Written by Jodeci527 on 19 Jan, 2013
Since Trinidad is not anywhere close to being on the backpacker trail of the world, accommodations are either hotels or a random Bed and Breakfast which may or may not be in a great location. If you're visiting for a week or less, you may…Read More
Since Trinidad is not anywhere close to being on the backpacker trail of the world, accommodations are either hotels or a random Bed and Breakfast which may or may not be in a great location. If you're visiting for a week or less, you may be able to snag a reasonable deal with one of the more budget oriented hotels in the country, but anything longer than this would be unreasonably costly.A better idea would be to find a guesthouse or apartment which rents to visitors for longer terms for a reasonable price. These types of accommodations vary greatly in regards to the number of rooms and amenities which are included. Basic rooms can be had for approximately $11 USD per day, while the sky is the limit for luxury.The guesthouse which became my home for over six months belonged to a local called Mr. Maraj. It was located in a really nice neighbourhood in the suburbs of D'abadie, and because of the Priority bus route only being only a short walk away, I was well connected to everywhere. The guesthouse was a bargain, at $15 a night including all the bills and household amenities.My apartment consisted of a livingroom, two bedrooms, a kitchen, a large laundry room and a bathroom. The rooms were fully furnished, and decorated with simple touches such as pictures on the walls and various trinkets which helped the atmosphere to feel more homely. The kitchen was fully stocked with all the different pots and pans, silverware and gadgets such as microwaves and a toaster oven. The laundry room was equipped with a washer and a dryer as well as large sinks for hand washing purposes. In the living room, a large television was set up, with many different channels available from the included Cable package. A large old school radio was also available, but for the several months of my stay, I never found the time to try it out. Wifi and airconditioning were also part of the deal, and they both ran smoothly and efficiently during my time there. Everything that could ever be needed in order to have a comfortable life in Trinidad was included in the $15 per day price tag.The building itself housed three different apartments. The main apartment upstairs belonged to the owners, and two smaller apartments including my own were situated on the ground floor. There was a tiled driveway immediately outside of my door where I could have parked a vehicle if I had rented one. The entire property was fenced, and a large electronic gate enhanced our security. The landowners were very pleasant, and Mr. Maraj and his wife went out of their way sometimes to make sure that my roommate and I were always comfortable. He willingly replaced the gas for the stove whenever it ran out and any other issues which came up. An example of his unwavering hospitality was when there was an unprecedented power outtage in our community. He knocked at our door to apologize and explain that this was not the norm, and brought us oil lamps in case we needed to do any reading or cooking. This guesthouse made my stay in Trinidad a very enjoyable one. It was great being able to have a place that I could call my own, cook comfortably in and to hang up my clothes in a closet rather than living out of a suitcase. If anyone is visiting the country for longer than a week, I highly recommend they give this place a try. It's good for your budget and even better for your peace of mind! Close
Written by Jodeci527 on 17 Jan, 2013
Most Caribbean islands except for Puerto Rico and St. Maarten (St. Maarten is duty free) are very expensive places to go shopping. Almost everything is heavily taxed and the variety is usually limited, making for a somewhat frustrating experience for visitors. Simple items such as…Read More
Most Caribbean islands except for Puerto Rico and St. Maarten (St. Maarten is duty free) are very expensive places to go shopping. Almost everything is heavily taxed and the variety is usually limited, making for a somewhat frustrating experience for visitors. Simple items such as sunscreen may only be found in pharmacies for a price that isn't cringe worthy, as 'regular' stores almost double the cost. Trinidad however, is quite an exception and for a rather original reason in comparison to the other islands. Due to the fact that the nation is very industrial as opposed to tourism oriented, many products are exported instead of imported, so shopping in general is very affordable. I took advantage of the opportunity and went on several shopping sprees. However, better bargains can be had if you know where to go. Some places are more expensive than others, and an item may cost $12 in one location, and $7 in another.The reason for this fluctuation in price is simple. Visitors who don't know how to find better deals will resort to paying the higher