Trinidad and Tobago travel guide
As you make your way through the jungle on the narrow back roads in southwestern corner of Trinidad, you will come across small oil pumping stations. Here and there a small slap of land has been cleared of trees for a single oil pump or two. They just stand there, unfenced and unsupervised, and slowly pump oil up from the ground into a tank. We don't know whether the locals own them or some of the big oil companies do, but they give the whole area a feel of a tropical oil Klondike.
At the Western end of Tobago, only a few kilometres from the airport, lies Tobago's most famous beach, Pigeon Point. This private beach (you have to pay an entrance fee to get in) is crowded and has a package-holiday feel to it. There are bars and restaurants and it is the place from where many boat trips leave. Also part of this beach is the water sports centre of the island with loads of wind and kite surfers. If you don’t like the crowds, it just takes a stroll of a few 100 metres to get away from it all or you can just walk to Pigeon Point by the beaches leading up to it. Here are also beautiful stretches of small palm-tree filled beaches where you will be pretty much alone.
Due to the oil and gas reserves that are hidden in the underground, Trinidad has some strange natural sights, like mud volcanoes. But the strangest might be Pitch Lake, a 40-hectare expanse of natural asphalt as deep as 90 m. You're welcome to walk around on it, but be careful as some places the ground is still soft and full of pitch.
The capital of Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain, suffers unfortunately from a bad reputation, but if you keep clear of the bad suburbs and not wander too much around at night, it's actually quite an interesting city – and not just during the carnival. Particularly the areas Woodbrook and Newtown are vibrant and attractive with colourful old and new houses, and a great nightlife. For more unusual buildings, head to the western side of the oversized city park, Queen's Park Savannah, where you find the Magnificent Seven - a collection of eccentric colonial buildings, where some are in disrepair, while others are finally under restoration.
San Fernando is the second biggest city on Trinidad. It's the center for the country's oil industry, which the many refineries and their flaming chimneys along the shore are evidence of. The downtown near the harbour has some nice colonial buildings, but else there isn't much to see, besides dense traffic and some very modern malls in the outskirts.
Scarborough is the "capital" of Tobago. It's a rather small city seen with international eyes, but big in Tobago terms. The traffic is dense, particularly around the area at the ferry terminal. It's not an unpleasant city, but there are no sights whatsoever, so most travellers only come here to catch the ferry to Trinidad.
The tiny village of Speyside on the far northeastern tip of Tobago is set on a backdrop of lush green mountians. The narrow rough beach is with brown sand and looks untidy with seaweed and trash. Nevertheless, Speyside is home to some upscale resorts and a handful of dive shops, for the diving around here is suppose to be the best on Tobago. Within the bay there are also several islands, including Little Tobago which is a sanctuary and a birdwatcher's wet dream.
When you think of Caribbean music, and more specificaly of Trinidad and Tobago, you think steel pans and steel drums. They play a large role in T&T culture and its carnival, which is one of the world's largest.
The development of these musical instruments originates from slavery times when slaves were forbidden to use their percussion instruments. In the 1930s, the African community used different objects such as metal plates, cooking pots and oil barrels, until it developed into the instruments that are being used now.
Although steel pans and drums nowadays are fabricated musical instruments, they still look like dented oil cans where the different dents are different tones. The smaller the oil can the higher the tone. The steel drums have the size of full oil cans while the pans are up to roughly 30 cm tall.
It is a joy to listen to the cheerful sounds produced by these bands!
The closest beach from the airport is not far away. A five minutes walk from the arrival hall and you will be standing with sand between your toes on Store Bay Beach. It's a rather short beach where deck chairs, parasols, jet ski, and glassbottom boat trips are offered by an army of Rastafarian hawkers. However, most people would probably prefer Pigeon Point Beach a short walk further north.