climb some little waterfalls and so on. A bigger adventure is really a long day, so you head out early and do Guanapo Gorge and then run to Tamana after. That’s leaving at 5am or 6am and then flying out at 9pm or 10pm.

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Do you have a favourite place or experience in Trinidad? After travelling the world, what I love about Trinidad is the multiplicity of things and experiences you can have on any given day. You can have a mountain biking adventure then go have some curry and then go lime on the Avenue. When people ask me what my favourite bird is, the answer is that what I love is the variety of birds we have here. And it’s the variety of experiences that I really enjoy.

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EDITOR’S TIPS Tamana Caves

El Tucuche

313m/1,009ft above sea level 1.5 million bats (67 species of the island’s nocturnal bats, including vampire, fruit, and insect bats) at dusk, they all stream out of the caves en masse to feed.

Rio Seco Falls

937m/3,072ft above sea level 6.5km/4 miles each way (8–12 hours return) spot a rare golden tree frog in a giant bromeliad, or toucans, mountain crabs, howler monkeys, cicadas, hummingbirds, and other rare species.

part of the Matura National Park a gentle 45–60 minute hike brings you to the falls, and a natural swimming pool.

Tour operators You can find listings of tour guides and operators like Indiversity Group at tourguidestt.com and touroperatorsassociationtt.com, and many hotels and guesthouses should also be able to help you choose the best provider for your needs. Alternatively, you could rent a car from outfits like Econo Car and go exploring on your own!

INDIVERSITY GROUP

TOURS AND MORE Short-term lease benefits include: 24/7 Roadside Assistance Unlimited mileage Insurance Airport pick up and drop off Wide selection of vehicles Special conditions apply

Heritage | Culture | Nature Festival | Art | Food Tours Destination Travel Planning Concierge Services Film TV Photography Scouting & Logistics

BOOK NOW Ph/WhatsApp (868) 743-1604 E. indiversity@gmail.com

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EDITOR’S TIPS A closer look Courtenay has given us a great introduction to eco adventures in Trinidad. And that’s just the start. Few places in the world can match Trinidad for biodiversity per square kilometre: 108 species of mammals a growing number of recorded bird species (well over 400) 55 reptile species 25 amphibian species and 617 butterfly species. Here’s a deeper look at those amazing places and experiences Courtenay recommends, all of which are also great for families!

Turtle-watching

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&T is home to five of the seven species of sea turtles found globally. All are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List — the vulnerable leatherback and olive ridley; the endangered green and loggerhead; and the critically endangered hawksbill. The leatherback, hawksbill, and green turtle nest on beaches, while the loggerhead and olive ridley are occasionally sighted at sea. Trinidad is one of the few places in the Caribbean where the giant female leatherback practises the timeless “family tradition” of returning to nest at the place where she was born. After swimming through the rough waves of the Atlantic, she makes her way up the beach, laboriously digs a hole with her flippers into which she lays hundreds of eggs, and then “backfills” it before returning to the sea to mate again. As the second largest leatherback nesting site in the world, Trinidad receives more than 6,000 of these heavyweights (up to 2,000lb) every March–September. You can see them on any north or east coast beach, especially Matura and Grande Rivière (where you can see up to 50 a night, and even be lucky enough to spot the endangered blue-throated piping-guan or pawi bird). About two months later, the clutch of babies emerge from the sand and head for the open ocean. Peak season for seeing hatchlings is June–August. Conservation efforts in Matura and Grande Rivière require that permits be acquired to visit nesting sites. These can be arranged through authorised tour guides (Nature Seekers: natureseekers.org, 668-7337; Grande Rivière Nature Tour Guide Association: 670-4257/4691288), local accommodation, or directly at Forestry Division offices.

Make sure to … keep disturbances to a minimum (including noise and movement) — do not touch nesting turtles or hatchlings use only infrared lights, and no flash photography refrain from driving, setting fires, or littering on nesting beaches.

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rapso imaging

rapso imaging

Above: baby leatherback turtle hatchlings. Below: a female leatherback turtle returns to the ocean after nesting at Grande Rivière

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Birding trips

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rinidad is blessed with over 400 recorded bird species — among the top 10 countries in the world for the number of species per square mile. Peak birding season is November–May, but there’s lots to see year-round. Ornithologists flock here because of the diversity and accessibility of the birds. Here’s where you’ll want to head.

Asa Wright Nature Centre (Arima Valley)

This 1,500-acre sanctuary is among the oldest in the Caribbean. The main centre and guesthouse are located on a former cocoacoffee-citrus plantation. The long dry season (January–May) is when the most striking vegetation is in bloom, as well as in the shorter dry season (Petit Carême) in October. Open 9am– 5pm for day visits, with guided walks (1.5hrs) at 10:30am and 1:30pm. There are numerous waterfalls and caves nearby, and an overnight stay gives you the chance to see rare oilbirds. Reservations required (asawright.org, 6674655). Entrance fee US$6–$10/TT$15–$30.

Winston Nanan Caroni Bird Sanctuary A must on every birder’s list, these are the protected breeding grounds of the national bird, the scarlet ibis. Most boat tours leave at 4pm. Mangrove channels create a dramatic backdrop for the 100 species of birds that make their home here alongside snakes (boas) in trees, crabs, and snails. At dusk, the sky is filled with streaks of red as hundreds of scarlet ibis return to roost in trees on an island in the middle of the swamp. caronibirdsanctuary.com, 755-7826

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Yerette, Home of the Hummingbird (Maracas, St Joseph)

Here, you’ll spend an intimate couple of hours at the home of Theo and Gloria Ferguson. Dozens of hummingbirds flit by, some a few inches away, as they sip from dozens of feeders and flowers. Theo is a knowledgeable host, with a slide show about the tiny acrobats, and a beautiful collection of photos for sale. yerettett.com, 663-2623

Nariva Swamp and Bush Bush Sanctuary Bush Bush is a protected island within Nariva Swamp, the largest freshwater wetland in the Caribbean. Here you’ll find capuchin and red howler monkeys, blue and gold macaws, and toucans. Boating and kayaking are only possible in the rainy season. It’s imperative to go with a tour guide who will arrange permits from the Forestry Division.

Pointe-à-Pierre Wildfowl Trust An oasis of ponds surrounded by green forest, set within the sprawling grounds of an oil refinery complex, this magical Trust works to reintroduce endangered wetland birds to their natural habitat. It’s home to rare ducks, scarlet ibis, blue and gold macaw, and many more. An on-site learning centre houses a small First Peoples museum, and there is a full-service guesthouse. Advance bookings required: papwildfowltrust.org, 658-4200 ext 2512

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rapso imaging

Copper-rumped hummingbird

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all photos on this spread by RAPSO IMAGING

This page: toucan Opposite page: rare and protected birds — the Trinidad piping guan or pawi (top); blue and gold macaw (bottom left); and scarlet ibis, the national bird (bottom right)

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RAPSO IMAGING

Chaguaramas National Heritage Park

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ust 20 minutes from Port of Spain, hikers, bikers, explorers, bird watchers, hashers, archers, and golfers all have their place in “Chag” (chaguaramas.com, 225-4232).

Tucker Valley nature trails The Covigne River trail passes through nutmeg groves and along a tributary of the Cuesa River uphill through a gorge. The trail ends at a waterfall with a plunge pool. Edith Falls is located in an abandoned cocoa estate nestled against the eastern side of Morne Catherine and overlooking the golf course. A fairly gentle hike, you will hear red howler monkeys in the forest canopy along the trail.

Down de Islands (DDI) Off the northwest coast, several offshore islands offer a range of beloved escapes. There are the Five Islands (including Nelson Island, where Indian immigrants were quarantined when they arrived by boat); the Diego Islands; Gaspar Grande; Gasparilo Island (aka Centipede); Monos; Huevos; and Chacachacare (which was once a leper colony, and has saltwater ponds, ruins, and a still-functioning lighthouse). These islands were originally the ceremonial grounds of the First Peoples. On Gaspar Grande, the jetty at Point Baleine was once a whaling station. This is the home of the underground Gasparee caves’ stalagmites and Blue Grotto, with its “sunroof”.

Recent additions

Sunset in Chacachacare

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More recent man-made attractions, all popular with families, include the ZIP-ITT’s seven zip-lines in Tucker Valley (one passes over Macqueripe Bay) and five canopy walks or net bridges (TT$85–150, zipitt.net, 303-7755); the Boardwalk along the beachfront; the Five Islands Waterpark; and the Safari Eco Park.

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More favourite beaches

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north coast, especially for surfers. At the end of the bay, the Marianne River is a prime spot for kayaking. Salybia and Sans Souci in the northeast are also magnets for surfers. In Chaguaramas, meanwhile, are the emerald green waters of popular Macqueripe Bay. In the south, Mayaro (a very long beach that’s usually covered in chip chip, a tiny mollusk that can be cooked) and Quinam are the most frequented, while the coconut tree-lined Manzanilla stretches for miles up the east coast. The west coast boasts warm waters and white sand at Vessigny and Granville.

