Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Trinidad and Tobago travel guide - Travel S Helper

Trinidad and Tobago

travel guide

Trinidad and Tobago, formally the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is a twin island nation located only 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and 130 kilometers (81 miles) south of Grenada. To the north, it has maritime borders with Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, and Venezuela.

Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498 until the surrender of the Spanish Governor, Don José Mara Chacón, on 18 February 1797, in response to the arrival of a British fleet of 18 vessels. During the same era, Tobago changed hands more often than any other Caribbean island, passing through the hands of Spanish, British, French, Dutch, and Courlandercolonizers. Trinidad and Tobago (which remained independent until 1889) were surrendered to Britain by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. Trinidad and Tobago gained independence from Britain in 1962 and became a republic in 1976.

Trinidad and Tobago is the third wealthiest nation in the Americas in terms of GDP (PPP) per capita, after the United States and Canada. Additionally, the World Bank classifies it as a high-income economy. Unlike the majority of the English-speaking Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago’s economy is mainly industrial, with a focus on petroleum and petrochemicals. The country’s prosperity is due to its enormous oil and natural gas reserves and extraction.

Trinidad and Tobago is famous for its Carnival and is the origin of calypso, soca, parang, chutney, chutney soca, chut-kai-pang, cariso, extempo, kaiso, parang soca, pichakaree, and rapso.

Flights & Hotels
search and compare

We compare room prices from 120 different hotel booking services (including Booking.com, Agoda, Hotel.com and others), enabling you to pick the most affordable offers that are not even listed on each service separately.

100% Best Price

The price for one and the same room can differ depending on the website you are using. Price comparison enables finding the best offer. Also, sometimes the same room can have a different availability status in another system.

No charge & No Fees

We don’t charge any commissions or extra fees from our customers and we cooperate only with proven and reliable companies.

Ratings and Reviews

We use TrustYou™, the smart semantic analysis system, to gather reviews from many booking services (including Booking.com, Agoda, Hotel.com and others), and calculate ratings based on all the reviews available online.

Discounts and Offers

We search for destinations through a large booking services database. This way we find the best discounts and offer them to you.

Trinidad and Tobago - Info Card

Population

1,367,558

Currency

Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TTD)

Time zone

UTC-4 (AST)

Area

5,131 km2 (1,981 sq mi)

Calling code

+1 (868)

Official language

English

Trinidad and Tobago | Introduction

Weather & Climate in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago, both well situated in the tropics, enjoy a generally pleasant tropical maritime climate influenced by the northeast trade winds. In Trinidad, the average annual temperature is 26°C (78.8°F) and the average maximum temperature is 34°C (93.2°F). Humidity is high, especially during the rainy season when it averages 85 to 87%. The island receives an average of 2,110 millimetres of rainfall per year, generally concentrated in the months of June to December, when short, intense showers are common.

Rainfall is highest in the Northern Range, where up to 3,810 mm (150 inches) can fall. During the dry season, the central interior of the island experiences drought. Tobago’s climate is similar to Trinidad’s, but slightly cooler. The rainy season runs from June to December; annual rainfall is 2,500 mm (98.4 in). The islands are outside the hurricane belt; nevertheless, Hurricane Flora damaged Tobago in 1963, and Tropical Storm Alma hit Trinidad in 1974, causing damage before it reached full strength.

Geography Of Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago are islands located between 10° 2′ and 11° 12′ north latitude and 60° 30′ and 61° 56′ west longitude. At its closest point, Trinidad is only 11 kilometres from Venezuelan territory. With an area of 5,128 km2, the country consists of the two main islands of Trinidad and Tobago and numerous smaller landforms, including Chacachacare, Monos, Huevos, Gaspar Grande (or Gasparee), Little Tobago and St. Giles Island.

Trinidad has an area of 4,768 km2 (93.0% of the country’s total area), an average length of 80 km (50 mi) and an average width of 59 km (37 mi). Tobago has an area of about 300 km2 (120 sq mi), or 5.8% of the country’s land area. It is 41 km long and 12 km wide at its widest point.

Trinidad and Tobago are located on the continental shelf of South America and are therefore geologically fully counted as part of South America.

The relief of the islands is a mixture of mountains and plains. The highest point of the country is in the northern mountain range, at El Cerro del Aripo, 940 metres above sea level.

Since most of the population lives on the island of Trinidad, this is also where most of the larger cities are located. There are four major municipalities in Trinidad: Port of Spain, the capital, San Fernando, Arima and Chaguanas. The main city in Tobago is Scarborough. Trinidad has a variety of soil types, most of which are fine sands and heavy clays. The alluvial valleys of the Northern Range and the soils of the East-West Corridor are the most fertile.

Demographics Of Trinidad and Tobago

Ethnic groups

The ethnic composition of Trinidad and Tobago reflects a history of conquest and immigration. While the original inhabitants were of American origin, since the twentieth century the two dominant groups in the country have been those of South Asian and African origin. Indo-Trinidadians are the largest ethnic group in the country (about 37.6 per cent). They are mainly descendants of indentured labourers who came from India to replace freed African slaves who refused to continue working on the sugar plantations. By preserving the culture, some residents of Indian origin maintain the traditions of their ancestral land.

Afro-Trinidadians and Tobagonians are the second largest ethnic group in the country, with about 36.3% of the population identifying themselves as of African descent. People of African descent were brought to the island as slaves as early as the 16th century. 24.4 % of the population described themselves as ‘mixed’ ethnicity in the 2011 census. There are small but significant minorities of people of European, Chinese and Levantine (Syrian/Lebanese) origin.

Religion

Many different religions are practised in Trinidad and Tobago. According to the 2011 census, Roman Catholics were the largest religious group in Trinidad and Tobago with 21.60% of the total population. Hindus were the second largest group at 18.15%, while Pentecostals/Evangelicals/Full Gospel denominations were the third largest group at 12.02% of the population. Significantly, respondents who indicated no religious affiliation made up 11.1% of the population. The rest of the population was made up of Baptists (5.67%), Anglicans (5.67%), Muslims (4.97%), Seventh Day Adventists (4.09%), Presbyterians or Congregationalists (2.49%), irreligious (2.18%), Jehovah’s Witnesses (1.47%), other Baptists (1.21%), Trinidad Orisha believers (0.9%), Methodists (0.65%), Rastafari (0.27%) and the Moravian Church (0.27%).

