In Trinidad, you’ll find everything from major hotel chains and business hotels to smaller boutique hotels, guesthouses, and bed & breakfasts. Where I stayed: Trinidad: Kapok Hotel
Tobago’s accommodations, from luxury hotels and villas to guesthouses and budget-minded resorts, are geared to vacationing tourists from Trinidad, South America, Europe, and the U.S. Where I stayed: Bacolet Beach Club
Trinidad: Carnival (February or March, before Lent), observation of endangered leatherback turtles (March-August), world-class bird-watching, ziplining
Tobago: Scuba diving and snorkeling, beach and watersports, bird-watching, hiking, boating
Beach lovers will want to spend most of their time on Tobago, where there are many lovely beaches. The beach at Pigeon Point on Tobago was named to CNN’s top 100 beaches in the world. On Trinidad, Maracas Bay Beach is one of the most popular, while Matura Beach and Grand Riviere are major nesting beaches for leatherback turtles.
Food and Drink
Trinidad’s local specialties include roti, a flour wrap, accompanied by curried meat (goat, chicken, lamb, beef, shrimp) or vegetables). Similar to roti: doubles (curried chickpeas served in a pita-type of bread, eaten by locals for breakfast); stewed pigeon peas, macaroni pie, callaloo (dasheen leaves, similar to spinach), oxtail, plantain, cassava, and root vegetables. Local spirits: Angostura bitters, Angostura rum, Plantation rum; Local beers: Carib and Stag
Airport code: POS (Port of Spain, Trinidad). Direct flights from U.S.: NYC (JFK), Newark (EWL), Miami (MIA), Orlando (MCO), Ft. Lauderdale (FLL), Houston (IAH). Direct flights from Canada: Toronto (YYZ). Approximately 20 daily flights are available from Trinidad (POS) to Tobago (TAB) on Caribbean Airlines.
Trinidad and Tobago is a dual island nation, southernmost of the Caribbean islands, outside the hurricane belt. Trinidad, the larger of the two, is located just 7 miles off the northeastern coast of Venezuela, South America.
Trinidad’s capital city, Port of Spain, is geared more to business travelers than tourists, but during Carnival (February or March, before Lent), colorful costumes and steel pan drum music transform it into a party town. Get out of town into the countryside, the rainforest, or on the beach, and the vibe is much more serene. Tobago’s vibe is casual, peaceful and has a rare remoteness. It is an ecotourist’s dream — an ideal “off the beaten path” island destination.
Tourist Board Website: Go Trinidad and Tobago
Asa Wright Nature Center, a 1,500-acre nature center located at 1,200 feet in the mountains of the Northern Range, of particular interest to bird-watchers.
Turtle-watching tours at Matura Beach, a major nesting site for endangered leatherback turtles.
Caroni Swamp Bird Sanctuary, a mangrove swamp and home to clouds of scarlet ibis, the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago.
Ziplining at Chaguaramas, overlooking Macqueripe Bay through the rainforest canopy with Zipitt.
Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, a tropical rainforest that ranks as the oldest protected forest in the Western world, dating back to April 1776.
Book a coastline boat tour from Pigeon Point. Spend the day swimming and snorkeling through Bucoo Reef’s protected waters with a stop at Nylon Pool, a waist-deep lagoon.
Enjoy a beach day at Pigeon Point, also home to Tobago’s iconic thatch roof jetty.
Scuba dive on one of Tobago’s many healthy reefs.
Turtle-watching tours are offered during summer months on Tobago.
Long before Christopher Columbus sighted Trinidad in 1498 and renamed it for the Holy Trinity, its original inhabitants called this southernmost Caribbean island the land of the hummingbird.
To me, this makes perfect sense. During a recent trip, I perched on the veranda of the Asa Wright Nature Centre & Lodge, located high in the Northern Range of Trinidad, and found myself distracted from its grand backdrop of 10 miles of rain forest and mountain vistas by the magical glimpse of iridescent hummingbirds flitting amid nearby feeders and flowers…
Read the rest of my article, published in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram’s Indulge magazine by opening a PDF here: TrinidadTobagoArticle-Indulge-Oct2013