RAPSO IMAGING

rinidad’s waters tend to have bigger, more powerful waves than Tobago’s, with beaches set against rugged cliffs or dramatic mountain backdrops. There’s the popular Maracas Beach, with ample food, restrooms, and parking; with Tyrico Bay (no facilities), then Las Cuevas next along the coast. The caves (cuevas) here are part of the attraction; there’s also a car park, changing facilities, and snack bar. The long and rugged stretch of beach at Blanchisseuse is another favourite along the

Macqueripe Bay

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Jason audain

The Nariva river meets the sea near Manzanilla

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More family-friendly experiences

RAPSO IMAGING

La Vega Estate

Angostura Museum and Barcant Butterfly Collection (Port of Spain)

The Barcant Butterfly Collection, the only one of its kind in the region, comprises more than 5,000 specimens (700 species, including the blue emperor) in a re-created tropical forest. Children will love it. Angostura acquired the collection in 1974, and it has been at the company’s compound since. You can book a tram tour of the Angostura factory, introducing you to the company’s history and making of their world-famous bitters and celebrated rums. Tours (two hours) are 9:30am and 1:30pm, Monday–Friday; advance booking required: 623-1841, betancr@angostura.com

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Fort George (Port of Spain) Built in 1804, this “virgin fort” (which never saw military action) offers a magnificent panoramic view from 335m/1,100ft; its original cannon and part of the dungeon remain. On a clear day, you can see to south Trinidad, and west to Venezuela. Open 10am–6pm, admission free

La Vega Estate (Gran Couva) This 250-acre estate is a garden centre, plant nursery, and nature and recreation park combined. You’ll find fruit trees, herbs and vegetables, alongside fishing ponds, pedal boats, water slides, a pool, jungle gym, accommodation, and a restaurant. 679-9522, lavegaestate.com

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jason audain

The magnificent view from Paramin

For lovers of heritage…

maria Photographer & Cultural Activist

Visit the Temple in the Sea at Waterloo … Take the time to walk through and around Woodford Square (Port of Spain), and make sure to go to see Carlisle Chang’s masterpiece Conquerabia at City Hall. It’s one of our overlooked public art treasures. Take a guided tour through Paramin. Visit Lopinot’s former estate house, and get a guided tour through the area.

Mud volcanoes

Pitch Lake (La Brea)

These geological wonders can be found mainly in the south of the island: Piparo (aka Morne Roche, 111m/365ft, 425 acres); Devil’s Woodyard; Digity Trace (6m/20ft, with a flatter second volcano nearby); and others at L’Eau Michel, Lagon Bouffe, Anglais Point, Erin, Chatam, Columbia Estate, Fullarton, Cedros, Galfa, Los Iros, Tabaquite, Cascadoux Trace, and Manzanilla.

One of the three largest natural deposits of asphalt in the world, it’s deceptively boring to look at. Estimated to contain 10 million tonnes of asphalt, and spanning 109 acres; pools formed by rain contain high levels of sulphur, which are good for the skin and joints. Artefacts from the First Peoples, for whom the lake was sacred, have been unearthed here; some can be viewed at the museum in the visitor centre. 651-1232

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Queen’s Park Savannah (Port of Spain)

chris anderson

This 260-acre park holds a very special place in the Trini heart. Originally part of the Peschier family’s Paradise Estate, the Caribbean’s oldest recreation ground — and reported to be the world’s largest roundabout at approximately 3.5km/2.2 miles — was converted into a city park in 1817, and is popular for sports and recreation. On its northern side, you will find the Emperor Valley Zoo, founded in 1947 (zstt.org, 622-5344) and the Botanical Gardens (established 1820), which has one of the oldest collections in the western hemisphere. On the southeastern side is Memorial Park and the iconic National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA). Next door is the National Museum & Art Gallery. And on its northwestern side are the “Magnificent Seven” — colonial-era homes in varying degrees of repair and use, with diverse histories and ownership. From south to north: Queen’s Royal College (1904, boys’ secondary school); Hayes Court (1910, Anglican Bishop’s residence); Milles Fleurs (1904); Roomor (private home); the Roman Catholic Archbishop’s residence (1903); Whitehall (1907); and Killarney or Stollmeyer’s Castle (1904).

Valencia EcoResort This is a 10-acre estate with hundreds of fruit trees and flocks of birds and butterflies. Enjoy aerobics, archery, basketball, cricket, volleyball, football, table tennis, and billiards. Fish for tilapia in the pond, cook in an outdoor carat shed or take a cool dip in the river (or the large swimming pool). Also in the mix: peacocks, geese, parrots, guinea fowls, ducks, tortoises, rabbits, and monkeys. 731-6774, valenciaecoresort.com

The Turure water steps (Cumaca Falls) near Valencia

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ziad joseph

A pink poui blooms in the Queen’s Park Savannah

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Sports spotlight Athletics

Swimming & aquatics

The island has a long history of excelling at athletics. Local and international stars meet in action at the annual Hampton Games. National Association of Athletics Administrations: 679-3276

A world-class National Aquatics Centre opened in 2016, intended to be a hub for water polo, swimming, and diving. Public swimming pools are also located in Port of Spain (Flying Fish), Tunapuna (Centre of Excellence), St Joseph (La Joya), Diego Martin, San Fernando (Cocoyea), Couva, and Siparia. Amateur Swimming Association: 643-2813

Cricket The Queen’s Park Oval (Port of Spain) and Brian Lara Cricket Academy (Tarouba) are the focal points for Twenty20, one-day, and Test matches — including West Indies and Caribbean Premier League series. T&T Cricket Board: 636-1577, ttcb.co.tt

Cycling & mountain biking The Easter International Grand Prix and National Championships are highlights of the racing calenda. A new world-class National Cycling Velodrome (Couva) opened in 2016; the Arima Velodrome is another focal point. Mountain bikers head to Chaguaramas, Santa Cruz, and the northern range. T&T Cycling Federation: 679-8823

Football (soccer) T&T was the smallest nation, until Iceland in 2017, to qualify for the World Cup finals (2006). The Hasely Crawford (Port of Spain), Manny Ramjohn (Marabella), Larry Gomes (Arima), Ato Boldon (Couva), and Marvin Lee stadia are the main venues. T&T Football Federation (TTFF): 623-9500

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Tennis The National Tennis Centre (Tacarigua) opened in 2016, while there are public courts at Nelson Mandela Park (St Clair), and courts for hourly rental at the Country Club (Maraval) and some hotels. T&T Tennis Association: 625-3030


courtesy cpl T20 ltd 2018

The Trinbago Knight Riders are reigning Caribbean Premier League champs

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Mar acas Bay Tyr ico Ba Las y Cue vas

Ba y cqu eri pe Ma Diego Martin

Santa Cruz

Chaguaramas Monos Scotland Bay

PORT OF SPAIN

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Gas Station

Waterfall

Hospital

Bird Watching

Sailing & boat tours

Turtle Nesting

Golf Course

Fort

Shopping Centre

Scuba Diving

Airport

Lighthouse

Place of interest

Surfing

Beach with Restrooms

Food Available

Swamp

Caves

Museum

Lifeguard on Duty

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San Juan El Socorro

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Police Station

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Pt Lisas

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Gran Couva

California Tortuga

Claxton Bay

Pi Gasparillo

Pointe-à-Pierre

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SAN FERNANDO Pitch Lake

La Brea

Vessigny

Fyzabad Cap De Ville

Oropouche Lagoon

Los Bajos

Cedros

Palo Seco

Erin Bay Icacos Pt

74

San Francique Quinam Bay

Icacos

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Debe Penal

Siparia

Granville

Princes Town

St Mary’s

Mon Desir

Pt Fortin

New Grant

Ste Madeleine

Barrackpore

India Walk


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Tabaquite

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Nariva Swamp and Bush-Bush Sanctuary

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Navet Dam

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Galeota Pt

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Curepe Tunapuna/ Curepe Tunapuna/ 10 Arima/Sangre Grande Arima/Sangre Grande San Juan 11

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Chancery Lane

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Charlotte St

Charlotte St

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Frederick St

Dundonald St

New St

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Park St

Duke St

Charlotte St

Duke St

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City Hall Cityof Hall Hall of Justice Hall Justice Red Knox St Red Knox St House House Woodford Woodford Sq Sq4 Prince St

London St London St Government Government Campus Plaza Campus Plaza

Hart St National Library

5

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Hart St National Library 6 Queen St Queen St

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Eastern Main Rd

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South Quay

11

Eastern Main Rd

E PROMENADE ENAD PROM LARA RIAN SQ/BRIAN NCE SQ/B ENDELARA 11 INDEPENDENCEINDEP 10 10 8 8 7 7 9 9 Water Taxi South Quay

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Gordon St

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Dere St

Borde StStanmore Ave

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Port of Spain

Keate St

Melbourne St Richmond St

Shine St Stone St

Keate St

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Scott Bushe St Melbourne St St St Richmond Shine

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Victoria Sq

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Victoria Ave Cipriani Boulevard

Stanmore Ave

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Memorial Park

Chacon St

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Lapeyrouse Cemetery Fra ser St

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Fire Station

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Maraval Woodford St Rd

Cipriani Boulevard

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Memorial Park NAPA NAPA National Museum National Museum

