Trinidad and Tobago are an exercise in beautiful contradiction. In Trinidad, pristine mangrove swamps and rainforested hills sit side by side with smoke-belching oil refineries and unpretty industrial estates. Tobago has everything you’d expect from a Caribbean island, with palm trees and white sand aplenty, yet it’s relatively unchanged by the tourist industry. Combined, this twin-island republic offers unparalleled birdwatching; first-class diving; and luxuriant rainforests perfect for hiking and waterfall swimming. Then there's the electric nightlife and a fabulous Carnival, easily the biggest and best of the region’s annual blowouts. And thanks to the legacy of TnT's melting-pot population, the cuisine is a foodie dream, from sensational curries to the freshest of fish.
The southern Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago are a lesson in contrast. Trinidad, the larger of the two, is bustling with commerce and diversity. A cosmopolitan oasis of Creole culture and the birthplace of the steel drum and the limbo, Trinidad brims with natural resources like gas and oil. Its cultural eclecticism and, in some places, astonishing wealth, is all but unparalleled throughout the Caribbean. And then there's the sleepy island of Tobago. Just northeast, this island is rich in natural wonders and immaculate white-sand beaches, but it lacks the urban-sophisticate personality of its other half.
Trinidad has several beaches, but it's Tobago's shores that are more renowned for their variety and beauty. Its pristine beaches line almost every side of the island and they range from crowded to desolate and festive to romantic. Trinidad's main draw is its lush flora and fauna, particularly its scarlet ibises — the blood orange flamingos that call the island's jungles home. But starting in late February, the island does a 180 when it pours on the glitter and turns up the volume for one of the best Carnival parties in all the Caribbean.
But don’t expect anyone to hold your hand here. The oil and gas industry leaves tourism low on the priority list, so it’s up to you to take a deep breath, jump in and enjoy the mix.
BEST TIME TO VISIT TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
The best time to visit Trinidad and Tobago is from January to May when the skies stay clear. Although the islands aren't on the hurricane belt, afternoon rain showers are daily occurrences from June to December. Hotels lower their rates to account for rainy weather during this wet season. At least the weather stays pleasant year-round: There's little humidity and average temps hover in the low 80s.
January-May - Compared to Tobago, Trinidad's hotel prices are fairly stable this time of year. But rates do spike in January and February due to the Trinidad Carnival. Despite the price jump, it's still a great time to see these islands. There will be very little rain, and temperatures rest in the mid-80s.
June-December - Although there's little chance of hurricanes, it's still pretty wet from June to December. Hotel deals are easier to find, but keep in mind that a lot of European travelers visit Tobago during this time of year. To ensure you score a good deal, make your reservations at least three months in advance.
GETTING TO TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Though they don’t get as many budget services as more touristic Caribbean islands, Trinidad and Tobago are served by regular international flights from the UK, US and Canada,Europe as well as South and Central America and the rest of the Caribbean. The main airport is Piarco International Airport on Trinidad, approximately 25 km south east of Port of Spain. And because Trinidad and Tobago are linked by inexpensive twenty-minute domestic services, it’s worth researching flights to both islands, even if you only plan on spending time on one of them. If you’re planning to visit just Tobago, booking a package might be your best option. There are legions of specialist companies who can arrange these, often at a lower rate than you’d get booking flight and accommodation independently. As Trinidad is less geared towards tourists, there are fewer deals available beyond birdwatching or Carnival packages, though Tobago-oriented companies sometimes give the option for a few days in Trinidad.
GETTING AROUND TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
The best way to get around Trinidad and Tobago is by car, which you can rent at either Trinidad's Piarco International Airport (POS) or Tobago's Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson International Airport (TAB). If you don't plan to explore much, you can get by just fine with the cheap taxis. Buses are also available but are rather unreliable. When you're ready to switch islands, head down to the docks at Port of Spain or Scarborough and board one of the private ferries.
Car - If you're staying in Port of Spain, Trinidad, you'll be able to rely on the taxis and your own two feet. If you're planning on visiting Tobago, a rental car is a must (as the island's transportation is as developed as its cousin's). When renting, ask for a vehicle with four-wheel-drive — the roads can get rough. And inquire about auto insurance, as both islands' driving style is more aggressive than you may have experienced before.
Taxi - Taxis look like regular passenger cars with one main distinction: license plates start with the letter "H." You can catch a ride at your hotel, but your fare will probably be more expensive. Instead, go wait at one of the taxi stands marked on street corners or hail a cab directly off the street. Taxis aren't metered so be sure to agree on a price before getting into the vehicle. You should pay the equivalent of $1 USD for most one-way trips.