Two African syncretic denominations, the Shouter or Spiritual Baptists and the Orisha faith (formerly known as Shangos, an unflattering term) are among the fastest growing religious groups. Similarly, there has been a marked increase in the number of evangelical and fundamentalist Protestant churches, commonly referred to by most Trinidadians as “Pentecostal”, although this designation is often inaccurate. A small Jewish community exists in the islands, and various Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism are followed by the Chinese community. There is also a small Baha’i community.

Language in Trinidad and Tobago

English is the official language. Words are spelled according to the British spelling (e.g. paint, work, tyre, etc.). English-Creole (although not called English-Creole by locals) is very commonly used for informal communication between locals. It is mainly an oral language, rarely written (and then only improvised). A Trinidadian dictionary, “Cote Ci Cote La”, can be purchased in one of the country’s many bookshops and makes an excellent souvenir of your holiday in Trinidad and Tobago. Here is an example of one of the many words that have a radically different meaning from American English:

liming; means going out in public with friends.

Hindi, French (mostly Creole or Patois), Spanish and Chinese are also occasionally heard. It may sometimes seem that you are in a country that speaks only one foreign language. However, as almost everyone knows standard (British) English, it is not necessary to ask for it. Of course, you should be careful if someone suddenly starts speaking in Standard English. They may well be talking to you!

Internet & Communications in Trinidad and Tobago

The international dialling code for Trinidad is 868 under the North American numbering plan. From the United States and Canada, it is the same as for calls to other states and provinces (1+868), but it costs more. Its top-level domain is . tt and its ITU call sign prefixes are 9Y and 9Z.

The Telecommunications Authority

All telecommunications in Trinidad and Tobago are now under the authority of the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT). All telecommunications and broadcasting licences and franchises in Trinidad and Tobago are acquired and administered by TATT. Complaints about telecommunications service providers can also be lodged with them.

Landline telephones

Landline telephones are available in larger hotels, but may not be available in the rooms of smaller guesthouses. The telephone company is Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago [www], jointly owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and Cable and Wireless. There are charges for local calls, but calls within the same area code and telephone exchange are charged a flat rate for the entire call. Hotels may of course charge more if you use their phones. Telephone cafés are located throughout the country. For visitors who want to make international calls, it may be useful to use the call cafes.

Mobile phones

Two mobile operators currently operate in Trinidad and Tobago: bmobile [www] and Digicel [www]. Both operate on the GSM standard, with bmobile using the 1800MHz frequency band and Digicel using the 850MHz and 1900MHz frequency bands. There are roaming agreements with GSM operators such as AT&T (formerly Singular) in the US, but the cost of roaming can be prohibitive and calls within Trinidad may incur international charges. You can buy a prepaid SIM card and GSM phone from Digicel or bmobile shops for as little as TT$100 and use this card in an unlocked GSM phone for the duration of your stay. You can also buy a SIM phone for this price. CDMA phones (Verizon) work in Trinidad and Tobago. They appear to be active only because of the TSTT-EVDO data network, but you can make or receive calls on the CDMA network.

Access to the Internet

Internet cafés offer internet access at public terminals at a price of usually TT$1 to TT$10 per hour.

Dial-up access is available from TSTT and other independent service providers. Monthly plans and pay-as-you-go access are available. Pay-as-you-go service is available through the 619-EASY service for TT$0.75 per minute. Roaming with foreign ISP accounts is available through an agreement between TSTT and IPASS, Inc.

Broadband internet options are available in Trinidad. The two main companies offering these services are TSTT (blink) and FLOW (Columbus Communications).

Wi-Fi access is available in a few places, e.g. Piarco Airport, Movie Towne and some hotels and restaurants. At the moment it is free, but this may change. EVDO and EDGE broadband access is also available, but may require contracts and a service commitment. Some hotels and guesthouses offer free broadband. Always ask if you do not find this offer on the website as it may have been added recently.

Other options include landline, DSL, cable modem (only in a few areas) and satellite, but these are usually not available to tourists for a short stay.

For a good discussion of internet access in Trinidad and Tobago, see the TTCS website. www]

Postal service

The postal service is operated by the Trinidad and Tobago Postal Corporation, TTPost [www]. Postage rates can be found on the TTPost website. Post offices are located in many places near the city centre, and there are red letterboxes in some places. With the restructuring of the postal service, TTPost has become comparable to the postal service in many developed countries and is generally reliable. In addition, other services such as paying US visa fees, paying bills and buying inter-island ferry tickets are available through TTPost.

Radio and TV

Radio

With the liberalisation of the telecommunications market, there are now many radio stations on the FM band. Most stations play music, with Indian music and calypso/soca being very popular.

TV

There are a few local TV channels, the main one being TV6 on channels 6 and 18. Most of them broadcast local programmes, but TV6 also broadcasts American series, sitcoms and soap operas. Some channels are only available on cable, others are low-powered and therefore only available regionally. Gayelle The Channel on channels 23 and 27 is a 100% local television station that can give visitors to Trinidad and Tobago an interesting and entertaining insight into local life and culture. Other local channels include: NCC 4, Synergy TV, Trinity Television and Islamic Channel.

Cable television is also available. Most major US networks are available on cable, including CBS, NBC and ABC. Cable TV is available in hotels and guesthouses.

DirecTV Latin America satellite television is also available, but its service is not as good as cable and it tends to offer more Spanish-language programmes.

Satellite TV with a large antenna is also available.

Economy Of Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago is one of the richest and most developed nations in the Caribbean and is among the top 40 (as of 2010) of the 70 highest-income countries in the world. Its GNI per capita of US$20,070 (Atlas GNI 2014) is one of the highest in the Caribbean. In November 2011, the OECD removed Trinidad and Tobago from its list of developing countries. Trinidad’s economy is heavily influenced by the oil industry. Tourism and manufacturing are also important to the local economy. Tourism is a growing sector, although it is not as important proportionally as in many other Caribbean islands. Agricultural products include citrus fruits and cocoa.