Albion St

Melville

Gat acre St

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St Scott Bushe Flament St

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Stone St

WR

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Flament St

Me t Mc huen St Do nal dS t

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N

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FrGe ata nchcre St St

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Industry

Erthig Rd

Jerningham Ave Jerningham Ave

Warner St

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Ba den Ada Powe ll S Smit m t hS q

Picton St

Wa HerbertrneStr St

Picton St

Gray St Maraval Rd

Alexandra

Gray St

Carlo s St

St Luis Mur St ray S Alftre do S t

Rust St

Herbert St

Marli St

Archer St

St

Alexandra

Marli St Alcazar St

TR Alcazar St AG AR E RustTEStR RD D

Cadiz Rd

Industry

Charlotte St

La d

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La d y Chan c e l l o r Rd Cotton Hill

Magnificent Seven Maraval Rd Mary St

Mary St

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EA ST

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Cadiz Rd

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Palmiste St

ARK ’S P

Palmiste St

ARK ’S P

QUEEN’S PARK SAVANNAH QUEEN’S PARK SAVANNAH

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Morvant, Barataria, Churchill Roosevelt Highway

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Jackson Flood St FloodJackson St Sq Sq

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Magnificent Seven Maraval Rd

Lam my S t

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Nook Nook Ave Prime Minister Prime MinisterAve Botanical ’s Re ence ’s Re and Diplomati sid and Diplomati sidence Gardens c c Ce Ce ntr ntr e e Horticultural Society La Fantasie La Fantasie President’s President’s Emperor Valley Emperor Valley House House Zoo Zoo P ra da St Queen’s Hall Queen’s Hall

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Lam my S t

Cotton Hill

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P ra da St

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St Vallot St lliam i W

Cascade

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St Vallot St za Ellerslie Plaza Rapsey lliam St i W

St Ann’s

St Ann’s

Terminus/City Gate Terminus/City Gate

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Bo ca

Boca

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Pt Cumana

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Carenage

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Chagville

Carenage Bay

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River Estate & Waterwheel

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Glencoe

Starlite Shopping Centre

a

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Carrera

A

TUCKER VALLEY

Petite Gourde

A

Tracking Station

Bagatelle

North Post

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Cocor ite

Petit Valley

Blue Basin

Mo

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Rd

St Andrew's Golf Course

North Coast Rd In d ep

e n d e n c e Sq

Laventille

Belmont

L a d y Yo u ng

St Ann's

Maraval

Queens Park Savannah

Wr igh tso nR d

St Clair

Rd

PORT OF SPAIN

Woodbrook

St James

Ft George

rn e C o c o R d

Paramin

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Gasparee Caves

A

Morne Catherine

Edith Falls

Chaguaramas Golf Course

Macqueripe Bay

R Main

Gaspar Grande

H

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Teteron Bay

C

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Cascad e

Chacachacare

The Dragon's Mouth

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Sad dle

Maracas Bay & North Coast

Santa Cruz


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San Fernando

Valsayn

Curepe

Arouca

NGC National Science Centre

R

ARIMA

b

b

Grande Tacaribe Bay

N

i

Aripo

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Cumaca

Sangre Grande

Wallerfield

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Turure Water Steps

Hollis Reservoir

R

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Grand Matelot Pt

S

a

A

Cumaca

N

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Madamas

Madamas Bay

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El Cerro del Aripo (941m)

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Guanapo Gorge

La Laja

Sombasson

E

a

Brasso Seco

Santa Rosa Race Track

D'Abadie

Cleaver Woods

H

Rd

San Fernando

Trincity Mall

Lopinot

Caura

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T

Asa Wright Nature Centre Dunstan Cave La Pastora

R

e Arima-Blanchisseus

Ea s t e rn M a i n R d

University of the West Indies

Mt St Benedict Monastery

La Veronica

O

Blanchisseuse

C

po Rd of Guana

El Socorro

St Jo sep h

Rd yal Ro as rac a M

San Jua n

Bay acas Mar

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La Fillette Pt ay

Maracas Falls

Rincon

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Saddle Rd

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B as uev

Santa Cruz

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Chupara Pt

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Port of Spain

North east eB seus chis Blan

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Port of Spain

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Matelot

Matelot Bay

E

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Matura

Salybia

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Grande Riviere

Sangre Grande & East Coast

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Matura Bay

Saline Bay

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Balandra

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Ta ca r i gu a Lopinot Rd

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Rampanalgas

Cumana

Toco

Cumana Bay

Salybia Bay

Galera Pt


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Princes

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Killdeer River

Navet River

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Devil's Woodyard

New Grant

Rio Claro

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Indian Walk

Busy Corner

Brickfield

Ri ar Cl

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Bargain

Piparo

Navet

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Nariva Swamp & Bush Bush Wildlife Sanctuary

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Williamsville

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Manzanilla Pt

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St Madeleine

San Fernando Reform Marabella

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Tabaquite Tunnel

E N G R A

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Brigand Hill Lighthouse

Lower Manzanilla

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Tabaquite

L R A N T C E Navet Dam & Reservoir

Brasso Venado

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Plum Mitan

Upper Manzanilla

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MONSTERRAT HILLS

Pepper Village

Brasso

Flanagin Town

SANGRE GRANDE

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Tortuga

Gran Couva

La Vega Garden Centre a M a in R d C ouv

Chicklands

Cunaripa

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Pointe-à-Pierre

Pointe-à-Pierre Wildfowl Trust

Rd

Mundo Nuevo

Tamana Bat Caves

CaroniArena Dam & Reservoir

Cumuto

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M

Pt Radix

N

Central

Ma

Claxton Bay

Brechin Castle

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Talparo

Rd

Pt Lisas Industrial Estate

Couva

M

Todd's Rd

CARONI PLAIN

San Rafael

Valencia

Hollis Reservoir

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Cunupia

Piarco International Airport

Piarco

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Trincity Mall

St Helena

Longdenville

Chaguanas

Friendship Hall

Divali Nagar

Caroni

Valpark Shopping Plaza

Blanchisseuse & North Coast

ar

St Mary's

tler High

Chase Village Potteries

Uriah Bu

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Hanuman Murti

Valsayn

Grand Bazaar

Tunapuna

Curepe

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Carapichaima

El Socorro

San Juan

R

Waterloo

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Temple in the Sea

g

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rn

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Caroni Swamp and Bird Sanctuary

Port of Spain

PORT OF SPAIN

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Southern Main Rd

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C a u ra

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Solomon Hochoy Highw

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Aro

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80 in o L o p

Bay

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Moruga


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Chatham South

Erin

Bonasse

Pt Fortin

Vessigny

Pitch Lake

Palo Seco

ip

o-S and

n Fer San

rin

-E aria

Fyzabad

Mon Desir

Rd

Quinam

Siparia

Trace

Oropouche Lagoon Banwari

La Romaine

Morne Diablo

Penal

Debe

Princes Town

La Lune

Basse Terre

Third Company

ro Ta ba qu ite

Tableland

Cla

Moruga

Devil's Woodyard Mud Volcano Sixth Company

Indian Walk

Rock Rd

Barrackpore

St Madeleine

N a p a ri m a Rd

Pointe-à-Pierre Wildfowl Trust

Rio

Sangre Grande

H ITY TRIN

ILLS

Mayaro

Guayaguayare Bay

Guayaguayare

Ortoire River

Naparima-Mayaro Rd

TRINITY HILLS WILDLIFE SANCTUARY & RESERVE

Rio Claro

Nariva Swamp

N

are Rd

Rd

Erin Los Iros Pt

Erin ( San Francique)

La Brea

SAN FERNANDO

Pointe-à-Pierre

Tabaquite

Mayaro-Guayaguay

Icacos

Fullarton

Columbus Bay

Cedros Bay

Granville

Chatham North

Gulf of Paria

South

Rd

nk

Tr u

rn

Solomon Hochoy Highway

the

Cunapo Rd

So u

Port of Spain

Galeota Pt

Mayaro Bay

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Calendar F

January

or more on many of these celebrations, see our Festivals pages on pg 29 (Tobago) and pg 44 (Trinidad).

