When planning a route around the Caribbean Sea there are so many amazing islands to visit that it can be hard to choose where to go! If you’re considering going south, then the dual island nation of Trinidad and Tobago might be worth a visit.
Due to its southern location and excellent yachting facilities, Trinidad is popular with cruisers hauling out for the hurricane season. We spent many months there in Power Boats repairing our yacht, and discovered that there’s more to see than initially meets the eye. From our experiences and chatting to other cruisers, here are 10 things to see and do if you’re ever in Trinidad:
1. Watch the turtles nesting
On the eastern side of Trinidad is Matura Beach, a quiet and relatively undisturbed location. Each year between the months of March and August, the beach suddenly becomes a hive of activity as the leatherback turtles swim ashore to nest.
In the interest of conservation, the nesting areas are protected and there are rules in place to minimise any disturbance to the turtles. To experience this incredible act of nature you’ll need to obtain a permit from the Forestry Division or join a tour group that can organise it for you.
2. Hike from Three Pools to Avocat Waterfall
Along the north coast of Trinidad the jungle is dotted with hiking trails and waterfalls. If you only have time to do one, then make it the hike between Three Pools and Avocat Waterfall.
Starting at the river near Blanchisseuse Spring Bridge, the trail heads upstream before arriving at a series of deep water holes called Three Pools. There you can relax, swim and even cliff-jump into the water. Next, continue making your way up the river until you arrive at the thundering Avocat Waterfall. At the bottom there’s a rock you can stand on that’s directly underneath the falls, and there’s a path to the right which leads to the pool at the top.
3. Swim at Macqueripe Beach
The most famous beach in Trinidad is Maracas Beach (home of the Shark & Bake!) but it’s a fair way from the shipyards in Chaguaramas. If you’re hauled out and feel like going for a swim, we can recommend nearby Macqueripe Beach. Located north of Chaguaramas, it’s about 10 minutes drive from the marina’s and popular with both swimmers and snorkelers.
There’s a small entry fee for access to the car park which is also used by ZIP-ITT Adventure Tours, an internationally certified zip lining adventure park.
4. Explore Covigne Gorge
Not far from Chaguaramas you can find the Covigne River and Covigne Gorge. The hiking trail to the gorge starts at the Arboretum and follows the river. Along the way you’ll come across a series of rocky gorges that were formed over thousands of years by water erosion. Hiking up the gorge requires a certain amount of fitness, and you will need to climb up waterfalls with the aid of a rope in places, but the cool waters and stunning jungle make it an amazing experience. As an added bonus you might even spot howler monkeys along the way!
5. Visit the hummingbirds
There are 19 different species of hummingbird in Trinidad and while you might get lucky enough to see one around the shipyards or during a jungle hike, you can guarantee it if you head to one of the island’s hummingbird centers. Two of the most established locations are Yerettê – Home of the Hummingbird and Asa Wright Nature Centre.
If you want to plan a visit, it’s best to check online to see when they’re open, or get together with some other cruisers and organise a group trip.
6. Visit Caroni Bird Sanctuary
The most expansive mangrove wetland in Trinidad, the Caroni Bird Sanctuary is home to hundreds of species of fauna and flora.
The best way to explore the wetland is by boat, joining one of the sanctuary’s eco-tours which take you through the wetlands and teach you about the natural significance of the area. Try to spot some of the sanctuary’s inhabitants including caiman, screech owls, pygmy kingfisher and of course the red ibis, the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago. The ibis gather here in their thousands and make an incredible spectale – turning the trees and magroves red as they clamour for a place to roost for the night.
7. Head Down De Islands
For many Trinidadians the ideal weekend is spent hanging out and liming at the Bocas Islands, just west of Chaguaramas, locally known as heading Down De Islands (DDI).
Take your yacht or jump aboard a local powerboat and visit the islands: Chacachacare, Monos, Huevos, Gaspar Grande and Little Gasparee. Spend the day floating in the water having a swim and a drink, or exploring the hiking paths along the shore. Chacachacare has a reasonable anchorage, and is particularly interesting as you’ll find the remnants of the island’s leper colony, which was founded during the late 1800’s.
8. Visit the Central Market
One of the best places to go food shopping in Trinidad is the Port of Spain Central Market.
A cultural experience in itself, the market is filled with vendors selling fresh seafood, meat, herbs, vegetables and fruits. Take the time to meet local farmers and fishermen, buy fruits or spices you haven’t tried before (like shadow beni) and sample some of the local cuisine available at the food court and stalls at the far end of the market.
9. Hike to Maracas Waterfall
The tallest waterfall in Trinidad, Maracas Waterfall is a popular hiking spot. The trail is less strenuous than Avocat and while you can’t swim at the bottom, you can feel the cool spray of the water which falls from a height of 300 feet.
The best time of year to visit is during the rainy season, making it a great day trip if you’re hauled out for the hurricane season.
10. Go on a cultural tour
Depending on the time of year you’re in Trinidad, there are special events and tours to enjoy. During Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, many cruisers visit the town of Felicity to experience the celebrations.
In February the annual Trinidad and Tobago Carnival takes place, one of the most significant national events on the calendar. On August 31 the country celebrates Independence Day with fireworks and performances.
There are also Trinidadian food tours that run throughout the year, where you can sample a range of local dishes including Doubles, Roti, potato and chana curry, sorrel drink and peanut punch.