Welcome message from the Ministry of Tourism 10 Intro
12 Places to stay 16 The taming of the stew — where (and what) to eat 24 Arts, entertainment & shopping 30 Carnival & Festivals 39 Sports
43 Beaches, rivers & waterfalls 47 Outdoor adventures 52 Seeing green — eco experiences (turtle-watching, birding, & more!) 60 Sightseeing (architecture & built heritage, easy day trips, familyfriendly fun, & more!)
68 Trinidad Maps
A hibiscus flower
76 80 82 86
National calendar of events Getting here & getting around Tips for safe and sustainable travel T&T history and society in a nutshell
Tobago 91 Welcome
92 Places to stay 98 Savour the flavours — where (and what!) to eat 101 Arts & entertainment — where to lime, and shop
wet & wild
105 Beaches, rivers, waterfalls, and water sports 109 Diving 112 Game fishing 113 Turtle-watching 114 Sightseeing & day trips 120 Birding 125 Festivals & events 130 Sports 132 Tobago Map
An Oropendula (Psarocolius) commonly known as a cornbird waits his turn for food at Asa Wright Nature centre
Escape the ordinary. Discover Hyatt Regency Trinidad. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s good not to be home.
Destination Trinidad & Tobago Reborn!
elcome to Trinidad & Tobago. The islands are a melting pot of cultures and warm, friendly people. Our heritage, rich and diverse culture, and extraordinary biodiversity will provide you with an experience unlike any. As a guest to our shores, you will be wowed from the moment you arrive and be sure to return again and again. There is a new energy in our country’s travel and tourism industry, which is certain to improve how you experience and explore destination Trinidad & Tobago. In Carnival 2017, the Ministry of Tourism launched a new travel app called GoTrinBago — the first of its kind for T&T. Increasingly, travellers conduct travel searches and book their vacations via digital channels. The GoTrinBago app is therefore filled with detailed information about the various tours, sites and attractions in both islands. Prominently featured in the
– The Ministry of Tourism
app is our dynamic calendar of events, which can be found in the first category: Lime 365. A quick search through this category will show you that there is always something to do in Trinidad & Tobago! The app is available for download — in English and Spanish — in both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. Full German and French translations will be completed in the near future. The Government of Trinidad & Tobago continues to focus on development of the sector. As such, in the coming year you can expect major upgrades to our sites and attractions. You can also look out for an increase in our room stock with the introduction of two 5-star hotels: The Brix Hotel in Trinidad, and Sandals in Tobago. Thank you for choosing Trinidad & Tobago — two islands, two unique experiences. Tobago is clean, green, and serene, while Trinidad’s energy is not just from oil and gas, but from our people and our culture. Whatever travel experience you seek, you are certain to find it in Sweet Trinbago!
t’s complicated, as host Anthony Bourdain concluded on CNN’s Parts Unknown last year. Trinidadians are every flavour of the Caribbean mixed up in one — and served with pepper. Playful, witty, warm, friendly, and colourful are just a few of the words used to describe Trinis. Home to rare and endangered species like the golden tree frog, and one of the most important global nesting sites of giant leatherback turtles, Trinidad is also the most industrialised island in the region. We are a hub for commerce, trade, shopping, entertainment, and ecological research. We are complex — spiritual yet sensual; a little crazy, but cool. The kind of people who can take old oil drums and hammer out an orchestra. Welcome to our magic island.
Editor: Caroline Taylor Text: Nazma Muller Consulting editor: Jeremy Taylor Editorial & design assistant: ShellyAnn Inniss Designer: Bridget van Dongen Consulting designer: Kevon Webster Business development: Denise Chin, Yuri Chin Choy, Evelyn Chung Production: Joanne Mendes, Jacqueline Smith General manager: Halcyon Salazar Ministry font courtesy Victor Tognollo / Tognollo Hand Lettering Cover Trinidad: A ruby topaz hummingbird photographed in the Arima Valley. Photo: Wendell Stephen Jay Reyes Cover Tobago: Relaxing atop a glassbottom boat in the Nylon Pool. Photo: Tarique Eastman 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: firstname.lastname@example.org W: discovertnt.com Connect with us online:
ISSN 1680-6166 © 2017 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. Guava skipper feeds on a rangoon vine
courtesy the hyatt regency
Places to stay T
he high-end hotels feature sought-after amenities, like topclass restaurants and excellent pool, gym, business, and conference facilities. Downtown on the waterfront, the full-service Hyatt Regency Trinidad offers views of the Gulf of Paria; across the road is the Radisson, with its revolving restaurant at the top; and the Courtyard by Marriott is further west beside MovieTowne. The classy Kapok Hotel and iconic Hilton both overlook the Queen’s Park Savannah.
Down south, the leading options include Tradewinds, which also has monthly residency options, and the Royal Hotel, located just around the corner from the entrance to San Fernando Hill. In the east, there’s the Holiday Inn Express near the airport, and academic visitors appreciate the University Inn in St Augustine. Among the most popular guesthouses, B&Bs, and self-catering options are The Allamanda (Woodbrook); Crosswinds Villa Bed & Breakfast (Santa Cruz); Forty Winks Inn (Port of Spain); Culture Crossroads Inn (St James); and the Coblenz Inn and L’Orchidée Guesthouse (Cascade).
PARAMIN Spectacularly located villa and events venue perfect for • small fairy tale weddings • daily tours and tea • team away days/retreats • birthdays/anniversaries Tel: 1 (868) 756 1112/628 0050 Email: email@example.com
HIKING | BIRDWATCHING | GROUP CARNIVAL PACKAGES
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 studios 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: firstname.lastname@example.org www.theallamanda.com 61 Carlos Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain, Trinidad, W.I.
Places to stay
Quieter, greener options exist for nature lovers: Paradise Villas (Paramin); Asa Wright Nature Centre on the Arima–Blanchisseusse Road; Hacienda Jacana (Talparo); Petrea Place at the Pointe-à-Pierre Wildfowl Trust; Xanadu Resort (Lopinot); or Acajou, Le Grand Almandier, and Mt Plaisir near Grande Rivière. If you’re staying at hotels like the Hyatt, you’ll find an array of opportunities for pampering right on site. You can also find a variety of spa and beauty treatments at The Face & Body Clinic’s four branches (Port of Spain, San Fernando, Chaguanas, and in Tobago).
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.
Foodies, pace yourself! At the Kapok Hotel in Maraval, savour the flavours of the Orient (Tiki Village), or brick-oven-baked pizza (Kava). Downtown at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, the Waterfront restaurant serves up Caribbean and international cuisine. At MovieTowne, the options include authentic Japanese cuisine (Kaizan Sushi), international flavours (Zanzibar, Ruby Tuesday), Italian (Rizzoni’s), a Brazilian-American steakhouse (Texas de Brazil), or seafood and barbecue dishes (Trader Jack’s). On the Avenue (ie Ariapita Avenue) in Woodbrook, you can choose from Italian (Angelo’s), Caribbean creole (Veni Mangé), Chinese-Indian fusion (Hakka), or sushi (More Sushi). At One Woodbrook Place, vegans and vegetarians are catered to at Coloz (Caribbean) and Urban Oasis (international). In Maraval, head to Taste Vinoteca for small plates and vintage wine, or to Aioli and Joseph’s for a taste of the Mediterranean; while chef Khalid Mohammed creates modern, international dishes with a Caribbean twist at Chaud Restaurant in St Ann’s.
courtesy aioli restaurant
The taming of the stew
Alcohol & spirits
Make sure to sample our award-winning local rums (like Angostura 1919), and cocktails made with the world-famous Angostura Bitters.
Angostura’s Queen’s Park Sizzle 2 oz Angostura® 7 yr old dark rum 1 oz Demerara simple syrup 1 oz fresh lime juice 12-14 mint leaves 6-8 dashes Angostura® aromatic bitters
The taming of the stew
Down south, sample Cuban cuisine at Arabian House (which also serves Arabian dishes, of course) or visit Atherly’s for creole and international flavours.
Method: Build in a highball glass. Muddle mint leaves in lime juice and simple syrup then fill glass with dry crushed ice. Pour rum over ice and swizzle well until glass is ice cold and frosted. Pack glass with more crushed ice and top with Angostura aromatic bitters.
We happen to grow some of the finest cocoa beans (Trinitario), which are in demand by high-end chocolatiers in Europe. A cocoa renaissance has revived the industry and gourmet concoctions are being handmade with local fruits and flavours (like Cocobel’s sublime sorrel and dizzying ponche-à-crème). Other names to look out for: Cacique, Ortinola Great House, Trinidad & Tobago Fine Cocoa Company.
Cocoa is king again
This page: pastelles are an integral part of a Trini Christmas
Top dishes to try in T&T *
Doubles: You are never more than 100ft away from a doubles vendor in Trinidad, especially if you are in a city/town. Two fried barra and a spoonful of curried channa will change your life — especially with slight pepper, tamarind sauce, cucumbers and mango. Roti: There is no way you can visit Trinidad without having a roti. The trouble is deciding what to put in it. Pack some combination of curried chicken, beef, goat, duck, or conch inside this delicious wrap, together with bhagi (spinach), pumpkin, channa, potato, mango or bodi (string beans). Pelau: The national “rice and peas” dish, a one-pot wonder that is popular at house parties and to take on beach outings or excursions. It is usually cooked with pigeon peas and either chicken or beef. These days, however, the Trini gourmand has added all sorts of spins to the humble pelau — from the carnivore’s pork and lamb, to shitake mushrooms for the vegan. Usually served with cole slaw or a green salad and/or avocado.
Opposite: enjoy your curry in roti, doubles or as traditional masala, rice and vegetables
Pineapple chow: Soaked in salt, black pepper, chadon beni, garlic and pepper, pineapple suddenly takes on a whole new personality — spicy yet sweet, like a Trini. We also make chow with mango, pommecythere, cherries, plums, carambola and even chennette. Corn soup: The saviour that sobers up many a tipsy party-goer, the trusty corn soup can usually be found at concerts and big events. This tasty veggie option is filled with dumplings, potato, carrots, and wedges of corn in a seasoned split pea broth. Stewed chicken & macaroni pie: The combination is deadly, sure to knock you out on a Sunday. The secret of the stew is in the seasoning, which the crafty Trini cook marinates the meat in overnight, while the cheesiness of the macaroni pie is directly proportional to its deliciousness. Pastelle: Wafer-thin casings of cornmeal are filled with seasoned meat (chicken, beef, lamb or pork), tuna or soya, with olives, capers and raisins, then cooked in a banana leaf and foil.
Besides the best cocoa, we have some of the world’s hottest peppers. One, the Moruga Scorpion, was actually rated as the hottest in the world at one point. Our pepper sauces are not to be trifled with — one is even dubbed “mother in law” to describe its lethal power. The East Indians can also be credited with creating all manner of chutneys and sauces out of fruits like tamarind, pommecythere, and mango. A dollop of kuchela or mango amchar will liven up any dish.
courtesy Coconut growers’ association/olive and mango
Hotter than fire
camille e lowhar
Vaughnette Bigford wows the crowd at North Coast Jazz (Blanchisseuse) last May. Her album, Born to Shine is available vaughnettebigford.com
Arts & entertainment
Music is in the Trini DNA. Tony and Grammy winning singer/actress Heather Headley; Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Angela Hunte; award-winning rap/hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj; and the late, celebrated performer Geoffrey Holder are all Trinidadian. Of our indigenous music, these are among the most significant:
Calypso dates back to pre-Emancipation times, when slaves created songs as a form of praise or derisive social commentary, and rose to international popularity in the 1930s–50s. Soca — calypso’s up-tempo progeny born in the 70s and incorporating Indian musical influences — is the islands’ party music. Some hits have become international sensations.
Serious liming & partying
If there’s one thing Trinis take seriously, it’s partying. Our reputation as the party animals of the Caribbean has been hardearned and we do our best to maintain it — at bars, rum shops, holes in the wall, and nightclubs.
