Trinidad at a glance
TRINIDAD is a large, busy and populous island in the southern Caribbean (just off the Venezuelan coast), with easy access from Europe and the States. It is developed (and part industrial), English-speaking, a cultural leader in the region has an extraordinary racial mix.
There is not that much traditional beach-based tourism and so it tends to be specialist destination, with birding and nature, some light adventure, some cultural and some cruise tourism. Only a few beaches, some nice remote ones. A few hotels, mostly in Port of Spain (many cater for business) though increasingly in the countryside too. An excellent range of restaurants covering the island’s range of cuisine, again mostly in Port of Spain. Superb natural life, the finest birdwatching in the Caribbean by far, magnificent rainforest, interesting city life and art, excellent music (Trinidad is the home of steel pan and calypso) and of course carnival. Trinidad y Tobago son islas en el Caribe muy circano a Venezuela.
Read about Trinidad history, population and politics in Island Essentials.
The Definitive Trinidad Island Guide gives you independent reviews, listings, and information from top travel journalists and Caribbean specialists.
- Best for:
- Great music, strong culture, avid twitchers and carnival fun
- What for:
- Birdwatching, Eco/Nature, Carnivals & Festivals
- Not for:
- All-inclusive, Family, Naturist, Beach
- How to get there:
- Direct services from the UK and North America or via Tobago, Antigua, Barbados, Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and Panama
- Top tip:
- Try twinning with sister island Tobago just across the water by ferry or plane
Trinidad in depth
Compared to the rest of the Caribbean, Trinidad is untypical in its tourism. It has few beach hotels, though there are some quite nice ones in the North-east. Instead the island is known for its culture and its natural life. The bird-watching in Trinidad is by far the most extensive and the finest in the whole Caribbean. Trinidad is also distinct from the rest of the Caribbean in almost every other facet but specifically its geological history which is continental South American in nature and underpins its physical separation and rich diversity of fauna, flora and habitat. Its economic strength and lack of reliance on tourism is founded on offshore oil and gas reserves but there is also a strong manufacturing and agricultural base with exports of fruits, vegetables, sugar and various derivatives.
The capital Port of Spain of course is the country’s main powerhouse and dynamic heartbeat and the urban corridor stretches eastwards through Curepe, Arima and Arouca to the international airport at Piarco. San Fernando in the south is the second city with a similar industrial based economy. Elsewhere, a wide variety of terrain embraces the tropical rainforest of the Northern Range and flat land savannah to miles of undisturbed beachfront in Manzanilla and Mayaro in the east and swamp wetlands at Caroni and Nariva, home to anaconda and red howler monkeys.
Indeed, nothing ever seems regular or commonplace in Trinidad, the feel is always more highly unusual or idiosyncratic, typical of a nation which thrives on a polyglot cultural identity. Undeniably, outside of the oil industry, the people are its most valuable asset, a passionate, exuberant melange of around 1.4 million of every race and hue from the Middle East, China and India to Africans, Europeans and the odd place in between.
A laisse-faire, devil may care attitude permeates the psyche of most “Trinis”, wholly apparent in the crazed celebration of pre-Lenten Carnival, the centrepiece of life for many, and an experience that stays with any visitor forever. For all the right reasons. The opening gambit, J’Ouvert morning, is enough to floor most strong willed men then, after two days and nights of stunning costumed parades with bands up to 5000 strong, spine tingling steel pan and wild bacchanal, you’re dubbed something of a lightweight if you can’t handle the “Las Lap” party. Quite possibly these are even more intense events. Then you’ll need to lie down for a month, or longer. The true Trini though is thinking of next year’s, and “playing mas” again.
By extension in many ways music, whether it be pan, soca or calypso is the lifeblood of the nation, that and the fantastic array of culinary delights on offer from rotis, doubles or corn soup on the street or the increasingly diverse quality restaurants and American style food outlets.
This Definitive Trinidad Guide is maintained by our own in-house team of Caribbean specialists. The guide contains independent reviews about Trinidad, its accommodation, things to do, places to see, getting around, how to get there and links for travel to Trinidad.
Researcher and contributing writer, Deana Bellamy. Picture editor, Holly Cocker. Senior Picture Editor, Alexander Gray.
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Looking for inspiration?
- Enjoy some of the finest bridwatching in the Caribbean
- Listen to the origins of steel pan and calypso
- Get lost at carnival then find yourself in Tobago
- Sample multi-cultural menus in Port of Spain
- Kayak the Nariva Swamp & Bush Bush Wildlife Sanctuary