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Holidays in Trinidad and Tobago

Understanding Trinidad and Tobago

The islands were first inhabited by Arawak and Carib people, who settled here from the South American mainland, and whose descendants make up a small minority of the population Trinidad was discovered by Christopher Columbus, who claimed it for Spain Under Spanish rule, large numbers of French settlers established cocoa plantations in Trinidad and imported slaves to work them The British seized the island in 1798, and abolished slavery To make up for the labor shortage the government encouraged heavy immigration from countries such as Portugal, France, Germany, China, and most importantly India Trinidad was united with Tobago in the 1880's Throughout the early 1900's the country welcomed thousands of mostly black immigrants from other Caribbean countries, as well as Venezuela and Colombia Following World War II, TT was combined with various other British Caribbean countries into the West Indies Federation, but the different countries could not get along and the federation soon collapsed TT eventually achieved complete independence on August 31, 1962 Throughout the sixties and seventies, the country prospered thanks to large deposits of oil and natural gas, becoming the wealthiest nation in the Caribbean However, in the late eighties, oil prices dropped significantly, causing a major economic meltdown Thousands of Trinidadians left the country at this time, in search of better opportunities elsewhere Throughout the ninties and 2000's the country recovered dramatically and it continues to improve today

The country has a cosmopolitan society inhabited by many different peoples and cultures who live together in relative peace and harmony

The two islands have distinct personalities Trinidad is the larger of the two, and is the location of most of the country's cities and activity It is also the country's industrial centre, noted for petroleum and natural gas production, which make T&T one of the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean Tobago is known for tourism, which is its main industry and is a popular tourist destination Both islands have a share of natural beauty


Trinidad and Tobago, well within the tropics, both enjoy a generally pleasant maritime tropical climate influenced by the northeast trade winds In Trinidad the annual mean temperature is 26 °C 788 °F, and the average maximum temperature is 34 °C 932 °F The humidity is high, particularly during the rainy season, when it averages 85 to 87 % The island receives an average of 2,110 millimeters 831 in of rainfall per year, usually concentrated in the months of June through December, when brief, intense showers frequently occur Precipitation is highest in the Northern Range, which may receive as much as 3,810 millimeters 150 in During the dry season, drought plagues the island's central interior Tobago's climate is similar to Trinidad's but slightly cooler Its rainy season extends from June to December; the annual rainfall is 2,500 millimeters 984 in The islands lie outside the hurricane belt; despite this, Hurricane Flora damaged Tobago in 1963, and Tropical Storm Alma hit Trinidad in 1974, causing damage before obtaining full strength


Trinidad is traversed by three distinct mountain ranges The Northern Range, an outlier of the Andes Mountains of Venezuela, consists of rugged hills that parallel the coast This range rises into two peaks The highest, El Cerro del Aripo, is 940 meters 3,084 ft high; the other, El Tucuche, reaches 936 meters The Central Range extends diagonally across the island and is a low-lying range The Caroni Plain, extends southward, separating the Northern Range and Central Range The Southern Range consists of a broken line of hills with a maximum elevation of 305 meters 1,001 ft There are numerous rivers and streams on the island of Trinidad; the most significant are the Ortoire River, and Caroni River

Tobago is mountainous and dominated by the Main Ridge, which is 29 kilometers long with elevations up to 640 meters There are deep, fertile valleys running north and south of the Main Ridge The southwestern tip of the island has a coral platform Although Tobago is volcanic in origin, there are no active volcanoes There are numerous rivers and streams, but flooding and erosion are less severe than in Trinidad

Talking in Trinidad and Tobago

English is the official language Words are spelt with British spellings eg colour, labour, tyre, etc English Creole though it is not referred to by locals by that name is very frequently used for informal communication among locals It's mostly an oral language, and is seldom written and then just by ad-lib A Trinidadian Dictionary, "Cote Ci Cote La" can be found at one of the many bookstores in the country and is an excellent souvenir to remember your vacation to Trinidad and Tobago Here's an example of just one of those many words that have radically different meanings from American English:

liming ; meaning to hang out in public with your friends

Also, Hindi, French mostly Creole or Patois, Spanish, and Chinese are occasionally heard It may seem, at times, you are in a country that only speaks a foreign language However, since virtually everyone knows standard British English, there's no need to ask Of course, if someone does suddenly start talking in standard English -- take notice They may very well be talking to you!