1 (public holiday): New Year’s Day Carnival season begins (see full schedule of events through early March on ncctt.org), and our Trinidad Carnival section on pg 34) Trinidad & Tobago International Marathon (Trinidad)

rapso imaging

February Carnival season continues Tobago Carnival Regatta

March

Carnival season peaks (ncctt.org) 4–5: J’Ouvert, Carnival Monday and Carnival Tuesday 21: Phagwa (Holi) 30 (public holiday): Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day — commemorating the 1951 repeal of the colonial-era Shouters Prohibition Ordinance (1917), which had effectively banned this Christian/Orisha syncretic religion Turtle nesting season begins (through September)

Kiddies carnival

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of events April 6: Jazz Artists on the Greens (Trinidad) 12–14: NEW FIRE Festival 19–22 Easter Weekend: (public holidays Friday and Monday) — hot cross buns, horse racing, and Tobago’s goat and crab races (Mt Pleasant on Monday and Buccoo on Tuesday) are highlights. Look out for the beating of the Good Friday bobolee — an effigy of Judas Iscariot, representing politicians, nefarious characters, and occasionally some particularly bad ex-boyfriends… Bocas Lit Fest — the Trinidad & Tobago Literary Festival Rally Trinidad Tobago Jazz Experience Pt Fortin Borough Day (Trinidad) — full week of J’Ouvert, mas, pan, and parties leading up the big street party Tobago Fashion Coda

May

22: Tobago Sea to Sea Marathon 30 (public holiday): Indian Arrival Day — commemorates the arrival of the first indentured labourers from India in 1845 European Film Festival (Trinidad) May MTB Madness (Tobago) — mountain biking event

June TBC (public holiday): Eid-ul-Fitr — marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, and celebrated in homes and mosques 8: Rainbow Cup International Triathlon (Tobago) 15: Yoruba Village Drum Festival (Trinidad) 19 (public holiday): Labour Day, marked by trade union marches

and gatherings in Fyzabad, Trinidad 20 (public holiday): Corpus Christi Ganga Dhaara (Blanchisseuse, Trinidad) — Hindu river festival honouring the descent of India’s sacred River Ganges WeBeat Festival (St James, Trinidad) Tobago Dragon Boat Festival Junior Tobago Heritage Festival

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July 15–1: Tobago Heritage Festival 4–28: Great Fete Weekend (Tobago) 23–31: Trans-Atlantic Expo, International Market & Trade Exposition (Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village, Trinidad) Africa Film Festival (Trinidad) Mango Festival (Trinidad) Trade & Investment Convention (Trinidad) Motor Rally (Tobago) Opera festival (Trinidad) Carnival band launch season begins (through September/ October)

August 1 (public holiday): Emancipation Day 31 (public holiday): Independence Day — commemorates the islands’ independence from Britain in 1962 Santa Rosa Festival (Trinidad) Arima Borough Day (Trinidad) Laventille Steelband Festival (Trinidad) Oshun River Festival (Trinidad) — marked by Orisha devotees celebrating the goddess of love, fertility and inland waters Pan on d’ Avenue (Woodbrook, Trinidad) Great Race (from Trinidad to Tobago) Moruga Heritage Day Festival (Trinidad)

September 24 (public holiday): Republic Day — marks the adoption in 1976 of a new republican constitution (in which a President replaced the Queen of England as the head of state, and the islands became a republic within the Commonwealth), and the first meeting of the republican parliament trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) — the Caribbean’s second largest festival devoted to film, showcasing short and feature length productions from the region and its diaspora, plus industry workshops and training sessions Hosay (Trinidad) Angostura Rum Festival (Trinidad) Trinidad & Tobago Restaurant Week Maracas Open Water Swim (Trinidad)

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Lighting deyas at Divali

October

November

jason audain

1–6: Tobago International Cycling Classic 7–16: Santa Rosa First People’s Heritage Week TBC (public holiday): Divali Blue Food Festival (Tobago) Ramleela Festival (Trinidad) COCO Dance Festival (Trinidad) Steelpan & Jazz Festival (Trinidad) Chinese Arrival Dragon Boat Festival (Trinidad)

Green Screen: The Environmental Film Festival (Trinidad) Sailing and surfing seasons begin (through April)

December 25 (public holiday): Christmas Day 26 (public holiday): Boxing Day Paramin Parang Festival (Trinidad) Assembly Day (Tobago) — Tobagonians’ achievements are celebrated and awarded Tobago Flying Colours — annual kite flying festival in Plymouth

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Getting to T&T Scheduled carriers Aeropostal, Air Canada Rouge, American Airlines, AVIANCA, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Copa, Condor, Conviasa, JetBlue, LIAT, Rutaca Airlines, Surinam Airways, Thomas Cook, United, Venezolana, Virgin Atlantic, WestJet, and charters

Airports Trinidad: Piarco International Airport (27km/17 miles from Port of Spain) Tobago: ANR Robinson International Airport (10km/7 miles from Scarborough)

Entry requirements A passport valid for three months beyond your intended stay; documentation for return or onward travel; and a local address (non-residents only). Visas generally not required for visits up to 30 days

Arriving by sea (yachts & sailing boats) Arriving yachts should have a clearance certificate from the last port of call, and the vessel’s registration certificate (or authorisation for use) Check in with Customs & Immigration at CrewsInn in Chaguaramas (Trinidad); Scarborough or Charlotteville (Tobago)

Cruise lines

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Carnival, Crystal, Costa, Fred Olsen, Hapag-Lloyd, Holland America, MSC, Oceania Cruises, MV Adriana, P&O, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Saga, Seabourn, Silver Whisper, and Viking

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Getting around in T&T Taxis

Car rentals

NB: Authorised public taxis have licence plates beginning with “H” (for “Hire”) and are not metered, so confirm the fare in advance Airport transfers: authorised taxis operate with a set fares by destination (displayed in the arrivals area) Private taxis: available at the airports, through hotels, and apps like DROP “Route taxis” (cars registered as taxis) and maxi-taxis (mini-buses painted with brightly coloured bands) work specific routes, picking up and dropping off passengers along the way. They have designated stands in Port of Spain, San Fernando, Chaguanas, Scarborough, and other main towns

Local and international companies operate in both islands and at both airports

Buses The Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC, ptsc.co.tt) operates buses from Port of Spain to most towns, sometimes on an “express” basis, and from hubs in Arima, Chaguanas, San Fernando, and Scarborough. Tickets ($2–12) or travel cards must be bought before boarding

Ferries Inter-island ferry service (Port of Spain– Scarborough) operated by Port Authority (ttitferry.com), with the fastest ferry taking 2.5 hours, and the longest roughly 5 hours. Tickets: $100 return (adults); $50 (children under 12); free for children under three, and senior citizens (65+); and $200 one way/$350 return for adults travelling with a vehicle Trinidad Water Taxi: west coast service operated by the National Infrastructure Development Company (nidco.co.tt). Single journeys: 30–45 minutes. Tickets: $15 (adults). Infants under one and senior citizens (65+) travel free on off-peak sailings

Air bridge Caribbean Airlines (625-7200, caribbean-airlines.com) operates several flights daily. Tickets: US$48 round trip (roughly 20 minutes each way)

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Travel basics Money matters

Communications

Money: ABMs (ATMs) and credit/debit cards are routinely used Currency: Trinidad & Tobago dollar (TT$); US$1 = approximately TT$6.8 (floating exchange rate) Taxes & tipping: 10% room tax + 10% service at hotels; 12.5% VAT (value added tax) on most goods and services; 10% service charge at most restaurants. Tipping optional but encouraged

Driving Driving: on the left. Seatbelts are required by law Speed limits: between 50kph (31mph) and 100kph (62mph) — be attentive to road signs Driving permits: visitors can drive for up to 90 days on a valid foreign licence

Utilities

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Electricity: 115v/230v, 60Hz Water: tap water is safe to drink (boil to be doubly sure); bottled water is widely available

Country phone code: +1 868 Mobile telephones: bmobile and Digicel SIM cards are available for unlocked, GSM phones WiFi: available at several hotspots, hotels, restaurants, and malls. Some PTSC buses also provide the facility

Safety Take practical precautions when travelling: note emergency numbers; always lock your room/ house/vehicle (including windows); don’t wear expensive jewellery, and conceal/secure valuables; move in groups where possible; avoid deserted locations, and be aware of your surroundings. If you’re on the road, buckle up, and drive defensively

Emergency contacts Ambulance (public hospitals): 811 Coast Guard: 634-4440, 634-8824, 6344439 EMS (emergency medical services): 6244343 (north Trinidad), 653-4343 (south/ central Trinidad), 639-4444 (Tobago) Hyperbaric medical facility (decompression chamber, Roxborough, Tobago): 660-4744 x3000 or 660-4000 Fire Services: 990 Office of Disaster Preparedness & Management Emergency: 511 or 640-1285 Police Service: in Trinidad, 999 or 555; in Tobago, 639-2520 or 639-5590 Tobago Emergency Relief: 211

Tufted coquette

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T&T in a nutshell Capital

Population & demographics

National capital: Port of Spain Tobago capital: Scarborough

Climate Tropical. Dry season January–May, wet June–December Located just south of the hurricane belt (11°N, 61°W) Temperature: 72–95°F (22–35°C); average 83°F (29°C)

Highest points Trinidad: El Cerro del Aripo (940m/3,085ft) Tobago: Main Ridge (549m/1,860ft)

Size Trinidad: 4,828km2 (1,864 sq miles) or 105 x 80km (65 x 50 miles) Tobago: 300km2 (116 sq miles) or 48 x 16km (30 x 10 miles) Tobago and Trinidad are 33km (21 miles) apart Trinidad is 10km (7 miles) from Venezuela

Time zone Atlantic Standard Time year-round (GMT/ UTC -4, EST +1)

Government Trinidad & Tobago is a parliamentary democracy; elections have been held regularly since self-government in 1956 President: Paula-Mae Weekes Prime Minister: Dr Keith Rowley Ruling party: the People’s National Movement (PNM) Opposition: United National Congress (UNC) Opposition leader: Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Population: 1.4 million (Tobago approx 61,000) Ethnicities: 35% of Indian descent, 34% of African descent, 23% mixed Religions: 55% Christian (22% Roman Catholic), 18% Hindu, 5% Muslim Urban populations: Port of Spain 37,000 (nearly 600,000 along East-West Corridor between Chaguaramas and Arima); Chaguanas 83,000; San Fernando 49,000; Scarborough 17,000 Official language: English

Economy Major resources: oil and natural gas Major industries: petroleum and petroleum products, liquefied natural gas (LNG), methanol, ammonia, urea, light manufacturing and assembly, agriculture, agriprocessing Major services: tourism, conference and convention facilities, financial services, construction, maritime Key indicators (2018): GDP per capita approx US$17,000; unemployment rate 3.9%. The economy contracted by 2.6% for 2017, and was projected to grow by approximately 1% in 2018.