Bus - The islands' Public Transport Service Corporation operates bus routes that serve Trinidad's major cities. However, the buses follow set routes, and there is no set timetable. Travelers can also take the route taxis (taxicabs that follow a specific route) available on both islands. Tickets are available at most bus terminals. Keep in mind that drivers don't accept cash or credit cards. Tobago also has an inexpensive bus service, but these are unreliable as well. Routes start in Scarborough's bus terminal, a short walk from the ferry terminal, and run to Crown Point, Plymouth and most villages on the island starting around 6 a.m.
Ferry - The Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago offers express ferries for inter-island travel. The trip takes a little less than three hours with a one-way fare costing about $8 USD. Cheaper conventional ferry service is also available for about $6 USD but this trip takes nearly six hours. Trinidad's ferry dock is located in Port of Spain; Tobago’s is in Scarborough. Passengers must check in three hours before sailing if bringing a vehicle, otherwise two hours ahead of time is sufficient.
WHERE TO STAY IN TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
This oceanfront resort is set in Scarborough, Tobago, just 8 km from the city centre. It offers buffet-style dining, poolside bars and recreation options that include scuba diving and deep-sea fishing. Modern rooms provide private balconies with ocean views. Guests at Starfish Tobago can enjoy snorkelling or kayaking in the Caribbean Sea. Bike rentals are also available to explore the property and its tropical gardens. Starfish Tobago guest rooms are styled with light colours and feature a small seating area. A TV and a safety deposit box are also included. The traditional Kiskadee Restaurant serves buffet dinner, with an optional à la carte menu, while the Courlanders Deck restaurant opens for breakfast and lunch overlooking the beach. Later, guests can sip creative cocktails at the swim-up Surf Bar or Crusoe Bar. This property is about a 20-minute drive from Crown Point International Airport. A 9 and 18-hole golf course is also nearby.
Located on the beachfront in Crown Point, Coco Reef Resort & Spa offers an outdoor pool, lush gardens and a luxury spa. The air-conditioned rooms have private balconies with garden or sea views. Rooms at the Coco Reef Resort feature bright, tropical-style décor and cable TV. Each room comes with a kettle, a minibar and a private bathroom with a bath and shower. Coco Reef Resort & Spa offers an à la carte restaurant, as well as meeting facilities, a tour desk and luggage storage. Free parking is available on site. A wide range of activities can be enjoyed in the surroundings, including diving and snorkelling. Shops and restaurants can be found within 300 metres, while Tobago ANR Robinson International Airport is 3.5 km away.
The Villas at Stonehaven is only a 5-minutes' drive from the Stonehaven Bay and features accommodations with ocean views, free WiFi and a private pool. Public parking is available for free. Each villa may accommodate from 2 to 6 adults and each bedroom has its own bathroom with shower offering free toiletries. All Villas are equipped with bedrooms offering air conditioning, a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and seating and dining areas which are outdoors on a covered patio. Cable TV is available. The on-site restaurant, Pavilion, has an à la carte service of Caribbean-style and Continental cuisine. Golfing is available at the Mt Irvine Bay Golf Course which is 5 minutes’ drive away. Windsurfing, water skiing and scuba diving are some of the activities that are available at Stonehaven Bay. The Villas also offer massage services and facilities for small gatherings or meetings. The Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson Airport is 8 km or 8 km from the Villas.
Tropikist Beach Hotel and Resort features a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, a bar and shared lounge in Crown Point. Featuring a garden, the 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. The property has a hot tub, evening entertainment and a 24-hour front desk. The hotel offers a continental or buffet breakfast. Tropikist Beach Hotel and Resort offers a terrace. The area is popular for cycling, and bike hire and car hire are available at the accommodation. Diamond is 9 km from Tropikist Beach Hotel and Resort.
Mount Irvine Bay Resort has a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, a bar and shared lounge in Grafton. With a garden, the 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, room service and currency exchange for guests. All rooms at the hotel are fitted with a seating area and a flat-screen TV with cable channels. All units have a desk. Guests at Mount Irvine Bay Resort can enjoy a continental or a à la carte breakfast. Diamond is 6 km from the accommodation.