price, thinking that they're still getting a good deal based on prices elsewhere in the region. Here are a few tips in order to help future visitors get the best bang for their buck and to avoid spending unneccessary funds.1. The Falls At West Mall the most visually appealing shopping plazas on the island. Cascading waterfalls dominate the environs, both outside and indoors, and the sounds of which is seemingly echoed throughout the building. The atmosphere is quiet, there's glitz and glam and the prices match the experience. If you're a premium shopper who's looking for boutique styles and high fashion, this is your paradise, but bargain shoppers beware. It's a great place for a day out on the town, but it will definitely obliterate your budget if you're visiting to shop.2. If you prefer to shop at malls rather than downtown, I recommend either Trincity Mall or Gulf City Mall. Trincity Mall is within a ten minute drive from the main airport, it's the largest shopping area on the island, and the prices aren't too high for good quality products. It's actually the largest shopping mall in the entire Caribbean and the local currency makes for good bargains. Gulf City Mall is in the South of the country, which is over an hours' drive from the airport, but prices are even lower there, and the shopping experience is really decent. 3. Regardless of any good deals which can be found at malls, in the Caribbean the best prices on anything can only be found on the streets of the main capital city. Port of Spain is not the most visually appealing city in the Caribbean, and some visitors may be hesitant to venture there given the reputation of crime in the area. I, however, have shopped countless times in Port of Spain and I've not had a single incident. Everything can be found here for ridiculously low prices, from clothing, to electronics and toiletries. 4. The Market sells a large variety of fruits and vegetables, and there are numerous small shacks along the main roads selling fresh local juices and coconut water. If you are more interested in shopping for local delicacies, I only recommend Port of Spain. Roti, Pholourie and some of the best Doubles in the island are only found along the streets of the capital. Simply follow the locals and eat where they eat. Local foods bought at the malls and plazas aren't anywhere as delicious, and are twice as expensive for the mediocre dish. 5. Finally, many things are genuinely cheap in Trinidad, such as car parts and mechanical items. Given the large number of factories on the island, it's not suprising that the island produces some of it's very own brands of several American and European commodities, but for a far lower cost. Shopping in Trinidad can be done for a really good deal, and I hope that these five tips will help! Close
Written by Jodeci527 on 14 Jan, 2013
Due to the large Indian population in the nation of Trinidad and Tobago, many of the Hindu celebrations are recognized there, and Diwali is not an exception. The Festival of Lights is one of the largest holidays of the Indian society, and I was lucky…Read More
Due to the large Indian population in the nation of Trinidad and Tobago, many of the Hindu celebrations are recognized there, and Diwali is not an exception. The Festival of Lights is one of the largest holidays of the Indian society, and I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in the festivities with a local family.In the days leading up to Diwali, there was a hustle and bustle in my neighbourhood, as locals did various chores around their homes in preparation for the event. Many different structures were skillfully created using dried halves of bamboo shoots on which lots of candles would be placed. Many of my Indian friends stopped eating meats of any kind, as this is part of their religious proceedings for Diwali.My close friend, Ameer invited me and a few of my friends over to his home to have dinner with his family to celebrate the event. The drive to his house was fascinating, as all of the Indians in the different villages and communities had seemingly hundreds of lights dotting their front lawns and porches. Everything from driveways to even the wall fences were bathed in a golden glow, and it was a spectacular sight to behold.We soon arrived to Ameer's home, and his house was even more lit than most of those we had passed on our journey there. On closer inspection, I discovered that the candes were actually small wicks floating around in oil contained within small clay jars. His driveway was tiled, so at each of the four edges of a tile, a small jar was placed, creating a lovely uniform design. All around his house, from the window sills to the garage was covered with the brightly lit clay jars. His extended family was there too, and the small children ran around the yard, taking care to avoid the jars of flames which were apparently everywhere. I was nervous about this, but they did look adorable in their traditional wear. Brightly coloured garments covered them from head to toe and the Bindi mark on