Trinidad is the best kept secret of the Caribbean. A lush tropical isle populated with a cosmopolitan mix of intelligent people makes this a favorite travel destination.
This is a guest post from a friend who lived in Trinidad & Tobago for two years.
Trinidad & Tobago is not xenophobic. They love foreigners, they love traveling, they are highly educated. No, it’s more that they don’t want to share their secrets, they prefer people who come and visit them to experience their hospitality and top notch street fare for themselves. When visiting Trinidad & Tobago, make sure you know the proper terminology.
Ask people you meet what their favorite doubles stand is; or where you can get fish pie (similar to a double, but filled with fish); or chip chip pie (chip chip are tiny clams, painstakingly split and cleaned).
My absolute FAVORITE fish/chip chip pie and double stand was Boodoo’s, located in Matura. It is run by a woman and her three daughters. One of my friend’s who visited (and who has traveled to all contents except for Antarctica) said it was one of the most delicious morsels he has ever tried.
The people of Trinidad & Tobago are very cosmopolitan and polite. Everyone says hello, good morning, etc.
First, my recommendations for Carnival. Carnival is a three day event, starting with the Sunday night drink fest known as J’Ouvert. This is followed by Monday’s Carnival celebration, Monday night’s Blue Devil event in the little village of Paramin and finally with the MASSIVE street party: Tuesday’s Carnival.
I STRONGLY recommend the following: Go to J’Ouvert. Have a blast, drink tons of beer, get covered in mud. Then go home and sleep until the early afternoon; wake up, eat a bunch of fish and chip chip pies, lounge around a bit before heading to Monday night’s Paramin extravaganza. It’s crazy, it’s scary. Then go to Carnival on Tuesday. Wake up early and play Mas all day.
Okay, for out of the way places:
Awesome, miles long stretch of beach, mostly empty. Beautiful, gorgeous, awe inspiring. It’s on the Atlantic side, so the waves are a bit rough, but it’s quiet and beautiful. The U.S. marine and army World War II jungle warfare training was held in East Manzanilla, on Camp Trace road (also known as “The Road To Hell”).
What makes this a worthwhile hike, not only is it a trek taking you deep onto a peninsula where no one lives or goes, there is a fantastic Amerindian settlement where pottery shards lie out in the open. It is an untouched/undiscovered archaeological treasure with views to die for.
While in East Manzanilla, a world heritage site, the Nariva Swamp beckons you. There exists the last population of East Indian Manatees, but even now their plight isn’t looking good. Regardless, if you contact the Manatee Trust, you can get a ride out to Bush Bush island, in the middle of the swamp, where one of the most endangered monkey’s in the world lives. They are adorable, and curious creatures. Awesome for taking pictures. The boat ride out there is great, too. Highly recommended. You’ll probably see parrots and other animals as you go out there.
Farther South along the Manzanilla-Mayoro road (which in itself is worth the trip, as you’ll be insconced in a coconut tree forest) you’ll find Mayoro. If you need some pampering, stay at the Queen’s Beach Resort. Very very nice.
For those of you who enjoy the mountains, a MUST SEE is Brasso Seco. It’s a tiny village founded by cocoa farmers in the 18th century. The village boasts a community center where you can purchase ice cream and ground cocoa, rent a cabin in the area. I stayed at the Cocoa Palace (not palatial, merely a name. It’s an olde cocoa house). The beautiful attraction about Brasso Seco, in addition to the people, is all the waterfalls to be found in the area.I took a walk behind the cocoa palace and swam underneath mountain waterfalls in the middle of the jungle. It was awesome. There are numerous places to just sit and watch the birds or big views. Where I stayed, they had a huge brass pot (it used to be used in the sugar process). In the pot were guppies and tadpoles, what was cool was they’d come up and nibble your fingers.
Plan on camping out or spending a night in Grand Riviera, but visit Shark River. Snuggled in the woods, a river meanders from hills that set themselves up as a backdrop to the sea. The river in years past flattened a large section where the government put in picnic tables for visitors to relax. You can swim the river up to the ocean. The area got its name from shark sightings many many years ago.
The last beach one can reach by car on the North Coast. It’s a beauty, with a small cafe on the beach that serves outstanding fare. However, there are two awesome places reachable from here by foot. Follow the river upstream until you reach Three Pools, a favorite amongst picnickers. There is a nature made slide one can take from the upper part of the river into the final “pool.”
For the hiker, follow the road across the spring bridge and walk . . . .and walk . . . and walk, until you reach a beach only accessible by boat or walking. You can also hire a fisherman working in the village to transport you via water. I’ve done both, I would recommend walking there and taking a boat back (make sure someone you’re going with is taking a boat both ways). There is a beautiful waterfall about 7 minutes off the beach, you walk thru the jungle to the waterfall. Very beautiful.
A stunning waterfall, it’s a splash waterfall, about 300 feet. Awesome hike to reach it through the clouds. Just stunning. Still one of my favs.
You will need a guide for this one, or a native. This, too, was one of my favs. It’s a two hour hike, but the falls are worth it.
Okay, for those readers who like animals, Knolly’s Tunnel is relatively easy to get to. It’s a tunnel built thru a hill in the 1800′s so trains loaded with cocoa and sugar could more easily get to market. The tunnel is close to a half mile long. As such, since it was abandoned, bats, by the hundreds of thousands, now inhabit the structure. Go during the day and they’ll fly all around your head.
Great hike, go in the evening and as you sit around the openings hundreds of thousands of bats fly out of the hole in the ground in a vortex. They spin out of the cave like a crazy tornado. This is a good trip because you’ll be out in the middle of no where, a great place to meet locals, too.
Thank you mystery guest poster for sharing your amazing two years of travels in Trinidad & Tobago.
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