Nestled on Bavaro Beach in the Dominican Republic's Punta Cana region, this all-inclusive resort is part of a select 2-hotel resort complex. It features 2 km of private beach and a coral reef. An iPod docking station and a flat-screen TV are included in all rooms at Barcelo Bavaro Palace All Inclusive. They also include a spa bath, a minibar, and a balcony. Guests at Barcelo Bavaro Palace All Inclusive can visit the 24-hour casino, the 18-hole golf course, or the world-renowned spa. The resort offers a train to transport guests around the property. The Barceló Bávaro Palace hotel has been awarded the Green Globe Certification for its sustainable tourism practices for two years. The all-inclusive program at Bavaro Palace includes breakfast, lunch and dinner at one of the 12 restaurants in the complex. Dining options include Japanese, Italian, French, and Mexican food. Punta Cana International Airport is 20.1 km from Barcelo Bavaro Palace All Inclusive. Santo Domingo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is 201.2 km away.
Grand Memories Punta Cana All Inclusive is a property that features a splash park, outdoor pools, children’s playground and a kid's and teen's club. This all-inclusive resort offers free Wi-Fi access and beach access. The air-conditioned rooms at Memories Splash have cable TV, a minibar, a balcony or terrace and the bathroom that includes free toiletries. The resort has several restaurants offering Mexican and Italian cuisine, buffet service, an ice-cream parlor, a café and 11 different bars. Grand Memories Punta Cana All Inclusive also features a fitness centre, pin-pong and pool tables, sailboats, aqua-aerobics lessons, dance lessons, Spanish lessons, volleyball and water polo, among others. The kid's and teen's clubs are open from 09:30 until 18:00. Palma Real Shopping Village is 20 minutes’ drive from the resort, and Punta Cana International airport is 30 minutes’ drive away. When booking more that 6 rooms, different policies and additional supplements may apply the reservations will be charged in full after 3 days of booking made.
Situated on San Juan’s Isla Verde Beach, this resort offers luxurious rooms with a private balcony featuring full or partial ocean views. Facilities include outdoor pools and a 24-hour casino and free WiFi in pool and beach. The air-conditioned rooms of Courtyard Isla Verde Beach have floor-to-ceiling windows, making the rooms light and airy. All rooms feature, a mini-fridge, a flat-screen TV, and a DVD player. The Bananas Ice Cream Parlor serves sweet treats in a casual ambiance, and the Sirene Restaurant serves fresh seafood. Guests can enjoy live music and Caribbean exotic cocktails at the Picante Lounge. Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort also offers a fitness room, weekly salsa dancing, an on-site cash machine, and laundry and dry cleaning facilities. This resort feautures wedding and meeting facilities. The San Juan Airport is just 1.6 km from Courtyard Isla Verde Beach Resort, and the Plaza Las Americas Shopping Center is 10.5 km away.
Providing mountain views, Modern 3 Bedroom Condo In Gated West Hills in Port-of-Spain provides accommodation, an outdoor swimming pool, a bar, a garden, a tennis court and a terrace. The air-conditioned units are furnished with parquet floors and feature a private bathroom, a flat-screen TV, free WiFi, wardrobe, a living room, an equipped kitchen, patio and views over the pool. There is a seating and a dining area in all units. A children's playground is available for guests at the apartment to use. Saint Augustine is 22 km from Modern 3 Bedroom Condo In Gated West Hills, while Las Cuevas is 31 km away.
Hyatt Regency Trinidad is located 5 minutes’ walk from Trinidad and Tobago Water Taxi and Ferry Terminal, plus it offers an outdoor infinity pool, a state-of-the-art gym and a business centre. The air-conditioned rooms feature iPod docks, flat-screen cable TV and a private bathroom. Some units have a balcony or sea views. The Hyatt Regency offers other guest facilities include one full-service waterfront restaurant, a lobby bar and lounge and a 9,000 square-foot spa and fitness centre. Hyatt Regency Trinidad provides a relaxing escape for business travellers with an infinity pool plus a poolside grill and terrace overlooking the Gulf of Paria. Hyatt Regency Trinidad was designed as a meeting, convention, business, event and leisure travel property in the Caribbean, and is situated in the Port of Spain International Waterfront Development. The hotel also offers laundry services, conference rooms, and valet parking. Maraca Bay Beach can be reached in a 45-minute drive, while Piarco International Airport is 30 minutes’ drive away.
PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO IN TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Pristine beaches and lush forests balanced with historical landmarks and art venues make up an intriguing mix of treasures waiting to be found. Consisting of two main and several smaller sun-kissed islands, Trinidad & Tobago is located at the southernmost end of the Caribbean. Although most people have heard of the exciting carnival — the greatest show worldwide — a rich culture and amazing natural wonders give you many more reasons to put it first in your destination list.