their foreheads significantly stood out in a bold declaration of their religion.Dinner was then held in the common room, and we were seated around a very long table. Several bowls of food were alligned in front of us containing all sorts of Indian dishes including Dahlpouri, Callaloo, roti skins, white rice, curried Channa and Aloo. We were then given freshly washed fig leaves on which we were to eat from using only our hands. It was quite the experience, and I treasure the memory. Everyone passed bowls of food around, and we were shown the easiest way to eat rice with our fingers. The 'togetherness' of this type of dinner is vastly apparent.Everything that I ate tasted incredible, and I even tried a few delicacies that I was unable to identify. I was so pleased about everything, that I totally forgot that there wasn't any meat involved! All too soon, the meal was over and we washed our hands and went out to the front lawn. Ameer and his brother set off a large amount of fireworks, and after a while other homes in the community did the same. The sky was constantly painted with colours, and loud booms echoed into the night. The little ones ran around with sparklers in their hand, as their parents and grandparents watched on. I am really grateful to my friend for his generosity, as I celebrated Diwali with him and his loved ones. It was my first experience with the Indian lifestyle, and it was an enlightening cultural adventure. Close
Written by Jodeci527 on 09 Jan, 2013
D' Avenue is the nickname given by the locals to what can be found on the map as Ariapita Avenue. This avenue is akin to what Las Vegas is to California in this island nation. Here is where everyone goes to party, to hang out…Read More
D' Avenue is the nickname given by the locals to what can be found on the map as Ariapita Avenue. This avenue is akin to what Las Vegas is to California in this island nation. Here is where everyone goes to party, to hang out in laid back lounges, or even just to be seen. However, while D'Avenue may be bustling at night, it's still very much quite alive during the daylight hours. Countless restaurants have been established along the stretch of road, flanking on both sides. The opening hours vary from place to place, but restaurants that serve breakfast open their doors at around 9am, while others who cater for lunch and dinner will begin business at 11am. There is a eatery for every taste, from seafood, to Asian, with Italian and International thrown in between. Some of them are laid back with budget prices, such as Drink! Wine Bar offers patrons wine and deli sandwiches etc for an affordable price (about $7 USD). On the other hand, fine dining can be found at the majority of the more upscale establishments will charge your wallet $100 USD and upwards. Street food can be found all around the avenue: $4 for gyros and $0.75 for doubles mean that even visitors on a tight budget can happily get their munch on.The majority of the hottest nightclubs on the entire island can be found on D'Avenue, so it's no surprise that it's a huge liming spot on weekends. Nightclubs such as Coco Lounge and Frankie's are usually packed to capacity, while others will simply gather outside on the pavements to drink and socialize. Drinks are usually decently priced, with beers at $2-3, and mixed drinks from $3 USD. Several Sport Bars are also on the avenue, and their happy hours attract large crowds from anywhere around 5pm, when the working crowds find their way to places such as Stublin' Sports Bar. Most of these bars have a few pool tables for patrons to unwind and play a couple of games. Large LCD televisions would show the sport channels, and during football or cricket season, it's almost impossible to move around once you're inside!One of the main drawbacks to D'Avenue however, is the lack of proper parking facilities. Drivers are forced to circle for as much as five minutes, while looking for a free spot. The only spots which may be available after midnight might be a good seven to ten minutes walk from the action. Some places have private parking lots, which cost about $3 USD for the night. Using public transportation during the day to get to and leave D'Avenue is quite ok, but not recommended during the night. For visitors who do not have a rental car, I suggest hiring a taxi. It will be expensive (US $50) depending on the distance travelled, but the cost is worth it to ensure your safety.I love hanging out on D'Avenue. The options of things to do and places to go is so varied, that visitors are spoilt for choice. This is definitely a must for any visitor to Trinidad! Close
Written by Jodeci527 on 13 Dec, 2012
Getting around in Trinidad by public transport is an adventure all by itself. On first glimpse, the system appears to be confusing and downright chaotic, and it takes a bit of time to get used to. I studied in Trinidad for a few months, and…Read More
