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. www]
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.
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.