Recent growth has been driven by investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG), petrochemicals and steel. Other projects in petrochemicals, aluminium and plastics are in various stages of planning. Trinidad and Tobago is the largest oil and gas producer in the Caribbean and its economy is highly dependent on these resources, but it also supplies manufactured goods, including food, beverages and cement, to the Caribbean region.

Oil and gas account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of exports, but only 5% of employment. The country is also a regional financial centre and the economy has a growing trade surplus. The expansion of Atlantic LNG over the past six years has created the largest single period of sustained economic growth in Trinidad and Tobago. It has become the largest exporter of LNG to the US and now supplies about 70% of US LNG imports.

Trinidad and Tobago has transitioned from an oil-based economy to a natural gas-based economy. In 2007, natural gas production averaged 4 billion cubic feet per day (110 000 m3/d), compared to 3.2×106 cubic feet per day (91 000 m3/d) in 2005. In December 2005, Atlantic LNG’s fourth liquefied natural gas (LNG) production module or “Train” began production. Train 4 increased Atlantic LNG’s total production capacity by almost 50 per cent and is the largest LNG train in the world, producing 5.2 million tonnes of LNG per year.

In an effort to transform the economy through diversification, Trinidad and Tobago established InvesTT in 2012 to serve as the country’s sole investment promotion agency. The agency is attached to the Ministry of Trade and Industry and is intended to be the key agent for meaningful and sustainable growth in the country’s non-oil and gas sector.

Trinidad and Tobago’s infrastructure is good by regional standards. Trinidad’s international airport was expanded in 2001. The country has an extensive network of paved roads and several good four- and six-lane highways, including a controlled-access motorway. The Ministry of Public Works estimates that the average Trinidadian spends about four hours a day in traffic. Emergency services are reliable, but delays can occur in rural areas. Private hospitals are available and reliable. Public services are fairly reliable in urban areas. However, some areas, especially rural districts, still suffer from water shortages.

Entry Requirements For Trinidad and Tobago

Visa & Passport for Trinidad and Tobago

All visitors must bring: a valid passport for the duration of the stay, a return ticket, proof of financial means to support themselves, an address in TT, e.g. a hotel or family/friends.

Citizens of the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Caricom countries (except Haiti), Singapore and most EEA and Latin American countries do not require a visa for holiday or business travel of up to 90 days. Other nationalities must apply in advance for a visa at a TT embassy or consulate abroad. When leaving the country, an exit tax of TTD 75 is charged on the ferry to Venezuela.

How To Travel To Trinidad and Tobago

Get In - By air

The main airport is Piarco International Airport (IATA: POS) on the island of Trinidad, about 25 km southeast of Port of Spain. Direct flights are available from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Orlando, New York (JFK) and Newark, USA; Toronto, Canada; London, UK; Caracas and Porlomar, Venezuela; Panama City, Panama; Paramaribo, Suriname; Georgetown, Guyana; Barbados and several other Caribbean islands.

Airlines flying to Trinidad (IATA/POS)

Caribbean Airlines (The National Airline), direct flights from Miami, New York, Ft Lauderdale, Orlando, Toronto, Caracas, Georgetown, Kingston, Paramaribo, Barbados and other Caribbean islands.

Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela, direct flights from Caracas

American Airlines, direct flights from Miami

British Airways, direct flights from London Gatwick

Conviasa, direct flights from Porlamar

Copa Airlines, direct and connecting flights from Central and South America via Panama.

Liat Airline, regional island access airline in the Eastern Caribbean.

Surinam Airways, Paramaribo, Curaçao

United Airlines, direct flights from Houston and Newark

Airlines flying to Tobago (IATA/TAB)

Tobago’s Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson International Airport (IATA: TAB) offers limited direct flights, mainly to London.

Caribbean Airlines, which offers domestic flights from Trinidad and a direct flight from New York (JFK).

Virgin Atlantic, direct flights from Gatwick London

British Airways, direct flights from Gatwick London

Monarch Airways, charter service from Gatwick London

Condor, charter flight from Frankfurt, Germany

Since 2014, the international departure tax is TTD 200 (approx. USD 30.95) and is now included in the cost of your ticket at the point of sale.

Get In - With the boat

Trinidad is a popular place for yacht owners. Most of them anchor in the Chaguaramas area, in the far northwest of the island. The Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association provides services for yachtsmen, known here as “yachties”. Cruise ships can also dock at the Cruise Ship Complex in Port of Spain.

How To Travel Around Trinidad and Tobago

Get Around - On the islands

By taxi

Taxis are ordinary passenger cars, without any special marking. However, their number plate starts with the letter “H”. They can be found at taxi stands, which can be located on a street corner or at the side of the road. Taxi ranks in cities and districts are usually marked, but not outside the city. However, you can hail a taxi at the side of the road and ask for the destination and fare before taking the taxi. You pay for an individual seat and taxis are shared, but you can hire a whole car if you wish and if there are not many passengers waiting. Airport taxis are an exception to this rule as you almost always have to hire the whole car.

There are larger taxis, called “maxi taxis” or simply “maxis”, which follow a specific route. They look like minibuses and are painted white or beige with a coloured stripe. Each maxi can usually hold about 11 or 25 passengers. The colour of the stripe indicates the area in which they operate. They have their own taxi ranks and terminals. In Port of Spain, the maxis leave and arrive at the City Gate Terminal, and in San Fernando they leave and arrive at the King’s Wharf Bus Terminal. These maxi-taxis go to the eastern, southern and central areas of the island. To get to the west, there are a few designated spots, such as the Diego Martin/Petit Valley/Carenage/Chagaramas maxi taxi station, which is a few miles from the City Gate. If you wish, you can hire a maxi-taxi for a full day as part of a charter trip. This can be negotiated directly with the maxi taxi drivers in advance. Prices vary.

Gypsy taxis are also available. They are known locally as “PH” as they are private cars used illegally for hire. Be careful as “PH” drivers have been linked to crimes such as murders, kidnappings and robberies and they are not insured for passengers.

