How well do you know this twin-island state?
The very things that make the beautiful twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago stand out from amongst its worldly peers, are the very things that make it an uncommon and unparalleled travel destination. Whether you are a cultural enthusiast, one who gallivants for gastronomical experiences, or a dedicated eco-traveller, you can find your travel niche on one or both of these magnificent isles! 😀
1. HOME OF THE STEELPAN
The Steelpan is the only acoustic instrument to be invented and accepted worldwide in the 20th century and it originated in Trinidad and Tobago. The steelpan is also, quite possibly, the only instrument to be built from industrial waste: starting in the 1930s, discarded oil drums were successfully tuned! How’s that for Trinbagonian inventiveness? You may treat yourself to entire steelpan orchestras during the Carnival season’s Panorama extravaganza or visit smaller pan yards throughout the year as they prepare for the yearly festivities.
2. CARNIVAL: THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival has been consistently ranked as one of the top 10 Carnival celebrations in the world. It is popularly known as “The Greatest Show on Earth” and is a tradition that began in the 18th century when African slaves created a parallel celebration to the French plantation owners’ masquerades. For two days, usually in February or early March, the air thrums with frivolity and the earth pulsates to the pressure of prancing feet as revelers “play mas.” Be forewarned: if you visit during Carnival, you may never leave! Many have started their careers as expats on these shores!
3. HOME TO WORLD’S LARGEST TRAFFIC CIRCLE
Trinidad and Tobago is home to the world’s largest traffic roundabout around the Queen’s Park Savannah. Pictured is one small section of the savannah with Poui trees in full bloom and the Northern Range in the background. Around the savannah are the “Magnificent Seven”, a cluster of beautifully ornate colonial buildings constructed in the early 20th century. Additionally, if you would like to indulge in local musical and theatrical performances, visit the Queen’s Hall and National Academy for the Performing Arts for tickets and a show!
4. THE EMANCIPATION VILLAGE
On August 1, 1985, Trinidad and Tobago became the world’s first country to declare a public holiday in commemoration of the abolition of slavery. Every year, a joyful street parade is organized along with the opening of the Cultural Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village. The atmosphere is filled with the clapping of African drums, chants and exhibitions of African dance. Vendors sell traditional food and fare to patrons dressed in traditional African garb. Pictured are members of the Ujamaa Ambatana dance group as they perform on the opening night of the Emancipation Village.
5. DIWALI: THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
In 1838, the first Indian indentured labourers arrived in the wake of the emancipation of the African slaves. Thus, a few months after the Emancipation celebrations, we have Diwali: the “Festival of Lights” symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness. This Hindu festival, usually in late October/early November, is a tradition of illuminating deyas in honour of Lakshmi, the goddess of light, beauty, riches and love. A deya is a small clay pot that contains oil and a cotton wick that is lit. In Trinidad, coconut oil is used to keep the deyas burning. Photo by Steve Vanderhoof.
6. THE MARACAS BAY
Maracas Bay is undeniably Trinidad’s most popular beach. It is treasured for the Bake ‘n’ Shark delicacy – a delicious fried fish sandwich smothered in delicious local herbs and spices like “chadon beni,” its tranquil waters and lush green scenery. The Bay is a beehive of activity especially on the Ash Wednesday after Carnival. This is when the young and the old, the foreign and the local, come to “lime” (hang out) and “cool down” after the season’s non-stop merrymaking.
7. OLDEST RAINFOREST RESERVE IN THE WEST
The Main Ridge Reserve in Tobago is the oldest rainforest reserve in the Western Hemisphere. Trinidad and Tobago has over 400 species of birds, making it one of the most abundant birding countries per square mile on this side of the world! Bring your binoculars and prepare to be amazed!
8. THE ARGYLE FALLS
Argyle Falls, Tobago is often described as the “stuff that dreams are made of.” The trail bursts at the seams with copious varieties of flora and fauna. One may just run into exotic birds such as the Cocrico while being shaded by a tapestry of Poui, cocoa, and silk cotton trees. The river and falls are part of the Main Ridge Reserve.
9. THE CARONI SWAMP
The Caroni Swamp is a 5,611 hectare estuarine system and important for its unique ecological diversity. It consists of marshes, mangrove swamp, tidal mudflats, and saline lagoons all in close proximity! The swamp is frequented by white flamingoes, egrets and populations of rare scarlet ibis. Photo by Luke Rostant.
