Trinidad and Tobago

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Trinidad and Tobago is a nation consisting primarily of two Caribbean islands just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. The country is the most industrialised and one of the most prosperous in the Caribbean. Overall, tourism is not a major industry (though the island of Tobago has proportionally more), leaving the islands replete with natural unspoiled beauty not found in most other Caribbean countries.

Population: 1,225,225 people
Area: 5,128 km2
Highest point: 940 m
Coastline: 362 km
Life expectancy: 71.96 years
GDP per capita: $20,400
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About Trinidad and Tobago

Climate

Trinidad and Tobago, well within the tropics, both enjoy a generally pleasant maritime tropical climate influenced by the northeast trade winds. In Trinidad the annual mean temperature is 26 °C (78.8 °F), and the average maximum temperature is 34 °C (93.2 °F). The humidity is high, particularly during the rainy season, when it averages 85 to 87 %. The island receives an average of 2,110 millimeters (83.1 in) of rainfall per year, usually concentrated in the months of June through December, when brief, intense showers frequently occur. Precipitation is highest in the Northern Range, which may receive as much as 3,810 millimeters (150 in). During the dry season, drought plagues the island's central interior. Tobago's climate is similar to Trinidad's but slightly cooler. Its rainy season extends from June to December; the annual rainfall is 2,500 millimeters (98.4 in). The islands lie outside the hurricane belt; despite this, Hurricane Flora damaged Tobago in 1963, and Tropical Storm Alma hit Trinidad in 1974, causing damage before obtaining full strength.

Activities

Pre-Lenten Carnival

The annual festival of Carnival is one of the most famous things about Trinidad and Tobago.There are many beautiful dances and a lot of celebrating around this time. Every year on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent, thousands of costumed revelers parade on the streets in an annual street party dubbed "The Greatest Show On Earth." They are accompanied by music from steel bands, with calypso and soca music played on large loudspeakers carried on large trucks. In the buildup to the two day Carnival celebration there are other activities including Calypso tents (indoor calypso concerts), the "Panorama" steelband competition, Soca monarch, Chutney Soca monarch, as well as open air parties called fetes. Carnival Monday and Tuesday are not official public holidays, but many businesses and all schools close for those two days anyway. Carnival derives from the French traditions which were adopted by African slaves.

Carnival is both a "See" and "Do" activity. One can just stand at the side of the road and watch the parade of the bands, or actually participate and "play mas." Many tourists participate in Carnival bands. Booking well in advance is a must as the spaces fill up quickly. Getting in shape is also a must as many costumes are very skimpy. In fact some locals' physical fitness goals are centered around Carnival.

Nightlife

There are quite a few nightclubs in Trinidad and Tobago, especially in the Chaguaramas area. Pier 1, Anchorage, Base, MoBS2 to name a few. Some very popular night clubs are Club Zen and 51 Degrees Lounge in Port of Spain and Sting nightclub in La Romaine, as well as Space la Nouba and Prive, both also in La Romaine. However, due to the crime situation, caution is advised and it is a good idea to be with a group rather than by yourself.

Golf

One can play golf at several golf courses throughout Trinidad and Tobago. Some courses are 9 holes and others are 18 holes. Two popular golf courses are the St. Andrews' Golf course [6] in Maraval (just outside of Port of Spain) and the Mt. Irvine Golf Course in Tobago.

Food

Due to its varied background, Trinidad and Tobago has excellent and varied food options. In particular, the Indian roots have added to some of the best foods of any country in the world. If you can't tolerate extremely hot and spicy food, be sure to let the cook or waiter know in advance.

Popular throughout T&T are tasty rotis, Indian flatbreads stuffed with Channa(chickpea curry), usually some meat, and other items (including green beans, pumpkin, and mangoes). There are several types of roti available in Trinidad-- sada, which is similar to pita or naan; dhalpouri, which is filled with ground yellow split peas; and buss up shut, a heartier bread, with a silken texture. Cheap breakfasts of sada roti and 'choka' - vegetables of all kinds are available for about TT$3-4. But the most popular fast snack is a 'doubles'. One Famous spot is "GEORGE DOUBLES" located in Woodbrook outside the ever famous "Brooklyn Bar". Doubles is curried chick peas enclosed in two pieces of fried bread, and servied your choice of condiments. It is a roadside snack, available everywhere at about TT$2-$4. "Ali's Doubles" is a chain that sells doubles. There are a few locations around Trinidad, mostly in San Fernando. Eat hot.