Getting around in Trinidad by public transport is an adventure all by itself. On first glimpse, the system appears to be confusing and downright chaotic, and it takes a bit of time to get used to. I studied in Trinidad for a few months, and it took me over two weeks to really get a good understanding of the public transportation network.I'm hoping that this review will help others who intend to visit the country, so that they can find their way around with greater ease than I did. The first thing that needs to be understood is that the system comprises of three main aspects: The route taxis, the maxi taxis and the PTSC buses.The Route Taxis:These are mainly cars or sometimes vans, and most can be distinguished by the letter H on the liscense plate. This type of public transportation are of the 'shared' variety. You would find these vehicles at any taxi stand, but they run regular routes for a nominal fee. For example, at the Trincity taxi stand, you can hop into any of the cars lined up there, and after the vehicle is full of passengers, the driver will take you to Trincity mall for $3 TT, which is the equivalent of $0.50 USD. In the case of which a taxi is needed to take you somewhere off-route, such as to your hotel or guest house, this will cause a considerable hike in transportation cost. The price may jump from $0.50 to $5 - $10 USD. Note of caution however, is that some of the vehicles which run on the routes are not licensed for taxi services. These are locals who are trying to earn a few bucks on the side, and I would advise visitors not to hire them. Maxi Taxis:These 'maxi taxis' are actually white buses with coloured bands. The colour of the band tells you what region of the country you are in, as well as the route that the maxi taxi is running on. Each bus has the names of the places between which it runs on a sign stuck on the windshield, so visitors shouldn't have a problem figuring out which one to board. The Red Band maxi taxi runs on the Priority Bus Route, and is the fastest way to get to the capital of Port of Spain from airport area of the country. The reason why using maxi taxis get you around faster, is that no other vehicles are allowed on the bus route except for emergency units. This results in absolutely no traffic jams, and the fact that this method is very inexpensive makes it the best choice to get around in Trinidad. A 45 minute drive from the airport area to Port of Spain is only $2 USD. PTSC Buses:These belong to the Public Transport Service Corporation, and mostly consists of deluxe coaches. This is the most comfortable way to get from Port of Spain to the further flung destinations such as San Fernando, the other capital city which is located in the south of the nation.These buses are large, with some seating over 60 persons. They are fully air conditioned with perks such as flat screen tvs and soft seats complete with matching window curtains. The price of this type of public transportation is $10 TT or $1.75 USD.Summary:Some visitors may rent a vehicle to get around in Trinidad, but for the budget traveller, I hope these tips will help to make your trip easier. Close
Written by Jodeci527 on 10 Dec, 2012
There are a few spots in Trinidad which any local will insist that a visitor should go. One of these places is none other than Maracas Bay, the most visited beach on the island. Trinidad itself, is not a beach destination, as many oil rigs…Read More
There are a few spots in Trinidad which any local will insist that a visitor should go. One of these places is none other than Maracas Bay, the most visited beach on the island. Trinidad itself, is not a beach destination, as many oil rigs are scattered about the Western, Eastern and Southern coasts. However, that is not an issue in the North and that's where the famous Maracas Bay steps in.My classmates and I had a day free from studies thanks to one of the many public holidays. Due to the many different resident ethnicities of the country (Caribbean, Indian and Chinese to name a few), Trinidad actually is one of the top 5 countries in the world with the most public holidays. The local students decided to organize a trip so that the foreign students such as myself could pay a visit to this beach which we've been hearing so much ago.We set out from the town of Trincity, which made for a 2 hour drive to Maracas Bay. Maracas Bay is easily accessed by either public transportation (no more than $2 USD) or by using a rental car. The journey could have been shorter on a regular day, but given that most locals had the day off, we weren't the only ones with the same intentions. Traffic was pretty dense in the urban areas of the country, but flowed freely once we were out of the city limits. The drive to Maracas Bay was really lovely. Due to the fact that Trinidad is only a mere 7 miles off the coast of Venezuela, the vegetation was quite similar to what one would expect to find in South America. The many mountains that we passed along the way were blanketed in a sheet of greenery, which starkly contrasted against the deep blue Caribbean sky.Suddenly, we crested a hill and the sea appeared out of seemingly nowhere. You could tell it