A few tips:

  • All taxi rides must be paid for in cash in TT dollars. Some drivers accept US dollars, Canadian dollars or Euros, but they may not give you a favourable exchange rate. You can ask for your fare in advance. In maxi-taxis, you pay the driver, or the driver if there is no driver. Tipping is not expected, except for airport taxis. However, if you are feeling generous, you can tip if you wish. Taxi drivers do not usually issue receipts.
  • If you deviate from the usual route (usually the main road), inform the taxi driver before you get in. Some may not want to go off the main road because of crime or bad roads. If you don’t inform them in advance, they may drop you off at a place near your destination and you may have to walk. Maxi taxis do not usually deviate from the intended route, but some will ask passengers if it is possible to take an alternative route if there is too much traffic. If you have any doubt that the maxi taxi will miss your destination, ask the driver.
  • Avoid looking for a taxi or maxi during rush hour (AM and PM, but PM is worse). Taxi ranks tend to be crowded and other people may hail the taxi before the taxi rank. The result is that the taxi is full before it reaches the station and the waiting time can be extremely long.
  • Some maxi-taxi and taxi drivers want to put more passengers than the legal number in the vehicle. This is a dangerous and illegal practice as none of the passengers are covered by insurance if the maxi taxi is overloaded and has an accident. Politely refuse or at least know what you are risking.
  • If your taxi or maxi is involved in an accident, report it to the police as soon as possible to protect your rights. Taxi drivers are obliged to carry insurance for all passengers. Police reports can be made in person at the relevant police station. Ask a local resident. They will know. If you or someone else needs immediate medical attention, call 999 or 990.
  • Some taxi ranks fill taxis from the back to the front. This practice is more common in cities and towns.
  • To stop a maxi-taxi while it is on board (i.e. at your destination), press the stop button. Sometimes they are not marked, but maxi-taxis are required by law to have them.
  • Smoking in public buildings is prohibited by law.

By bus

The buses are operated by the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC), which is owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. Buses and bus tickets are available at City Gate in Port-of-Spain, King’s Wharf in San Fernando and at various other terminals and bus stops. A ticket is required to board the bus. Bus drivers do not accept cash or credit cards. 

With the ferry

On the island of Trinidad, an inland ferry now runs between the two main towns of Port-of-Spain in the north and San Fernando in the south. The ferry ride between the two destinations takes about 45 minutes and a single ticket costs TT$15 (about US$2.50).

By car

Car rentals are common and driving is left-handed (British style). There are several car rental companies, including international chains such as Budget and Hertz. There are also local companies such as Auto Rentals, Kalloo’s and many others. It is best to book a car in advance. However, a car can be rented at the airport upon arrival. Rental car number plates are usually marked with an “R” (for “Rental”) as the initial letter. Some people rent cars with number plates marked with the letter “P” (Private), but this practice is illegal and it is better to rent a car with an “R” plate. However, it is increasingly common for criminals to target car rental drivers, as many locals seem to believe that all foreigners are rich. Therefore, more and more car rental companies are equipping their vehicles with “P” plates in the hope of hiding the fact that it is actually a rental car.

Road conditions and traffic

Beware of drivers who do not obey the traffic rules. They may not stop at red lights and turn unexpectedly. If you are used to driving only on the right (USA, Canada, Europe), seriously consider not driving at all. Drive to stay alive. If you foresee the possibility of an inconvenience, especially if it could develop into an incident of road rage, avoid it.

Speed limits are in force (80 km/h on motorways) but are rarely enforced. Many road signs are old and poorly visible and distances are given in kilometres. If you can drive well, it is fun to enjoy the roads, especially late at night or early in the morning. Avoid speeding at all times on major roads during rush hour or around Queen’s Park Savannah. Otherwise, the chances of you being pulled over are almost nil.

Although you will see many drivers doing this, it is illegal to turn left on red (which is equivalent to turning right on red in countries with left-hand traffic like the USA). Turning manoeuvres are also prohibited.

Taxis, and especially maxi-taxis, are associated with many road accidents and deaths. They often stop unannounced to pick up or drop off passengers, make risky manoeuvres and generally drive recklessly. Although these behaviours are illegal, the police do not seem to care, except for occasional spot checks and roadblocks. Police action regarding maxi-taxis and taxis usually occurs when they cause serious traffic problems. In this case, it is not unusual for the police and the city to move maxi-taxis.

People also park in the middle of the road where there is no shoulder. Wait until the oncoming lane is clear and then drive around the parked car.

In more populated areas, such as the cities of Port of Spain and San Fernando, watch out for pedestrians as pedestrian crossings are the norm. Pedestrian traffic lights are few and far between. Also, in most cases you have to press the button. Most people don’t bother and just wait until traffic is clear or walk across the road. Be careful because if you hit a pedestrian, whether they are crossing the road illegally or not, you are more likely to get into trouble than if you hit a car.

Time and distance

If you plan to go to the other side of the island (Trinidad), start early and plan for the whole day, with nothing important planned for late afternoon. Although the island is not huge, it can take longer than you think to get anywhere. With the influx of used cars from Asia (known locally as “foreign used cars”) and the growing economy, more people than ever own cars. As a result, traffic jams are not uncommon, especially when driving to Port of Spain.

Get Around - Transport between the islands

There are two ways to travel between Trinidad and Tobago – by ferry and by plane.

Air travel costs TT$300 (US$50) round trip or TT$150 one way per person. There are twelve flights per day. Flight time is approximately 25 minutes each way. Caribbean Airlines (http://www.caribbean-airlines.com) offers this service.

There are two types of ferry services: fast and conventional.

The ferry fare is TT$50 for the outward journey and TT$100 for the return journey. The ships are the T&T Express and the T&T Spirit, both owned by the Trinidad and Tobago Port Authority. The trip takes about 2.75 hours. The Express is the faster of the two ships, but the Spirit is newer and has better facilities.

The conventional ferry trip costs TT$37.50 one-way and TT$75 return, but the journey takes about 5.5 hours. The ships are the MF Panorama and the Warrior Spirit.

Vehicles can be transported on the ferry, but there are different charges depending on size and weight. A return journey by private car costs TT$ 350, which includes the cost of the driver. It is unlikely that you will be able to pick up a rental car on the ferry, as you will need to present the vehicle documents.

From 1 November 2009, only same-day tickets can be purchased at the ferry terminals in Port of Spain and Scarborough. For advance purchase, you will need to buy tickets from selected travel agents – tickets sell out quickly at peak times, especially for vehicles. Ferry and travel agency timetables can be found on the Port Authority website [www] .

