The birthplace of calypso, steelpan and a pretty raucous carnival, Trinidad and Tobago’s culture and history is every bit as fascinating as its wildlife and adventure. But what make it even more interesting is that the two parts of this twin-island nation in many ways couldn’t be more different.
Trinidad’s smaller sibling, Tobago is only 20 minutes away. This 115 square mile lush green island was the home to the real-life Robinson Crusoe who is said to have beached on its shores in 1659.
Trinidad and Tobago is a dual island Caribbean country off South America with two very distinct identities. Bustling Trinidad is the business hub with an eclectic heritage (its people hail from African, Indian, Chinese, Arabic and European descent), a legendary carnival and a work hard, play hard philosophy. Laid back Tobago’s is the pursuit of pleasure – if Caribbean beaches are what you’re after, this is the place to be. A fraction of the size of its big brother and largely unspoilt, rustic, with an unpretentious vibe, it shies away from attracting hordes of tourists – preferring to keep its island to locals and those ‘in the know’. And no wonder – boasting lovely golden-sand beaches, along with characterful fishing villages and excellent diving sites. With more than 230 species of tropical bird, it’s not surprising that Tobago has become a popular destination for bird watchers.
Nature in Tobago reigns in the rainforests and coral reefs. Guided walks in spectacular mountain scenery reveal hundreds of bird species and attractive brightly coloured fauna, while diving and stand-up paddle boarding experiences showcase the equally flamboyant submarine world.
While each island retains its own flavour, both offer the Caribbean trademarks – fields of sugar cane, waterfall hikes, rum cocktails, music and incredible palm-fringed beaches.
Want some adventure? Then Trinidad and Tobago is the place to be!
One of the world’s top eco destinations, these islands offer a host of adventures that are designed to challenge and excite, leaving you with a healthy glow and enough energy to make the most of your downtime.
For the person who wants to get out there and experience the destination in a fun, educational but stress-free way, soft adventure is just the thing. Activities such as zip lining above the rainforest canopy, kayaking through protected swampland, hiking along mountain trails, cocoa plantation jeep tours, drift diving and animal expeditions to see rare ocelots and even rarer Pawi, are just a few of the amazing soft adventures one can enjoy on the islands.
Zip lining offers adventurers of all ages a quick adrenaline rush high above the forest canopy and the swimmer-friendly Macqueripe Bay.
For adventure seekers who want to keep their feet firmly on the ground, another favourite pastime is hiking. With hiking clubs offering organised weekend walks on trails ranging from easy to ok-give-me-five-minutes to recover, hiking is a great option for families or groups of friends; especially since the dual-island republic boasts four forested mountain ranges. Many hikers make a picnic of it and the pay-off usually comes when the group discovers a hidden waterfall or secluded beach, a most delightful reward for a few hours’ effort.
For water babies seeking more aquatic exploits, there are many wet adventures to be had. Drift diving along Tobago’s famous reefs ought to be on every nature lover’s bucket list as the coral and marine life are some of the rarest in the world. Horseback riding in the surf is very new and only available in Tobago, but if you have a penchant for adventure, then rent a kayak and share some space with the rare West Indian Manatee. Want to up the ante? Take to Tobago’s wild waves for body surfing, wind surfing or a nocturnal bioluminescent stand up paddleboarding tour.
At the Pointe a Pierre Wild Fowl Trust, a leisurely stroll along a well maintained path guarantees up-close views of peacocks, ducks and exotic wild fowl. But even more amazing, this wildlife reserve sits in the heart of an oil refinery, making it the only one of its kind in the world. Another protected birdwatcher’s haven is the Caroni Swamp and Bird Sanctuary, where at sunset, visitors can relax in large, flat-bottomed boats while taking in the spectacular sight of thousands of roosting Scarlet Ibis among the dense mangrove.
Another spectacular spectacle takes place on beaches along Trinidad’s northeast coast every March to August. A long-time conservation cause célèbre in Trinidad and Tobago, the nesting of leatherback turtles occurs on only a few beaches around the world, and you guessed it, T&T’s coastlines are amongst the chosen.
For those interested in mixing their adventures with history and science, a trip to the Gasparee Caves are well worth the boat ride and hike to the cave entrance. The cave system features stunning stone formations, stalactites, stalagmites, sink holes and a deep crystal pool that shimmers with reflected light, and it is just one of several tours that both educate and entertain. Of course no trip to Trinidad and Tobago would be complete without a visit to the uber famous Pitch Lake, the world’s largest natural asphalt deposit and the eighth wonder of the world. Walk on the wrinkled greyish surface or call at the museum exhibit in the Visitor Centre which explores the lake’s origins and the myths that surround its creation.
With so many options, T&T’s soft adventure activities are rapidly becoming a must-do.