was the Atlantic ocean, from the deep shade and the white foam caused by crashing waves. The weird thing about this journey, was the fact that although we were heading to the coast, the road was severely elevated to the point that we were driving through mist, before sloping a few metres from the shoreline. We arrived at Maracas Beach where the party had started long before our 2pm arrival. Many booths were littered about the sand fringe, selling all the dishes indigenous to the country such as Doubles, Pholourie and Roti. You'd find most Trinidadians demolishing these meals with the local drink of choice 'Red Solo'. (This is a brand of red soft drink manufactured in Trinidad)My classmates didn't eat any of the afore mentioned dishes. We came to Maracas Bay to sample Bake and Shark. This dish consisted of a large fried dumpling split in two, with a fillet of fried shark meat inside. It was served with lettuce and tomatoes, along with your choice of condiments including ketchup, mustard and the local shado beni sauce (shado beni is a leafy herb found in the West Indies). We found an uncrowded spot on the beach and set up camp. Soca music pumped from the many speaker systems set up at various points on the shore. Children built sand castles, teenagers surfed on the waves which crashed on the beach and others like myself walked along the shoreline. Indeed, this was not the type of beach that I've grown accustomed to from the various Caribbean Isle which I've visited. You won't find bright blue waters and colourful coral reefs. What you will see is a beach lined with palm trees, which is heaven for surfers and other water sport junkies. You can still take a swim in the sea, but I would only recommend this to those who are pretty good swimmers. The main attraction at Maracas Beach is not the beach itself, but the culural explosion of food. Maracas Beach is a great place to hang out in Trinidad, and it's a great addition to any trip to the island. Close
Written by Jalpari on 31 May, 2005
After a couple of days showing me around the island, Nnamdi and CJ were still hanging tough, and my next mission was to get them and me to my very first band launch. Simply describing, a ‘band launch’ is the very beginning stages of pre-Carnival…Read More
After a couple of days showing me around the island, Nnamdi and CJ were still hanging tough, and my next mission was to get them and me to my very first band launch. Simply describing, a ‘band launch’ is the very beginning stages of pre-Carnival events and also another reason to party. (Trinis love to party.) Designers showcase their latest and greatest costumes for the upcoming year's celebration, and people sign up to join a band. The costumes may also be for purchase the night of the launch or a couple days following.
Having done my research well in advance, I mapped out what appeared to be a very exquisite launch to checkout. Islandevents.com, a pretty good website for fetes and concert information around the island, was presenting this particular band launch at the Trinidad & Tobago Country Club. The night was titled "Moulin Rouge," and the show would be a tribute to Josephine Baker. I was elated! Not only would I be experiencing a band launch, I would have the opportunity to see costumes designed in celebration of the first black diva and one of my favorite historical performers of all time.
Preparing for the evening was no easy task, but I figured I was on an island, and the attire should be fairly casual, maybe a tad dressy. I took out what I felt was most appropriate, placed my flip-flops with sequins on, and waited for my ride to show. When CJ arrived, he informed me that the flip-flops could be a problem, as this was the TnT Country Club, and seeing that I hadn’t packed any heels, we’d just have to see if they’d work.
When we arrived, he dropped me off at the front and waited to see if I would make it in with my selected footwear. As a woman, I wasn’t too concerned about this, but I also wished I had packed some heels. He had to take off and freshen up but promised he would return with Nnamdi to enjoy the rest of the evening. This gave me the opportunity to meet new Trinis or people-watch at the least.
Upon entering the country club, I knew I had underestimated the kind of event I was attending. The atmosphere had been transformed into a luxurious Parisian island event. Soft French music mixed between light Soca sets by the DJ drifted throughout the building. Models posed still as statues, batting only an eye to wink at a photographer stealing a shot. Every beautiful man and woman residing in the country had to have been there that night. Everywhere I turned, I encountered another strikingly gorgeous face, unique with added island exoticness.
Another thing to note about the people and the island is the amount of diversity. Compared to many other islands in the Caribbean, you’ll find several different cultures in Trinidad. Influences can even be seen in music from Venezuela, as they are geographically only a hop away from each other.