Destinations in Trinidad and Tobago

Cities

  • Port-of-Spain – Capital
  • Arima – birthplace of the famous calypso artist “Lord Kitchener”.
  • Chaguanas – the fastest growing and largest community, populated mainly by descendants of Indentured Labourers from the East Indies.
  • Chaguaramas – a town with one of the most important yachting centres, also famous for its nightlife; home of the 1999 Miss Universe pageant.
  • Point Fortin – a south-western community located on the shores of La Brea Pitch Lake and known for its oil production.
  • San Fernando – Southern City
  • Scarborough (capital of Tobago)

Other destinations

  • Caroni bird sanctuary and old sugar cane fields (very nice place for bird watching, lots of mosquitoes).
  • North Coast Beaches (Maracas, Las Cuevas, Tyrico, Blanchisseuse)
  • Lake La Brea Pitch
  • Lopinot Historic Site – Museum built on a former cocoa estate of the French Count Charles Joseph de Lopinot.
  • Roxborough – Northern Tobago Rainforest Reserve
  • Down to the islands – the small islands off the north-western peninsula offer a quiet retreat.

Accommodation & Hotels in Trinidad and Tobago

There is a wide range of accommodation options. There are the big hotels like the Crowne Plaza, the Hyatt and the Hilton. There are also smaller guesthouses, especially in Tobago, and beach houses on the coasts (especially on the east coast). Prices vary. In Trinidad, there is no official accommodation in many places and towns of limited interest to the typical tourist. Homestays may be the only option. However, Trinidad has developed a sporting and cultural infrastructure as it is multicultural with various religious denominations and even has world-class facilities for swimming, cycling, football, cricket, netball and the arts. For individuals or groups looking to gain experience or connect with similar groups at competitive rates, guesthouses such as The Little Inn and the Miracle Healing are just the ticket.

Things To See in Trinidad and Tobago

Beaches

Popular beaches in Trinidad are Maracas, Tyrico, Las Cuevas, Toco, Mayaro, Chagville, Los Iros and Quinam. Most of the beaches on the north coast are beautiful, with powdery sand and clear blue water. Los Iros and Quinam are fine, but Quinam’s water can be brown, largely due to sediment from the Orinoco River in South America. Although Maracas and Tyrico are not too far apart, you cannot get from one to the other by walking along the beach.

Popular beaches in Tobago are Pigeon Point, Store Bay, MT Irvine, Bucco, Grange, Englishman’s Bay, Canoe Bay. Tobago’s beaches are extremely beautiful.

Bucco Riff and the nylon pool

Popular beaches in Trinidad are Maracas, Tyrico, Las Cuevas, Toco, Mayaro, Chagville, Los Iros and Quinam. Most of the beaches on the north coast are beautiful, with powdery sand and clear blue water. Los Iros and Quinam are fine, but Quinam’s water can be brown, largely due to sediment from the Orinoco River in South America. Although Maracas and Tyrico are not too far apart, you cannot get from one to the other by walking along the beach.

Popular beaches in Tobago are Pigeon Point, Store Bay, MT Irvine, Bucco, Grange, Englishman’s Bay, Canoe Bay. Tobago’s beaches are extremely beautiful.

Caroni Bird Sanctuary

It is located in the Caroni Marsh and is a must for birdwatchers. Several native bird species nest in the bird sanctuary, including one of the national birds – the Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber). Visits usually take place at dusk, when the scarlet ibis return to the marsh to roost. It is also advisable to wear thick clothing (jeans and a jacket/sweater) as the mosquitoes in the bird sanctuary are particularly vicious and can bite even the thickest clothing.

Divali and the Divali Nagar

The Hindu festival of lights, Divali, is celebrated in most parts of Trinidad and some parts of Tobago. Every year, on one night in October-November, small oil lamps called deyas are lit inside and outside houses and in public places. There is also a festival and celebration called Divali Nagar where songs, dances, plays and other Indian cultural items are presented. The Divali Nagar is held on the grounds of the Divali Nagar in Chaguanas, Trinidad. Many sponsored companies set up stalls and there is even an open-air Indian restaurant where you can buy Indian food, including rotis. Divali is a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago.

Emperor Valley Zoo (Port of Spain) and Botanical Gardens

Trinidad and Tobago’s only zoo displays a wide variety of tropical animal species, including lions, tigers, monkeys, birds and fish. It is located in the capital Port of Spain. The Botanical Gardens contain many plant species and are located next to the zoo, near the President’s House.

Fort George, Tobago

Tobago’s Fort George offers a glimpse of Tobago’s colonial history and a beautiful view of the ocean.

Goat Race (Tobago)

The Tobago Goat Race on Easter Tuesday is a tradition that dates back to 1925. Surprisingly, it has many similarities with horse racing where there are owners, stables and trainers.

TTPBA Great Race

During the month of August (mainly the second or last weekend of August), an annual motorboat race, called the Great Race, takes place between Trinidad and Tobago. It is called the Great Race [www]. It starts at Pier 1 in Chaguaramas, Trinidad, and ends at Store Bay in Tobago. There are places where you can see the boats race live (e.g. Maracas Bay). The boats usually sail around the north-western peninsula, then along the north coast and set course for Tobago. Early arrivals usually end within an hour.

Lake La Brea Pitch

La Brea Pitch Lake is the largest natural reservoir of asphalt in the world. However, commercial mining of asphalt has slowed significantly as other, cheaper materials are available for road construction. Today, Pitch Lake is primarily a tourist destination. Many bathe in its waters, which contain sulphur and are said by some to have healing properties.

Leatherback turtles on Mathura beach

Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) can be seen at Mathura Beach in Trinidad. Every year at Easter, the turtles return to Trinidad to lay their eggs. Conservation groups offer guided tours. Volunteering is also possible. As turtles are an endangered species, it is illegal to kill turtles or eggs. Care should be taken not to disturb the turtles.

Tobago Heritage Festival

The Tobago Heritage Festival is held every year in the last week of July and the first week of August. It is a two-week extravaganza of Tobago dance, music, storytelling, culture and food. It is a showcase of Tobago’s long-standing traditions and a unique insight into the island’s way of life.