Drink! Lounge & Bistro; More Vino; Smokey & Bunty’s; and Studio Lounge Around Port of Spain: HAZE; Katalyst; Luce; Old Havana Cigar Bar; Paprika; Queen’s Park Oval; Sails (Chaguaramas); Siam; Trotters; Tzar; Vas; and Zanzibar Heading east: Sandbaggers (Trincity); and Trevor’s Edge (St Augustine) Around San Fernando: Hi RPM; Privé; and Space La Nouba.
Tassa is a drum-driven music central to the Muslim festival of Hosay, but the drums are fused with other musical forms and celebrations year-round. Parang is Trinidad’s Christmas music, with origins in Venezuela, featuring instruments like the cuatro, box bass, and maracas, and lyrics usually sung in Spanish. Indigenous music is only the begin-
ning. Some of the most distinctive groups include fusion bands Freetown Collective, jointpop, and Kin Sound System; the rapso of 3canal; and local rock, and reggae, and jazz artists like Vaughnette Bigford. Groups like the Marionettes, Lydians, and Love Movement present western classical, opera, and Broadway, and are particularly popular at Christmas time.
courtesy the trinidad & tobago film festival (ttff)
Some of the most popular haunts are: Woodbrook & “De Avenue”: 51° Lounge; Coco Lounge;
Arts & entertainment
Visual arts Visual artists abound in Trinidad, with galleries constantly exhibiting the many talented painters who call this island home — Horizons, Medulla, Soft Box, Y Art Gallery, Fine Art Gallery. The most famous expats are Peter Doig and Chris Ofili (Turner Prize winner), while local names that collectors fawn over include Michel-Jean Cazabon and Boscoe Holder. Other names to look out for: MP Alladin, Sybil Atteck, Ralph and the late Vera Baney, Pat Bishop, Isaiah Boodhoo, Edward Bowen, Carlisle Chang, Leroy Clarke, Chris Cozier, Ken Crichlow, Jackie Hinkson, Paul Llanos, Dermot Louison, Che Lovelace, Shastri Maharaj, Wendy Nanan, Lisa O’Connor, Shalini Seereeram, Peter Sheppard, Irénée Shaw, Sundiata, Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, and Noel Vaucrosson.
Dance: all the right moves
Any opportunity we get, Trinis will start dancing. We are credited with inventing the limbo, after all. Originally an event at wakes, it was popularised by our own Julia Edwards, a dance pioneer who appeared in films like Fire Down Below (1957) and toured the world in the 1960s. Another one of our dance legends, Beryl McBurnie, founder of the Little Carib Theatre, was the first person to promote Caribbean dance internationally, to acclaimed dancer Katherine Dunham among others. McBurnie gave Dunham private lessons in the rhythms and dances of the region, including ritual Yoruba chants from Trinidad and dances such as the bongo — like the limbo, done at wakes — and kalinda, where stickfighting opponents dance (carre) in between exchanging blows.
Members of La Danse Caraibe perform at Queen’s Hall
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 listed for theatre (next page).
Theatre: our world onstage
Film & cinema
The film industry has long been earmarked for growth, and incentive and rebate programmes have made the islands an attractive location for filming. Work by locally-based and Caribbean diaspora artists are on show at the annual T&T Film Festival (see our Festivals section), and some get runs at local cinemas like MovieTowne and Caribbean Cinemas 8 locations, and IMAX in Port of Spain. The UWI Campus Film Classics and European Film Festival (usually in May) host special screenings of regional and foreign indie films. This page: a still from the locally produced feature film Green Days by the River, adapted from the Michael Anthony novel of the same name Opposite centre: some of Barbara Jardine’s creations in Y Gallery’s “Jewel Box Spectrum” exhibition
Arts & entertainment
Productions of both local and foreign musicals, plays, and experimental performances are staged by commercial outfits like RS/RR Productions and Raymond Choo Kong Productions; theatre departments at the Universities of the West Indies (UWI) and Trinidad & Tobago (UTT); and community theatre companies. There are stand-up comedy acts as well, plus a New Play Festival each October/ November. Look for shows at Queen’s Hall, the National Academy for Performing Arts (NAPA), Central Bank, Little Carib, Big Black Box, Trinidad Theatre Workshop (Port of Spain, which was founded by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott); CLR James Auditorium in the east; and Naparima Bowl and SAPA (the southern campus of the NAPA) in San Fernando.
Literature & books
Look out for works (spanning fiction, plays, poetry, local history, culture, and the environment) by Nobel laureates VS Naipaul and Derek Walcott, plus Michael Anthony, Gerard Besson, Lloyd Best, Angelo Bissessarsingh, CLR James, John La Rose, Earl Lovelace, Ian MacDonald, Elizabeth Nunez, Judy Raymond, Monique Roffey, Sam Selvon, Amanda Smyth, Julian Kenny, and former prime minister Eric Williams at bookstores like Paper Based and Nigel R Khan; and books and magazines by publishers like Paria and MEP (our publishers, who produce books of Caribbean interest under the imprint Prospect Press).
Some of the top names to look out for are CLD, Ecliff Elie, Adrian Foster, House of Jaipur, Heather Jones, K2K, the Lush Kingdom, Meiling, Millhouse, Claudia Pegus, Pilar, The Cloth, and the Wadada Movement. For those looking for breath-taking hand-crafted jewellery in precious metals and stones, check Chris Anderson, Gillian Bishop, Janice Derrick, Akilah Jaramogi, Barbara Jardine, Rachel Rochford, Rachel Ross, and Jasmine ThomasGirvan.
Fashion & jewellery
Non-stop shopping You 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 canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t find it in one of the major malls (Long Circular, The Falls at West Mall, Trincity, Gulf City, Grand Bazaar, South Park Shopping Centre, Centre Pointe Mall, Centre City Mall), itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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 (Green Market Santa Cruz, and UpMarket at the Woodbrook Youth Centre).
hatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all the fuss about? This is our annual street festival on the two days before Ash Wednesday; it takes over the capital, and all major towns. Indeed the whole country shuts down to party hearty (or enjoy two days off!).
Stay hydrated (water, coconut water and sports drinks are your friends); wear earplugs, and stylish trainers for covering long distances; and have a mobile to call for a pick-up just in case of emergency (ie you get tired, drunk, or both).
Playing a mas — pretty, or dirty
It’s all about the costumes, the pageantry, and the fetes… This is an all-out explosion of the senses, beginning with the all-inclusive band launches in July — where the limitless food and drinks recall the hedonistic French masquerade balls in the 19th century which, in part, gave birth to this festival. But the highlight for many visitors is actually getting down and dirty in the carnival. Literally. This means playing J’Ouvert, from the wee hours of Carnival Monday morning, covered in mud, oil, chocolate or body paint, dancing through the streets of Port of Spain to the rhythm of our music.
This page: a menacing blue devil intimidates the crowd
How to survive it
Opposite: a masquerader from K2K Alliance & Partners, three time Band of the Year (Medium)
From the big costume bands launches, you will hear the latest soca hits being played on the radio and in the fetes. On Carnival Friday, the artistes compete for huge cash prizes by performing for the International Soca Monarch title. Calypso, meanwhile, is best heard at calypso tents, numerous competitions through the season, and at Dimanche Gras on Carnival Sunday.
Steelpan This is the home of the only acoustic instrument invented in the 20th century, the steelpan. After the British colonial authorities banned the beating of African drums, the working class turned to the steel drums in which oil was stored. A highlight of the Carnival is Panorama, the battle of the steel orchestras for cash prizes and bragging rights. In the weeks before the finals, panyards across the country are filled with spectators and supporters listening to the players perfect their performance. The Queenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Park Savanahâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Big Stage is the arena where the battle is fought the Saturday before Carnival.
Opposite: a steelpan This page: a masquerader from The Lost Tribe
A deya lit for Divali
Bocas Lit Fest With headliners like Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James from Jamaica and our own Earl Lovelace (Commonwealth Writers Prize winner), the festival brings writers from around the region and further afield for readings, performances, workshops, discussions, and film screenings. Founded in 2011, and usually staged over the last week of April, the festival also hosts events year-round. bocaslitfest.com
COCO Dance festival
Organised by the Contemporary Choreographers Collective, this annual festival (October) brings together dancers and choreographers from around the region and North America to collaborate with the local dance communities and students.
Indian Arrival Day
This Hindu festival that signifies the triumph of good over evil is celebrated by the whole country, and everyone is welcome at the nightly lighting of deyas (clay pots with coconut oil and a wick), on often intricate bamboo structures in parks nationwide. Some families and neighbourhoods go all out and the sight of thousands of deyas and coloured lights decorating homes is something to behold. Preparations and rituals typically last five days, but the main festival night coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu calendar, usually between mid-October and mid-November. You will see families dressed in fabulous saris and shalwar on Divali night to light deyas and perform pujaÂ (prayers) to Lakshmi, the goddess of fertility and prosperity. Afterwards, a feast with lots of curried vegetables and roti, with Indian sweets as dessert, must follow. Ramleela is a nineday, outdoor festival dramatising the life of Rama, with colourful costumesâ&#x20AC;Śand an explosive finale! The best-known productions are held in Couva and Felicity in the days leading up to Divali.
This national public holiday (30 May) commemorates the arrival of the first indentured labourers from India on the Fatel Razack in 1845. More than 140,000 Indians were recruited over the next 70 years to work Trinidadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plantations after Emancipation. Communities re-enact the arrival on beaches, and there are cultural shows and performances; the Divali Nagar (near Chaguanas) hosts many key celebrations.
Divali and Ramleela
La Divina Pastora & Siparee Mai
In a church of the same name in Siparia stands a dark-skinned statue of the Virgin Mary as La Divina Pastora (the Divine Shepherdess). Many miracles have been attributed to her by ardent devotees. On the Thursday night and Friday before Easter, Hindu pilgrims visit the church with acts of devotion — recognising her as Siparee Mai (mother of Siparia), Durga, and Lakshmi. Most of all, she is just “mother”. And for her feast day (the third Sunday after Easter), the “Miracle Mother” is decorated by Catholics with flowers, dressed in white, and processed through the streets, followed by celebrations open to all.
This page: hands covered with colourful abir powder Opposite: the flambeaux street procession is a hallmark of Emancipation celebrations
Phagwa (Holi) Each March, the Hindu community recognises the beginning of the Indian spring and the Hindu New Year in a joyful explosion of colour. Participants — Hindus and non-Hindus alike — spray each other with different shades of the vegetable dye, abir. The Aranguez Savannah is a popular venue for this celebration of birth and renewal.
The exquisitely beautiful tadjahs that represent the tomb of Hussain, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, make this festival a hit every year. Five tadjahs (made of bamboo, wood, paper and tinsel) are paraded through the streets of St James — and other sites around the country like Cedros, Couva, Curepe, and Tunapuna — in commemoration of the martyrdom of Hussain in the year 680 AD. These miniature temples are about 3–6m/10–30ft tall. The procession is accompanied by the beating of tassa drums and two standards in the shape of half-moons — one red symbolising the blood of Hussain that was shed at Karbala, and one green for the poisoning of his brother Hassan. Observances takes place over three nights (Flag Night, Small Hosay, Big Hosay).
A public holiday is celebrated on 1 August to commemorate the end of slavery in the British colonies (1838), but events take place before and after the big day. Enjoy art exhibitions, film screenings, lectures, performances, religious observances, trade shows, and a vibrant street procession. The Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village at the Queen’s Park Savannah is the centre of the activities.
Santa Rosa Festival and First People’s Heritage Week With origins in both Trinidad’s First Peoples and Catholic traditions, the Santa Rosa Festival in Arima commemorates the death of Santa Rosa de Lima, the Roman Catholic patron saint of the “New World”. It begins with the firing of a cannon on 1 August from Calvary Hill, and ends with a procession on the Sunday following her feast day (23 August). A statue of the saint is carried through the streets by members of the island’s Santa Rosa First Peoples Community (led by the Carib Queen), alongside Roman Catholics. In October, the Community celebrates First Peoples Heritage Week, which includes academic conferences, ritual smoke and water ceremonies, street processions, and more.
