Flights to the Island arrive at POS (not the most politically correct airport code in the world) but it stands for Port of Spain. On a good day (without traffic) it takes about 30 minutes from the airport to downtown. There are a number of car rental companies at the airport (economy car pricing runs from about $40 to $60 US dollar). Car rental companies are also available in downtown Port of Spain and other towns on the island.
A few things I learned or observed from my stay on the island
– The island doesn’t see the numbers of tourists as say the other part of the country does, the neighboring island of Tobago.
– Compared to Tobago, the pace of life here is generally much quicker
– Driving is on the left hand side of the road
– Despite being an island, the influence of the ocean is not nearly as pronounced as you would find on small islands
– The island is not known for its beaches – the coastline we saw was fairly rugged and rocky
– Approximately 50% of the island’s population is of Indian heritage (India)
– Carnival and Christmas are two of the Islands largest celebrations
– Ariapita Drive in the capital of Port of Spain is the place to be on the nights – lots of restaurants and bars line parts of this street
– The steel pan is the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago
Driving is on the left hand side of the road. There are only two major highways on the island, one north south, the other east west – and neither one covers that length of the island in that particular direction. Driving is challenging – most drivers seem to be in a hurry and the car horn is commonly used. Roads are extremely narrow and a number are not marked by a white line dividing two lanes.
It is very common for drivers to decide to park in the lane of traffic. Most will not use hazard lights or turn signals, but rather will just stop in the lane of traffic. Cars then snake around them when oncoming traffic is clear in the other lane.
Many of the roads are full of potholes – some quite sizable. When you get out into the country – be alert for potholes – even around sharp bends, oncoming traffic on extremely narrow roads, parts of the roads in the hills might have fallen over the side and during rainy season possibly jungle debris covering the roads and wet conditions.
There are a number of guesthouse especially in the Capital city of Port of Spain as well as elsewhere on the island. However, they can be far and few between and some of the private ones are not signed. The only way you can find them is doing an Internet search. Trini Stay is a great resource for private guesthouses. Major name hotels also have a presence in the capital including the Hilton.
These are just a few attractions we enjoyed during our stay on the island.
Maracas Beach – this is probably the best beach on the island. It has nice sand, is good size and is surrounded by plenty of palm trees. The surf breaks just off shore. Car parks in the area charge admission – a number of “Bake & Shark” shops (street food – fried fish – with plenty of condiments to choose from) are located in the parking lots – several bathrooms and showers are also available here.
Rio Seco Waterfall – this waterfall is located in the rainforest above the small beach-side village of Salybia in the north East part of the island. Access is via a very narrow, pot holed road – often covered in jungle debris – especially during the rainy season. You park where the pavement ends – about 4km drive in (do not drive down the dirt road that leads down the hill from the end of the paved road – that will have bad consequences unless you have a 4wd vehicle).
The hike to the waterfall is advertised as taking 2 hours but a fit person walking quickly can make it in about 25 minutes. It can be a bit muddy after a lot of rain – but there are plenty of rocks along the trail so that it never becomes really muddy. The trail leads through beautiful rainforest – the calls of birds may echo in the treetops overhead. the waterfall itself is about 10 meters from top to bottom and it cascades in a large, very deep pool. This is a refreshing spot to take a dip after building up some sweat on the hike.
Moruga District – for those after the world’s hottest chili peppers – the district of Moruga in the far southern part of the island is a must visit. A number of farmers in the area grow the Moruga Red and Seven Pot chili peppers. During a recent visit – asking locals about who to meet resulted in visiting some of the chili peppers farms with local farmers.
Asa Wright Nature Preserve is located at about 1200 feet up in the mountains above the community of Arima. The road to reach their driveway is in bad shape at times, becomes very narrow, windy and full of potholes as you climb into the mountains. Their driveway is well paved yet very narrow. Parking is in a small lot – followed by a very short hike down to the reception. At the time of this review, tours are only offered twice daily, at 1030am and at 130pm. Non Guests are not permitted to hike any of the trails on the property by themselves – and there are some really nice ones.
If you are not staying here (a number of individual rooms are available for overnight accommodation), you must pay an entrance fee at the reception (even in order to order lunch). The veranda is a great place to enjoy bird-life – and there are plenty of birds here – as well as overlook the rainforest below. Attractions on the property are a cave (home to the nocturnal Oilbird), a hike to a deep swimming pool and a number of hikes through the rainforest (which is rich and in great shape in this part of Trinidad). This is an ideal place to stay for birders.
Get Away from it All
Sabybia Nature Resort and Spa is perched right above the rugged coastline and crashing surf in the small village of Sabybia. This is about a 90 minute drive from Port of Spain. There are not many places to stay along this part of the island and this resort is the finest of them all.
One of the star attractions of a stay here is their pool – two waterfalls cascade down – above the waterfalls is a lookout. The pool loops under the waterfalls and around – with part of it almost “infinity pool-like” overlooking the ocean and a generous helping of palm trees. Close your eyes and you might be at the nearby Rio Seco waterfall! Hidden little alcoves underneath the waterfalls are just the place for romantic lovers. The water is never more than 4 feet deep in the entire pool.
A restaurant is on site serving all three meals – wifi is available at the lobby – with a weak signal poolside.
The small sauna and spa is a wonderful break from driving the crazy nearby roads. Where else on this part of the island are you going to find some pampering!
Several small restaurant stops in the area serve a local favorite (only on the weekends) – Crab and Dumplings.