Trinidad & Tobago: 6 things to know before you go

Trinidad & Tobago

Whether you’re lingering on the white sandy beaches of Tobago or immersing yourself in the big-city atmosphere of Trinidad, there’s plenty of things to see and do in this tropical twin-island country—but don’t forget a jacket. Although the humid weather hovers in the ’80s year-round, the sea breeze can make evenings feel chilly, especially during the rainy season that runs from June through November.

Let the Beat Drop
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is the birthplace of the steel pan drum, soca and calypso music. You’ll find roughly 225 panyards—enclosed practice areas—where you can listen to the music of steel orchestras. Try wining—a fun Caribbean dance that really gets you shaking your hips to the rhythm. Look for the greatest concentration of panyards on Trinidad in Port of Spain and St. James.

Steel Drum Player

Visit Nature’s Spa
Check out the world’s biggest natural deposit of asphalt at Pitch Lake in Trinidad. Soak in the lake’s sulfur springs for a relaxing spa-like experience, or look for 250 species of birds as you hike through Main Ridge Forest Reserve on Tobago—the oldest protected rain forest in the western hemisphere. Snorkel at over 300 different species of coral at Speyside, where you’ll find the largest brain coral in the world.

Lily pond at pitch lake, Trindad
Lily pond at pitch lake, Trindad

Bring the Kids
Take the kids to Tobago’s Goat Racing Stadium to watch jockeys running with their goats, guiding them with leashes and whips in a quest for speed. The kids will gasp at flocks of scarlet ibis at Caroni Swamp Bird Sanctuary in Trinidad. Go in late afternoon when the ibises gather to feed and roost. Take a glass-bottom boat excursion through the swamp, but wear your mosquito repellent!

Watch tower, Caroni Swamps Bird Sanctuary, Trinidad
Watch tower, Caroni Swamps Bird Sanctuary, Trinidad

Go the Traditional Route
Savor the cultural influence of African, European and East Indian traditions when you visit the Temple in the Sea at Waterloo, where you’ll feel dwarfed by the 85-foot statue of the deity Hanuman Murti. Walk across the 500-foot causeway to reach the temple, which stands alone in the sea. Then head to Tortuga to bask on the secluded Pirate’s Bay beach that was once a hideaway for Blackbeard, Henry Morgan and Captain Finn.

Flags at Waterloo Temple (Temple in the Sea), Waterloo, Trinidad
Flags at Waterloo Temple (Temple in the Sea), Waterloo, Trinidad

Eat Like a Local
Enjoy a buffet lunch at Coloz in Woodbrook, where you can try traditional local fare such as potato-veggie pie and stewed kingfish. The restaurant, run by a husband and wife team, also features daily, off-menu specials. For a unique treat, head to Richard’s Bake and Shark, a concession hut on Maracas Beach, and order their namesake dish: deep-fried shark meat nestled in fluffy fried dough.

Fried shark and bake food by the beach Maracas Bay, Trinidad
Fried shark and bake food by the beach Maracas Bay, Trinidad

Plan Ahead
Learning how to recognize official transportation vehicles can help you avoid scams. Official taxi cabs have the letter “H” on their license plates. Drivers wear uniforms with a bright yellow ID tag. Look for colored stripes on minibuses that let you know where they travel on the island. If you’re heading for Tobago, plan your itinerary so you check in at the dock two hours before departure.

Water Taxi - Boat