Sustainable tourism tips Buy local goods and souvenirs Recycle plastic, glass, cans, paper, cardboard, and e-waste through bins at various locations, or through collections Reduce: turn off electrical devices when you don’t need them; avoid plastic bags, single-use plastics, and styrofoam; buy and consume only what you need; reuse when you can

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T&T history at a glance c 15,000–1,000 BC: islands part of South America; settled by Amerindians or First Peoples 1498: Christopher Columbus lands in Trinidad on 31 July, claims island for Spanish and names it after Catholic Holy Trinity 1596: Tobago claimed by British 1627–1650: Courlanders settle Tobago’s west coast near Plymouth, and Dutch the east 1699: Trinidad First Peoples rebel against Capuchin missionaries (Arena Uprising) 1757: Trinidad’s Spanish governor moves capital to Port of Spain from St Joseph 1768–9: first Tobago Assembly established; Scarborough becomes island’s capital 1776: oldest forest reserve in western hemisphere designated in Tobago 1781: French seize Tobago, convert it to sugar colony 1783: Spanish governor Chacón’s Cedula de Población entices Catholic white and free coloured settlers to Trinidad with land incentives; rapid capitalisation begins 1797: Trinidad captured by Sir Ralph Abercromby’s British fleet

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1801: massive slave uprising in Tobago quelled 1806: first Chinese workers brought to Trinidad 1814: Tobago ceded to British under Treaty of Paris 1816: six companies of free blacks from the United States (mainly Baptist) settle in southern Trinidad, and one in Tobago 1834–8: slavery abolished in the British Empire, leading to apprenticeship (1834) then emancipation (1838) 1834–1917: indentured labour brought to Trinidad from other islands, China, Portugal, Syria, Lebanon, and India 1881: Canboulay Riots in Trinidad, in response to criminalisation of Carnival 1884: Hosay Riots in Trinidad; Tobago’s sugar industry collapses 1889–98: Tobago annexed to Trinidad 1903: Water Riots in Port of Spain 1908: commercial oil production begins in southern Trinidad 1914: first calypso recorded in Trinidad 1925: first national elections (limited franchise) 1935–41: first steelpans emerge in Laventille, Trinidad

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1981: George Chambers (PNM) becomes prime minister 1983: oil prices fall, crippling local economy 1986: National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) unseats PNM in national elections; Tobagonian ANR Robinson becomes prime minister 1990: attempted coup by Jamaat al Muslimeen 1995: coalition government between United National Congress (UNC) and NAR unseats the PNM; Basdeo Panday becomes prime minister 2007: Caribbean Airlines replaces BWIA as national carrier; record oil prices fuel economic boom 2010: UNC-led coalition government (People’s Partnership) ousts PNM at general and local elections under first female prime minister, Kamla PersadBissessar 2015: oil prices crash, causing economic slowdown; PNM, under Dr Keith Rowley, wins general elections 2018: Paula-Mae Weeks becomes the country’s first female president rapso imaging

1937: oilfield and labour strikes led in southern Trinidad by Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler 1940: national airline British West Indies Airways (BWIA) commences operations 1941: Chaguaramas peninsula leased to United States for 99 years 1945: public emergence of steelbands (V Day celebrations); universal suffrage implemented 1951: repeal of ordinance prohibiting activities of Spiritual “Shouter” Baptist faith 1956: islands win self-government 1958: islands join Federation of West Indies 1960: Trinidad campus of University of the West Indies (UWI) established 1962: islands leave Federation, gain independence from Britain; Dr Eric Williams becomes first prime minister 1963: Hurricane Flora devastates Tobago; Chaguaramas returned to Trinidadian control 1970: “Black Power” uprising in Trinidad 1974: Garfield Blackman (Ras Shorty I) releases first soca album 1976: islands become a republic in the Commonwealth

Yachts anchored in Chaguaramas

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ziad joseph

A glass-bottom boat leaves for Buccoo Reef and the Nylon Pool

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DISCOVER, EXPLORE, DREAM Discover the beautiful and unique Island of Tobago. Discover the beautiful rainforest, natural waterfalls, Nylon pool and so much more. Discover nature at its finest with rare and beautiful orchids, butterflies, and birds. Discover relaxation at one of our three pools, beach, spa and fitness center. Discover new and delicious food selections at one our three restaurants and cafe.

Discover Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort, Tobago’s finest oceanfront resort.

Tobago Plantations Estate, Lowlands, Tobago, Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies Phone: 868-660-8500 • info@MagdalenaGrand.com W W W .M A G D A L E N A G R A N D . C O M


Tobago — the unspoilt paradise

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and fauna. If our clear sparkling waters entice you, then engage your adventurous side with exciting watersports, or simply soak up the sun in peaceful tranquillity on our uncrowded beaches. Tobago is also famous for hosting yearround festivals and activities that cater to a variety of tastes: Tobago Jazz Experience, Tobago Heritage Festival, Tobago Blue Food Festival, and Goat & Crab Racing Festival, just to name a few. With a colourful and vibrant history, Tobago is a gem of culture and historic diversity that brims with adventure. Whatever your pleasure, you are far more likely to run short of time than things to do in Destination Tobago. — The Division of Tourism, Culture & Transportation

courtesy tdc

elcome to the beautiful island of Tobago! Whether you are visiting us for a romantic getaway, a family adventure, attending a special event, or simply a vacation away from your daily hassle, we are delighted you have chosen to spend some quality time with us in the “Capital of Paradise”. Our clean, green, safe, and serene island possesses an abundance of natural, historical, and cultural attractions that satisfy the discerning tastes of contemporary travellers seeking authentic, distinctive, indigenous experiences. If your passion is diving, you are sure to be drawn to the colourful marine life in our magnificent underwater realm. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, the serene and beautiful Main Ridge Forest Reserve invites you to explore its pristine nature trails and marvel at exotic flora

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Beautiful Buccoo beach

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EDITOR’S PICKS

Where to stay Around Crown Point & Scarborough

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courtesy kariwak holistic haven

heck out the lovely Bananaquit Apartments (self-catering studios and lofts); Kariwak Holistic Haven (for yoga, natural living, and absolutely delicious food); Fountain Court Apartments (self-catering apartments); the intimate Sunspree Resort (with pool, restaurant, and bar); Belleviste Apartments; the Coco Reef Resort & Spa (all-inclusive); Crown Point Hotel; Sandy Point; and Tropikist Beach Hotel & Resort (all-inclusive).

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Bananaquit APARTMENTS

TOBAGO

Studios and Family Apartments close to airport and beaches • restaurant • kitchenettes • air conditioning • cable tv • free wifi • regular cleaning service

868 368 3539 bananaquit.tobago@gmail.com www.bananaquit.com

R E S O R T

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R E S O R T

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An Oasis of Serenity Pantone Reflex Blue U

YELLOW

Ideal for families, reunions and intimate weddings Plantation Beach Villas

Tel: (868) 639-9377 | Black Rock, Tobago www.plantationbeachvillas.com | info@plantationbeachvillas.com

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Lowlands

courtesy magdalena grand beach & golf resort

Off the Milford Road, find the stunning grounds of the Tobago Plantations development. This is home to the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort (all-inclusive options, three pools, a kids club, several celebrated restaurants, a golf course, and a windswept beachfront where turtles nest in season); and the Sugar Mill Suites, offering bungalows, condos, and villas.

Rooms and apartments overlooking beach, close to Buccoo Reef and airport

One And Two Bedroom Apartments • Kitchen Dining Room • Living Room • Bathroom Washer, Dryer And Iron Fully Air Conditioned • Office for Computer Access Free Wifi • Spacious Parking • Pool Area #47C Store Bay Feeder Road Crown Point Tobago W.I. Tel. 1 (868) 479-2075 • Tel. 1 (868) 743-2753 Email. renatheone@hotmail.com

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• Luvinia’s Seafood & Steak Restaurant • • Air conditioning, cable TV • • Free WiFi • • Regular cleaning service •

office@millersguesthouse.com Tel: (868) 660 8371 Buccoo Point, Tobago

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Caribbean coast

Green retreats

You’ll want to check out the rustic and charming Miller’s Guest House in Buccoo (with an on-site restaurant); the Mt Irvine Bay Resort; and — all around Black Rock, a popular site for leatherback turtle nesting, in season — the beautiful and luxurious Plantation Beach Villas, and the Seahorse Inn (both with direct access to Stonehaven Bay); Turtle Beach by Rex Resorts (right on Great Courtland Bay); Birdie’s Nest; Le Grand Courland Resort & Spa (adults only); and Hibiscus Heights are ever-popular choices, while the opulent, fullservice Villas at Stonehaven are perched on a hill with magnificent ocean views and lovely landscaped grounds.