Festivals In 2017, a ceremony was held at the Red House to honour indigenous ancestors whose skeletal remains were found under its foundations
T&T Film Festival
Local filmmakers get a chance to showcase their work at the annual T&T Film Festival, which takes place the third week in September and is the second largest film festival in the region. A packed schedule of shorts, features and documentaries from home-grown talent are shown alongside work from regional filmmakers. Educational initiatives, development programmes, and community film screenings happen not just during the festival, but all year long. ttfilmfestival.com
Golf Trinidad has three 18-hole courses (St Andrew’s Golf Club in Moka (pictured); Millennium Lakes in Trincity; and Petrotrin’s Pointe-à-Pierre Golf Club), and three nine-hole courses (Chaguaramas; Usine St Madeleine; and Brechin Castle in Caroni). T&T Golf Association: 629-7127
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 of T&T: 679-3276
The Queen’s Park Oval (Port of Spain) and the new stadium at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (Tarouba) host the nation’s Twenty/20, one-day, and Test matches. T&T Cricket Board: 636-1577
Cycling & mountain biking
The Easter International Grand Prix and National Championships are highlights of the racing calendar. 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
Dragon boat racing
This sport took off in Trinidad 10 years ago for Chinese Bicentennial celebrations; the national team since has won several medals at the World Championships. Regattas are organised by the T&T Dragon Boat Federation, mainly in Chaguaramas (Trinidad) and Pigeon Point (Tobago).
Rally and drag racing are both popular, with locations in south and central Trinidad like Couva and Preysal. Events are hosted by the T&T Rally Club (like the Championship Series and International Rally) and T&T United Drag Racing Association.
T&T has hosted the FIFA World (men’s) Under-17 championships and Women’s Under-17 world championships. It was also 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 (Tunapuna) stadia are the main venues. T&T Football Federation (TTFF): 623-9500
Swimming & aquatics
A new world-class National Aquatics Centre (Couva) opened in 2016. It is intended to be a hub for local sports including water polo and diving, and to attract international swim events as part of a sports tourism thrust. 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
The recently completed National Tennis Complex (Tacarigua) is the centrepiece of the sport, while there are also public courts at Nelson Mandela Park (St Clair), and courts for hourly rental at the Trinidad Country Club (Maraval) and some hotels. T&T Tennis Association: 625-3030
* * * * * * *
Stephen Ames: former world top 25 golfer with four major PGA titles, including victory over Tiger Woods at the Players Championship (2006) Ato Boldon: four-time Olympic medallist (2 silver, 2 bronze for 100m and 200m, 1996 and 2000), and 200m World Championship gold medallist (1997). Now a commentator with NBC in the US George Bovell III: nation’s first Olympic medallist in swimming (2004 bronze in 200m individual medley), among several other international medals Hasely Crawford: nation’s first Olympic gold medallist, winning men’s 100m (1976) Brian Lara: star cricketer and world record holder for the highest Test match score (400 not out, 2004) and highest first class score (501 not out, 1994) Jereem Richards: winner of 4x400m relay bronze at 2012 World Indoor Championships; and both bronze (200m) and gold (4x400 relay) medals at the 2017 World Championships Keshorn Walcott: two-time Olympic medallist (gold in 2012, bronze in 2016). He’s the youngest male athlete (and the first black one) to win gold in javelin; the first individual track and field athlete ever to win World Junior and Olympic titles in the same year; and he holds the North, Central American and Caribbean junior record Rodney Wilkes: nation’s first Olympic medallist (weightlifting silver in 1948, bronze in 1952).
Lopinot: green days by the river
he river lime is a family tradition, especially for the East Indian community. And no river lime is complete without a duck or two being curried and served with rice or roti. On weekends and public holidays, the banks of the Caura and Lopinot rivers are lined with bubbling pots. A popular hangout for locals on weekends and holidays, the Lopinot Historical Complex was once a sprawling cocoa estate that belonged to a French count (the Compte de Lopinot). He fled the Haitian Revolution in 1800 and set up camp here (there are still ghost stories about him riding his horse on full moon nights). This community of farmers can trace their roots back to the First Peoples, French,
Beaches & rivers and Spaniards. At Christmas, the Spanish link is celebrated with a parang festival. Lopinotâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s river meanders for miles, with numerous pools along the way where one can wallow in the cold, clear water beneath the forest canopy. A small museum and historical complex showcase artefacts from the days of slavery. Opposite the playing field, CafĂŠ Mariposa serves cocoa ice cream and other cocoainspired dishes, with a guesthouse for nature lovers who want to explore the nearby caves or go birdwatching.
hile Tobago’s beaches are calm, Trinidad’s waters tend to be a little more “eventful”, with bigger, more powerful waves and rugged cliffs or dramatic mountain backdrops. There’s the popular Maracas Beach (currently undergoing a facelift), the spot for bake and shark (although the sharks are now endangered) smothered in sauces and topped with pineapple, cucumbers, tomato, and lettuce. More sustainable alternatives to shark include flying fish, mahi mahi, squid/calamari, carite, tilapia, or lionfish.
Sunrise at the ever-popular Maracas beach
Beaches & rivers
courtesy tdc credit
The Nariva river meets the sea near Manzanilla
Next along the coast is the wide expanse of Tyrico Bay, a favourite with families, as is Las Cuevas, the next beauty along the north coast. The caves here are part of the attraction; thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also a car park, changing facilities and snack bar. Walk with insect repellent for the sand flies and mosquitoes. The long and rugged stretch of beach at Blanchisseuse is another favourite along the north coast, especially for surfers. At the end of the bay, the Marianne River is a prime spot for kayaking. Saly-
Beaches & rivers bia and Sans Souci in the northeast are also magnets for surfers. In the south, Mayaro (a very long beach thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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.
Over the top: Saut d’Eau The trek to Saut d’Eau beach is long and difficult, but worth it. The only way to get there is through Paramin and down the side of the mountain via a dirt path. You can take a jeep or walk to the top of the mountain known as Barre La Vigie (patois for lookout point or crow’s nest), which reaches 550m/1,800ft. Saut d’Eau Beach is directly across from Saut d’Eau Island, a sanctuary for pelicans and rare bird species. The clear, cool waters of the bay are the perfect pick-me-up after the hike. A 9m/30ft waterfall cascades into the sea, with others nearby. The return climb to the summit is even more testing, but the views from the top, like the one pictured here, will make you feel like a champion when you get there.
The great Icacos lagoon is bisected by a narrow road leading to the CGA Ltdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coconut estate and further to the town of Icacos
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Only go with a reputable guide, know your limits, and always stay with your group Always carry water, food and first aid supplies, and some dry clothes, in a waterproof bag Black clothing is the hottest, and attracts mosquitoes. Wear long trousers for bush treks, and comfortable, waterproof shoes with good grip — no open-toed sandals And as the saying goes: take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints…!
Courtesy coconut growers’ association
Like bats out of hell: Tamana Caves
The Tamana Bat Caves in the Central Range are home to an estimated 1.5 million bats. One for every Trini, with extras. Mt Tamana itself (313m/1,009ft) was revered as a sacred mountain by the Guarahoons (one of the First Peoples). Eleven of the 67 species of the island’s nocturnal bats can be found in these caves, including vampire, fruit, and insect bats. At dusk, they all stream out of the caves en masse to feed. Thousands zip past you per second. It’s a fairly easy hike through old coffee estates; wear long pants and sneakers.
The rare golden tree frog is only found at the summits of our highest peaks
Go for gold: El Tucuche The rare golden tree frog is found only in two places: Venezuela and Trinidad. Locally you can find them in three remote spots: the summits of El Tucuche, Aripo, and Morne Bleu Ridge in the Northern Range. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, this endemic species is critically endangered due to its severely restricted habitat and fragmented distribution in the montane forest and elfin woodlands. At 937m/3,072ft, the peak of El Tucuche is a serious hike with potential hazards, especially in the rainy season. But the
views are stunning (from both of its peaks!). And you might just spot a golden tree frog hiding in a giant bromeliad. Plus there are toucans, mountain crabs, howler monkeys, cicadas, hummingbirds, and other rare species. Recommended starting time: 7am Distance: 6.5km/4 miles each way Duration: 8–12 hours return Level of difficulty: Strenuous Hiking boots or trail shoes recommended. Be prepared for rain, so use waterproof hiking sacks or bags, plus an extra set of clothes and a towel for afterwards.
Waterfalls & more popular hikes
The Northern Range is full of glorious waterfalls for those willing to walk a mile or two into the forest. Some of the most spectacular are Maracas, Paria, Avocat, Rincon and Three Pools. In the west, there is Edith Falls (see our Chaguaramas section), and in the east, Rampanalgas and Rio Seco. Here’s how to get to some of them. Fondes Amandes (St Ann’s): The Community Reforestation Project provides forest tours that range from quick and gentle to more intermediate Madamas Bay (north coast): It’ll take you roughly 3 hours from Matelot or 5 hours from Blanchisseuse. A beach, river, waterfall, and turtles (in season) await. Intense Maracas Falls (Northern Range): 30–45 minute trek; Trinidad’s tallest waterfall (91m/299ft). Gentle Paria Bay (north coast): It’ll take you roughly 2 hours from Blanchisseuse to Turtle Rock then Cathedral Rock/Paria Arch. A pristine white sand beach, turtles (in season), and nearby waterfall are your reward. Also accessible via Brasso Seco. Intermediate Rio Seco Falls (Salybia): Part of the Matura National Park, a 45–60 minute hike brings you to the falls, and a natural swimming pool. Gentle Turure Water Steps (Cumaca): after about 60 minutes, you’ll be bathing in the pools at these unique natural limestone “steps”. Intermediate
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Eco experiences: seeing green
efore it was an island, Trinidad was part of the South American mainland, so its environment is both Caribbean and continental. Thousands of species thrive in the lush Northern and Central Ranges, while the south is continually invaded by animals washed down from the Orinoco in Venezuela, or in transit, as in the case of migratory birds. During the rainy season, the place seethes with life â&#x20AC;&#x201D; flowers in sidewalks, bromeliads on electricity wires, birds everywhere. This tiny island (a mere 60km by 80km) is host to the greatest number of species for its size in the West Indies: 108 species of mammals; a growing number of recorded bird species (well over 400); 55 reptiles; 25 amphibians; and 617 butterflies. Few places in the world match Trinidad for biodiversity.
T&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 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the vulnerable leatherback and olive ridley; the endangered green and loggerhead; and the critically endangered hawksbill. The leatherback, hawksbill, and green turtle nest on
This page: a giant leatherback turtle makes her way back to sea after nesting at Las Cuevas Opposite: green turtles can often be seen on sea grass beds where they feed
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 turtle practises the timeless “family tradition” of returning to the place where she was born to nest. 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 year, generally 1 March–31 August. 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 pipingguan 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 purchased to visit nesting sites. These can be arranged through authorised tour guides (Nature Seekers: 668-7337, Grande Rivière Nature Tour Guide Association: 670-4257/469-1288), local accommodation, or directly at Forestry Division offices.
Don’t use light or flash photography, which can disorient turtles; only infrared light should be used Do not approach or touch turtles, and stay out of their field of vision. Keep movements and noise to a minimum Campfires, driving, staking any object (like umbrellas), and building sandcastles on nesting beaches can destroy nests and kill hatchlings hidden in the sand Litter can trap hatchlings, and suffocate turtles if it enters the sea (they mistake plastic bags for jellyfish).
Hollis Dam Here in the hills of north Trinidad, spot swallow-tailed kites, golden-headed manakins, bay-headed tanager, blue-headed parrot, the rare blue and yellow macaw.
The Heights of Aripo
Three or four valleys east of the Arima–Blanchisseuse Road, leading to the highest point on the island (El Cerro del Aripo), you will find the blue-headed parrot, the grey-headed kite and the squirrel cuckoo, and rare visiting warblers such as the bay-breasted, black-throated blue, and blackpoll warblers.
A birder’s guide
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. You can stay on the road and easily record 60 species on a single outing. Here’s where you’ll want to head.