North Coast of Trinidad (Toco/Matelot/Grand Riviere)

The north coast of Trinidad is beautiful and largely unspoilt. There are many picturesque beaches and undeveloped areas. At the north-eastern end of the island is the village of Toco. The north-easterly trade winds blow literally 24 hours a day and lazing on the beach can be very relaxing.

Things To Do in Trinidad and Tobago

Pre-Lent Carnival

The annual Carnival festival is one of the most famous things in Trinidad and Tobago, with its many beautiful dances and celebrations. Every year on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and Lent, thousands of costumed revelers parade through the streets celebrating “The Greatest Show On Earth”. They are accompanied by the music of steel bands, with calypso and soca music blaring from large speakers carried by huge trucks. Before the two-day carnival celebration, there are other activities such as calypso tents (indoor calypso concerts), the “Panorama” steelband competition, the Soca Monarch, the Chutney Soca Monarch and outdoor parties called Fetes. Shrove Monday and Shrove Tuesday are not official holidays, but many businesses and all schools will still be closed on these two days. Carnival has its origins in French traditions adopted from African slaves.

Carnival is both a “must see” and a “must do” activity. You can simply stand on the side of the road and watch the parade of bands, or you can participate and play “the mas”. Many tourists take part in the carnival bands. Booking well in advance is essential as places fill up quickly. It is also important to be in shape as the costumes are often very light. In fact, some locals’ fitness goals are geared towards the carnival.

Nightlife

Popular beaches in Trinidad are Maracas, Tyrico, Las Cuevas, Toco, Mayaro, Chagville, Los Iros and Quinam. Most of the beaches on the north coast are beautiful, with powdery sand and clear blue water. Los Iros and Quinam are fine, but Quinam’s water can be brown, largely due to sediment from the Orinoco River in South America. Although Maracas and Tyrico are not too far apart, you cannot get from one to the other by walking along the beach.

Popular beaches in Tobago are Pigeon Point, Store Bay, MT Irvine, Bucco, Grange, Englishman’s Bay, Canoe Bay. Tobago’s beaches are extremely beautiful.

Caroni Bird Sanctuary

There are quite a few nightclubs in Trinidad and Tobago, especially in the Chaguaramas area. Pier 1, Anchorage, Base, MoBS2 to name a few. Some very popular nightclubs are Club Zen and 51 Degrees Lounge in Port of Spain and the Sting nightclub in La Romaine, as well as Space la Nouba and Prive, also in La Romaine. However, due to crime, caution is advised and it is better to be in a group than alone.

Golf

Golf can be played on several courses throughout Trinidad and Tobago. Some courses have 9 holes and others 18 holes. Some of these courses are the St. Andrews’ Golf Course [www] in Maraval (just outside Port of Spain) and the Mt. Irvine Golf Course in Tobago.

Food & Drinks in Trinidad and Tobago

Food in Trinidad and Tobago

Because of its diverse past, Trinidad and Tobago offers excellent and varied food options. The Indian roots in particular have produced some of the best dishes of any country in the world. If you cannot tolerate extremely hot and spicy food, you should tell the cook or waiter in advance.

Delicious rotisIndian flatbreads filled with channa (chickpea curry), usually with meat and other ingredients (green beans, pumpkin, mangoes, etc.) are popular in Trinidad. There are several types of rotis in Trinidad: sada, which resembles pita or naan; dhalpouri, which is filled with ground yellow split peas; and buss up shut, a heartier bread with a silky texture. Cheap breakfasts of sada roti and “choka” – vegetables of all kinds – are available for around TT$3-4. But the most popular fast-food snack is the double. A famous place is the “GEORGE DOUBLES”, located in Woodbrook in front of the all-famous “Brooklyn Bar”. Doubles are curried chickpeas wrapped in two pieces of toasted bread and served with spices of your choice. It’s a roadside snack available everywhere for around TT$2-$4. “Ali’s Doubles” is a chain that sells doubles. There are a few establishments in Trinidad, mainly in San Fernando. Eat hot.

Phoulourie is another popular roadside snack. Phoulourie is a small ball of flour and fried chickpeas. These and other popular snacks such as roasted corn, cow patty soup, aloo pies (fried potato pies) and saheena (spinach dipped in batter and fried) are often available from street vendors, especially in the Savannah area.

Trinidad and Tobago is also famous for its callaloo, a soup made from green leafy vegetables, such as spinach or kale, sometimes with crab or pork tail (vegetarians beware!). Callalloo is not the most appetising dish around, but it’s certainly worth a try.

Another T&T staple is the famous “Bake and Shark” or “Shark ‘n Bake”. Most readily available on the north coast, near Maracas Bay, the shark pieces are fried, served in sliced fried bread called “fried cake” and accompanied by a variety of sauces, the most popular of which is a puree of shade beni (an herb similar to coriander).

Another popular food traditionally associated with beach limes is pelau, usually accompanied by coleslaw. However, pelau is not available for purchase on the beach, but you may be able to find it in a Creole restaurant.

If you have a sweet tooth, there are many local sweets and candies to enjoy, such as Toolum, Tambran Ball, Guava Cheese, Sugar Cake, Paw Paw Ball, Benna Ball, Jub Jub, Kurma, Barfi, Ladoo, Peera. Many of them are available on the way to Maracas beach, and already packaged in some supermarkets.

There are a few American-style fast food chains, including KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut and Burger King. There are also a few franchise restaurants, such as TGI Friday’s and Ruby Tuesday. There are a few local chains like Royal Castle (chicken and fries) and Chicken Unlimited. These local fried chicken chains have a different taste than American or European fried chicken chains. Pizza Boys and Mario’s are two popular local pizza chains. The pizza is very different from American or Italian pizza.

Chinese food is available in many places in Chinese takeaways. It is Cantonese style, but the spices are typically Trinidadian.

Grilled chicken is another popular dish in Trinbagon. It is similar to American barbecue but with local spices. There are roadside barbecue stands selling a box of grilled chicken (quarters) with chips, salad and garlic bread. A popular place is the Barbecue Hut, an outdoor tent where customers buy barbecue to sit and eat or take away. It is located on South Trunk Road in La Romaine, South Trinidad, near the Gulf City shopping centre. Be aware that it is run by Muslims and alcohol is not allowed on the premises.