A few of the properties keeping the environment top of mind — Castara Retreats and Naturalist Beach Resort (also in Castara); Cuffie River Nature Resort (near Runnemede); Adventure Eco Villas and Top o’ Tobago (in the hills above Arnos Vale); Footprints Eco Resort (Culloden); Villa Being (Arnos Vale); and for divers and birders, Blue Waters Inn and Top Rankin Guesthouse (Speyside).

ALEX TREADWAY, COURTESY CASTARA RETREATS

Castara Retreats

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courtesy caribbean estates, lands and villas

Buy your place in the sun Looking to buy your own piece of Tobago paradise? Check out premier agents like Abraham Tobago Realty and Caribbean Estates, Lands & Villas.

STUNNING BEACHFRONT PROPERTIES FOR SALE

Beautiful Homes & Land for sale Vacation Villa Rentals Whether you desire a luxury ocean front villa or a small retirement cottage… or simply wish to spend your vacation in paradise, we’ll find “your place in the sun” www.abrahamrealty.com Email: abrahamrealty@gmail.com Tel: 868-639-3325

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&Shopping Leisure

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ere to stay

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Spas

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f you’re in the market for self-care, you’ll want to take in what’s on offer at French Secrets Tobago Day Spa; Silk Cotton Holiday Home & Wellness Centre; and Kariwak Holistic Haven.

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Shopping For most of your shopping needs, head to the Gulf City Lowlands Mall, or the plazas in Crown Point like Shirvan Town Plaza, Milford Bay Plaza, Buccoo Town Centre, and Shoppes@Westcity. Make sure to visit Peeping Fish for all of your beach and holiday wear needs. There are also craft stalls at many beaches, including Store Bay. Please don’t buy anything made from endangered or environmentally sensitive species (eg coral, sea turtles, conch, some snakes, some birds).

SWIMWEAR • FOOTWEAR • SURF GEAR 12 Mucurapo Rd. St. James, Trinidad Mon-Fri: 10am - 6pm Sat: 10am - 5pm

D’Colosseum Mall, Crown Point, Tobago Mon-Sat: 10am - 6pm Tel: 1 (868) 639-8666

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Shoppes @ Westcity, Canaan, Tobago Mon-Sat: 10am - 6pm Tel: 1 (868) 631-0263

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Aisha Sylvester — off the beaten path

QA &

Her favourite beaches, sightseeing, and waterfall adventures

Aisha travel blogger & marketer

What are your favourite places or experiences in Tobago?

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obago might be small but there are so many places to see, things to do. I love getting into my car with no plan, and veering off the main roads just to see what’s there, and I get so excited when “what’s there” turns out to be amazing. My favourite road trip route is along the

Northside Road. My must-do stops on this route include the lookout above Castara, where you can soak up a gorgeous view of the beach and the village; Castara Waterfall; Englishman’s Bay; Glasgow’s Bar for a drink and that postcard perfect view of Parlatuvier Bay; and my go-to lunch spot, the open deck at Sunshine Café.

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Englishman’s Bay

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sherridan kirk courtesy Aisha Sylvester

What day/half-day trips or tours would you recommend? I highly recommend a coastal cruise. They usually last around eight hours, and include snorkelling at Arnos Vale reef; swimming at Cotton Bay, a lovely beach that’s only accessible by boat; a delicious local lunch on No Man’s Land; and, of course, a mandatory dip in the Nylon Pool.

Pirate’s Bay There are many reasons to love Pirate’s Bay — ideal water conditions topping the list — but the thing I love most is getting there. To approach the beach by boat is to get a unique view of Charlotteville’s lush coastline while riding high on the waves. On the other hand, descending the stairs through the tall trees and lush vegetation leaves you in awe of the island’s diverse flora.

What are your favourite beaches? I’m yet to encounter a beach in Tobago that I didn’t like. But I absolutely love Buccoo beach, Englishman’s Bay, and Pirate’s Bay. I hate crowds, and all three of these offer pristine stretches of coastline without the clutter. Castara Bay, Richmond Bay, and King Peter’s Bay are all lovely beaches that allow visitors to feel like they’re truly connecting with nature. No loud music, no modern infrastructure, and no crowds — just the sound of the waves and wildlife.

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EDITOR’S PICK

Being With Horses

piotr andrews

If you love animals, the sea, and have a soft spot for rescued horses with moving back-stories, then you’ll want to check out Being With Horses. They offer sunset swim-ride sessions, trail rides, picnic rides, and horseback weddings. being-with-horses.com, 639-0953

What makes the island special? A large part of Tobago’s charm is its ability to bring people closer to nature. Even if you’re staying in more developed areas, you can find yourself almost completely off the grid and on a mini adventure in a matter of minutes! Whether your preference is trekking through the jungle or snorkelling at a reef; diving a shipwreck or ATV-ing up a mountainside, Tobago offers such a wide variety of eco activities that anyone who loves being outdoors will be able to find something that piques their interest.

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What are your favourite hikes or waterfall treks? I’d recommend Argyle Waterfall, the highest and most popular waterfall on the island (admission $60 adults, $30 children, 660-4152). For those who prefer a low impact trek but don’t mind manoeuvring through thick bushes, the journey to Twin River Falls in the Pembroke forest is a bit long, but quite easy. No hills, no cliffs, just an overgrown trail and the occasional stream-crossing. And for people who want to venture off the beaten path without exerting too much energy, a stone’s throw off the Northside Road is Castara Waterfall; or take a threeminute stroll for a dip in the two pools of Parlatuvier Waterfall. The trail to Highland Waterfall in Moriah is one I would highly recommend. It’s of moderate difficulty with a few tricky spots along the way, but if I can do it with a smile on my face, anyone can! I honestly consider it to be the most breathtaking waterfall on the island. While other waterfalls occur in steps or layers, Highland is one continuous drop with a powerful flow.

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brendan delzin

Highland Waterfall in Moriah

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Pigeon Point jetty

EDITOR’S TIP

Tour operators

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You can find listings of tour guides and operators at visittobago.gov.tt and touroperatorsassociationtt.com, and many hotels and guesthouses should also be able to help you choose the best provider for your needs. Harris Jungle Tours, Kelton Thomas, Newton George, Eureka Natural History Tours, Unique Tours Tobago, and Waterholics are among the most notable, or you could rent a car from outfits like Econo Car and go exploring on your own!

• JETSKIS • BANANA BOAT ATTACK • COASTLINE / DOLPHIN WATCHING / SNORKELLING TOUR • GLASS BOTTOM BOAT TOUR • BUCCOO REEF AND BBQ • SUNSET CRUISE AND BONFIRE • PIRATE’S BAY / LOVER’S BAY (ISLAND TOUR) ... And more! Tel: 868.639.8822 • Mobile: 868.688.7669 | 868.377.7668 tobagowaterholics @waterholicstobago @waterholics Email: tobagowaterholics@gmail.com

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EDITOR’S PICKS

More beach escapes

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f you prefer the creature comforts of the more developed (and sometimes crowded) beachfronts, check out Pigeon Point in the southwest, with its much-photographed jetty, delicious food offerings, and array of watersports (entrance fee: $20). Store Bay, right near the airport, is a tiny but stunning beach, and the launch pad for glass-bottom boat tours to Buccoo Reef and

the Nylon Pool. Don’t miss the delicious dishes in the on-site food court and craft stalls selling fantastic souvenirs. You also can’t go wrong with the beauty of Bloody Bay and Parlatuvier Bay further up the Caribbean coast, or Speyside and Batteaux Bay up in the northeast. Glass-bottom boats leave here for tours of Angel Reef and Little Tobago (a must for birders).

Turtle magic on the beach… rapso imaging

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ach March­–September, add this magical ancient sea ritual to your itinerary — it is humbling and inspiring to witness. Each season, five species of marine turtles (in particular the giant, endangered leatherback; hawksbill; and green) come ashore to nest. Their adorable offspring hatch 6–8 weeks later (starting in June), and make a mad dash for the open sea. All (and their eggs) are vulnerable, and consequently legally protected. While many of Tobago’s beaches see nesting turtles each year, leatherbacks come ashore primarily on the southwestern coast, and hawksbills on the southeast. For further information and free guided tours contact SOS Tobago (Save Our Sea Turtles: sos-tobago.org, 328-7351), or a reputable tour guide.

Green turtle at Speyside

Remember: Do not touch or disturb nesting turtles or hatchlings (including by using flash photography) Do not drive on nesting beaches — the weight of the vehicle can crush eggs buried in the sand.

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Duane Kenny

— ocean adventurer

QA &

Duane

courtesy duane kenny

tour & villa rental operator

What are your favourite watersports activities in Tobago? How can visitors get involved? What are your favourite beaches? Mt Irvine for waves, Pirate’s Bay for beauty and secret snorkelling spots.

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Surfing, stand up paddle, and snorkelling (snorkeltobago.com). Surfing is my passion and it trumps everything I have ever done. The feeling you get from riding a wave, the connection with nature, and the friends you make along the way are why I love it. Anybody can surf, they just have to want to get wet and have fun. There are a few instructors in the island, and I’m happy to teach visitors as well.

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What makes the island special?

What sites and experiences do you most recommend?