Asa Wright Nature Centre This 1,500-acre sanctuary in the Arima Valley was one of the first nature centres to be set up in the Caribbean, offering a chance to see dozens of hummingbirds, tanagers, honeycreepers, and bananaquits feeding up close. The main centre and guesthouse are located on a former cocoa-coffee-citrus plantation. Trails through the rain forest bring you close to all sorts of wildlife, from trapdoor spiders and woodpeckers to blue emperor (morpho) butterflies. 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)
This page: the rare oilbird is the only nocturnal, fruiteating bird in the world. Asa Wright has the country’s most accessible colony of them, while Cumaca (pictured) has the country’s largest Opposite: blue and yellow macaws were successfully re-introduced to Trinidad in the early 2000s after being extirpated by habitat loss and the pet trade
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 (667-4655). Entrance fee for non-residents of T&T: adults US$10; children 12 years and under US$6. Residents: adults TT$30; children TT$15
Top right: Amethyst woodstar hummingbird at Yerette (this tiny bird first appeared in Trinidad in 2015) Bottom: Black-throated mango hummingbird
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Top left: Green honeycreeper at Asa Wright
This picture: Scarlet ibis (Trinidadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s national bird) in the Caroni Bird Sanctuary
For the birders
Below: White-tailed trogons at Asa Wright
For a more intimate experience of the hummingbird, spend a couple of hours at the home of Theo and Gloria Ferguson in Maracas, St Joseph. Their garden has a spectacular view of the Northern Range. Sit on the porch and enjoy juices, meals and pastries for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea alongside purple honeycreepers and hummingbirds. 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 collection of photos for sale, and a slide show about the tiny acrobats. 663-2623, yerettett.com This page: Long-billed starthroat hummingbird Opposite: an American flamingo flies over Caroni Swamp
A birder’s guide
Yerette, Home of the Hummingbird
Pointe-à-Pierre Wildfowl Trust This is an oasis of ponds surrounded by green forest, set within the sprawling grounds of an oil refinery complex. It’s home to rare ducks, water lilies and lotus blossoms, cormorants, caimans, parakeets and peacocks. Researchers and birders can learn about efforts to reintroduce endangered wetland birds to their natural habitat. Small boats take you out on the two ponds, where you can photograph the whistling tree duck, kiskidee, purple gallinule, scarlet ibis, blue and gold macaw, wild muscovy duck, green heron, yellow-hooded blackbird, pied water tyrant, cardinal, ringed kingfisher, black skimmer, grey hawk, and the snakebird (or anhinga). A boardwalk along the first pond can be accessed by wheelchairs and baby strollers. An on-site learning centre houses a small First Peoples museum, and there is a full-service guesthouse. Advance bookings required: 658-4200 ext 2512, papwildfowltrust.org
Bush Bush Sanctuary and Nariva Swamp Turn off the Manzanilla main road at Kernahan Trace and within 15 minutes be in full-on swampland, complete with capuchin and red howler monkeys, blue and gold macaws, and toucans. Bush Bush is a protected island within the largest freshwater wetland in the Caribbean. 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 (being without a permit in the reserve is punishable by a fine). Make sure to wear insect repellent, long pants, and light colours.
Winston Nanan Caroni Bird Sanctuary home here alongside snakes (boas) in trees, crabs and snails. Species spotted include the straight-billed woodcreeper, red-capped cardinal, juvenile night heron, pigmy kingfisher, tropical screechowl, common potoo, flamingo, osprey, great grey heron, and the great egret. 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. For the serious birder, a private tour can be arranged with a reputable guide. 755-7826, caronibirdsanctuary.com
A must on every birder’s list, this is the protected breeding grounds of the national bird, the scarlet ibis. Now renamed in honour of the veteran guide and conservationist, it’s located off the north-south highway a few miles outside of Port of Spain and just west of the airport. You will find the boats parked up and waiting (adults TT$50, children $35); most leave at 4pm. Within minutes the sound of cars fades and you enter the eerie silence of the swamp. Mangrove channels create a dramatic backdrop for the 100 species of birds that make their
The Christ the Redeemer statue at Mount St Benedict
Architecture & built heritage
he island’s history and its once extraordinary wealth are built into its varied architecture. One former great house from the days of sugar and cocoa plantations is the Boissiere Estate House in Maraval, now the Trinidad Country Club, and you’ll find mansions and public buildings in the popular early 19th-century neo-classical style like the Port of Spain General Hospital. Governor Ralph Woodford also sponsored the construction of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (built 1816–1832) on Independence Square, and the Holy Trinity Cathedral on Woodford Square (completed 1818 in the Gothic Revival style); nearby is the Red House, once the seat of our parliament and now undergoing restoration works. The 20th century brought various contemporary architectural styles, including art deco (Treasury Building on Independence Square), and later the modernist movement and post-modern architecture. Here are some treasured buildings and sites, with much to recommend them beyond their architecture.
Mount St Benedict on a Sunday at its cosy tea house. You can have scones and coffee while you admire the mountains from the back porch, where feeders attract hummingbirds at close range. The complex is a quiet retreat for birders and walkers, but be sure to go on the trails in groups or with a guide.
This 600-acre property has a commanding view of the central plains from its perch at 245m/800ft in the Northern Range; you can see as far south as San Fernando. Founded in 1912, it is the oldest Benedictine monastery in the Caribbean. Early morning mass is still a must for Catholic devotees, as is afternoon tea
The Temple in the Sea at Waterloo A monument to the human spirit, this Hindu mandir (pictured above) stands on the edge of the Gulf of Paria, on mudflats jutting out into the sea. Sewdass Sadhu â&#x20AC;&#x201D; an indentured immigrant sugar worker from India â&#x20AC;&#x201D; used to save his meagre wages and return to India every few years to worship at the holy shrines there. As the cost of the pilgrimage became too much, he decided to build a temple in Trinidad instead. Banned from building a temple on land by the British colonial authorities, he spent many years laboriously carrying bricks, cement and sand to the unused swampland offshore, laying the foundation for what would become a beautiful beacon for all. After he died in 1970, it was left in the hands of the sea, until 1994 whenÂ work began on restoring his temple. A year later it was finally reopened, and a statue of him now stands watch over his work of the heart.
Hanuman Murti (statue) & Dattatreya Yoga Centre
Donated by an Indian swami, this 26m/85ft statue of Hanuman (the Hindu monkey god of strength) is reputed to be the tallest of its kind outside India. It towers above the adjoining Dattatreya Yoga Centre in Carapachaima.
The “Magnificent Seven”
Architecture & built heritage
These colonial-era homes on the northwestern edge of the Queen’s Park Savannah are in varying degrees of repair and use, reflecting their 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, law association headquarters); Roomor (1904, private home); the Roman Catholic Archbishop’s residence (1903); Whitehall (1907); and Killarney or Stollmeyer’s Castle (1904).
Stollmeyer’s Castle was built in 1904
Chaguaramas The Chaguaramas National Heritage Park in Trinidad’s northwestern peninsula is just 20 minutes from Port of Spain (with no traffic, of which there is a lot on weekends and public holidays). Home to the wondrous Tucker Valley, hikers, bikers, explorers, bird watchers, hashers, archers, and golfers all have their place in “Chag”, as it’s affectionately called. In addition to the emerald green waters of popular Macqueripe Bay (which is scheduled for upgrade works in 2018), the lush rain forests of the valley are crisscrossed with nature trails. Howler monkeys can be heard in the forest canopy and pairs of green parrots often pass. The Covigne River trail passes through nutmeg groves and along a tributary of the Cuesa River uphill through a gorge. Along the way, you will pass abandoned cocoa, coffee, and nutmeg plantations. The trail ends at a waterfall with a plunge pool.
Easy day trips
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 see stands of majestic bamboo, heliconias, rubber trees and fishtail palms, and hear red howler monkeys (pictured) in the forest canopy along the trail. If you decide to hike on your own, inform the Chaguaramas Development Authority (225-4232, chaguaramas.com) Recent development in Chag is not without controversy for those who fiercely want to preserve the natural environment, rustic charm, and tranquillity of this
treasured heritage park. But that hasn’t deterred those who enjoy the area’s latest man-made attractions, including the 1,400ft of beachfront walkway known as the Boardwalk; gazebos are available for private get-togethers, while pedal-boat rides will keep the kids happy — as will the Five Islands Waterpark, and Safari Eco Park.
With views of both forest and sea, ZIP-ITT has seven lines (one passes over Macqueripe Beach) and five canopy walks (net bridges) among the trees of Tucker Valley, where you might spot a howler monkey or two as you zip by. TT$120 • 303-7755
Down de Islands (DDI)
Just off the northwest coast of Trinidad, several smaller islands have become beloved escapes. Many wealthy families have holiday homes here. Pirogues and
fishing boats leave from marinas along the coastline, where hundreds of yachts and speed boats are stored. In the distance you can see mountains — the nearby coastline of Venezuela. There are the Five Islands (Caledonia, Craig, Lenagan, Rock and Nelson, which was where East Indian immigrants were quarantined when they arrived by boat); Diego Islands (Carrera, a prison island, and Cronstadt); Gaspar Grande; Gasparilo Island (aka Centipede); Monos; Huevos; and Chacachacare (which was once a leper colony). These islands were originally the ceremonial grounds of the First Peoples. They were later occupied by the Spanish. Chacachacare has saltwater ponds, ruins and a still-functioning lighthouse. On Gaspar Grande, the jetty at Point Baleine was once a whaling station. This is the home of the underground Gasparee caves, which are accessed via a staircase. Here you will find stalagmites and a still pool known as the Blue Grotto, with its “sunroof”.
Family friendly fun Queen’s Park Savannah This 260-acre park holds a very special place in the Trini heart. Originally part of the Peschier family’s Paradise Estate, a portion of land in the centre remains a burial ground; it was converted into a city park in 1817. The Caribbean’s oldest recreation ground — and reported to be the world’s largest roundabout at approximately 3.5km/2.2 miles — the Savannah is popular for sports, kite-flying (especially around Easter), walking/jogging, and food/drink vendors. On the northern side, you will find the Emperor Valley Zoo (founded in 1947, tel: 622-5344) and the Botanical Gardens (established in 1820). Here you can relax among one of the oldest collections of
exotic plants and trees in the Western Hemisphere. Children especially will enjoy seeing the zoo’s rare white Bengali tigers, lions and giraffes, and a chimpanzee who likes to watch TV. Across from the Savannah on the southeastern side is the Memorial Park and the iconic National Academy for the Performing Arts. Next door is the National Museum & Art Gallery, home to a permanent collection of 10,000 items in galleries focusing on art, social history, natural history, economic history, petroleum and geology, and 19th-century painter Michel-Jean Cazabon, as well as a small gallery dedicated to carnival arts.
Zoology Museum (University of the West Indies) Some 70,000 animal specimens are preserved here — reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, corals, crustaceans, and molluscs — with smaller collections of mammals and birds. The majority are from T&T, the rest from around the region. Among them is a collection from the Banwari site in south Trinidad, excavated in 1969–70. Dating back to 6000–4350 BC, this site is the earliest human settlement in Trinidad and probably the Caribbean, based on the items found — hand-stones, grinding slabs, arrows, awls, needles, a probable weaving tool, and an axe. The oldest human skeleton ever found in the Caribbean was also unearthed, and Banwari Man is also on display at the museum.
Mud volcanos These geological wonders can be found mainly in the south of the island. Piparo: Also known as Morne Roche, this volcano (111m/365ft, 425 acres) last erupted in 1997, spewing mud hundreds of feet in the air and forcing an evacuation of the area. Devil’s Woodyard (Indian Walk): Majestic teak trees line the road to the site. A paved walkway takes you straight to the dozen small cones from which grey mud bubbles up. Concrete huts with tables and benches and other seating make this is a great place for a picnic. Large playground at one end of the park.
Digity Trace (Debe): Rising 6m/20ft in the air, you can climb up surrounding paths to get a look inside the mouth. It is more active during the rainy season. A second volcano, flat in shape, is located a short distance away. For those willing to try, you can scoop up some and make a much-touted DIY beauty treatment — a mud mask… Other volcanoes can be found at L’Eau Michel, Lagon Bouffe, Anglais Point, Erin, Chatam, Columbia Estate, Fullarton, Cedros, Galfa, Los Eros, Tabaquite, Cascadoux Trace, and Manzanilla.