Condiments available in Trinbagonian restaurants include ketchup, regular mustard, garlic sauce, shadon-beni (a coriander-like herb), hot pepper and many others, depending on the location. Soy sauce is available in Chinese restaurants, as is an extremely hot Chinese-style chilli sauce. If you use chilli as a condiment, be warned! It is extremely hot! You may see locals putting a lot of chilli on their food, but remember they have been eating it for years and are used to it. It’s best to try a little and if you feel comfortable, add more. If in doubt, avoid it. Salt and black pepper are not usually present as in American restaurants.

Local bakeries sell pastries such as beef and chicken pies and sultana buns. They also sell hop bread, buns made from white or wholemeal flour. Hop bread is eaten hot and can be eaten with cheese or butter for a quick snack.

The grocery shop

Grocery shops sell a wide range of packaged goods and fruit and vegetables. However, for really fresh produce, you can go to the market. In the cities, there is usually a market day (or several) when vendors, usually local farmers, offer their products for sale. The government publishes prices for products, but it is possible to negotiate a better price. Again, although weights and measures are officially expressed in the metric system, most vendors use imperial units.

Halal food is available in most retail outlets, which usually have signs. Fast food outlets such as KFC and McDonald’s also serve halal food. Many supermarkets also stock a wide range of fresh and processed halal meat.

Drinks in Trinidad and Tobago

Alcohol-free

The most refreshing drink on a hot sunny day is a tall glass of a delicious, very cold mauby, a drink made from the bark of the mauby tree and spices such as aniseed and cinnamon. It is very refreshing and cool, but can be an acquired taste as it has a bitter aftertaste.

Cold jelly coconut water – available on the streets – costs around TT$3-4. And don’t forget to try the variety of local fruit juices, available slightly chilled in most grocery shops.

Sorrel is a popular drink available during the Christmas season. It is made from the boiled flowers of the roselle plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa). It has a red colour and is drunk cold. It also has nutritional properties.

Soft drinks are sweetened with cane sugar and not high fructose corn syrup as is common in North America. This gives soft drinks a different taste, which some say is better.

Malta is a popular drink made from malt and hops and available in local bars, restaurants and supermarkets. It is rich in calories and B vitamins and is best enjoyed ice cold.

Alcoholic beverages

Rum

A former sugar cane colony, Trinidad and Tobago is famous for its rum. Popular rum brands include Fernandes’ Black Label and Vat 19, as well as Angostura’s White Oak, Old Oak. In some bars you can buy single rum drinks, whether it is straight rum with or without chaser or blended rum. In some bars you can buy a whole bottle of rum, or a “demi”, which is the equivalent of half a bottle. Some bars sell a “nip”, which is less than half a bottle. You can also buy bottles of rum to take away in the shops at the airport and in the duty-free shops. Puncheon rum is a stronger type of rum (not less than 75% alcohol). It’s not quite like moonshine, but definitely stronger than regular rum. It may not even be legal to take it with you. However, it is legal in Trinidad and Tobago and available in many local bars.

Beer

Beer is available and very popular. The two most popular beer brands are Carib and Stag, which are brewed locally. In addition, some imported beers such as Miller are available. Other locally brewed malt beverages include Smirnoff Ice and various stouts (Mackeson, Guinness Export, etc.). There are no microbreweries in Trinidad and beer lovers might not like the local beers. However, there are a few bars that import a wider range of beers. Of particular interest is the All Out Bar at the Queen’s Park Oval cricket ground in Port of Spain (94 Tragarete Road). You will find a reasonable selection of English beers on tap here, sold by the pint.

Wine and other spirits

Wine, vodka, tequila and other spirits are usually imported. There are no vineyards in Trinidad and Tobago, as the tropical climate is not conducive to growing grapes. However, many restaurants serve a range of imported wines, and wine bars, such as More Vino in Woodbrook, have opened in recent years.

Alcohol laws

Not surprisingly, drinking in public is not frowned upon in Trinidad and Tobago. It is legal to drink alcohol in public. Public drunkenness can only lead to arrest if you engage in disorderly conduct. The legal drinking age is 18. However, on election day, the sale of alcohol is prohibited and may not be conspicuously displayed.

Money & Shopping in Trinidad and Tobago

Currency

The currency is the Trinidad and Tobago Dollar (TTD), also known as “TT” (pronounced teetee). US dollars are also widely accepted and the exchange rate in September 2014 was 1 USD = TTTD6.23.

Visa and MasterCards are accepted in many shops. American Express, Diners’ Club, Discover, JCB and other cards are accepted in only a few upscale establishments. Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards using the Cirrus and Plus networks work at local ATMs and allow TTD withdrawals that are converted into your home currency. The exchange rate when withdrawing from an ATM is slightly better than when exchanging cash. Some places, such as shopping centres, also have ATMs that dispense US dollars. Note that most ATMs in Trinidad and Tobago do not accept PIN codes longer than four digits. Remember to change them to four digits before you travel. Since December 2011, Republic Bank ATMs (blue machines) accept six-digit PIN codes.

Tipping

Tipping is not a custom, but it has become more common lately. Some restaurants, especially those in hotels or those serving foreign tourists, expect a tip. Most do not. Only airport taxis expect a tip. Local taxis do not.

Shopping

Prices in shops and shops are usually posted and do not change depending on the customer. However, it is a different story for outdoor vendors: They will probably charge a different and higher price for a foreigner than for a local. Some will even suggest or demand payment in US dollars. They may try to haggle or simply sulk.

Most items, with the exception of everyday goods and certain other zero-rated items, are subject to Value Added Tax (VAT) at the rate of 15%. The tax is levied at the time of sale.

Traditions & Customs in Trinidad and Tobago

It is a good idea to greet a stranger before asking a question. It is best to avoid strangers when you are not in the company of others. Nude or topless bathing is prohibited in Trinidad and Tobago.

Many Trinbagonians like to discuss sports. As it is a former British colony, these discussions usually revolve around cricket and football (football).

