Caribbean Travelweb


Guide To Trinidad & Tobago



Description

Trinidad and Tobago are the last links in the Lesser Antilles island chain before it bumps into South America. The southern tip of Trinidad sits just 7 mi/11 km from the coast of Venezuela. The northern third of Trinidad contains mountains known as the Northern Range, which include the island's highest peak, Cerro del Aripo (3,085 ft/941 m). The center and south of the island are relatively flat, consisting of fertile plains that give way to mangrove swamps and beaches at the coast. Tobago, 21 mi/32 km northeast of Trinidad and considerably smaller in size, is dominated by rain-forested hills in the center of the island, with sandy beaches and lush jungles forming its perimeter.

Trinidad
Trinidad is alluring, but it's not just another carbon-copy paradise. Culturally diverse, the island is a melting pot of people of more than 40 nationalities and ethnic groups, the largest of which are of East Indian and African descent (each accounting for about 40% of the population). The medley is reflected in everything from food, design and language to music, dance and humor. At Carnival time, Trinidad throws the grandest, wildest party in the Caribbean. Divali, the Hindu festival of lights, draws big crowds, too.

The islands' capital, Port of Spain is a bustling metropolitan hub of approximately 300,000 people. It only holds a small percentage of the country’s array of diverse tourist attractions. The city’s attractions include a mix of 19th and 20th century architecture, shopping, botanical gardens, fine dining and indigenous restaurants and pulsating nightlife.

The pulse of the city is the Brian Lara Promenade, named after the country’s premiere Cricketing hero. The promenade is flanked by Independence Square - not really a square at all, but rather two long streets bordering a it. At Independence Square you can pick up a taxi, find travel agents, banks and cheap eats.


Tobago
A relatively small island with no large urban center, Tobago can be enjoyed at a slower pace than its bigger neighbor to the southwest. While Trinidad is high energy, Tobago is tranquil - a temptress with idyllic white-sand beaches, shallow offshore reefs and mountain jungles. It's the Caribbean of yesteryear, where a question about a restaurant's hours is likely to be met with: "We open any time for you, sweetheart. You come, we take care of you."

The airport town of Crown Point is in the middle of Tobago's main resort area. It's surrounded by palm-fringed, white-sand beaches with good year-round swimming and snorkeling. The attractive fishing villages of Speyside and Charlotteville are interesting out-of-the-way destinations, and the nearby uninhabited islets of Little Tobago, Goat Island and St Giles Island are ecotourist destinations with abundant birdlife.

Getting There

Airlines Serving Trinidad & Tobago

American Airlines

Caribbean Airlines

United Airlines

British Airways

Liat

Surinam Airways

Condor

AIR TRAVEL: TRINIDAD-TOBAGO AIRBRIDGE

There is a regular air service, or air bridge, between Trinidad and Tobago. This service is run by Caribbean Airlines, Trinidad and Tobago's national air service provider.


If you are travelling to Tobago via the air bridge it is important to note that during peak periods (Easter weekend, Plymouth Jazz Festival in April and Great Race weekend in August) the service is often over subscribed and it is possible to face long delays, even when holding a confirmed ticket.

Entry Requirements

Business travellers and tourists must produce passports valid for three months longer than the intended stay and a return ticket, for entry into Trinidad and Tobago. For tourism and business related visits of up to 90 days, visas are not required for citizens of the United States, Caricom (except Haiti), European Union and British Commonwealth with the exception of the following countries:

European Union

* Czech Republic
* Estonia
* Hungary
* Latvia
* Lithuania
* Poland
* Slovakia
* Slovenia

British Commonwealth Countries

* Australia
* Cameroon
* India
* Mozambique
* New Zealand
* Nigeria
* Papua New Guinea
* South Africa
* Sri Lanka
* Tanzania
* Uganda

Travellers from countries outside the United States and European Union must hold a passport valid for six months past their travel date, a return ticket and valid visa for entry into Trinidad and Tobago. Applications for entry visas must be submitted to a Trinidad and Tobago Mission abroad or where there is no office, to a British Embassy or Consulate in a non-Commonwealth country.

Helpful Visitor Information

Buses

The buses serve main commuter routes and are differentiated into two services the transit and express commuter services (ECS). Schedules can be obtained from the Public Transport Service Corporation.