Pitch Lake at La Brea
One of the three largest natural deposits of asphalt in the world, it’s deceptively boring to look at — like a giant empty parking lot. But it’s what’s beneath that counts. This tar baby, nestled near the southwestern coast, is a natural wonder. Estimated to contain 10 million tonnes of asphalt, and spanning 109 acres, the lake’s asphalt has been used to pave roads and airport runways. Pools formed by rain contain high levels of sulphur, which are good for the skin and joints. An important aspect of earth’s history, the lake holds deep secrets about the formation of oil and gas. 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.
Built in 1804, this “virgin fort” (which never saw military action) offers a magnificent panoramic view from 335m/1,100ft above Port of Spain; its original cannon, cannon balls, 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
Valencia Eco-Resort A 10-acre estate in the east, in the foothills of the Northern Range (half-hour drive from the airport). Hundreds of fruit trees including the now rare balata, plus caimate, tamarind, sapodilla and cashew, to name a few; with attendant flocks of birds and butterflies. Enjoy aerobics, archery, basketball, cricket, volleyball, football, table tennis and billiards, plus a universal gym. Fish for tilapia in the pond, cook in an outdoor carat shed or take a cool dip in the river (or the 2,000 square foot swimming pool). Also in the mix: peacocks, geese, parrots, guinea fowls, turkeys, ducks, tortoises, rabbits and monkeys. 731-6774, valenciaecoresort.com The view over Port of Spain from Fort George
Angostura Museum and Barcant Butterfly Collection
The Barcant collection, the only one of its kind in the region, comprises more than 5,000 butterflies (700 species, including the blue emperor) in a re-created tropical forest. Children will thrill at the sight of the butterflies and sounds of nature as they walk through the “mountains of the Northern Range”. Angostura bought the collection in 1974 and it has been at the company’s compound (Eastern Main Road, Port of Spain) since. You can also take a tram tour introducing you to the 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, email@example.com
Considered sacred by the Warao of the Orinoco Delta, it is known as Naparima Hill by our First Peoples, who believe it is home to one of their supreme spirits and also to their ancestor-hero, the maker of the first canoe. From the top you have a superb view of the heavily populated southern capital and surrounding areas. With free admission, lots of parking, visitor facilities, benches, picnic huts and a play park, the hill is a popular liming spot for families and a top event venue in the second city.
Family friendly fun
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s always, some dates/events are subject to change or cancellation. And for more on many of these celebrations, see our Festivals pages pages on pg 30 (Trinidad) and pg 125 (Tobago).
January * ** *
1 (public holiday): New Year’s Day Carnival season begins (see full schedule of events on ncctt.org) 28: National Panorama Semi-finals (Trinidad) Carnival Educative Arts Festival & Carnival Caravan (Tobago) Trinidad & Tobago International Marathon (Trinidad)
Carnival season continues (see full schedule of events on ncctt.org) 9: Dragon Festival (Trinidad) 10: National Panorama Finals (Trinidad) 11: Dimanche Gras (Trinidad) 12 & 13: J’Ouvert, Carnival Monday and Tuesday 16: Chinese New Year (year of the dog) Tobago Carnival Regatta Talk Tent (calypso and comedy, Trinidad)
17: Jazz Artists on the Greens (jaotg.com, Trinidad) 30 (public holiday): Good Friday 31 (public holiday): Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day — commemorating the 1951 repeal of the colonial-era Shouters Prohibition Ordinance (1917), effectively banning this Christian and Orisha syncretic religion. The Baptists are also referred to as Shouter Baptists and Shango Baptists Phagwah (Holi) Tobago Game Fishing Tournament Pigeon Peas Festival (Trinidad) Turtle nesting season begins
April * * * * * * *
2 (public holiday): Easter Monday 25–29: Bocas Lit Fest — the Trinidad & Tobago literary festival Point Fortin Borough Day (Trinidad) — full week of J’Ouvert, mas, pan and parties leading up to the big street party Rally Trinidad Tobago Jazz Experience La Divina Pastora (Siparia, Trinidad) Tobago Fashion Coda
June * * * * * * * * * *
15 (public holiday): Eid-ul-Fitr — The most widely recognised of our Islamic observances, Eid marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, celebrated in homes and mosques 19 (public holiday): Labour Day — marked by trade union marches and gatherings in Fyzabad, Trinidad Ganga Dhaara: Hindu river festival honouring the descent of India’s sacred River Ganges (Blanchisseuse, Trinidad) Tobago Dragon Boat Festival Rainbow Cup International Triathlon (Tobago) Salsa Fiesta (Trinidad) WeBeat Festival (Trinidad) Bloody Bay Fest (Tobago) Charlotteville Fisherman’s Festival (Tobago) Junior Tobago Heritage Festival
19 & 20: Sea to Sea Marathon (Tobago) 30 (public holiday): Indian Arrival Day 31 (public holiday): Corpus Christi T&T Fashion Week 2TFW Maypole Festival (Tobago) European Film Festival (Trinidad) Decibel Entertainment Conference & Expo (Trinidad)
* * * * * * *
This page: Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day is celebrated in March Opposite: Shynel Brizan, D Jab Queen, plays Maman Brigitte with Touch D Sky — a band of moko jumbies
Calendar of events discovertnt.com
* * * * *
Calendar of events
15–1: Tobago Heritage Festival Great Fete Weekend (Tobago) Mango Festival (Trinidad) Opera Festival (Trinidad) Carnival band launch season begins (through September/ October) Motor Rally (Tobago) Trade & Investment Convention (Trinidad)
August * * * * * * * * * * * * *
1 (public holiday): Emancipation Day 31 (public holiday): Independence Day — commemorates the islands’ independence from Britain in 1962, featuring a parade of the protective services; national awards; and fireworks Moruga Heritage Day Festival (Trinidad) Restaurant Week (Tobago) Arima Borough Day (Trinidad) Santa Rosa Festival (Trinidad) Castara Fisherman’s Fete (Tobago) Oshun River Festival (Trinidad) — marked by Orisha devotees celebrating the goddess of love, fertility and inland waters Angostura Bitter Rivals Contest (Trinidad) Pan on d’ Avenue (Woodbrook, Trinidad) Great Race (Trinidad & Tobago) Independence Cup Horse Racing at Santa Rosa (Trinidad) Steelband Month
* * * * * * *
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 Restaurant Week (Trinidad) Angostura Rum Festival (Trinidad) Derby Horse Racing Classics (Trinidad) Tobago International Cycling Classic Maracas Open Water Swim (Trinidad) Parang Season opens
October * * * * * * * *
Hosay (Trinidad) Blue Food Festival (Tobago) Ramleela Festival (Trinidad) Steelpan & Jazz Festival (Trinidad) Santa Rosa First People’s Heritage Week COCO Dance Festival (Trinidad) Calypso History Month Chinese Arrival Dragon Boat Festival (Trinidad)
November * * *
TBC (public holiday): Divali International Surf Festival (Trinidad) Green Screen: The Environmental Film Festival (Trinidad)
December * * *
25 (public holiday): Christmas Day 26 (public holiday): Boxing Day Paramin Parang Festival (Trinidad)
This page: the maracas or chac-chacs are one of the key instruments in parang music
Opposite: Independence Day fireworks in the Queen’s Park Savannah
Getting to T&T
Aeropostal, Air Canada Rouge, American Airlines, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Copa, Condor, Conviasa, JetBlue, LIAT, Surinam Airways, Thomas Cook, United, Virgin Atlantic, and WestJet service T&T. Charter flights also operate
Airports * *
Trinidad: Piarco International Airport (27km/17 miles from Port of Spain) Tobago: ANR Robinson International Airport (10km/7 miles from Scarborough)
* * *
You will need to show a passport valid for three months beyond your intended stay Non-residents must have documentation for return or onward travel and a local address Visas are generally not required for visits up to 30 days, but double-check with your airline or travel agent before leaving
Unless you are being met privately, take an authorised taxi from the airport to your destination, confirming the fare in advance (a list of fares is displayed in the arrivals area). If in doubt, check the taxi dispatcher Authorised private taxis have licence plates beginning with “H” (for “Hire”), and are not metered
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) In Trinidad, check in with Customs & Immigration at CrewsInn in Chaguaramas In Tobago, check in with Customs & Immigration in Scarborough or Charlotteville Chaguaramas in Trinidad is the hub of yachting activity, with sheltered anchorage (Yachting Association) and strings of maintenance and repair yards, marinas and essential services
* * *
Several cruise lines visit Trinidad and Tobago, mostly out of Miami between November and April, including Carnival, Crystal, Fred Olsen, HapagLloyd, Holland America, MSC, Oceania Cruises, MV Adriana, NYK, P&O, Princess, Regent, Seven Seas, Saga, Seabourn, Silver Whisper, Windstar, and World Odyssey
Getting around in T&T
Taxis NB: Public taxis (bearing “H” number plates) are not metered, so confirm the fare in advance Private taxis: available at the airports and through the larger hotels, as well as apps like Uber and the local Drop. Companies are also listed in the Yellow Pages
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 Chaguanas, San Fernando and Scarborough. Tickets ($2–12) or travel cards must be bought before boarding
Car rentals *
Local and international rental companies operate in both islands and at both airports
“Route taxis” (cars registered as taxis) and maxi-taxis (12- to 25-seat minibuses with brightly coloured bands) work specific routes, picking up and dropping off passengers anywhere along the way. They have designated stands in Port of Spain, San Fernando, Chaguanas, Scarborough and other main towns
Inter-island ferry service (Port of Spain–Scarborough) operated by Port Authority (ttitferry.com), with the
fastest ferries taking 2.5 hours. Tickets, which can be booked online: $100 return (adults); $50 (children under 12); free for children under three and senior citizens (65+); and $200 one way/$350 return for adults traveling with a vehicle Trinidad Water Taxi: west coast service operated by the National Infrastructure Development Company (nidco.co.tt). Single journeys are 30–45 minutes. Tickets $15 (adults), while infants under the age of one travel free, 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$48 round trip (roughly 20 minutes each way)
Money matters * * *
Money: ABMs (ATMs) and credit/debit cards are routinely used Currency: Trinidad & Tobago dollar (TT$); US$1= approximately TT$6.8 (floating exchange rate) Taxes: 10% room tax + 10% service at hotels; 12.5% VAT (value added tax) on most goods and services
Driving * * *
Driving: on the left. Seatbelts are required by law Speed limits: Trinidad 80kph (50mph) on highways, 55kph (34mph) in settled areas; Tobago 50kph (32mph) Driving permits: visitors can drive for up to 90 days on a valid foreign/ international licence
Utilities * *
Electricity: 115v/230v, 60Hz Water: tap water is safe to drink (boil to be doubly sure); bottled water is widely available
Communications * * *
Country phone code: +1 868 Mobile telephones: bmobile (TSTT) and Digicel operate on GSM networks; SIM cards are available for unlocked phones WiFi: available at several hotspots, hotels, restaurants and malls in Trinidad & Tobago. Some PTSC buses also provide the facility
Visitor Info 82
Take practical precautions when travelling: note emergency numbers; always lock your room/house/vehicle (including windows); donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wear expensive jewellery, and conceal/secure valuables; move in groups where possible; avoid deserted locations, and be aware of your surroundings. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re on the road, buckle up, and drive defensively
Emergency contacts * * * * * * * *
Ambulance (public hospitals): 811 Coast Guard: 634-4440, 634-8824, 634-4439 EMS (emergency medical services): 624-4343 (north Trinidad), 653-4343 (south/central Trinidad), 639-4444 (Tobago) Hyperbaric medical facility (decompression chamber, Roxborough, Tobago): 660-4369 Fire Services: 990 Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) Emergency: 511 Police Service: in Trinidad, 999 or 555; in Tobago, 639-2520 or 639-5590 Tobago Emergency Relief: 211
Tourism contacts * * *
Division of Tourism, Tobago: 639-2125, visittobago.gov.tt Immigration Division: 625-3571 (Trinidad), 639-2681 (Tobago), immigration.gov.tt Tourist information offices: 6390509 (Crown Point Airport); 635-0934 (Cruise Ship Complex, Tobago); 669-5196 (Piarco Airport)
The view from Paramin of Port of Spain with the lights of Point Lisas visible across the Gulf of Pariah
Trinidad & Tobago Tourism Industry Certification (TTTIC)
Industry stakeholders (eg accommodation providers, tour guides/operators, vehicle rental and ground transport providers, and dive facilities) that are part of the TTTIC programme have been audited by the Trinidad & Tobago Bureau of Standards. Approved providers display the TTTIC logo.