Several of the world’s major religions are well represented in Trinidad and Tobago. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Baha’i are popular. Judaism is not very popular and is mainly practised by expatriates. Atheism and agnosticism are not widespread, although many people have agnostic beliefs without being openly agnostic.

Although Trinidad has a large Indian Hindu community, there are no taboos that Westerners would find difficult to get used to. The cow is not so sacred as to prohibit eating beef or wearing leather, although Hindus do not eat beef (a few ultra-conservative Hindus may take offence, but they are very, very few).

Trinidadians can be extremely friendly and hospitable – especially to guests who share their religion. Don’t forget to bring small gifts as a thank you, as some visitors who had no intention of visiting or staying with the locals end up doing so.

Some houses (including some guest houses) in rural areas are not connected to an underground water system. However, they may have running water from a large, round, black outdoor tank. If you stay in such a place, be sure to conserve water, especially during the dry season (or all year round if the tank does not collect rainwater from the roof). If the tanks run dry, tankers may be available to fill them. But underground running water can also be rationed in the dry season. In short, if you are not staying in a big hotel, find out about the water situation.

Culture Of Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago is home to two Nobel Prize-winning authors, V. S. Naipaul and St Lucian-born Derek Walcott (who founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop and spent much of his career working and raising his family in Trinidad). Designer Peter Minshall is known not only for his Carnival costumes, but also for his role in the opening ceremonies of the Barcelona Olympics, the 1994 World Cup, the 1996 Summer Olympics and the 2002 Winter Olympics, for which he won an Emmy Award.

Geoffrey Holder (brother of Boscoe Holder) and Heather Headley are two Trinidadian-born performers who have won Tony Awards for theatre. Holder also has a successful film career, and Headley has also won a Grammy Award. Record artists Billy Ocean and Nicki Minaj are also Trinidadians. Interestingly, three actors who starred in Will Smith’s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air are of Trinidadian descent: Tatyana Ali and Alfonso Ribeiro were regulars on the show and played Will’s cousins Ashley and Carlton respectively, while Nia Long played Will’s girlfriend Lisa. Foxy Brown, Dean Marshall, Sommore, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gabrielle Reece, pop singer Haddaway, Tracy Quan, Mike Bibby, Lauryn Williams, Fresh Kid Ice and Roy Hibbert are all of Trinidadian descent.

Trinidad and Tobago also has the distinction of being the smallest country to have had two Miss Universe title holders and the first black woman to win the title: Janelle Commissiong in 1977 and Wendy Fitzwilliam in 1998; the country also had a Miss World title holder, Giselle LaRonde.

Music

Trinidad and Tobago is the birthplace of calypso music and the steelpan, which is said in Trinidad and Tobago to be the only acoustic musical instrument used in the 20th century. Trinidad is also the birthplace of soca music, chutney music, parang and carnival (in the form that has been widely copied in the Caribbean and around the world). The diverse cultural and religious background also allows for many festivals and ceremonies throughout the year, such as Carnival, Diwali and Eid celebrations.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Trinidad and Tobago

Stay Safe in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago is known for its increasingly high murder rate, but this is limited to isolated areas of the country. The capital Port of Spain is relatively safe, but like all major cities in the world, there are deprived areas that are not safe for tourists. The eastern part of Port of Spain, the areas east of Charlotte Street, are becoming increasingly dangerous and should be avoided, as should Belmont, Morvant and Laventille. The city is known for its lively nightlife, with many restaurants, bars, lounges and clubs. It is recommended to travel with escorts at night and not to venture into the back streets. The hotels can assist you with this. Tobago, on the other hand, is relatively safe and rather tourist-friendly.

In previous years, crime tended to peak during Carnival (January-March) and around Christmas (October-December), but recently criminal activity is year-round, which has decreased significantly due to the new change of government. However, one should always be careful at night in Trinidad and Tobago.

For longer stays, register with the nearest diplomatic mission in your country. They can offer assistance to their citizens. For a list of diplomatic missions in Trinidad and Tobago, see the Trinidad and Tobago government website.

In an emergency, dial 999 for the police from any phone. Dial 990 for the fire brigade and 811 for an ambulance. These calls are free from any phone, including payphones (no coins or cards required). For foreigners, in whose country the police reliably provide assistance in an emergency, note that when the police dial “999” in an emergency, they do not always answer the call or appear when help is needed.

The islands are located in an earthquake zone, although major earthquakes are extremely rare.

Stay Healthy in Trinidad and Tobago

The Tobago Tourist Board boasts that “Tobago’s wildlife won’t kill you”, which is largely true. Mosquitoes are present on the islands and isolated cases of dengue fever have been reported. Tap water is generally safe to drink, although many visitors prefer bottled water as the public water often has a strong chlorine taste. Be careful if you are in an area where houses collect rainwater from the roof, but very few problems have been reported.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS among adults is 3.0%, or 1 in 33 adults, five times higher than in the United States. The best advice is to be careful and protect yourself when engaging in sexual activity. Condoms are available at pharmacies to prevent the spread of AIDS and other STDs.

If you need prescription medication, it is best to take enough with you for the duration of the trip. There is no guarantee that what you need will be available. In the US, over-the-counter medicines are often available in many pharmacies, but don’t expect everything to be available. They may also be sold under different names on the American or European market.

Health care

Public health care in Trinidad and Tobago is free for all and is funded by the government and taxpayers. Health services are available on a walk-in basis. There are some large hospitals in the country, as well as smaller health centres and clinics in the regions. You can find them on the Ministry of Health website. Public health facilities are far below those of developed countries. Industrial action (strikes and work stoppages) by doctors and nurses occurs from time to time, and some health facilities are overcrowded and understaffed, with outdated equipment and medicines. There are also private health facilities that provide health services. Prices vary and can be quite high. Private doctors are also available by appointment.

Public ambulance services are available to all under the number 990. This service is managed by the fire brigade. However, it can be unreliable as the number of ambulances is limited and fire stations are often far away. Private ambulance services are available. They are generally more reliable, but not free. In an emergency, it may be useful to arrange your own transport to a medical facility.

Asia

Africa

South America

Europe

North America

Read Next

Port of Spain

Port of Spain is Trinidad and Tobago’s capital city and the third-largest municipality, behind Chaguanas and San Fernando. The city has a municipal population...