Not to be confused with Tobago's Fort King Grorge in Scarborough, this historic Trinidadian structure provides visitors with a taste of the island's colonial heritage. Fort George was built in 1804 by former British Governor Brigadier-General Sir Thomas Hislop to protect the Port of Spain from any perceived military threats. However, the formidable structure never saw conflict and the military eventually retired it in 1846. One of Fort George's best known features is its intricate wooden signal station, which provides a stark contrast to the fort's original cannons and dungeons still on display here. Constructed in 1883, this less intimidating, almost quaint structure was designed by Prince Kofi Nti, an Ashanti royal from West Africa who immigrated to Trinidad in 1881.
A cheaper alternative to neighboring Pigeon Point, Store Bay's free beach offers travelers a relaxing place to soak up some sun and cool off in Tobago's famous clear, blue waters. But visitors don't just come for the beach. Beachgoers can watch planes come in and land at nearby Arthur Napolean Raymond Robinson International Airport. Store Bay's other big draw is its array of street food vendors, which serve up affordable, local delicacies like crab and dumpling, bake and shark, and pelau (a mixture of rice, vegetables and meat or crab that’s been browned in sugar). Additionally, this beach is one of two departure points for trips to the area's popular snorkeling spot Buccoo Reef. The beach at Store Bay is free to enter, but visitors looking to use one of the beachside loungers or changing facilities should expect to pay a small fee. Some recent beachgoers also warn that Store Bay may not be ideal for those who are elderly or in need of handicap accessible ramps since beach access sits at the bottom of several flights of stairs. The beach is open 24 hours daily, but for those looking for an on-duty lifeguard, plan your visit between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The Asa Wright Nature Centre is home to more than 400 species of native birds, plus 55 different reptile species, 25 amphibians, more than 600 butterflies and more than 2,000 types of flowering plants. In short, northern Trinidad's Asa Wright Nature Centre is bursting at the seams; it's the ultimate stop for both novice and experienced bird-watchers and nature lovers. You could easily spend a day at the expansive park (in fact, the center offers overnight accommodations) but most only took two hours to explore the grounds. Be sure to wear insect repellent and long-sleeved clothes since there are plenty of mosquitos on the property.
Nestled within Trinidad's Maracas Valley, this lush sanctuary is home to a variety of native flora and 13 of Trinidad and Tobago's 17 species of hummingbirds. Started accidentally by Dr. Theodore Ferguson and his wife, Gloria, to make it easier to photograph birds (one of the doctor's hobbies), Yerette, which borrows its name from the Amerindian word for "hummingbird," is one of Trinidad's most popular bird-watching spots. Visitors of Yerette rave about the property's vibrant grounds and unparalleled access to the country's hummingbird population. According to previous travelers, so many hummingbirds visit Yerette that it's easy to hear the buzz of their wings. The property is also a favorite among photographers, who claim that the close proximity provides plenty of opportunities for capturing high quality photos.
Located about 9 miles southeast of Port of Spain, Caroni Bird Sanctuary offers many of the same thrills of the Asa Wright Nature Centre without requiring the far pilgrimage to the island's northern rainforest. But the real reason to visit Caroni is to observe the scarlet ibis, the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago that resembles a brilliant blood orange flamingo. The best time to see the ibis is in the late afternoon; arrive a little early and you can enjoy a glass-bottom boat tour of the swampland while you're waiting for the ibis to appear. Like any swamp, this one has plenty of mosquitoes a-biting and reptiles a-crawling. If you're at odds with nature, you might want to skip this bird sanctuary altogether. Even if you like the great outdoors, be sure to slather on the insect repellant and wear long sleeves and pants.
Situated just off the coast of Tobago's Pigeon Point Beach and within 2 miles of Store Bay, Buccoo Reef is highly regarded by locals and visitors as one of Trinidad and Tobago's best areas for snorkeling. Even though parts of this massive reef are starting to die off due to poor conservation efforts, recent travelers said they saw a wide variety of fish and coral while snorkeling. However, more experienced snorkelers may want to skip Buccoo and try out the island's better protected Speyside reefs instead. To visit Buccoo, visitors will need to sign up for one of several glass-bottom boat tours departing from Pigeon Point and Store Bay. The tours typically last two hours and include snorkeling equipment and a stopover at Nylon Pool, a natural, in-sea coral pool that's located just around the corner from Buccoo Reef. Prior visitors note, though, that the cheaper half-day tours, which start at $20 USD, do not include food or restroom facilities. To avoid an additional beach admission fee, choose a tour that departs from Store Bay. Tours are offered daily throughout the day and can be booked through a hotel concierge, at Pigeon Point or Store Bay, or by contacting one of several glass-bottom boat tour companies. Hew's Tours and Pops tours both receive favorable reviews from recent travelers.
