I believe that travelling is educational for kids; helps develop their social skills, and build their self confidence. Every year since he was 2 years old, my wife and I always bring along our smart and only son Kevin in all our yearly tours. From our travels he learned so many things; I am not surprised he graduated high school valedictorian last year. After much research finding the best deals and having all our travel documents arranged with my trusted tour operator in New York, our family boarded a direct 5 hour Caribbean flight to get to Port of Spain the capital city of Trinidad and Tobago. After our two week vacation, we were totally charmed by these twin islands that lie off the coasts of the Caribbean. We REALLY made the most out of our trip last year.
A Europcar staff delivered the rented car I applied at the airport upon arrival to Hyatt Regency Trinidad where we are staying. That same day, I drove the AWD Terios to get to Maracas Bay. The drive going up the mountain and then down to the beach was filled with beautiful views. It is a nice beach with regional food stops all around. We stop at the Lookout Point and tried the Shark and Bake Sandwich from Richard’s. We did not swim at the beach as the waters were rough. Colored flags were marked around the beach to signify the current is strong and swimming is unsafe. We visited the Yerette while in Maracas. It is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Theo and Gloria made us feel very welcome and the whole experience was second to none! The place was literally swarming with 13 pieces of beautiful hummingbirds. His photography captured its rare moments and above all the ability to see so many hummingbirds in one place was really exceptional!
I drove back and passed the cool, calm forested drive up the northern range to visit the Queen’s Park Savannah. It is listed as the world’s largest round about. It features mansions from the Spanish colonial era, interesting food carts, family activity area and lots of places to roam. The Hollows was a nice place to lie down and relax. We tried fresh coconut juice from a food vendor at the park. Located right opposite the Savannah, the Royal Botanical Gardens is a great place to get away from it all. The Emperor Valley Zoo is nearby and The President’s House, which had been allowed to fall into disrepair, is also on the compound.
The next day, I drove thru a very steep and winding road to get to Fort George, but the views of the Port of Spain were well worth the drive! We enjoyed our family picnic on top and spend some time admiring the view and just relaxing. It’s a very nice historical site with intact guns and well maintained grounds and small buildings, along with what used to be a prison cell during WW2. From here we took a 20 minute trek to interesting flora and fauna to get to the Maracas Falls. The waterfall has little water but still it’s worth a visit. Then I drove off to the urban section at the Western Main Road or more popularly known as St. James. This road was teeming with activity day and night, grocery and convenience stores, restaurants, shops and more.
Then we proceed to the National Museum and Art Gallery. It is a free attraction that provides a wealth of information on the natural, cultural and industrial history of Trinidad. The art galleries featured sketches and paintings of Trinidad as it once was. We shopped for some souvenirs and snacks at the Brian Lara Promenade. Across from here we visit the Paschimkashi Hindu Mandir; it’s a temple with a big campus and lots of flowering plants. There are two temples behind the main one and interestingly they have the Parasha and the Gadu at the apex. It was calm and very serene. As we drove along Woodford Square, we took pictures at the exterior of The Red House. It is a historic landmark that houses the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. Great architecture, very beautiful however it was under renovation when we got there, still its worth seeing.
We drove thirty minutes away from the capital city to get to the Caroni Bird Sanctuary. Our tour guide Sean of the Madoo Tours was very knowledgeable, friendly and made our tour enjoyable. We rode the Swamp Cruise to get to the wetlands, where we saw thousands of Scarlet Ibis (national bird of Trinidad). During the ride, Sean educates us about the pretty large caimans, sleepy boa constrictors curled up on trees, variety of other birds, crabs, oysters and mangroves. Seeing the scarlet ibis and egrets coming to roost on the trees was simply breathtaking! It is a nature lover’s paradise with so much diversity and wildlife.
After this we drove up to the northern part of Trinidad, at Arima we checked out the Asa Wright Nature Center. It was a beautiful oasis and we enjoyed the guided walk tour of wildlife animals and birds. My son loved the cool waters of the natural pool near a spring, and the waterfall pools. We tried out all the trails during our weeklong stay there. Every morning we hike to see the manikins, oilbird, hummingbirds, honeycreepers, lizards, and at night we took the free guided tour to see the critters. We hired an expert birder named Malek to take us around Trinidad’s birding hot spots. Our food was traditional Trinidadian fare and was very good. It looked magical each time the birds come and eat crumbs of our cake at tea time. Nature watching for days at that small resort deep in the Trinidad rainforest was a great way to see the wildlife up close.
The next day we took a half hour Tobago Express Air flight to cross the other half of this main island, Tobago. I applied for a rent a car at the Sherman’s Rentals and handed keys to an Avanza as our service to tour this island. Immediately we tried the Tour Tobago Private Tours of Crown Point. We went on the Fishing and Rum Punch Tour. Captain Karl fired up his small speedboat to take us to the gorgeous Tobago coastline and taught us how to fish. He also took us to a lovely secluded bay to snorkel; swim, BBQ, and rum punch party (delicious drinks!). We saw dolphins, and got personal with stingrays at the Nylon Pool. Never a dull moment! Next adventure was the Undersea Tobago Ltd. It is a PADI certified scuba diving school and tour. Found on the charming Coco Reef Resort within the beach, we took a dive with Instructors Derek, Ellis and Becky. They geared us up and guided us very carefully to the starting reef called Kariwac which was perfect for beginners and dive sites with drifts filled with nurse shark, rays, fish, and moray eels. We got certified by this professionals and great teachers.
Our last 4 days were spent exploring all the other attractions in Tobago. We rode a SX230 jet boat to enjoy Zoe Snorkeling Charter in Scarborough. We had a refreshing swim and a scenic view at the Argylle Waterfalls in Windward Road. We boarded a 50 ft catamaran to explore the Splash Sports Catamaran Cruises. We climbed a hilltop British fort called Fort George Museum, a great 360 degree view of the whole Tobago Islands and the Caribbean coast on top of its light house. We enjoyed the Horses of Veronica in Buccoo, riding near and in the ocean on top of a horse was the best end of our magical vacation!
This tiny twin island republic offered an enticing mix of nature and historical importance. I admire Trinidad for its natural wonders and Tobago for its serene and calm waters. I felt like being in PARADISE while we were there. It’s no wonder they are the happiest people on earth. Quite simply it was an amazing place to visit, the island was breathtakingly impressive!