T&T in a nutshell
National capital: Port of Spain Tobago capital: Scarborough
* * *
Tropical. Dry season January–May, wet June–December The islands are just south of the main hurricane belt (11°N, 61°W) Temperature range: 72–95°F (22– 35°C); average 83°F (29°C)
Trinidad: El Cerro del Aripo (940m/3,085ft) Tobago: Main Ridge (549m/1,860ft)
* * *
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
Visitor Info Time zone *
Atlantic Standard Time year-round (GMT/UTC -4, EST +1)
Government * * 84
Trinidad & Tobago is a parliamentary democracy; elections have been held regularly since self-government in 1956 President: Anthony Carmona
* * * *
Prime Minister: Dr Keith Rowley Ruling party: the People’s National Movement (PNM) Official opposition: United National Congress (UNC) Opposition leader: Kamla PersadBissessar
Official language *
Population & demographics * * * *
Population: 1.4 million (Tobago approx 61,000) Ethnicities: 35% of Indian descent, 34% of African descent, 23% mixed Religions: 22% Roman Catholic, 32% Christian (including Anglican), 18% Hindu, 5% Muslim Urban populations: Port of Spain 37,000 (nearly 600,000 between Chaguaramas and Arima); Chaguanas 84,000; San Fernando 49,000; Scarborough 17,000
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 Key indicators (2016): GDP per capita approx US$16,000; unemployment rate 3.9%. The economy contracted by 2.3% for 2016, and was expected to grow by less than 1% for 2017
Sustainable tourism tips
Buy local goods and souvenirs Mind your gas (petrol): choose the smallest vehicle to suit your needs; drive within the speed limit; don’t let your car idle; keep your tires inflated; try to carpool; and when you can, walk or cycle Recycle: plastic, glass, cans, paper, cardboard, and e-waste are all recyclable locally through bins at various locations, or through collections Reduce: turn off electrical devices when you don’t need them; avoid plastic bags and styrofoam; buy and consume only what you need; reuse when you can.
2 PROVIDE 3
Details on Passenger/Vehicle
Provide Credit Card Information
Ferry Tickets and Present at Check In
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, claims island for Spanish and names it after Catholic Holy Trinity 1596: Tobago claimed by British 1627–50: Courlanders settle Tobago’s west coast near Plymouth, and Dutch the east 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 development begins
1834–38: slavery abolished in the British Empire, leading to apprenticeship (1834) then emancipation (1838) 1834–1917: indentured labour imported to Trinidad from other islands, China, Portugal, Syria, Lebanon, and India 1857: first oil well drilled in Trinidad near Pitch Lake 1889–98: Tobago merged with Trinidad; Tobago Assembly disbanded 1908: commercial oil production begins in southern Trinidad 1914: first calypso recorded in Trinidad 1925: first national elections (limited franchise)
1797: Trinidad captured by Sir Ralph Abercromby’s British fleet
1931: Piarco International Airport opens
1806: first Chinese workers imported to Trinidad
1935–41: first steelpans emerge in Laventille, Trinidad
1807: slave trading abolished in British empire
1814: Tobago ceded to British under Treaty of Paris
1937: oilfield and labour strikes led in southern Trinidad by Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler
1963: Hurricane Flora devastates Tobago; Chaguaramas returned to Trinidadian control
1940: Crown Point Airport opens in Tobago; national airline British West Indies Airways (BWIA) commences operations
1974: Garfield Blackman (Ras Shorty I) releases first soca album
1941: Chaguaramas peninsula leased to United States for 99 years; American military remain through World War II
1980: Tobago House of Assembly restored; islands enjoy economic prosperity
1945: public emergence of steelbands; universal suffrage implemented
1976: new republican constitution
1983: oil prices fall, crippling local economy
1951: repeal of ordinance prohibiting activities of Spiritual “Shouter” Baptist faith
1986: National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) unseats PNM in national elections; Tobagonian ANR Robinson becomes prime minister
1956: self-government under Eric Williams’ People’s National Movement (PNM)
2007: Caribbean Airlines replaces BWIA as national carrier; record oil prices fuel economic boom
1960: Trinidad campus of University of the West Indies (UWI) established
2010: UNC-led coalition government (People’s Partnership) ousts PNM at general and local elections under Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the country’s first female prime minister
1962: islands gain independence from Britain; Williams becomes first prime minister
2015: oil prices crash, causing economic slowdown; PNM, under Dr Keith Rowley, wins general elections.
Follow your bliss
Black Rock â&#x20AC;˘ Tobago â&#x20AC;˘ West Indies Tel: 868-639-0361 www.stonehavenvillas.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking north from Scarborough over the Claude Noel Highway and toward the rugged Atlantic coast
nd exhaleâ&#x20AC;Ś Here, there are drop-dead gorgeous beaches to explore, plus waterfalls, rivers, and forests. And then there are the reefs â&#x20AC;&#x201D; an underwater kingdom of corals with hundreds of sea creatures, including manta rays and hammerhead sharks. Little Tobago is a wild and wonderful outcrop where tropicbirds and frigatebirds fight over fish, and crash-land among the cacti. A warm Tobago welcome to you. Kick off your flip-flops and dive in!
courtesy villas at stonehaven
Places to stay Crown Point: the lovely BaAn Oasis of Serenity * Around nanaquit Apartments, Belleviste, Coco
Reef, Crown Point Hotel, Kariwak Holistic Haven (for yoga, natural living, and delicious food), Sandy Point, the intimate Sunspree Resort (with pool, restaurant, and bar), and all-inclusive Tropikist Beach Hotel & Resort
Ideal for Families, Reunions and Intimate Weddings
www.plantationbeachvillas.com email@example.com Tel: (868) 639-9377 Black Rock, Tobago
Caribbean coast: the charming Miller’s Guest House (Buccoo); and — all around Black Rock — the luxurious Plantation Beach Villas (with direct access to Stonehaven Bay), Seahorse Inn, Le Grand Courlan, and — perfect for a group lime, reunion or family vacation — the opulent, full-service Villas at Stonehaven are perched on a hill with magnificent ocean views and lovely landscaped grounds
Tranquil waterfront setting R E S O R T
L T D
Overlooking unspoilt Buccoo Bay, Miller’s has fully-airconditioned, budget-friendly, apartments and rooms with complimentary WiFi. Our Luvinia’s Seafood & Steak Restaurant provides the perfect location for drinks and romantic meals.
R E S O R T
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (868) 660 8371 Buccoo Point, Tobago
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Pantone Reflex Blue U
Apartments with kitchens close to airport and beaches • restaurant • air conditioning • cable tv • free wifi • regular cleaning service
868 368 3539 | email@example.com www.bananaquit.com
courtesy magdalena grand
Places to stay 94
Atlantic Coast: The Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort features all-inclusive options, three pools, a kids club, multiple restaurants, a golf course, and a dramatic windswept beachfront
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, Tobagoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s finest oceanfront resort.
Tobago Plantations Estate, Lowlands, Tobago, Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies Phone: 868-660-8500 â&#x20AC;˘ info@MagdalenaGrand.com W W W .M A G D A L E N A G R A N D . C O M
Green retreats: a few of the places doing their bit for the environment â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Cuffie River Nature Resort (near Runnemede); Adventure Eco Villas and Top oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; 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)
Buy your place in the sun: Looking to buy your own piece of Tobago paradise? Check out agents like Caribbean Estates, Lands & Villas.
A Trinidad motmot (of the Blue-crowned motmot family) shakes off the raindrops from a brief Tobago downpour
Places to stay
Savour the flavours 98
resh seafood is one of the healthiest things about Tobago. You can buy fresh fish, shrimp, crab and lobster (during open season) every day from fishermen on beaches like Castara and Parlatuvier, on the way to Pigeon Point, Mt Irvine Bay, and at roadside stalls all over the island. Most restaurants use fresh ingredients to make specialties such as curry crab and dumpling, crab and callaloo (a soup made from dasheen bush, coconut milk and ochroes), coocoo, coconut bake and buljol, oil-down, and breadfruit pie. Tobagonians love ground provisions like cassava, yam, dasheen, eddoes, and tannia.
Sweet tooth tip
If you need a sugar fix, all kinds of goodies are within reach (at the airport, Store Bay, in shops and groceries) â&#x20AC;&#x201D; benne balls and sticks, toolum, pawpaw balls, tamarind balls, sugar cake, cassava pone. And fudge â&#x20AC;&#x201D; beware the fudge! It comes in divine flavours like coconut, soursop and rum and raisin.
Places to eat
In and around Crown Point: Good Eats Tobago (tasty, healthy, fairly priced food and drink); Kariwak (Caribbean fusion); La Cantina Pizzeria; Skewers (a halal Middle Eastern grill with a Trini flavour)
Bon Accord: Crafter’s Steakhouse & Grill (offering up mouth-watering cuts and decadent cocktails); and Mesoreen Café Bistro (delicious food, plus free pick-up and drop-off to/from your accommodation!)
Pigeon Point Road: The Pasta Gallery (Italian), Kafta’s (Mediterranean), Café Coco (surf and turf)
Store Bay: delighting locals and lovers of creole food since the ‘80s, vendors here sell crab and dumpling; curry goat or stew chicken with callaloo and provision; coocoo (like foofoo, made from cornmeal); roti (Indian flour wrap); bake and shark (which we discourage – ask for flying fish or kingfish instead, to preserve what’s left of our endangered sharks). The best dessert to finish with? Homemade ice-cream — in flavours like rum and raisin, barbadine, soursop, coconut, or Guinness
Buccoo: Revs Steakhouse & Bar (Shirvan Road); La Tartaruga (Italian)
Curried crab and dumpling is a must-eat in Tobago
Savour the flavours
Black Rock: The Seahorse Inn; Pavilion at Stonehaven (international); Fish Pot (Pleasant Prospect)
Lowlands: Kali’na (Caribbean fusion) and Salaka Grill at the Magdalena Grand; Caffè Mia (Italian)
Lambeau: Shore Things Café (Caribbean/international)
Scarborough: Salsa Kitchen; Ciao Café & Ciao Pizza (Italian)
Speyside: Aqua (Blue Waters Inn); Jemma’s Seaview Kitchen.
*Cnr Crompstain & Milford Rds, Crown Point, Tobago Tel: (868) 639-8660 goodeatstobago
GOOD prices GOOD food
*Across the road from the ANR Int. Airport!
here are more than enough bars, restaurants, clubs, casinos and open-air party venues to keep you happy — especially on the western side of the island.
courtesy the shade nightclub
entertainment Prophet Benjamin wows the crowd
Bars & clubs *
The Shade (Bon Accord): Friday and Saturday nights draw huge crowds to the open-air carat-thatched bar, and the varied playlist
Jade Monkey (Crown Point): a bar, grill, and casino featuring cocktails, pub food, and DJ music so you can dance the night away
Bar Code (Scarborough): a sports bar with two pool tables and open-air seating with views of the esplanade and sea
Sahara and Rouge (Buccoo Town Plaza): pool halls, casinos, and karaoke nights; Itsy Bitsy Folk Theatre presents dinner theatre several Tuesdays during the year.
Screen time The multiplex MovieTowne cinema (Gulf City Lowlands Mall) screens the latest blockbusters, and regional fare courtesy the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival.