What to see in Trinidad and Tobago


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 okay, however Quinam's water may be brown, largely due to sediment from the orinoco river in South America Although Maracas and Tyrico are not too far apart, you cannot walk from one to the other along the beach

Popular beaches in Tobago include Pigeon Point, Store Bay and Man-of-War Bay Tobago's beaches are extremely beautiful, but are beginning to suffer the effects of population expansion and the resultant pollution

Bucco Reef and the nylon pool

Buccoo Reef is a natural coral reef on the North Coast of Tobago Glass Bottom Boat tours are available from Pigeon Point and Store Bay The nylon pool is an area of shallow water on top of the reef The water is crystal clear and looks like fishing line nylon, hence the name A glass bottom boat tour will take you there and allow you to bathe

Caroni Bird Sanctuary

Located in the Caroni Swamp, this is a must for bird watchers Several indigenous species of bird nest in the bird sanctuary, including one of the national birds - the Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruber Tours generally take place during dusk as the Scarlet Ibis returns to the swamp to roost It is also a good idea to wear thick clothingjeans and a jacket/sweater as the mosquitoes in the bird sanctuary are especially vicious and are capable of biting through the thickest of clothing

Divali and the Divali Nagar

The Hindu festival of lights, Divali, is celebrated in most areas in Trinidad and a few areas in Tobago Every year during one night in October-November small oil lamps called deyas are lit on the inside and outside of homes and in public places Additionally, there is a celebration and festival called the Divali Nagar, where Indian song, dance, plays and other cultural items are on display The Divali Nagar takes place at the Divali Nagar Site in Chaguanas, Trinidad Many corporate sponsors set up booths and there is even an open air indian restaurant where one can purchase Indian food including roti Divali is a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago

Emperor Valley Zoo Port of Spain and the Botanical Gardens

Trinidad and Tobago's only zoo features a wide variety of tropical species including lions, tigers, monkeys, birds and fish It is in the capital, Port of Spain The Botanical Gardens contains many species of plants and is right next to the zoo, close to the President's house

Fort George Tobago

Tobago's Fort George offers a glimpse into Tobago's colonial history and beautiful views of the ocean

Goat races Tobago

Goat racing in Tobago on Easter Tuesday is a tradition dating back to 1925 Amazingly, it shares many similarities to horse racing, where there are owners, stables and trainers

TTPBA Great Race

During the month of August mainly in second or last weekend of August there is an annual power boat race from Trinidad to Tobago called the Great Race11 It starts at Pier 1 in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and ends at Store Bay in Tobago There are places to see the boats racing live such as Maracas Bay The boats typically travel around the North West peninsula, then along the north coast then make a bee line to Tobago The first finishers typically finish in an hour

La Brea Pitch Lake

The La Brea Pitch Lake is the world's largest natural reservoir of asphalt However, commercial excavation of asphalt has slowed down considerably, since other more cost effective materials are available for road construction The pitch lake is now primarily a tourist destination Many go to bathe in its waters, which contain sulphur, which some say has healing properties

Leatherback turtles on Mathura Beach

The Leatherback sea turtles Dermochelys coriacea can be seen on Trinidad's Mathura beach Every year around Easter, the turtles return to Trinidad to lay their eggs Tours are available from conservation groups Volunteer opportunities are also available Since the turtles are an endangered species, it is illegal to kill the turtles or the eggs, therefore care and caution should be exercised so as not to disturb the turtles

Tobago heritage festival

Every year during the last week in July and first week in August, the Tobago heritage festival takes place It is a two week long show of Tobagonian dance, music, story telling, culture and food It is a showpiece into Tobago's long held traditions and a unique glimpse into the island's way of life

Trinidad's north coast Toco/Matelot/Grand Riviere

The North coast of Trinidad is beautiful and largely unspoilt There are a lot of scenic beaches and undeveloped areas At the North East tip of the island is the village of Toco The North East trade wind blows literally 24 hours per day and lounging on the beach can be quite relaxing

What to do in Trinidad and Tobago

Pre-Lenten Carnival

The annual festival of Carnival is one of the most famous things about Trinidad and TobagoThere are many beautiful dances and a lot of celebrating around this time Every year on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent, thousands of costumed revelers parade on the streets in an annual street party dubbed "The Greatest Show On Earth" They are accompanied by music from steel bands, with calypso and soca music played on large loudspeakers carried on large trucks In the buildup to the two day Carnival celebration there are other activities including Calypso tents indoor calypso concerts, the "Panorama" steelband competition, Soca monarch, Chutney Soca monarch, as well as open air parties called fetes Carnival Monday and Tuesday are not official public holidays, but many businesses and all schools close for those two days anyway Carnival derives from the French traditions which were adopted by African slaves

Carnival is both a "See" and "Do" activity One can just stand at the side of the road and watch the parade of the bands, or actually participate and "play mas" Many tourists participate in Carnival bands Booking well in advance is a must as the spaces fill up quickly Getting in shape is also a must as many costumes are very skimpy In fact some locals' physical fitness goals are centered around Carnival