One of the most well known beaches in the island of Trinidad, Maracas is protected by a deep crescent-curved bay. Located on the north side, it lies at the end of a scenic mountain drive from Port of Spain drawing dozens or even hundreds of visitors every day. If you’re looking for more peace and quiet, the nearby beaches make great alternatives. Once you reach this palm-fringed strip of golden sand, enjoy the sun on the shore, take a refreshing swim in the sea, paddle in the blue-green waves or choose a more adventurous activity. Whatever you do, don’t forget to visit one of the several stands and try out bake and shark, the local delicacy.
A breathtaking drive from Tobago’s capital you will find the Main Ridge reserve through which a short hike will lead you to Argyle River and its multi-tiered waterfall. Take a tour to learn about the rich flora and fauna of the surrounding area and take some time to feel the serene, healing power of the water
Surrounded by a veil of mystery with numerous local legends, this is the largest natural asphalt lake in the whole world, the others being the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles and Lake Guanoco in Venezuela. Beside the village of La Brea, the Pitch Lake has long been attracting scientists and visitors alike for various reasons. Walk on the semisolid surface, visit the small museum that hosts Amerindian artifacts, fossilized remains and other items uncovered from the lake, take a guided tour to learn about the geological history of the place and swim in the natural springs with high levels of sulfur for its healing properties.
Εven though Trinidad is filled with hundreds of religious sites, only one is a floating marvel. The Waterloo coastal temple was build out of necessity by Sewdass Sadhu after the original was razed to the ground by the government. A tiny symbol of huge persistence and pure love is an octagonal-shaped colorful structure surrounded by lanky flags and linked to the mainland through a walkway. To this day, Hindu devotees use it for worship and religious ceremonies. Remove your footwear and enter it with respect to get a better look at the painted marble and stone deities.
Situated off Pigeon Point beach, the Nylon Pool is a natural, crystal clear swimming pool with a sandy bottom in the middle of the ocean. Also known as the Pigeon Point Heritage Park, it is considered the best beach on Tobago, able to rejuvenate anyone lucky enough to swim in it.
WHERE TO EAT IN TRINIDAD & TABAGO
A visit to Trinidad and Tobago is not complete without including the bustling capital city on your list. Port of Spain has the most varied and fascinating culinary traditions, especially when it comes to seafood and fish dishes. From traditional Trinidadian flatbreads filled with shark meat dished up at food huts on the beach to West African-influenced fish curry served at upscale restaurants, here are the best spots to eat seafood in the city.
Traditional Trinidadian food is a mix of Creole, Chinese, Indian-South Asian, West African, Arab, European, Latin American and Amerindian cuisines. Waterfront, located at The Luxury Hyatt Regency Hotel, reflects this fusion of culinary traditions. Sample authentic Caribbean dishes like Trini corn soup or try the locally sourced, Asian-inspired seafood curry. With sweeping views over the Gulf, take a seat at the chef’s table to witness innovation and creativity in the open kitchen.
This Mediterranean-inspired restaurant’s seating options include a wine bar and a covered terrace. Aioli’s food has been described as “innovative and unique” and has dishes like the Italian and Thai-inspired pad thai fettuccine served with grilled prawns and the fried lobster bites served with truffle aioli. The restaurant also has an extensive menu of exquisite wines.
For fine dining, Chaud is renowned in the city for its modern Caribbean-inspired dishes. Chef Khalid’s aim is to create a menu that focuses on “freshness, quality and creativity.” From the guava barbecue grouper to the seared Atlantic salmon, there are plenty of refined seafood and fish choices on the menu. This elegant restaurant is the perfect spot to unwind in an intimate setting and indulge in various courses.
Located on Invader’s Bay, at first glance, you may think Zanzibar is a nightclub. However, once inside, you will realize that this is an unpretentious spot for a casual dinner next to the sea. Seafood dishes include seared ahi tuna steak and a grilled seafood tower. This relaxed spot is ideal for those who want to stroll by the rows of yachts and sit on the deck overlooking the sea with a cocktail in hand.