Live music * * * * * *
Chart House/Sundowner’s Bar (Crown Point Hotel): Thursday–Saturday Kariwak (Crown Point): Friday & Saturday sees the Kariwak Players perform Blue Haven (Scarborough): Thursday (guitarist), Friday (pan) & Sunday (band) Robinson Crusoe Pub (Magdalena Grand, Lowlands): Wednesday (karaoke), Friday & Saturday (band) Pelican Reef Bar and Grill (Crown Point): Tuesday (guitarist), Wednesday–Friday (band) Café Iguana (Crown Point): Thursday (live jazz), Friday (local band), Saturday (African drumming), Sunday (Latin dancing).
courtesy magdelena grand
Arts & entertainment
The hymns are a little different from what you might be used to, but when you ketch the spirit, well… it’s heaven on earth. Join the locals for a baptism of fire at the famous Sunday School street party in Buccoo. Shake a leg to the steelpan music from the Buccaneers from 9pm. Craft, food and even gambling stalls fill the street. From 11pm, the locals get cranking… and can go until sun-up, so pace yourself.
cee wee designs
For fine artistinal shopping (herbal products, jewellery, clothing, local craft), head to Things Natural in Crown Point. For everything else, 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. NB: Please don’t buy anything made from endangered or environmentally sensitive species (eg coral, sea turtles, conch, some snakes, some birds). If in doubt, ask, and if the answer is dodgy, don’t buy it.
If you’re in the market for local handbags, make sure to check out Cee Wee Designs
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Packages include * Breathtaking Blooms * Unique Venues * Outstanding Menus * Distinctive Decor * Professional Vendors www.tobagoflowersonline.com (868) 660 7748/395 8330
courtesy radical sports
Wet & wild
Beaches, rivers, waterfalls, water sports
here’s fantastic swimming, diving, and snorkelling in Tobago, whether in the sea, a river, under a waterfall, or in a pool…
Electric boogaloo (Crown Point): If you move around in Bon Accord Lagoon, the water comes to life — in electric blue! This amazing natural wonder (known as bioluminescence) occurs around the time of the new moon when millions of phytoplankton emit flashes of light to startle predators. A definite buzz… Radical Sports: 6315150, radicalsportstobago.com Pigeon Point (Crown Point): Beautiful turquoise waters and lots of fish to see around the jetty, where you can take a glass-bottomed boat to Buccoo Reef and the Nylon Pool, rent jet skis, windsurf, or parasail. Calm waters and lots of beach to explore. Good facilities — changing rooms, restaurant, bar, shops with inflatables, snacks and swimwear. Huts with tables are available for free and you can rent a sun lounger. Entrance fee: TT$20 Nylon Pool (near Buccoo Reef): This world-famous spot off the southwestern coast was so named by Princess Margaret who said the water was as clear as her nylon stockings. A wallow in its shallow waters is also said to rejuvenate both the skin… and relationships. So the story goes. If you’re lucky, you will be joined in this reputed fountain of youth by baby stingrays. The nearby No Man’s Land is a great spot to cook a freshly
caught snapper or lobster, and the popular Buccoo Reef is nearby.
Englishman’s Bay (near Castara): This is a lovely, secluded beach with a river at one end and lots of coconut and palm trees. Usually there are only a few visitors so the place is quiet and peaceful. Take care as the waves can be powerful due to the sharp drop-off of the shoreline very close to the beach.
Castara (Caribbean coast): This delightful and quiet little bay has a lagniappe (added benefit) — bread yummy enough to eat just by itself, baked fresh in the traditional outdoor oven behind the local primary school on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Women from the village also make cakes and pastries. Castara is a beautiful unspoiled village with comfy guesthouses. A waterfall in the rainforest is an easy walk from the bay. The water is quite calm with a nice reef quite close to the shore. The small beach bar serves a generous lunch.
Bloody Bay (near Parlatuvier): Majestically surrounded by mountains, watch stingrays in the water from the jetty, and fishermen hauling in their nets as pelicans pilfer from the catch and frigatebirds swoop to catch fish jumping out of the water. A river flows into the sea at one end of this crescent-shaped beach. There’s a newly built changing facility. As for the name, a sign on site gives an explanation, but there are three working theories: a battle circa 1666; a slave uprising 100 years later; and pigment from red dyewood trees…
Wet & wild 106
Pirate’s Bay (Charlotteville): Secluded and serene, you can get here by boat, or take a short hike from Charlotteville. There are about 100 steps to walk down, but the stunning views make it worthwhile. Calm waters, excellent for getting some Vitamin S – sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling. The rain forest comes right down to the beach so you can sit with binoculars and watch birds feeding in the water, and crabs and snails on the rocks.
Argyle Waterfall (pictured): Tobago’s highest waterfall (54m/175ft), Argyle tumbles over three tiers into a deep
pool. Located on the northeast side of Tobago, the Roxborough Visitor Service Co-op office is the entrance, where you can hire a guide. Butterflies, birds and bromeliads can be seen along the trail that leads to the falls. If you are adventurous, climb up the steep path on the right to the second level of the falls. Bathe in the natural “rock tubs”. At the highest level, the pool is deep with vines overhead that are perfect for swinging (carefully). There’s a changing area, and gumboots for hire. Wear comfy, good-gripping shoes, sunscreen, and bring bug spray and a towel. Admission $60 adults, $30 children • 660-4152
More thrills and spills in the water: Kite-surfing, kite-boarding, kayaking, stand-up-paddling, surfing, sailing... If these are your thing, head to Pigeon Point, Mt Irvine, Charlotteville, and Little Rockly Bay. Radical Sports: 631-5150, radicalsportstobago.com
Being with horses (Buccoo): If you love animals, the sea, and have a soft spot for rescued horses with moving back-stories, then youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll want to check out Being With Horses. Run by German-born Veronika La Fortune and her husband Lennon, they offer sunset swim-ride sessions, trail rides, picnic rides, and horseback weddings. 639-0953, being-with-horses.com
courtesy radical sports
Wet & wild
Diving: kingdom of the corals
any of the dive sites here are drift dives, which means that you just go with the flow — literally. You adjust your buoyancy to follow the current; keep in mind the dive briefings; and follow the dive master. If you’ve never tried drift diving, don’t worry. Most of the dive centres offer a course that will prep you, plus PADI certification (Open Water, Advanced and Rescue Diver). Contact a member of the Association of Tobago Dive Operators (ATDO, tobagoscubadiving.com), like Undersea Tobago (631-2626, underseatobago.com).
Flying Reef (in the south) has huge plate coral colonies, nurse sharks and stingrays. Divers Dream is recommended for experienced divers because of the strong current. Pelagics hang out along the ledges and overhangs. On the Caribbean side of the island, the wreck of the M/V Maverick sits at 33m/100ft. Once the passenger ferry between Trinidad and Tobago, it was sunk as a dive site in April 1997. Snappers and rainbow runners scamper in the shadows of the car deck. Schools of bait fish frolic on the upper deck (depth of 18m/60ft). Arnos Vale is a shallow dive (maximum 13m/40ft) that yields lobster, eels and torpedo rays in the sand. The Sisters (northwest) are rock pinnacles that rise from the depths of the seabed, attracting hammerheads and manta rays. London Bridge, which is off the St Giles Islands in the northeast, is a treasure trove of tarpon, turtles and sharks — even octopus (check the holes in the rock face). Boulder Valley (off Charlotteville, at the mouth of Man O’ War Bay) has huge sponge and coralencrusted boulders, like giant marbles strewn across a fantastically coloured carpet. Most of the dives off Speyside are drift dives along sloping reefs around Little Tobago (aka Bird of Paradise Island) and Goat Island. Kelleston Drain is home to the largest living brain coral in the world; you may spot a nurse shark taking a nap below it. Thousands of bicolour damselfish flit among vase sponges, purple pope sponge and green algae in the Japanese Gardens. A hard right turn between two large rocks and the current will take you through Kamikazee Cut. This reef is covered with brightly coloured sponges and corals. Seemingly unending soft coral growth sprouts from the granular white sand on the reef top. Check under the ledges for nurse sharks. Water temperatures range from 75°F (24°C) in January and February to 82°F (28°C) mid-year. Most divers find that 3mm neoprene is sufficient thermal protection year round. This page: the bearded fireworm, while pretty to look at, is a voracious predator and can give a swimmer a nasty sting Previous page: the aggressive Red lionfish (spotted here at Culloden Reef) is an invasive species that arrived in Tobago waters in 2012. It can decimate native reef populations if not kept in check. Good news though: they’re delicious!
Lynsey Allan /shutterstock.com
Diving: kingdom of the corals
In peak season (November), wahoo are so plentiful anglers are kept busy from dawn to dusk. Typical catches range between 30 and 65lb; you could be lucky and nab one of the half dozen 100-pounders caught every year. Marlin can weigh up to 1,200lb at the north-
western end of the island, just a couple of miles offshore (between Sisters Rocks and the Giles Islands). An annual tournament is held in Charlotteville in March (tgft.com, 632-6608). International anglers should book well in advance. A typical half-day offshore charter can cost
you US$350–$500, which includes refreshments and tackle. Reputable game fishing charters operate a catch and release programme where most billfish are tagged and then set free, rather than gaffed and killed.
Plenty of fish in the sea
ame fishing is fantastic here, with the main offshore season lasting from October to June. Anglers can expect to do battle with blue marlins, white marlins, swordfish, wahoo, tuna, barracudas, mahi-mahi (dolphin-fish) and sharks. Large game fish migrate south for the winter and chase the schools of small flying fish, which love the warm Caribbean waters.
hough fewer in number than Trinidad, the nesting turtles in Tobago are much easier to get to. Hundreds of giant leatherbacks and hawksbills nest on three main beaches — Turtle Beach, Mt Irvine and Grafton. Hawksbills nest in great numbers near the Magdalena Grand.
March–September is nesting season for the leatherbacks who may come from as far away as Australia to nest on the beach where they were born. Their hatchlings will emerge six to eight weeks later and head for the sea. Green turtles and hawksbills inhabit the coastal waters year-round, and you can spot them foraging for food on the reefs and sea grass beds. Many resorts on nesting beaches can notify you either when nesting turtles have been sighted, or when clutches of baby turtles are ready for release. For tours and information, contact SOS Tobago (Save Our Sea Turtles Tobago, 328-7351), or a reputable tour guide. You can become a volunteer and join SOS’ efforts in tagging turtles, counting nests, and rescuing disoriented hatchlings. You must commit to a minimum of four weeks.
A giant leatherback turtle heaves her bulk out of the water to nest
Things to remember
Do not touch or disturb nesting turtles or hatchlings. Try to be quiet and unobtrusive, and do not use flashlights or flash photography. Lights, noise and activity can disorient both turtles and hatchlings Do not drive on nesting beaches — the weight of the vehicle can crush eggs buried in the sand.
obago is small enough for much of it to be seen in a day, especially if you start out early. Tour operators offer a range of full-day and half-day tours, plus specialised itineraries based on your interests. For eco tours and adventures, make sure to book with a registered tour operator or guide (see visittobago.gov.tt). For easy day trips and sightseeing â&#x20AC;&#x201D; if you feel confident on the road â&#x20AC;&#x201D; you could rent a vehicle, pick up a Discover T&T map, and go exploring on your own! Here are a few of our favourites.
Fort King George Scarborough’s crowning glory, this 18th century fort was the perfect location to keep a lookout for the many invaders who fought over this island. The restored colonial-era buildings (pictured) offer spectacular views of Rockly Bay, the town of Scarborough, Bacolet Bay and the windward coast. You can sit on one of the benches under the giant samaan trees or saddle one of the cannons that line the stone walls. The officers’ quarters now contain the Tobago Museum where you will find a collection of Amerindian artifacts, maps from the 1600s, military relics, paintings, and a small geology exhibit. Original buildings include the powder magazine, bell tank, lighthouse and cells. Opening hours: Monday–Friday, 9am–4:30pm. Admission to the museum: adults TT$10, teens TT$5, children TT$2. No entrance fee to the fort. Tel: 639-3970 If you like forts, here are two more: Fort Milford: built in 1777, a perfect spot for watching the sun dip below the horizon on the Caribbean coast Fort Bennett: look out over Stonehaven Bay from a little pavilion.