ECS service is also available to points east of Port of Spain and runs along a dedicated transit highway system.

Taxis

Taxis and maxi-taxis (colour coded mini-buses) run on fixed routes and generally operate from designated stands. Fares range from TT$2 - TT$10 on average. Off route transfers usually cost more.

Car Rentals

Car rental agencies are located in Port of Spain, San Fernando and at Piarco International Airport. International rental agency presence at airport. All major credit cards are accepted.

Driving

Visitors in possession of valid licenses issued in U.S., Canada, France, U.K., Germany and the Bahamas may drive for up to three months. International licenses are also accepted. Driving is on the left side of the road.

Language

The official language of Trinidad and Tobago is English, but Spanish and to a lesser extent French patois, Hindi and Chinese is spoken by some segments of the population.

Business Hours

As a rule, the day starts at 8am and ends at 4pm, from Monday to Friday at most Government Departments and private business. Shops open from 8 am to 5 pm from Monday to Saturday - except for stores in malls, which are open from 10am to 7pm.
Most malls and shops are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.

Hotel Taxes

10% service charge, 10% Hotel Room Tax

Tipping

Most hotels and restaurants add a 10% service charge to the bill. If it isn't included, tip 10%-15%.

Money

The local currency is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar. US dollars are widely accepted at an approximate rate of TT $6 to US $1 and you can find rate information at local banks, or the daily newspapers. Euro's and the Pound Sterling (GBP) are not as widely accepted as US dollars. Traveller's cheques and international credit cards are accepted at most hotels, restaurants and malls. ATM machines are located at the airport, banks, malls, cities and towns. Banks are open on Monday to Thursday, 8am-2pm and Friday, 9am-12noon and 3-5pm. Banks located in shopping plazas and malls are the exception to this rule with business hours from 10am to 6pm.

Major shopping malls also either contain ABMs (Automated Banking Machines) or full service branches and generally keep later opening hours ranging from 0800 - 1800hrs. The banking system features LINX, which enables client access to accounts from any ABM regardless of agency in the country. LINX can also be used to make purchases at retail outlets throughout the country. ABMs can also be used to access advance cash withdrawals for VISA, MasterCard and VISA Plus clients.

Food and Dining

Trinidad & Tobago abounds with diverse culinary delights due to the cosmopolitan nature if its people. Some favorites include roti, doubles, shark and bake, pelau and a host of other mouth watering dishes. But fast food is for many people the way to go.

Water

Tap water is usually drinkable, bottled water is available everywhere


Electricity

115 volts/230 volts (+/- 6%); 60hz

Activities and Attractions

Dining
Both islands offer top-notch nouvelle Creole, East Indian, Chinese, French and other cuisines. Local dishes include crab back (stuffed crab), curried crab, curried goat, callaloo soup (subtly seasoned and made from the leaves of dasheen, a spinachlike plant), roti (various items - meat, shrimp, vegetables - enfolded in a soft, Indian-style pancake), phuloorie (deep-fried balls of chickpea batter served with hot mango sauce), kingfish, conch and dolphin fish.

Shopping
Trinidad and Tobago has some duty-free shopping. Among the items for sale are French porcelain, doeskin gloves, English china and crystal, and items from Asia. There's also a wide variety of local handicrafts, such as coco-pod earrings, dolls, carved-bamboo vases, copper goods, colorful island clothing, rum, straw and leather goods, and wood carvings. There is some fine local art as well.

There is a 15% value-added tax (VAT) on many products and services, which is incorporated into the price of items before purchase (i.e., price tags already include the VAT). It is not possible to claim a refund on this VAT.

Surfing
Tobago has multiple breaks within close proximity to where you'll be staying. There is a right break that ranges from waist high to double overhead and there's almost always something to ride.

You can also hire a fisherman to take you out to offshore reefs where an early session will deliver glassy lefts and rights, and you can finish off the morning with snorkeling or by pulling in a nice kingfisher. To the south, you'll find a hollow right and to the north a quick left. If you get tired of surfing great reef breaks, depending on the swell, other opportunities exist for several beach breaks to really turn on.