Phoulourie is another popular roadside snack. Phoulourie are small balls, made of fried ground chick peas and flour. It and other popular snack foods like roast corn, cow heel soup, aloo pies (fried potato pies) and saheena (spinach dipped in batter and fried), are often available from street vendors, especially around the Savannah.

Trinidad and Tobago is also famous for its mouth watering callaloo-- a soup made from green leafy vegetables, similar to spinach or kale, sometimes with crab or pigtail added (vegetarians beware!) Callalloo is not the most appetizing of foods to look at, but it is certainly worth a try.

Another must try in T&T is the famous Bake and Shark or Shark 'n Bake. Most easily obtained along the north coast near Maracas Bay, pieces of Shark are deep fried, served in cut fried bread called "fried bake", and accompanied by various sauces, most popular of which is a puree of shadow beni (a herb similar to cilantro.)

Another popular food traditionally associated with beach limes is pelau, usually accompanied with coleslaw. Pelau, is not, however, available for purchase at the beach, although you may be able to find it in a creole restaurant.

If you have a sweet tooth, there are many local sweets and candies to sample like Toolum, Tambran Ball, Guava Cheese, Sugar Cake, Paw Paw Ball, Benna Ball, Jub Jub, Kurma, Barfi, Ladoo, Peera. Many of these will be available on the "lookout" on the way to Maracas Beach, and prepackaged in some supermarkets.

A few American style fast food chains are available including KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut and Burger King. There are also a few franchised eat-in restaurants such as TGI Friday's and Ruby Tuesday. There are a few local chains such as Royal Castle (chicken and chips), Chicken Unlimited. These local fried chicken chains have a different taste from American or European fried chicken chains. Pizza Boys and Mario's are two popular local Pizza chains. The pizza is quite different from American or Italian pizza.

Chinese food is available in many places from Chinese takeout stores. It is Cantonese style but the spices are uniquely Trinidadian.

Barbecued chicken is another popular Trinbagonian dish. It is similar to American barbecue, but with local spices. There are roadside barbecue stands that sell a box of barbecued chicken (quarter) with fries, salad and garlic bread. One popular place is The Barbecue Hut which is an open air tent where patrons will buy barbecue to sit down and eat or take away. It is on the South Trunk Road in La Romaine, South Trinidad close to the Gulf City mall. Be aware that it is run by Muslims therefore no alcohol is allowed on the compound.

The condiments available in Trinbagonian restaurants are ketchup, plain mustard, garlic sauce, shadon-beni sauce (a cilantro-like herb), hot pepper and many more depending on location. Soy sauce is available in Chinese restaurants, along with an extremely hot Chinese style pepper sauce . If taking hot pepper as a condiment, be warned! It is extremely hot! You may see locals putting a lot of pepper on their food, but remember they have been eating it for years so they are accustomed to it. It is best to try a little and if you feel comfortable add more. If in doubt, avoid it. Salt and black pepper are generally not available as in American restaurants.

Local bakeries sell pastries such as beef and chicken pies and currant rolls. They also sell hops bread which are rolls made with white or whole wheat flour. Hops bread is best eaten hot and can be enjoyed with cheese or butter for a quick snack.

Grocery shopping

Grocery stores sell a wide variety of packaged goods and produce. However, for really fresh produce, one can go to the market. Towns usually have a market day (or days) where sellers, usually local farmers, will bring their produce to sell. The Government publishes prices for produce, however one may be able to bargain to get a better price. Again, while weights and measures are officially in Metric, most sellers use imperial units.

Drinks

Non-alcoholic

The most refreshing drink on a hot sunny day is a large glass of a very cold delicious Mauby, a beverage made with the bark of the mauby tree and spices, such as anise and cinnamon. It is very refreshing and cooling, but may be an acquired taste, since it has a bitter aftertaste.

Cold soft jelly coconut water -- available along the roadsides -- costs about TT$3-4. And do try all the many varied local fruit juices, readily available chilled in most groceries.

Sorrel is a popular drink available during Christmas time. It is made from the boiled flowers of the Roselle (hibiscus sabdariffa) plant. It is red in colour and best enjoyed cold. It also has nutritious benefits.

