Trinidad & Tobago

Trinidad & Tobago

We had the chance to visit Trinidad & Tobago in December 2007. Trinidad is located right off the coast of Venezuela between the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, and the island of Tobago is right north of Trinidad, only about a 20 minute flight. It is a sovereign nation, and oil production and refining are the main industries. It was a British colony for many years, and therefore driving is on the left.

View of Port of Spain from Hilton Hotel

We stayed at the Hilton Trinidad & Conference Center in Port of Spain. It is a good hotel that overlooks the city of Port of Spain (see pictures below), and has a great secluded pool area. We stayed here the entire time except for an overnight trip to Tobago. The hotel is close to the Botanical Gardens and Zoo.

North Coast of Trinidad

We arrived on Friday evening at the Trinidad airport from Houston, and arranged right then at the airport to get flights the next day to Tobago on Caribbean Airlines. We had decided to “wing it” on the flights. Not a good idea on weekends—the airline seat capacity was very limited. Getting two seats on the same flight the next day (Saturday) to Tobago was a bit of a challenge, and it was impossible on the flight back to Trinidad on Sunday, so we returned on different return flights although they were less than 2 hours apart.

The flights were inexpensive, less than $50 per person round trip, and the plane was a turbo prop. The airport in Tobago (“Crown Point International Airport”) is about the smallest I have ever seen. It is almost all outdoors due to the warm climate and the airline check-in is on the sidewalk. We asked for a taxi to our hotel (a Hilton property at the time) and a man took us to his old sedan in the gravel parking lot, which he could not get to start. After about 10 minutes, we thanked him for his effort and then found another taxi to our hotel, which was about 10-15 minutes away.

Tobago Beach-Hilton Hotel

Our hotel (formerly the Hilton Tobago Golf & Spa Resort, now up for sale) was on a beautiful stretch of beach.  (Take some insect repellent, however we noticed sand fleas). The hotel food and service was decent, and our room overlooked the beach, and the pool was right beside the beach. Although we were only there overnight, we really could tell that Tobago may be one of the last “undiscovered” islands of the Caribbean. There were very few tourists on our flight or on the island, and we found long stretches of deserted beaches. The island is less developed, and therefore one should keep expectations in check. Things work on “Caribbean time.”

If you want a Caribbean retreat away from the crowds, consider the island of Tobago. December was a great time of year to go.

Back on Trinidad, we had a little time on our last afternoon, and hired a car to take us up to Maracas Bay on the north coast of Trinidad.  What a beautiful spot. We also got to try a shark sandwich! It wasn’t bad—pieces of fried shark in a pocket bread, with lots of condiments to add if you wish.

Maracas Bay, Trinidad

Another View-Maracas Bay, Trinidad

We love Indian food, and we probably enjoyed the best Indian meal we’ve ever had in Port of Spain.  There are lots of Indian immigrants in Trinidad. While I cannot recall the name of the restaurant, it is in the same vicinity as Tony Roma’s. There are lots of restaurant choices, some of which are outdoors and very enjoyable.

Be aware that the crime rate in Trinidad is somewhat high. Take the usual precautions of keeping track of your personal items and being aware of your surroundings. My wife felt safe walking around during the day (while I was in business meetings), and with a small group you should have no problem, even in the evening.