In any case the show was about to start and CJ and Nnamdi still hadn’t made it to the club. I decided to park myself up front, where all the press was placed. I had just purchased a Digital Rebel and wanted to bring back a nice photo journal of my trip. But before I could think anymore on capturing great shots, the stage began to transform its way into a 1920s Moulin Rouge. Models paraded the stage, twirled, danced, laughed, and strutted every inch of the glittery, beaded and sequined constructed costumes. Confetti exploded from the ceiling, covering the catwalk and gaping audience alike. With the finale, they lined the stage wall-to-wall and gave one last glimpse at the band's costumes for Carnival 2005.
After the models left the stage, the audience readied themselves for performances by Destra Garcia and Dawg E Slaughter, local Soca stars. Men were ignited by the sounds of Destra voice, not to mention all the winin’ she was doing with her waist. Women were hypnotized as Slaughter sang out lyrics to "Carnival, I Love You." The fete was only beginning to get started, and I had finally found CJ and Nnamdi. They missed a large portion of the event but still made up for lost time on the dance floor.
And we danced and danced as the DJ spun more and more calypso, soca, and reggae favorites. We danced and danced and danced until the lights came on and they started kicking us out. This normally doesn’t happen in TnT, as people like to party 'til the cows come home, but it was the Country Club rules. Go figure. Time to plan for Carnival.
If you go, band launches typically start happening between October and November. You will find them all over the island, but you’ll have to keep an eye out for flyers or an open ear for the buzz on the streets. If the country club in particular interests you, it can be found easily by asking anyone. They’ll point you in the right direction.
Written by MoDean on 18 Jun, 2005
We arrived at the Blue Waters after a nerve-wracking 2 hours of driving the Windward Road, gritting our teeth around curve after curve while narrowly avoiding what seemed like certain death. Because we’d made stops at a few beaches along the way, because I’d forgotten…Read More
We arrived at the Blue Waters after a nerve-wracking 2 hours of driving the Windward Road, gritting our teeth around curve after curve while narrowly avoiding what seemed like certain death. Because we’d made stops at a few beaches along the way, because I’d forgotten to put on any sunscreen, and because the only way to keep the car cool along the way was to keep the windows down and the back flap up, we made our entrance in wet clothes, with outrageously wind-blown hair, and I had a sunburned left arm (from hanging out the window) to complete the picture—a nice compliment to the rest of my pasty-white self. That no one seemed to bat an eye at this when we walked up to the front desk is a testament to the laid-back atmosphere of the hotel.
We were greeted by the hotel’s general manager, Duane Kenny, who was extremely friendly and efficient—and did a good job of calming us down from our state of high alert left over from the drive. He showed us to our parking space—a cute little spot surrounded by a white picket fence—and walked us to our bungalow. It was just perfect for us—an open, spacious living area with vaulted ceilings, complete with a small, simple kitchen and dining table; through a door in the back of the room was the bedroom, which was air-conditioned and had a big closet and a comfortable king-size bed. If you prefer to sleep with the air-conditioner off, you can simply flip on the ceiling fan, open the many louvered windows around the room, and plug in the provided electric Bugmat to fend off mosquitoes. The bathroom was small but adequate and very clean.
The real appeal of our villa, however, was the front porch—large enough for a small table and chairs, as well as a beach lounger we pulled up from the lawn, with room to spare. Every morning, I walked out of bed and onto the porch to read for a while and enjoy the views across the bay to Goat Island, where a single house perches, built by James Bond author Ian Fleming as a vacation home (the island is still privately owned, though I’m not sure if Fleming is still the owner). Just beyond Goat Island is the uninhabited bird sanctuary Little Tobago, a popular destination for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. The waters surrounding Batteaux Bay and its two neighboring islands are full of colorful reefs and underwater life, including the world’s largest brain coral.