Snorkeling/Diving
Excellent diving exists on Tobago from one end of the island to the other. The northwestern coast is the most protected and calm area and on the rough days diving is done in the sheltered bays. Water conditions vary greatly. During the rainy season (July through September) the visibility of the water is affected (especially at the surface) due to overflow from the Orinoco River in Venezuela. At this time it is between 50-90ft. During the winter months visibility can easily reach as much as 125-150ft. Temperatures are very comfortable (78F in the winter and 81F in summer), a dive skin or light wet suit usually being sufficient.

Snorkel or SCUBA dive the pristine coral reefs and witness colors you have never seen before. Equipment can be rented, boat dives are available, and the fish are eager for attention.

Golf
You can play golf at Mount Irvine Bay Hotel's non-exclusive, 18 hole, championship course. This course has been host to both Shell and Johnny Walker tournaments and is complete with carts, caddies, a pro shop and a resident pro.

Fishing
Fishing goes without saying in the Caribbean. The adjacent bays: Buccoo, Mount Irvine, and Black Rock all have fisherman that are willing to share there boat for the day. If you want to go a little more first class, charters are available as well.

Nightlife
The nightlife in Tobago is unique to the island and there is plenty to see within walking distance of Mount Irvine. Catch a steel pan competition in one of the local panyards, jimbay drums thumping at the club down the street, or dance soca, calypso, or rub-a-dub at some of the local watering holes.

Festivals
Because Trinidad and Tobago blend a number of different cultures, a vital tradition of festivals exists on the island, the most popular being Carnival, when the whole island comes alive with joy and celebration as brightly costumed revellers parade through the streets. Visitors should note that accommodations are scarce during Carnival, and it is best to book way in advance.

Additionally, the local festival of Hosay, the Hindu festivals of Divali and Phagwa have become an intrinsic part of the local culture. Secular events which celebrate the local history and music, respectively, include the Tobago Heritage Festival and the Parang Festival.

Bird Watching and Eco Tourism
For avid bird lovers, there are extensive tours to showcase over 400 species in Trinidad and 210 in Tobago. The species of birds include the Tufted Coquette, Toucan, Yellow Headed Parrot, Red-billed Macaw, Osprey and of course the Scarlet Ibis which is the national bird. One of the most popular tours is the Asa Wright Nature Centre near the Eastern Borough of Arima, which offers the most accessible colony of oilbirds on their 200-acre conservation in North Trinidad. The centre offers buffet-lunch, 2 hour guided tours and visitors are encouraged to bathe in its waterfall and pool. The Point-A-Pierre Wild Fowl Trust in South Trinidad offers daily tours around their resource and learning centre, that protects endangered waterfowl.

There is the flora and fauna for the nature lovers who enjoy ecological wonders, tropical flowers, magnificent trees and rich plant life. In April and May the hills are alive with the flamboyant pink and yellow colours of the Poui tree. Both islands offer botanical gardens that are free to the public and have accessible information about the plant life, without the use of guides. There are several trails to explore, with tour guides to take you through the lush, green tropical forest.

Waterfall hikes are very popular. The Paria Waterfall in Trinidad offers one of the most scenic hikes on the northern coastline. Other options are the Maracas Falls, Maracas; Salybia Waterfall, Arima and the Rincon Waterfall in Las Cuevas. In Tobago there is the Argyle Waterfall in Roxborough.

Additional Activities
Jet skiing, horseback riding, and bicycle riding can be arranged by your accommodation provider.

Attractions Found Throughout the Islands

Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad
This small resort, buried among mountains deep in the Trinidad rain forest, is famous for its amazing diversity in animal and plant species.

Maracas Bay, Trinidad
This popular beach spot fulfills the fantasy of the ideal Caribbean beach, but is just as famous for the scenic rainforest drive that must be made to reach it.

Fort King George, Scarborough, Tobago
This impressively-preserved fort was built in the 1780s as a British colonial outpost.

Caroni Bird Sanctuary, Trinidad
The home of the scarlet ibis, Trinidad's national bird.

Pigeon Point, Tobago
A popular public beach in southern Tobago that is accessible to nearby resorts.

Castara Bay, Tobago

Trinidad Dance Theater, Trinidad
A touring dance group, which doubles as a dance school for novices interested in learning Trinidadian dance such as calypso.