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 night clubs are Club Zen and 51 Degrees Lounge in Port of Spain and Sting nightclub in La Romaine, as well as Space la Nouba and Prive, both also in La Romaine However, due to the crime situation, caution is advised and it is a good idea to be with a group rather than by yourself


One can play golf at several golf courses throughout Trinidad and Tobago Some courses are 9 holes and others are 18 holes Two popular golf courses are the St Andrews' Golf course 12 in Maraval just outside of Port of Spain and the Mt Irvine Golf Course in Tobago

Buying stuff in Trinidad and Tobago

The currency on Trinidad and Tobago is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar, also known as the TT pronounced teetee US dollars are also widely accepted Visa and Mastercard credit cards are accepted at many stores American Express, Diners' Club, Discover, JCB and others are only accepted in a few places ATM ABM cards using Cirrus and Plus networks will work in local ATMs and will allow you to make withdrawals in TT dollars converted to your home currency The exchange rate when withdrawing from the ATM is slightly better than when exchanging cash There are also ATMs in a few places such as shopping malls that will dispense US dollars Be advised that Trinidad and Tobago ATMs do not accept PINs longer than four digits Consider changing it to four digits before you travel

Prices in shops and stores are generally displayed and do not change according to the customer Outdoor vendors, however, are another story: they are likely to charge a different, higher price for a foreigner than for a local A few will even suggest or demand payment in US dollars You can try haggling, or just grin and bear it

Most items except necessities and certain other items that are zero rated attract Value Added Tax VAT at the rate of 15% The tax is collected at the time of sale

Weights and measures are officially in Metric, however it is not uncommon for imperial English units to still be used Though the other units are the same, the imperial gallon is not the same as the US gallon

Food and eating in Trinidad and Tobago

Due to its varied background, Trinidad and Tobago has excellent and varied food options In particular, the Indian roots have added to some of the best foods of any country in the world If you can't tolerate extremely hot and spicy food, be sure to let the cook or waiter know in advance

Popular throughout T&T are tasty rotis, Indian flatbreads stuffed with Channachickpea curry, usually some meat, and other items including green beans, pumpkin, and mangoes There are several types of roti available in Trinidad-- sada, which is similar to pita or naan; dhalpouri, which is filled with ground yellow split peas; and buss up shut, a heartier bread, with a silken texture Cheap breakfasts of sada roti and 'choka' - vegetables of all kinds are available for about TT$3-4 But the most popular fast snack is a 'doubles' One Famous spot is "GEORGE DOUBLES" located in Woodbrook outside the ever famous "Brooklyn Bar" Doubles is curried chick peas enclosed in two pieces of fried bread, and servied your choice of condiments It is a roadside snack, available everywhere at about TT$2-$4 "Ali's Doubles" is a chain that sells doubles There are a few locations around Trinidad, mostly in San Fernando Eat hot

Phoulourie is another popular roadside snack Phoulourie are small balls, made of fried ground chick peas and flour It and other popular snack foods like roast corn, cow heel soup, aloo pies fried potato pies and saheena spinach dipped in batter and fried, are often available from street vendors, especially around the Savannah

Trinidad and Tobago is also famous for its mouth watering callaloo-- a soup made from green leafy vegetables, similar to spinach or kale, sometimes with crab or pigtail added vegetarians beware! Callalloo is not the most appetizing of foods to look at, but it is certainly worth a try

Another must try in T&T is the infamous Bake and Shark or Shark 'n Bake Most easily obtained along the north coast near Maracas Bay, pieces of Shark are deep fried, served in cut fried bread called "fried bake", and accompanied by various sauces, most popular of which is a puree of shadow beni a herb similar to cilantro

Another popular food traditionally associated with beach limes is pelau, usually accompanied with coleslaw Pelau, is not, however, available for purchase at the beach, although 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 sample like Toolum, Tambran Ball, Guava Cheese, Sugar Cake, Paw Paw Ball, Benna Ball, Jub Jub, Kurma, Barfi, Ladoo, Peera Many of these will be available on the "lookout" on the way to Maracas Beach, and prepackaged in some supermarkets

A few American style fast food chains are available including KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut and Burger King There are also a few franchised eat-in restaurants such as TGI Friday's and Ruby Tuesday There are a few local chains such as Royal Castle chicken and chips, Chicken Unlimited These local fried chicken chains have a different taste from American or European fried chicken chains Pizza Boys and Mario's are two popular local Pizza chains The pizza is quite different from American or Italian pizza

Chinese food is available in many places from Chinese takeout stores It is Cantonese style but the spices are uniquely Trinidadian

Barbecued chicken is another popular Trinbagonian dish It is similar to American barbecue, but with local spices There are roadside barbecue stands that sell a box of barbecued chicken quarter with fries, salad and garlic bread One popular place is The Barbecue Hut which is an open air tent where patrons will buy barbecue to sit down and eat or take away It is on the South Trunk Road in La Romaine, South Trinidad close to the Gulf City mall Be aware that it is run by Muslims therefore no alcohol is allowed on the compound