The beach was literally a few steps away—close enough that we were able to leave towels and flip-flops behind and simply walk out of the water and onto our porch to dry off when we were done swimming, floating, or snorkeling. The beach was small but picturesque and never crowded, especially on the end near the bungalows. The beach did tend to catch a lot of debris washing up after a rainfall; we even fished a board full of protruding nails out of the waves one day. While that certainly wasn’t the hotel’s fault, one of our only complaints was that it seemed to take a while for these odd bits of debris and trash to be picked up from the beach. There was very little of it, and we did see staff cleaning up a few times, but it would be nice if this were picked up daily all along the beach.
While our villa offered us a degree of privacy not found in regular hotel accommodations, the Blue Waters is a small place, and there were often staff members or other guests walking by our porch—some staff members would even come up to talk. There was also an efficiency connected to our villa—this would be a good setup if traveling in a group—so other people were never far away. As such, this isn’t the place if you are looking for absolute privacy and seclusion. It did, however, lend itself to a relaxed feeling of community. As the hotel is located on an end of the island where there are hardly any other accommodations and only a few other traditional dining options, guests often stick around for meals and hang out in the bar every day. This isn’t the type of place where you feel obligated to "make friends" (we like to stick to ourselves for the most part, so trust me, I’d tell you if it were); however, you do see the same people day after day here, so it would probably be a good place to socialize with other travelers for those who are so inclined.
As for my mom and me, we quickly slipped into an idyllic schedule of waking up early, eating breakfast in the Fish Pot restaurant on-site, then heading to the Shipwreck Bar for a drink and dinner at around 4 or 5pm, after a full day of swimming in the ocean, visiting nearby villages, and exploring the rest of what the island had to offer. We went to bed at around 8 or 9pm—what I would do all the time in an ideal world. It wasn’t an action-packed vacation by any means, and the nightlife was virtually nonexistent (we walked past a Friday night steel band performance on the Mot-Mot Deck one night to see guests sitting somberly in the chairs pushed back from the floor to make room for dancing), but we got just what we wanted in the Blue Waters—an easy-going, tranquil week on the ocean, in a place where we never felt the need to scurry around, prearranging our days, or dress up to go to dinner. We spent quiet mornings on our porch and evenings in the ocean—rain or shine—and the makeup and hairbrush never made it out of my bag. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
Written by MoDean on 12 Jun, 2005
Our best driving experience was along the Leeward Road (Caribbean side) from Charlotteville to Castara. The northernmost bit, from Charlotteville to L’Anse Fourmi, is officially unfinished, but only about a third of it is still unpaved. The rest is passable for any 4WD, though it’s…Read More
Our best driving experience was along the Leeward Road (Caribbean side) from Charlotteville to Castara. The northernmost bit, from Charlotteville to L’Anse Fourmi, is officially unfinished, but only about a third of it is still unpaved. The rest is passable for any 4WD, though it’s probably smart to ask someone first if there’s been a lot of recent rain. For us, it was the most pleasant drive of the trip—no traffic, new pitch, and wider passes. We made numerous stops to admire the tiny roadside waterfalls (yes, waterfalls), unusual wildlife, and fantastic views where the ocean bled into the sky, creating a hazy blue infinity beyond the lush green bounds of the island. When passing through L’Anse Fourmi and past Bloody Bay, keep a close eye out to avoid the turn back to Roxborough, on the other (windward) side of the island through the forest preserve. You’ll want to keep hugging the coast and stay firmly to the right, making sure you’re headed toward Parlatuvier. It’s easy to take the wrong turn here, so don’t be afraid to stop and ask.
Once you’ve passed L’Anse Fourmi, you’ll drive through Parlatuvier, a small fishing village with a pretty beach. Head a little further south, keeping an eye out for the signs to Englishman’s Bay (if you’re going south, this will be a small right-hand turn). This, in my opinion, is the most beautiful beach on the island. After parking and walking through a tiny cluster of souvenir stands, past a small café, you’ll enter onto a sweeping expanse of golden sand, surrounded by swaying palms and rocky cliffs mottled with small cave-like inlets. The water is a deep turquoise, crystal-clear, with one small boat rocking gently offshore when we visited. The beach was utterly quiet, with no more than 10 or 20 other people all along its length. In the tiny entrance area, visible only from the stretch of beach directly in front of it, a few beach-chair-and-float-rental employees sat lazily under a covered patio, smoking a joint, and café staff sat fanning themselves in the quaint, open dining area. We stopped by on our last day and determined that we’d spend at least a few days here on a return trip, snorkeling or just relaxing in the beautiful surroundings.
