Trinidad, along with its smaller neighbour Tobago, make up the country of Trinidad and Tobago. Just 11km off the coast of Venezuela, Trinidad is fascinating. The island is a fusion of several different cultures (Spanish, French and British), influences that feed into its cuisine, music and festivals. And what a festival takes place in Port of Spain, the capital, each year...
Most travellers booking cheap flights to Trinidad come for Carnival, held on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Carnival started almost 170 years ago as a way for freed African slaves to remember their lives on the plantations and send up the lifestyles of their former masters. Today, the streets explode in a riot of music, colour and dancing and revellers being "wicked" in the best possible way.
For the rest of the year there is no shortage of things to do. The island is one of the Caribbean's most biodiverse destinations. Hiking through rain forests, kayaking, watching turtles or bird spotting are all popular activities. Trinidad has hundreds of types of bird, mammals, butterflies, reptiles and amphibians. So diverse, the island is said to be South America Caribbean-style.
Trinidad and Tobago insider information
- The steel pans were created out of the oil drums left by the Americans after World War II. They have become Trinidad's national instrument. The Panorama Finals are always held on the Saturday night before Carnival Monday.
- Trinidadians love their music. Calypso is famed for its explicitness - and cheekiness. Soca (soul-calypso) is, with brass sections and synthesisers, made for dancing. It's one of the most commercial of the calypso hybrids. Rapso is the music of the street with strong political rhythms and heavy drums. Chutney is a mix of Calypso and East Indian music.
- Anglers take cheap flights to Trinidad for the spectacular fishing. The waters around the island teem with tarpon, tuna and shark. Seasonal visitors include sailfish, marlin, wahoo and dolphin. International fishing tournaments include the Kingfish Tournament, held in June, the Tarpon Bash (August) and the Wahoo Tournament (early March).
- The Asa Wright Nature Centre covers 600 hectares in the Arima and Aripo Valleys of the Northern Range. The main facilities are centred on a former plantation, the Spring Hill Estate. A special attraction on the property is a breeding colony of the nocturnal Oilbird (Steatornis caripensis). The colony lives in Dunston Cave, considered to be the most easily accessible colony known for this species.
- Maracas Bay is the most popular beach on the island. Driving across the Northern Range to Maracas Bay affords fantastic views of Trinidad's rain forest and beaches. Sample, after a swim, the shark and bake. Seasoned, fried shark fillets, stuffed in fried bread with lots of go-withs such as tamarind or chadon-beni.