The condiments available in Trinbagonian restaurants are ketchup, plain mustard and hot pepper Soy sauce is available in Chinese restaurants If taking hot pepper as a condiment, be warned! It is extremely hot! You may see locals putting a lot of pepper on their food, but remember they have been eating it for years so they are accustomed to it It is best to try a little and if you feel comfortable add more If in doubt, avoid it Salt and black pepper are generally not available as in American restaurants

Local bakeries sell pastries such as beef and chicken pies and currant rolls They also sell hops bread which are rolls made with white or whole wheat flour Hops bread is best eaten hot and can be enjoyed with cheese or butter for a quick snack

Grocery shopping

Grocery stores sell a wide variety of packaged goods and produce However, for really fresh produce, one can go to the market Towns usually have a market day or days where sellers, usually local farmers, will bring their produce to sell The Government publishes prices for produce, however one may be able to bargain to get a better price Again, while weights and measures are officially in Metric, most sellers use imperial units

Drinking in Trinidad and Tobago


The most refreshing drink on a hot sunny day is a large glass of a very cold delicious Mauby, a beverage made with the bark of the mauby tree and spices, such as anise and cinnamon It is very refreshing and cooling, but may be an acquired taste, since it has a bitter aftertaste

Cold soft jelly coconut water -- available along the roadsides -- costs about TT$3-4 And do try all the many varied local fruit juices, readily available chilled in most groceries

Sorrel is a popular drink available during Christmas time It is made from the boiled flowers of the Roselle hibiscus sabdariffa plant It is red in colour and best enjoyed cold It also has nutritious benefits

Soft drinks are sweetened with cane sugar, rather than high fructose corn syrup as is the common practice in North America This gives soft drinks a different taste, which some argue is better

Malta is a popular drink, made from malt and hops and available from local bars, restaurants and supermarkets It is high calorie and full of b vitamins, and best enjoyed ice cold

Alcoholic drinks


Being a former sugar cane colony, Trinidad and Tobago is famous for its Rum Popular brands of Rum are Black Label and Vat 19 by Fernandes and White Oak, Old Oak by Angostura Some Bars will allow you to buy individual rum drinks either straight with or without a chaser, or mixed Some bars will allow you to purchase a whole bottle of Rum, or a "half" which is equivalent to half a bottle Some bars will sell a "nip" which is less than half One can also purchase bottles of Rum in stores and at duty free stores at the airport to carry home Puncheon Rum is a stronger type of Rum no less than 75% alcohol It is not quite like moonshine but definitely stronger than regular Rum In fact it may not be legal to take it back with you However it is legal in Trinidad and Tobago and is available from many local bars


Beer is available and quite popular The two most popular brands of beer are Carib and Stag, which are brewed locally Additionally, some imported beer such as Miller is available Other malt liquor drinks are available, brewed locally, such as Smirnoff Ice, and various stouts Mackeson, Guinness etc There are no microbreweries in Trinidad, and beer-lovers may find the local beers not to their taste

Wine and other spirits

Wine, vodka, tequila and other spirits are usually imported There are no wineries in Trinidad and Tobago, as the tropical climate is not conducive to the growing of grapes Many restaurants will serve a range of imported wines, however, and wine bars, such as More Vino in Woodbrook have opened in the past few years

Laws related to alcohol

Not surprisingly, drinking alcohol in public is not frowned upon in Trinidad and Tobago It is legal to drink alcohol in public Public drunkenness may get you arrested only if you engage in disorderly conduct Also the legal drinking age is 18 yrs However, during election day, sale of alcohol is prohibited and must not be overtly displayed

Accommodation in Trinidad and Tobago

There are a wide variety of lodging options There are major hotels such as Crowne Plaza, Hyatt, and the Hilton There are also smaller guest houses, particularly in Tobago and beach houses at the coasts especially the East coast Rates vary On Trinidad, many cities and towns of limited interest to the typical tourist do not have any official accommodations Staying with locals may be the only option

  • Hilton Trinidad & Conference Center Lady Young Road, Port of Spain, Trinidad Tel: 1-868-624-3211wwwhiltoncaribbeancom/trinidad/ Newly renovated, this hotel hosted President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the whole US delegation during the 2009 Summit of the Americas

Working in Trinidad and Tobago

Tourist visas do not permit employment In order to work, one must obtain a work permit for the job and there must be no suitably qualified nationals to fill the job In addition, to pay taxes, one needs to apply for a BIR file number used like a social security number and a PAYE number One must file tax returns every year if taxes are owed, and pay those taxes

Cities in Trinidad and Tobago

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