Soft drinks are sweetened with cane sugar, rather than high fructose corn syrup as is the common practice in North America. This gives soft drinks a different taste, which some argue is better.

Malta is a popular drink, made from malt and hops and available from local bars, restaurants and supermarkets. It is high calorie and full of b vitamins, and best enjoyed ice cold.

Alcoholic drinks

Rum

Being a former sugar cane colony, Trinidad and Tobago is famous for its Rum. Popular brands of Rum are Black Label and Vat 19 by Fernandes and White Oak, Old Oak by Angostura. Some Bars will allow you to buy individual rum drinks either straight with or without a chaser, or mixed. Some bars will allow you to purchase a whole bottle of Rum, or a "half" which is equivalent to half a bottle. Some bars will sell a "nip" which is less than half. One can also purchase bottles of Rum in stores and at duty free stores at the airport to carry home. Puncheon Rum is a stronger type of Rum (no less than 75% alcohol). It is not quite like moonshine but definitely stronger than regular Rum. In fact it may not be legal to take it back with you. However it is legal in Trinidad and Tobago and is available from many local bars.

Beer

Beer is available and quite popular. The two most popular brands of beer are Carib and Stag, which are brewed locally. Additionally, some imported beer such as Miller is available. Other malt liquor drinks are available, brewed locally, such as Smirnoff Ice, and various stouts (Mackeson, Guinness Export etc.). There are no microbreweries in Trinidad, and beer-lovers may find the local beers not to their taste. However, a few bars do import a wider variety of beers. Of particular note is the All Out bar at the Queen's Park Oval cricket ground in Port of Spain (94 Tragarete Road), where you will find a reasonable selection of English ales on draft, sold by the pint.

Wine and other spirits

Wine, vodka, tequila and other spirits are usually imported. There are no wineries in Trinidad and Tobago, as the tropical climate is not conducive to the growing of grapes. Many restaurants will serve a range of imported wines, however, and wine bars, such as More Vino in Woodbrook have opened in the past few years.

Laws related to alcohol

Not surprisingly, drinking alcohol in public is not frowned upon in Trinidad and Tobago. It is legal to drink alcohol in public. Public drunkenness may get you arrested only if you engage in disorderly conduct. Also the legal drinking age is 18 yrs. However, during election day, sale of alcohol is prohibited and must not be overtly displayed.

Shopping

The currency on Trinidad and Tobago is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar, also known as the TT (pronounced teetee). US dollars are also widely accepted. Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted at many stores. American Express, Diners' Club, Discover, JCB and others are only accepted in a few places. ATM (ABM) cards using Cirrus and Plus networks will work in local ATMs and will allow you to make withdrawals in TT dollars converted to your home currency. The exchange rate when withdrawing from the ATM is slightly better than when exchanging cash. There are also ATMs in a few places such as shopping malls that will dispense US dollars. Be advised that Trinidad and Tobago ATMs do not accept PINs longer than four digits. Consider changing it to four digits before you travel. As of December 2011, Republic Bank ATMs (Blue Machines) accept six-digit PINs.

Prices in shops and stores are generally displayed and do not change according to the customer. Outdoor vendors, however, are another story: they are likely to charge a different, higher price for a foreigner than for a local. A few will even suggest or demand payment in US dollars. You can try haggling, or just grin and bear it.

Most items except necessities and certain other items that are zero rated attract Value Added Tax (VAT) at the rate of 15%. The tax is collected at the time of sale.

Weights and measures are officially in Metric, however it is not uncommon for imperial (English) units to still be used. Though the other units are the same, the imperial gallon is not the same as the U.S. gallon.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Trinidad and Tobago on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Trinidad and Tobago

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Port of Spain, on the northwest coast of Trinidad island, is the capital city of Trinidad and Tobago. A bustling and friendly city, Port of Spain is a great place to spend a couple of days and is the hub for the Trinidad's famous carnival. It has been the capital since 1757 and is the main administrative ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Adam Smith Square
  • Queen\'s Park Savanah
  • Long Circular Mall
  • President\'s House
  • Royal Botanical Gardens
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Interesting places:

  • Pigeon Point Beach
  • Fort Millford
  • Gulf City Mall
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  • Eco Park
  • The Rhythm of Our People
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Scarborough is the main city on the island of Tobago, part of Trinidad and Tobago, a Caribbean country.