Sightseeing & day trips discovertnt.com
In Mason Hall, conservationist Roy Corbin has built a wildlife sanctuary that houses many of Tobago’s endangered animals — boa constrictors, agoutis (including a rare albino), opossums, green iguanas, collared peccary (which is nearly extinct in Tobago), and the spectacled caiman. Enclosures are big and as natural as possible. Corbin breeds and reintroduces as many of the animals as possible back into the rain forests. You may even have the honour of releasing an endemic possum or manicou into the wild! You are allowed to go close and touch the animals; you’ll also learn about the uses of the native trees on the grounds. Climb to the top of the trail and enjoy the spectacular view from the verandah of his house. 327-4182
Tobago Cocoa Estate
Sold by Fortnum & Mason’s in the UK, Tobago Cocoa Estate’s chocolate is made exclusively from our highly acclaimed Trinitario beans. This plantation (near Roxborough) is a heritage park where you can learn about the history of cocoa on the island and see how it is grown, picked, and dried — and enjoy rum and chocolate-tasting session at the end. Scheduled tours December–April are on Fridays at 11am, and by appointment only May– November. email@example.com, 390-2021
Sightseeing & day trips
Corbin Local Wildlife Park
This page: a rescued, orphaned nine-banded armadillo at Corbin Local Wildlife Park Opposite: a Red-billed tropicbird swoops into her nest on the cliffs of Little Tobago
An absolute must for birders, Little Tobago is a remote little island where Sir David Attenborough filmed frigatebirds hijacking tropicbirds for their fish in mid-air. You can take a glass-bottomed boat from Speyside (at Blue Waters Inn), 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. The climb up the island is not very strenuous but there are lots of steps. As there are no rivers or streams, the guides ensure that water is caught or brought for the birds in feeders placed around the island. It’s best to go between April and September, as the water can get rough October–March. Dress sensibly with good walking shoes (sandals not advised), and carry water. You can go snorkelling afterwards!
Sightseeing & day trips
The picturesque fishing village of Parlatuvier is a favourite of photographers and visitors
Top left: a White-tailed sabrewing hummingbird, once thought extinct in Tobago, at Newton Georgeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gallery, Speyside Top right: Blue-backed manakins at Gilpin Trace Bottom: a Rufous-vented chachalaca or cocrico (Tobagoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s national bird), in Speyside
photos by rapso imaging
Above: Ruddy turnstones
For the birders
This picture: Blue-grey tanager or blue jean at Newton Georgeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gallery
Cuffie River Nature Retreat This rainforest retreat near Runnemede is nestled among untouched forests and mountains bordering the Main Ridge Forest Reserve. A popular base for birders (up to 80 species sighted) and nature lovers, the family-run 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 islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s birds, agriculture, wildlife, and medicinal plants. cuffie-river.com â&#x20AC;˘ 660-0505
The Cuffie River which meanders alongside the Cuffie River Nature Retreat
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 14,000-acre reserve, protected since 1776 and the oldest in the western hemisphere, is home to 210 species of birds, including the rare white-tailed sabrewing hummingbird, which is endemic to Tobago. Venezuela is the only other place in the world where it is found. One third of the birds that nest here are endemic, as is the ocellated gecko, which is not found anywhere else in the world. The reserve’s 10,000 acres of evergreen rain forest have been designated by UNESCO as being of Outstanding Universal Value. You can drive through the reserve. If you want to walk through, the most famous of the trails starts at Gilpin Trace (5km). You may spot yellow sugar birds, blue-backed manakins, red and green-collared trogons, white-necked thrushes, motmots (they nest in clay), great black hawks, and a range of other wildlife (a dozen mammals, two dozen non-poisonous snake species, and 16 lizard species), and get a chance to splash in beautiful waterfalls. The Gilpin trail is fantastic as a family outing. Small children will enjoy learning about the rain forest. The hike is easy and you can rent rubber boots if it’s muddy and wet. Other popular treks are the Atlantic, Blue Copper, and Niplig trails.
Crested oropendola nests
Just about everywhere you go, you will see up in the branches of tall trees the hanging nests of the crested oropendola or cornbird (pictured below). These architectural wonders are painstakingly woven with vines and banana fibres. The nests can be 3–6ft long. The birds live in colonies, so you may see more than a dozen of these nests in one tree. The female takes 9–11 days to make her nest. The male will watch her work, and if he doesn’t like what he sees, he tears it apart so she has to start again...
For the birders discovertnt.com
Grafton Caledonia Bird & Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the cottages at the Adventure Farm & Nature Reserve rapso imaging
Devastated by a hurricane in the ‘70s, this was once a beautiful retreat. Still, in the afternoons from 4pm, you can see lots of cocricos (Tobago’s national bird), hummingbirds, honeycreepers and motmots close up. The approach is steep and unsurfaced but for birders, it will be worth the effort.
For the birders
Adventure Farm & Nature Reserve Like manna from heaven, mangoes rain down on this 12-acre estate in Arnos Vale, where they are lovingly made into juice, ice-cream and chutneys. Savour sublime soursop juice made from soursop grown right on the estate. In this haven of sustainable tourism, nothing is wasted and 52 species of birds can be seen — motmots, hummingbirds (the rare and fragile
albino hummingbird has been seen here), bananaquits, and red-crowned woodpeckers. They flutter and buzz around the hanging feeders, or eat bananas in a luxury birdhouse at very close range. Herbs from the garden are used to prepare meals. Everything is powered by solar energy. Open from 7am Monday– Saturday, 639-2839
Blue Food Festival
Festivals & events
courtesy the division of tourism & transport
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, including sweet potato, cassava, and yam. For the festival, all of the dasheen plant is used to prepare bread, cookies and sweets, ice-cream, and even lasagne! A culinary competition and cultural shows are also highlights.
Carnival The Carnival pre-season kicks off early before Christmas, with a launch featuring a street parade in Scarborough of traditional mas characters (including speech bands — a cast of costumed characters who speechify in rhyme). The first party is the Soca Spree, typically with Machel Montano as the headline act, followed by events like Soca Under the Samaan Tree; the Tobago House of Assembly’s Interdepartment Queen and Calypso Show; and the Roxborough AfroQueen & Windward Calypso Show. If nothing else, make sure to visit the
Dancers of the cultural group ZANTE perform the limbo and bamboo dances
panyards of Tobago’s top steelbands, like Dixieland, Redemption Sound Setters, and Katzenjammers. Come J’ouvert (very early Carnival Monday morning) in Scarborough, mud mas is the focal point. Later in the day and on Tuesday, “ole mas” and costumed bands take over the streets of Scarborough and Roxborough.
Meet a Calypso Rose
courtesy stonetree records/maturity
Festivals & events
Born in Bethel, Linda MacArthur “Calypso Rose” Lewis was the first woman to win the national Road March title in 1977 (“Tempo”) and 1978 (“Soca Jam”), forcing the Calypso King competition to be renamed Calypso Monarch when she danced away with the 1978 crown. In 2016, she was named Artist of the Year at the prestigious World Music Expo (WOMEX) in Spain, and in 2017 won the Victoire de la Musique (or “French Grammy”) for Album of the Year in France. A documentary film has been made about her: Calypso Rose: Lioness of the Jungle. calypso-rose.com
Carnival Regatta The “festival of wind” is held at Pigeon Point near to Carnival (typically February), featuring four sailing categories: Optimists and Bum Boat sailing, dynamic Windsurf, and Kite-Surfing classes. Peak sailing time is the dry season (December– May), with stronger and more consistent winds. T&T Sailing Association: 634-4519
Dragon Boat Festival
Each Easter, Buccoo hosts the Family Day and Goat & Crab Races (pictured below). The animals hurtle 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. Beforehand, the goats are given special diets and training regimens (including swimming) to build stamina. The showdown happens each Easter Monday and Tuesday at Mt Pleasant, as well as Buccoo (the main location). There’s a repeat at the Heritage Festival (July).
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.
Goat & Crab Racing Festival
courtesy the division of tourism & transport
This page: The Speechettes of Scarborugh RC School in a traditional speech band performance, where costumed characters speechify in rhyme. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s popular at Carnival and during Heritage Festival
Great Fete Weekend
Opposite: 3canal performs at the Tobago Jazz Experience
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, as southwest beaches are turtle nesting ones!
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.
The Scarborough Heritage Trail and a church tour were introduced last year to promote conservation. The Scarborough trail starts at the Milford Road Esplanade and ends at Fort King George, while the church tour takes in Mt Pleasant Anglican church, Montgomery Moravian Church, Riseland, the Bethel Baptist Church, and Bethesda Moravian Church.
courtesy the division of tourism & transport
This festival (mid-July until 1 August) is a glimpse into the past — to experience the old cultural traditions and rituals that make this island what it is. Events take place across the island in various villages such as Plymouth and Moriah — storytelling, ancestral walks, long-time games, harvest traditions, historical reenactments (like the ol’ time wedding, “washing the dead bed”, and “dancing the cocoa”). Help the fishermen “pull seine” on the beach, and you may be rewarded with some fresh catch. There’s also pirogue racing, beach football and seafood breakfast on offer.
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. John Legend, Jill Scott, Jennifer Hudson, Kool & the Gang, Angie Stone, Janelle Monae, Chaka Khan, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Mary J Blige, Sting, Diana Ross, Erykah Badu, India.Arie, George Benson, Lauryn Hill, Heather Headley, Jill Scott, and Maxwell have all performed in the past.
Cycling: International professional competitors are drawn to the International Cycling Classic (September/ October).
Golf: There are two 18-hole, championship-standard golf courses which host international tournaments. Mt Irvine Bay Resort has a 127-acre, 6,793-yard course set in an old sugar and coconut plantation overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Tobago Plantations Golf Club (660-8500), also established on a former sugar cane estate, is a par-72, 7,005-yard course with stunning Atlantic Ocean views.
Mountain biking: There are easy coastal tracks; tours taking in historical sites, waterfalls, and beaches (some not accessible by car); and intense treks into the mountainous Main Ridge … Mountain Bike Magazine called the island a “mountain biker’s island paradise”. Make sure to ride with a guide. Mountain Biking Tobago: 639-9709 • Slow Leak Tours: 332-5872
A surfer at Mt Irvine
Local heroes * * * * *
Surfing: Peak time is November–April, but swells can kick up during the hurricane season too. Lessons and board rentals are available at Mt Irvine, which is where the T&T Surfing Association (surftt.org) holds the Tobago Pro Open event. Bacolet is another popular spot. Triathlon: Competitions and training events, such as the Rainbow Cup international triathlon (mid-year), are held throughout the year. T&T Triathlon Federation: triathlon.co.tt • The Rainbow Triathlon Club: 632-5560
Lalonde Gordon: 2017 World Championship gold medallist (4x400m relay); 2012 Olympic bronze (men’s 400m) and silver (men’s 4x400m relay) medallist Josanne Lucas: the island’s first female World Championship medallist (400m hurdles, 2009) Claude Noel: Roxborough native and the nation’s first boxing World Champion, lifting the WBA’s World Lightweight title in 1981. The island’s highway is named after him Renny Quow: the island’s first medallist (bronze) in the men’s 400m at the World Championships (2009) Akeem Stewart: double 2017 World Para Athletics gold medallist (shot put and javelin), 2016 Paralympic gold (javelin) and silver (discus) medallist; and world record holder for javelin F44 and shot put F43 Dwight Yorke: football star and leading striker for UK teams like Manchester United and Aston Villa; captained the national team to an impressive debut at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where T&T made history as the smallest country ever to qualify.
Map Key Map (applies Keyto(applies all maps)to all maps) Police Station Police Station Gas StationGas StationWaterfall Waterfall Hospital
Sailing & boat Sailing tours& boat tours Hospital Bird Watching Bird Watching
Golf CourseGolf Course Fort Turtle Nesting Turtle Nesting
Shopping Centre Shopping Centre Scuba Diving Scuba DivingAirport
Place of interest Surfing Lighthouse LighthousePlace of interest
Beach with Beach with Swamp Food Available Restrooms RestroomsFood Available
Planned Highway Highway
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King's Bay Delaford
Richmond Glamorgan Pembroke
Goat Island Little Tobago
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Tobago Cocoa Estate
Bellevue Prince's Bay Richmond Great House Carapuse Bay
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Tobago Map discovertnt.com
and events, A unique history, Tropical rain forest, Exhilarating watersports, uncrowded beaches, revitalized chocolate industry and amazing eco-holidays. LIVE THE CULTURE,
for more info visit www.tobagostyle.travel