Pitch Lake, Trinidad
The oddest attraction in Trinidad is Pitch Lake, a 40ha (99ac) continually replenishing lake of tar which is the source of the world's single largest supply of natural bitumen - however, as a sight it's reminiscent of a huge parking lot.

Little Tobago, Northeast Coast, Tobago
A tiny island off the coast of Tyrrel's Bay, also known as Bird of Paradise, that has been transformed into a wildlife reserve popular among birdwatchers.

St. Giles Islands, Northeast Coast, Tobago
These tiny islands off the northern coast of Tobago are an important breeding area for several bird species and are also known for their spectacular underwater scenery for divers.

La Brea Pitch Lake, Trinidad
This 100-acre lake releases asphalt from the depths below and is the largest natural asphalt lake in the world.

Manzanilla Beach, Trinidad and Tobago

Emperor Valley Zoo, Port of Spain, Trinidad

Store Bay, Tobago
This popular southern Tobago beach is almost always packed with tourists.

Arnos Vale Reef, Tobago
Stingray sightings are common at this shallow reef.

Piparo Mud Volcano, Trinidad
One of Trinidad's several mud volcanoes which usually sit dormant, but occasionally spew mud hundreds of feet into the air.

London Bridge, Tobago
This large rock has a hole right in the middle of it, with half the passage above the water surface and the other half submerged, making this site a thrilling dive experience.

Pointe-a-Pierre Wild Fowl Trust, Trinidad
Refuge containing two lakes, nature trails and a wide variety of different birds.

Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain, Trinidad
Also called Independence Square, the recently refurbished center of Port of Spain is popular place to relax, with benches, street vendors and free concerts.

Argyle Falls, Northeast Coast, Tobago
This 600-foot waterfall, set against the background of an old cocoa plantation, is a dramatic sight.

Mount St. Benedict Monastery, Trinidad
This peaceful community of monks, one of the oldest in the Caribbean, has a guesthouse for visitors.

Paschimkashi Hindu Mandir, Port of Spain, Trinidad
Attraction type: Religious site

Black Jack Hole, Northeast Coast, Tobago
This reef, which reaches a depth of 120 feet, has a large quantity of sponges and corals.

TDE Special, Tobago
A short knife-edge coral ridge covered in volcanic rock is a popular underwater site, giving divers an excellent chance of seeing a wide variety of sea life.

Tobago Forest Reserve, Tobago
Established in 1763 to combat European deforestation of the island, this was the Western Hemisphere's first forest reserve.

The Shallows, Tobago
This underwater plateau is home to dolphins, turtles and occasional sharks.

Flying Reef, Tobago
Divers at this site can often see rays and morays.

Mount Irvine Wall, Tobago
Night divers may bump into lobsters, eagle rays and sea octopi.

Tobago Historical Museum, Scarborough, Tobago
This museum contains many artifacts of the island's history, both from centuries past and from modern times.

The Sisters, Northeast Coast, Tobago
Near the Brothers, these rock formations protrude from the ocean near the coast of Tobago and are one of the island's more popular diving sites.

Batteaux Reef, Northeast Coast, Tobago
A popular dive site near Speyside.

Angel Reef, Northeast Coast, Tobago
One of the many popular dive sites near Speyside.

Bookends, Northeast Coast, Tobago
A popular dive site near Speyside where tarpon frequently gather.

Japanese Gardens, Northeast Coast, Tobago
A popular dive site near Speyside where sponges are common.

Sleeper, Northeast Coast, Tobago
This dive site is a rock formation where a turtle sighting is likely.

Flying Manta, Northeast Coast, Tobago
This dive site near Speyside is a popular place for viewing manta rays.

John Rock, Northeast Coast, Tobago
Divers are likely to cross paths with a sea turtle at this popular dive site near Speyside.

Kamikaze Cut, Northeast Coast, Tobago
This reef is one of Tobago's best dive sites and has extremely diverse fish life.

Devil's Woodyard, Trinidad
One of Trinidad's most well-known mud volcanoes, Devil's Woodyard erupts infrequently but dramatically.

The Market at the Normandie Hotel, Port of Spain, Trinidad
An interesting collection of small shops, including bookstores, clothing stores and cafes, all specializing in Caribbean goods.

Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, Trinidad
This park features mansions from the Spanish colonial era, interesting stores and street vendors.

Coral Gardens, Tobago
View these underwater gardens of coral either by glass-bottom boat or up-close-and-personal during a dive.

Buccoo Reef, Tobago
This 10-acre coral reef and the tropical fish that inhabit it have long been popular among tourists, but have suffered in recent years from the many visitors.

Grafton Caledonia Wildlife Sanctuary, Tobago

Adventure Farm and Nature Reserve, Tobago

La Vega Garden Centre, Trinidad

Mayaro Bay, Trinidad
A quiet beach on Trinidad's southeastern coast.

Independence Square, Port of Spain, Trinidad
Also called Brian Lara Promenade, this crowded area runs the width of the center of Port of Spain.

The Red House, Port of Spain, Trinidad
This building houses the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago.

Trinidad Theatre Workshop, Port of Spain, Trinidad
Established in 1959 by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, this troupe stages popular dramatic performances.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah Memorial Mosque, Port of Spain, Trinidad

Mount Irvine Bay, Tobago
A crowded southern Tobago beach that is popular with tourists.

Stonehaven Bay, Tobago
Wide, unspoiled beach is surrounded by many of the island's upscale resorts.

Nariva Swamp, Trinidad
Several different species of birds inhabit this swamp, one of the largest wetlands in the Caribbean.

Trinity Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Trinidad

Englishman's Bay, Tobago
A mysteriously uncrowded beach that is great for swimming and snorkeling.

Arnos Vale Waterwheel and Nature Park, Tobago
A park established on the grounds of an old sugar plantation to preserve Tobago's wildlife.

Pirate's Bay, Tobago
Although one of Tobago's more pristine and less crowded beaches, Pirate's Bay has the rougher waters typical of most northeastern beaches on the island.

King Peter's Bay, Tobago
Although less crowded than beaches in southern Tobago, this scenic beach features rougher waters, like most northern beaches on the island.

Scarlet Ibis, Tobago
This 350-foot-long ferry was recently placed 100 feet below the ocean's surface to form a new site for divers.

Main Ridge Forest Reserve, Tobago
This mountainous rainforest covers the length of the island and is home to an incredible amount of biological diversity.

Lure Estate Waterfalls, Tobago
This tropical waterfall offers great swimming in the pool that forms below the falls.

Bloody Bay, Tobago

Goat Island, Northeast Coast, Tobago
This tiny island off the coast of Tobago serves as a wonderful diving site for viewing coral and beautiful ocean landscape.

Keleston Drain, Northeast Coast, Tobago
A popular dive site on a coral reef flat off the northern coast of Tobago.

The Brothers, Northeast Coast, Tobago
Near the Sisters, these rock formations protrude from the ocean near the coast of Tobago and are one of the island's more popular diving sites.

Manta City, Northeast Coast, Tobago
This reef derives its name from the frequency with which Manta Rays can be found here.

Cathedral, Northeast Coast, Tobago
Located off the shore of Little Tobago, this reef has a more abundant supply of coral and sponges than it does fish.

Chacachacare, Trinidad
This mysterious, uninhabited island, once the site of a colony of lepers run by a group of nuns, is only five miles off the northwest coast of Trinidad.

Marine Bay, Trinidad
The quiet bay on the southwestern shore of Chacachacare.

Caroni Lagoon National Park, Trinidad
This new national park was recently commissioned to help preserve Trinidad's wildlife.

Lalaja Falls, Trinidad
A small waterfall located on Trinidad's northeastern coast.

Carib Brewery, Trinidad
With prior arrangements, visitors can receive a tour of the facilities where several popular Caribbean beers are made.

Angostura, Trinidad
Tours are given of the facilities where this famous drink is made.

Paria Falls, Trinidad
One of the island's more stunning waterfalls.

National Museum and Art Gallery, Port of Spain, Trinidad
Home to a large collection of works by Trinidad artists and a number of exhibits on the cultural history of the island.

Western Main Road, Port of Spain, Trinidad
This street is home to much of the trendy part of town, including restaurants, bars and stores.

Maracas Falls, Port of Spain, Trinidad

Royal Botanical Gardens, Port of Spain, Trinidad

 

 
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