In Trinidadian cuisine, a ‘bake and shark’ is a classic street-food dish made using fried flatbread and shark meat, which is then topped with lettuce and sauces. Vendors and food stands across the country serve this traditional dish; however, the best place to try it is at Richard’s Bake and Shark, right next to Maracas Beach. On the northern coast of the country, approximately a 40-minute journey away from the city center, this beach has been widely associated with this traditional dish, as the sharks are more often than not caught on this stretch of water. Order this staple Caribbean dish with fries and a drink, and enjoy it while overlooking the beach.
WHERE TO SHOP IN TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Trinidad and Tobago offer a wide variety of souvenirs and products to suit every budget, from woven palm hats to expensive jewellery in Port of Spain’s malls. Local artists create fine woodcarvings, shell and bead jewellery, paintings and beaten copper pieces, as well as lovely leather sandals. T&T also produces great music and has exceptionally talented writers – purchasing a few books and CDs will enable you to carry a little local culture back home.
Port of Spain and San Fernando have Trinidad’s widest variety of shops, but there’s a lot less on offer in Tobago, where you should head for Lowlands Mall or central Scarborough. Opening hours are generally Monday to Friday 8am to 5.30pm and Saturday 8am to 5pm; malls are usually open from 10am until 8 or 9pm, while supermarkets open 8am–8pm daily. Opening times are often variable, depending on the individual shop and mood of the shopkeeper.
Prices are generally higher in Tobago than in Trinidad. Paintings and woodcarvings may seem expensive in comparison with other local produce, but these works of art are unique and prices are far lower than in art galleries back home. For bargains, check out streetside vendors and small backstreet shops – souvenir shops, boutiques and malls have higher prices. Bargaining is conducted to a certain extent with street and beach vendors, but not in shops.
T&T’s rich musical culture has spawned an astonishing variety of styles – steel pan, calypso, soca, rapso, chutney, dub and parang – and produced many marvellous songs with strong lyrics and powerful rhythms. The best places to buy music are in Trinidad: in Port of Spain try Crosby’s, at 54 Western Main Rd in St James, or Rhyner’s, 54 Prince St, while roadside vendors sell inexpensive pirate copies of popular reggae and soca tracks. In Tobago, try the stalls lining Wilson and Milford roads in Scarborough.
Local book stores are usually full of US titles and schoolbooks, though there are some decent stores in Port of Spain. Many Trinbagonian authors are published in Britain and the US, however, so if you want to get a taste of T&T’s culture it may be best to buy their work before you come.
T&T has some of the best-quality cocoa in the world, and chocolate made locally from Trinitario fine flavour beans is a burgeoning industry in T&T. In Trinidad, you can buy exquisite chocolates by Cocobel from the workshop and a couple of gourmet shops, while Soular’s delicious bars, nibs and cocoa powder (as well as their delectable muffin mix and dried bananas) are available at Tobago’s Shore Things and at the M Store at Piarco Airport. The Tobago Cocoa Estate’s award-winning bars are available only at the estate, though their cocoa balls are more widely available, as are other brands. These are solid spheres or sticks of cocoa and spices, which you grate and boil up with milk and sugar to make traditional chocolate tea. Local coffee, which comes in a variety of flavours such as coconut and rum, can be bought in supermarkets and souvenir shops.
It’s said that the reason the island’s White Oak rum is not well known worldwide is because the locals keep it to themselves and consume the total production. Trinidad’s famous Angostura Brewery (see Witco Desperadoes) produces a wide range of excellent rum as well as their ever-popular bitters, all readily available in shops throughout the islands. Both airports in Trinidad and Tobago have a selection of duty-free goods, though prices at Piarco in Trinidad are lower.
Arts and crafts
Locally made arts, crafts and unusual souvenirs, like carved calabashes, woven palm grasshoppers, shell jewellery and carved driftwood, are usually sold on or near the more popular beaches and in souvenir shops. Ornate carvings are also sold in art galleries and at individual stalls that occasionally appear on country roads. The road- and beach-side stalls are run by local craftspeople and artists who sell good-quality handmade goods at reasonable prices. You’ll often see Rastafarians selling handmade leather sandals from stalls or on the street – try Port of Spain’s Independence Square.
In Tobago, the widest variety is sold at the huts adjacent to Store Bay Beach, but you’ll get better deals in Scarborough, at the vendors’ mall and the stalls that line Milford and Wilson roads around the market square.
In order to protect local endangered animals, avoid buying products made from turtle shell, black coral, conch or bird feathers.