Since Englishman’s Bay is such an easy place to settle into and never want to leave, you might want to first head all the way down to Castara, one of Tobago’s most charming fishing villages, a feast for the eyes whose buildings spill down a hillside to a lovely beach at Castara Bay. There are numerous accommodation options here, mostly in the form of small inns and self-catering apartments, and you couldn’t find a prettier, more serene setting. Restaurants serving up local fare make this a perfect stop for lunch. As we didn’t spend much time in Castara, read about it at (you guessed it) My Tobago. Check out restaurant options here.
If you’re looking for the Caribbean beaches you’ve seen in magazines and guidebooks, this is the side of the island to explore. It’s quieter, slower-paced, and so chock-full of amazing scenery, it turns the usually nerve-rattling task of driving on Tobago into a whole new sensory experience.
We had been up since 4am, spent five hours on airplanes, and lugged heavy bags full of snorkel equipment through two airports, so the 15-mile drive from our car rental agency to our hotel seemed like a piece of cake. Not so. As soon as…Read More
We had been up since 4am, spent five hours on airplanes, and lugged heavy bags full of snorkel equipment through two airports, so the 15-mile drive from our car rental agency to our hotel seemed like a piece of cake. Not so. As soon as we pulled out onto the main road from the Crown Point area, it became clear that driving on Tobago is a harrowing experience, with vaguely followed traffic laws and winding, narrow roads. Local drivers tear around each other within inches of oncoming traffic; in town, they stop in the middle of the road to run to the roadside stands, and locals meander across the street through spaces that hardly look wide enough to accommodate a small motorcycle. If you’re an American, you’ll have to get used to driving on the left-hand side of the road on top of all that. But if you can take a deep breath and take the plunge, it’s worth it for the extra flexibility (easy for me to say, however, since I’m unable to drive a standard and therefore left the driving up to my mom).
There are several reliable car rental agencies near the airport, from the recognizable Thrifty to locally run agencies. We followed the advice of My Tobago and rented from Sheppy’s. Colin "Sheppy" Shepherd is a full-time policeman on Tobago who also runs a car rental business, and he was nothing but friendly and helpful every time we spoke with him, before and during our trip (he responds quickly to email too). His rentals offer great value for money—we rented a standard-transmission soft-top Suzuki Samurai for US$265 for the week, and that included additional taxes, insurance fees, and a cell phone rental. Sheppy picked us up at the airport, we had no trouble with the car all week, and returning it was a quick and easy process. I would absolutely recommend renting a car through him and will rent with him again when we return to Tobago.
Directions can be vague on the island, and maps are not very detailed, so be sure to ask someone to explain directions (a hotel staff member, store employee, or your car rental representative—Sheppy gave us really helpful directions to a number of places we asked about). They’re sure to include more landmarks than street names, so designating someone in the car to navigate is a must. Otherwise, you’ve got to just throw caution to the wind and get on the road. The Windward Road in particular is quite a journey, especially without power steering—it’s less than 30 miles from Crown Point, at the south tip of the island, to Charlotteville at the north, but plan for the drive to take 1.5 to 2 hours, as it’s all steep inclines and blind curves. Break it up by stopping at the many beautiful beaches along the way—Barbados Bay, King’s Bay, and Tyrrel’s Bay, among others—all accessible by parking and walking from the road.
Unless you’re feeling really confident on the road, try not to drive after dark. Roads are not wonderfully lit, and adding poor visibility to the list of driving hazards might be a little too much for the hapless tourist not used to the roads. If you do need to go anywhere after dark, hire a taxi, or, for short distances, get out and walk.
See my "Driving The Leeward Road" entry for an account of the most beautiful drive on the island.