Uncrowded locations that cater to almost every type of eco adventure lover — coral reefs, the oldest protected rainforest in the western hemisphere, waterfalls … All you need is an adventurous spirit and a good guide.

We offer a night tour — our Bioluminescence Tour (standuppaddletobago.com, 681-4741) — where we kayak or stand up paddle into a lagoon with glowing plankton. It’s like the aurora borealis in the sea. It requires a little fitness, but it is one of those experiences you will remember for the rest of your life. Best time of year is the rainy season, but we get good bio all year round. If rainforest and birds are your thing, definitely check out the rainforest with a guide. If you like hidden beaches, hire a fisherman in Charlotteville to take you out to see Pirate’s Bay, and Lovers Bay. The guide is the key to really unlock the secrets of these locations. 

brendan delzin

The coral reef at Cotton Bay, accessible only by sea

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EDITOR’S PICKS

Boons for birders & nature lovers … And great fun for the whole family!

Corbin Local Wildlife Park

(Mason Hall) Conservationist Roy Corbin has built a wildlife sanctuary that houses many of Tobago’s endangered animals for reintroduction into the wild — boa constrictors, agoutis (including a rare albino), opossums, green iguanas, collared peccary (nearly extinct in Tobago), and the spectacled caiman. tobagowildlife.com, 327-4182

Little Tobago (off Speyside)

An absolute must for birders, this remote little island is where Sir David Attenborough filmed frigatebirds hijacking tropicbirds for their fish in mid-air. You can take a glass-bottomed boat from Blue Waters Inn (Speyside), and on the way you can stop off to see the brain coral and the Japanese Gardens. In fact, Angel Reef is perhaps the island’s finest coral reef.

Tobago Cocoa Estate

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(Roxborough) Sold by Fortnum & Mason’s in the UK, Tobago Cocoa Estate’s chocolate is made exclusively from our highly acclaimed Trinitario beans. Scheduled tours operate. tobagococoa.com, 390-2021

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Green iguana

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Barred antshrike

Trinidad motmot

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Left: white-tailed sabrewing Above: Main Ridge Forest Reserve

Adventure Farm & Nature Reserve (Arnos Vale) In this haven of sustainable tourism, nothing is wasted and 52 species of birds can be seen. Herbs from the garden are used to prepare meals. Everything is powered by solar energy. Open from 7am Monday–Saturday, 639-2839

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Main Ridge Forest Reserve The Main Ridge is the backbone of Tobago, a spine that runs across two thirds of its surface to a height of 876m (1,890ft). This 14,000acre reserve, protected since 1776 and the oldest in the western hemisphere, is home to 210 species of birds, including the rare whitetailed sabrewing hummingbird, which is endemic to Tobago. The reserve’s 10,000 acres of evergreen rainforest have been designated by UNESCO as being of Outstanding Universal Value. The most famous of the trails is Gilpin Trace (5km). Other popular treks are the Atlantic, Blue Copper, and Niplig trails.

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(Runnemede) A popular base for birders (up to 80 species sighted) and nature lovers, the familyrun eco-lodge is remote yet modern and a pioneer in sustainable tourism. You can go on nature hikes with a very knowledgeable guide who will explain everything about the island’s birds, agriculture, wildlife, and medicinal plants. cuffie-river.com, 660-0505

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Cuffie River Nature Retreat

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QA &

Derek Chung — diving guide

What are the diving conditions like in Tobago?

DEREK dive operator & instructor

If someone has never been diving before, what do they need to get started?

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courtesy undersea tobago

ry a Discover Scuba Diving course, which provides a diving experience comprising a short DVD presentation, basic skill development and an instructor-guided dive on a shallow coral reef. This course only takes a few hours and is open to anyone over 10 years of age. Don’t worry if you are not a strong swimmer as this isn’t a requirement.

Tobago’s diving conditions vary depending on the season. Water temperature averages 81– 82°F (27­–28°C) for most of the year and can drop to 79°F (26°C) during January and February. Visibility ranges 10–35m (33–115ft), with the average in the south being 18m (59ft) and 27m (89ft) in the north. It’s important to note that while Tobago has gained a reputation for currents and drift diving, there are many sites with little or no currents which are suitable for novice divers.  

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courtesy undersea tobago

What’s the best time of year, if any, to go diving?

What can people expect to see on a dive?

The best time of year for visibility would be November–May although fish activity remains consistent year round.

You’ll find all the colourful Caribbean fish that live on coral reefs together with moray eels, octopi, batfishes, stingrays, sharks, eagle rays, barracuda, and turtles — which are always a big favourite!

How is Tobago different from other Caribbean locations? Typically Tobago does not enjoy the water clarity of her more northerly Caribbean neighbours due to the influence of the Orinoco River in Venezuela. However, this also gives Tobago greater density and diversity of both coral reefs and marine life, trading a bit of visibility for more nutrient-rich waters.

Where are some of best dive sites around Tobago? Mt Irvine Wall and Arnos Vale Reef (for beginners); Flying Reef, Castara Reef, Keleston Drain, and Japanese Gardens (intermediate); Maverick Wreck, Diver’s Thirst, Bookends, Picker, and Diver’s Dream (advanced).

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EDITOR’S TIPS

Diving sites & sights More than 60 dive sites — from easy to expert — await the diving enthusiast: fringing reefs, bank reefs, patch reefs, outcrops, pillars and headlands These sites attract tiger, bull, nurse, reef, blacktip, hammerhead, lemon, and whale sharks; stingrays and manta rays; and a host of colourful tropical fish!

Average costs Discover Scuba Diving PADI course: US$95 Single dives trips: US$50–$80 Two-dive morning trip (for certified divers): US$95–US$125 (inclusive of equipment hire). Most also have packages for six or 10 dives Snorkelling trip: starting at US$20 Contact Undersea Tobago (underseatobago.com, 680-4209), or a member of the Association of Tobago Dive Operators (tobagoscubadiving.com) for more.

Aisha travel blogger & marketer

My favourite dive on the island is the Maverick, a purposesunk wreck off the coast of Mt Irvine. It’s the perfect example of man and nature working together to create something positive, unique, and sustainable. Over the course of two decades, coral formations have covered the frame of the ship almost completely, creating a home for various forms of marine life, and it’s always amazing to watch them exist within and around this man-made structure.

Coco Reef Resort • Magdalena Grand Beach Resort • Mt Irvine Resort Tel: 868.631.2626 • E: dive@underseatobago.com www.underseatobago.com

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Jared Prima

— an eye for culture & festivals

What are your favourite heritage sites and experiences?

Which Tobagonian festivals are the most special for you?

t’s a tough choice but the Tobago Heritage Festival (mid-July to 1 August) would be my favourite. This is a two-week festival which presents all of Tobago’s history and traditions to a viewing audience. It takes patrons to the various villages to engage in the practices of my elders and ancestors. This festival is also ripe with stories, characters, even superstitions that would be fuel to any Caribbean writer and filmmaker like me. In 2018, visitors tasted traditional foods and learnt to make some of our sweets; children enjoyed tours all over Tobago and pulled seine, learnt dances and songs; patrons were able to come dressed in wedding wear and be part of the Tobago Ole Time Wedding procession. This time of year is the one time to put a Tobagonian stamp in your passport and to lose yourselves in our rich cultural history.

Beyond the beaches, we have our Mystery Tombstone (Plymouth) with such a cryptic inscription that it baffles and intrigues tourists. We have massive silk cotton trees, but they must be visited after hearing all the stories of their mystical power! Then, it would be remiss of me not to advocate for visitors to go to Charlotteville and escape into a new world, right on the island. Driving down into the village is like entering a whole new paradise. The people, the beautiful beaches and landscapes, the food! It is definitely a trip worth making.

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courtesy THA

Jared actor, writer & director

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QA &

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Tell us about Tobago Carnival

What do you recommend for live arts and entertainment?

Carnival in Tobago is not as massive as it is in Trinidad. It is a more intimate display that focuses more on traditional mas and J’Ouvert. There is also a massive upsurge in the number of mud mas players on Carnival Tuesday — it seems that Tobago is now the place to come play mud mas!

Performances may be more prevalent during one of the festivals on the island, but during cruise season (November–April), characters and other performers can be seen lining the streets in Scarborough and Crown Point dancing and entertaining all visitors. The Tobago THETA Company, one of Tobago’s most creative and dynamic performance companies, usually posts information on their Facebook page about their pop-up performances, living museums, and plays at various spots on the island.

courtesy THA

You can catch goat racing action at Easter time and during the Heritage Festival each July

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courtesy THA

The Heritage Festival’s Ole Time Wedding procession in Moriah

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More highlights of the festival calendar

Blue Food Festival

Goat & Crab Racing Festival

Dasheen and other root crops take centre stage each October in Bloody Bay, L’Anse Fourmi, and Parlatuvier as these villages pay homage to the versatility and utility of “blue food”. Some varieties of dasheen can turn blue or indigo when cooked, hence the term — which now is used to describe all root crops. For the festival, all of the dasheen plant is used to prepare bread, cookies and sweets, ice-cream, and even lasagne!

Prized goats and crabs compete down a special 110m (360ft) track to the finish line, hustled on by barefoot “jockeys” who sprint behind their charges, holding the colourfully attired goats on long ropes, and the crabs on short strings. The showdown happens each Easter Monday and Tuesday at Mt Pleasant and Buccoo (the main location). There’s a repeat at the Heritage Festival.