10. THE GASPAREE CAVES
A favourite destination for locals and foreigners alike are the Gasparee Caves. The caves are situated at Point Baleine on the northeastern side of Gaspar Grande Island. Caspar Grande Island is part of the “Bocas” chain of islands and lies in the Bocas del Dragón (Dragon’s Mouth) between Trinidad and Venezuela. The caves are a natural limestone system with a mystical pool at its base. Sea-water emerges through an underground source to create a crystalline blue pond with a depth of 10-20 feet.
11. LEATHERBACK TURTLE NESTING GROUND
The Leatherback Turtle is the largest of all living turtles and can be differentiated from other sea turtles by its lack of a bony shell. Each year, more than 10,000 leatherback turtles make the treacherous journey across the Atlantic Ocean to nest on Trinidad’s eastern beaches. Matura is one of the safest nesting beaches for the leatherback and one can witness the dramatic nesting rituals during the peak turtle-watching season between April and July. Trinidad and Tobago is undoubtedly one of the most important leatherback nesting sites on the globe.
12. WORLD’S LARGEST DEPOSIT OF ASPHALT
The La Brea Pitch Lake in South Trinidad is the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world. It is a 250-foot-deep, semi-liquid pool that’s both a site for asphalt mining and a healing site for its plethora of medicinal sulphur baths. Scientists believe that the Pitch Lake is similar to the hydrocarbon lakes on Saturn’s moon, which could help answer whether they could support life. Photo by Martina Jackson.
13. THE NYLON POOL
The Nylon Pool is a rare and shallow in-sea white ground coral pool off Pigeon Point, Tobago. Rumoured to be a “fountain of youth”, you are to feel and look younger after swimming its waters. It was christened by Princess Margaret in 1962.
14. BIRTHPLACE OF CALYPSO
Trinidad and Tobago is the birthplace of calypso, a style of Afro-Caribbean music that gained international popularity in the 1950s, primarily through the music of Harry Belafonte. Calypso music was developed in the 1800s by marrying West African Kaiso and canboulay music. Visit and have your hips hypnotised by the lilting rhythms!
15. BIRTHPLACE OF LIMBO DANCING
The limbo dance originated as an event that took place at wakes in Trinidad and Tobago, but became internationally renowned through the work of Julia Edwards and her dance company in the 1960s. Pictured are limbo dancers performing in the national colours: red, black, and white. Photo by Anneli Salo.
16. THE BUCCOO REEF
The Buccoo Reef is one of the most frequented coral reefs in the Caribbean. It was designated as a protected marine park in 1973 and is home to a mesmerizing and flamboyant ecosystem. Esteemed French oceanographer and explorer, Jacques Cousteau, visited Tobago’s Buccoo Reef and rated it as the third most spectacular reef in the world.
17. WORLD’S LARGEST BRAIN CORAL
Measuring 10 feet by 16 feet, the world’s largest brain coral can be found at the popular diving and snorkeling spot off Speyside, Tobago.
18. LOCATION OF DEFOE’S “ROBINSON CRUSOE”
Tobago was the setting of Daniel Defoe’s literary classic “Robinson Crusoe.” Tobago is also widely believed to be the place Robert Louis Stevenson had in mind when he penned “Treasure Island.” So why not make these your fantasy islands as well?
19. ONE OF THE SEXIEST ACCENTS IN THE WORLD
The Trinidad accent ranks 10th on CNN’s top ten sexiest accents in the world. Our “sing song” accent is so popular it has become the stuff of myth and the core of numerous comedy segments. Pictured is Trinbago’s own dictionary – our language deserves its own tome! Click on the image to learn more!
20. HOME OF THE WORLD’S HOTTEST PEPPER
The Guinness Book of Records has officially ranked the Trinidad Moruga “Scorpion Butch” Pepper as the world’s hottest pepper. Do you dare?
21. RAINBOW CUISINE
Desmond Tutu described Trinbagonians as a “rainbow people” when he visited in the 1990s. Each culture from the African, Chinese, Syrian, Portuguese, Spanish, French Creole, to East Indian brought their unique flavour blends that have created an island cuisine that is one amazing spicy mix! Pictured is a favourite fast-food: doubles. Enjoy!
Are you now itching to visit? Wanting to know more? Plug your questions in below, and I’ll guide you in planning the trip of a lifetime! 🙂