Great Fete Weekend

Dragon Boat Festival

Daniel Knecht, courtesy Tobago Mountain Bike Tours

Each June at Pigeon Point, senior and junior teams from T&T compete over a weekend for dragon boating supremacy. Count on good food and music too.

This annual party fest takes place in late July/ early August. Five straight nights of partying until dawn at Pigeon Point and other locations, with DJs, sound systems, and live entertainment. Be mindful of turtles and turtle nests as you party!

May MTB Madness attracts mountain bikers from around the world

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rapso imaging

EDITOR’S PICKS


courtesy tha

Great Race First held in 1969, each August this speedboat race (about 185km/115 miles) starts at the Port of Spain waterfront early in the morning and ends in Scarborough two to three hours later. Naturally, a rollicking beach party ensues.

Harvest festivals One Sunday each month, one or more villages in Tobago host a Harvest Festival. Once an annual thanksgiving for the year’s harvest, in many ways these vibrant celebrations are the core of community life. Days begin with church services, followed by preparing and feasting on delicious local dishes.

Tobago Jazz Experience Each April, jazz takes over with events (some free) in Speyside, Signal Hill, Scarborough, Castara, and Pigeon Point. The event showcases some of the best in local and regional music alongside international stars.

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The best dining spots & hangouts Roundtable

Aisha travel blogger & marketer

erwinova/shutterstock.com

My absolute favourite restaurant on the island is Seahorse Inn, Restaurant & Bar. The food there is impeccable and consistent.

Dinner there is always a treat because you get to dine in the beautiful, rustic, well-appointed open-air dining area and listen to the waves crashing nearby. My favourite meal on the menu is the lamb (yum!) and I’m obsessed with their pineapple cheesecake. My favourite bar on the island is Glasgow Bar in Parlatuvier. Bago Bar on the drive to Pigeon Point, as well as Renmar’s inside Pigeon Point Heritage Park, are great options. Waves at Grafton has a great location and the perfect beach vibe. If I’m going for a more refined experience, I head to Time to Wine in Shirvan Plaza; the decor is rustic-meets-trendy and you can enjoy a glass/bottle of wine and cheese platter all for a great price. Other favourite spots of mine are: The Fish Pot in Black Rock, where you get delicious seafood and the best coconut cream cheesecake I’ve ever tasted; Jemma’s Treehouse Restaurant in Speyside where you can get a delicious spread of local dishes, including their amazing breadfruit pie; Traditions Bar at Pigeon Point where I’ve eaten the best curry and paratha on the island (seriously); Suckhole in Charlotteville; and Sunshine Café in Bloody Bay — on Sundays she offers up a Sunday spread that includes some of the best curried shrimp I’ve ever tasted!

Pan-fried snapper with tempura vegetables and herb topping

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zi3000/shutterstock.com

Skewers of grilled vegetables and meat.

Jared actor, writer & director

I like Café Bistro on Store Bay Local Road; BarCode Sports Bar in Scarborough; and Overhang Bar at Crown Point, which has a nice kerbside grill. Honourable mention: Fairways Restaurant & Golf Lounge at Tobago Plantations is good!

Franka & Ardene journalists & media entrepreneurs

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La Tartaruga is the best for fine Italian dining. Also check out Shore Things Café & Crafts — the cake is great. Hit Store Bay for some of the best curried crab and dumpling as well as the coocoo and callaloo with ground provisions (yeah, it’s heavy on the carbs but worth it!).

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Duane tour & villa rental operator

courtesy tdc

These days fresh fish cooked with friends on a beach is my favourite, but small restaurants like Shore Things in Lambeau, Caribbean Kitchen in Castara, or Suckhole in Charlotteville are my favourites. You can’t miss Tobago Chocolate Delights at Shore Things, if you are a chocolate fan. Sunset beers at Surfers Restaurant & Bar on Mt Irvine, and later that night Revs Steakhouse & Bar is my go-to. Crab, callaloo and coocoo is a signature Tobagonian dish

T HE S EAHORSE I NN Restaurant & Bar BEACHSIDE DINING AT ITS BEST

Grafton Beach Road, Black Rock Tobago (868) 639 0686 seahorseinntobago@gmail.com WWW.SEAHORSETOBAGO.COM

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FULL SERVICE WEDDING AND EVENT CATERING HORS D’OEUVRES DINNER DESSERT WEDDING CAKE 868.790.8030 niceandsweettgo@gmail.com

www.niceandsweettgo.com niceandsweettgo

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EDITOR’S TIPS Nigel music journalist & businessman

Jade Monkey and The Shade are all-night spaces that revel in the energy that comes alive at night. Island Crashers Festival in Pigeon Point is a secret no more, and a must-do fete for a younger cohort.

More dining options Check out Skewers (a halal Middle Eastern grill with a Trini flavour), Rooster’s for yummy fried chicken, and Il Portico Italian Pizzeria for delicious pizza (all in Crown Point); and Bake my Day in Shirvan Plaza for soups, salads, sandwiches, and delicious desserts. If you’re looking to have an event catered, make sure to check Kerry’s (niceandsweettgo.com)!

More liming options Keep an eye out for what’s on at the Shaw Park Complex (shaw-park.org), and check out Dream Nightlife (Scarborough) — the new club on the block! You’ll also be able to catch the latest films at MovieTowne in Lowlands; live music at various hotels; and the infamous Sunday School street party, every Sunday night in Buccoo from 9pm.

Roosserie & Grill PLUS Roosserie Chicken

Pork Chops | Baby Back Ribs Garlic Chicken | BBQ Pigtail Grilled Fish | Jerk Wings Buffalo Wings and more Located at Pelican Plaza, Milford Road, Crown Point, Tobago, W.I. Tel. (868) 639-8563

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Sister outlets

ANR Robinson airport 639 5000 Shirvan Plaza 631 1000

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Laura lifestyle journalist & editor

courtesy candy coated events

Tobago (not Trinidad) is where the top parties take place during the year: Island Crashers, three days of parties targeted to the 16–24 crowd, and Great Fete weekend which sees performances by top local, regional, and international acts. A great Ash Wednesday cool down is Candy Coated’s Blush.

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Map Key (applies to all maps) Police Station

Gas Station

Waterfall

Hospital

Bird Watching

Sailing & boat tours

Turtle Nesting

Golf Course

Fort

Shopping Centre

Scuba Diving

Airport

Lighthouse

Place of interest

Surfing

Beach with Restrooms

Food Available

Swamp

Caves

Museum

Lifeguard on Duty

Planned Highway

Highway

ay

Casta ra B ay

Kin gP eter 's

N

Parlatu Ba

Eng lish man 's B

Major roadway

Parr Castara

Bay Mt Dillon

Cull oden Bay

Runnemede Culloden

Cuffie River Nature Retreat

Moriah

Hill

Arnos Vale Bay

T Great C urtle Beach ourland Bay Ft B Stoneh aven B ennett ay

t nP eo Pig Store Bay

Bon Accord Lagoon

Buccoo Bay

Crown Point

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ANR Robinson Intl Airport

Ply mo uth

Les Coteaux

Rd

Gulf City

y hwa Hig

l Lambeau Noe ude Cla Little Rockly Bay

LOWLANDS Canoe Bay

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d eR hsid

Scarborough Mall

Patience Hill Signal Hill

Craig Hall

rt No

Bethel Mt Irvine Buccoo

Mason Hall

Adventure Farm & Nature Reserve

Grafton Sanctuary

Milford Rd Ft Milford

Arnos Vale

Black Rock

Mt Irvin e Bay

S h i rv a n R d

BUCCOO REEF & NYLON POOL

Plymouth

Ft King George Rockly Bay

Bacolet Point

Mt St George Barbados Bay

SCARBOROUGH Bacolet Bay


St Giles Islands

Sisters Rocks

Man-o'War Bay

Pirate's Bay

Flagstaff Hill

Charlotteville

uvier ay

L'Anse Fourmi

Bloody Bay

Speyside Parlatuvier

rot Hill

e

MAIN

EST FOR GE RID

King's Bay Delaford

Rainbow Waterfall

Belle Garden

Richmond Glamorgan Pembroke

Wi

Goat Island Little Tobago

Tyrrel's Bay

E ERV RES

Argyle Falls

lsborough Dam

Blue Waters

nd

wa

rd

Rd

Roxborough Bellevue Prince's Bay Richmond Great House Carapuse Bay

King's Bay

Tobago Cocoa Estate

Delaford Bay

Richmond Island

Goldsborough Goodwood

Pin fold Gra Bay nby Po int

Tobago discovertnt.com

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beyond ordinary...

...Explore the extraordinary Caribbean island. Unspoilt, untouched, undiscovered Tobago TobagoBeyond.com | #101ReasonsTobago

Discover Trinidad & Tobago Travel Guide 2019  

Discover T&T has published 30 issues since 1991, and helps readers discover where to stay, dine, lime, party, and shop; and what to see (inc...

Discover Trinidad & Tobago Travel Guide 2019  

Discover T&T has published 30 issues since 1991, and helps readers discover where to stay, dine, lime, party, and shop; and what to see (inc...

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