Interesting places:

  • Fort King George
  • Scarborough Botanical Garden
  • Dwight Yorke Stadium
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Interesting places:

  • Turtle Beach
  • Fort Bennett
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Interesting places:

  • Argyle Waterfall
  • Speyside Bay
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Points of Interest in Trinidad and Tobago

Beaches

Popular beaches in Trinidad are Maracas, Tyrico, Las Cuevas, Toco, Mayaro, Chagville, Los Iros and Quinam. Most of the beaches on the North coast are beautiful, with powdery sand and clear blue water. Los Iros and Quinam are okay, however Quinam's water may be brown, largely due to sediment from the orinoco river in South America. Although Maracas and Tyrico are not too far apart, you cannot walk from one to the other along the beach.

Popular beaches in Tobago include Pigeon Point, Store Bay, MT Irvine, Bucco, Grange, Englishman's Bay, Canoe Bay. Tobago's beaches are extremely beautiful.

Bucco Reef and the nylon pool

Buccoo Reef is a natural coral reef on the North Coast of Tobago. Glass Bottom Boat tours are available from Pigeon Point and Store Bay. The nylon pool is an area of shallow water on top of the reef. The water is crystal clear and looks like fishing line nylon, hence the name. A glass bottom boat tour will take you there and allow you to bathe.

Caroni Bird Sanctuary

Located in the Caroni Swamp, this is a must for bird watchers. Several indigenous species of bird nest in the bird sanctuary, including one of the national birds - the Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber). Tours generally take place during dusk as the Scarlet Ibis returns to the swamp to roost. It is also a good idea to wear thick clothing(jeans and a jacket/sweater) as the mosquitoes in the bird sanctuary are especially vicious and are capable of biting through the thickest of clothing.

Divali and the Divali Nagar

The Hindu festival of lights, Divali, is celebrated in most areas in Trinidad and a few areas in Tobago. Every year during one night in October-November small oil lamps called deyas are lit on the inside and outside of homes and in public places. Additionally, there is a celebration and festival called the Divali Nagar, where Indian song, dance, plays and other cultural items are on display. The Divali Nagar takes place at the Divali Nagar Site in Chaguanas, Trinidad. Many corporate sponsors set up booths and there is even an open air Indian restaurant where one can purchase Indian food including roti. Divali is a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago.

Emperor Valley Zoo (Port of Spain) and the Botanical Gardens

Trinidad and Tobago's only zoo features a wide variety of tropical species including lions, tigers, monkeys, birds and fish. It is in the capital, Port of Spain. The Botanical Gardens contains many species of plants and is right next to the zoo, close to the President's house.

Fort George (Tobago)

Tobago's Fort George offers a glimpse into Tobago's colonial history and beautiful views of the ocean.

Goat races (Tobago)

Goat racing in Tobago on Easter Tuesday is a tradition dating back to 1925. Amazingly, it shares many similarities to horse racing, where there are owners, stables and trainers.

TTPBA Great Race

During the month of August (mainly in second or last weekend of August) there is an annual power boat race from Trinidad to Tobago called the Great Race.[5]. It starts at Pier 1 in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and ends at Store Bay in Tobago. There are places to see the boats racing live (such as Maracas Bay). The boats typically travel around the North West peninsula, then along the north coast then make a bee line to Tobago. The first finishers typically finish in an hour.

La Brea Pitch Lake

The La Brea Pitch Lake is the world's largest natural reservoir of asphalt. However, commercial excavation of asphalt has slowed down considerably, since other more cost effective materials are available for road construction. The pitch lake is now primarily a tourist destination. Many go to bathe in its waters, which contain sulphur, which some say has healing properties.

Leatherback turtles on Mathura Beach

The Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) can be seen on Trinidad's Mathura beach. Every year around Easter, the turtles return to Trinidad to lay their eggs. Tours are available from conservation groups. Volunteer opportunities are also available. Since the turtles are an endangered species, it is illegal to kill the turtles or the eggs, therefore care and caution should be exercised so as not to disturb the turtles.

Tobago heritage festival

Every year during the last week in July and first week in August, the Tobago heritage festival takes place. It is a two week long show of Tobagonian dance, music, story telling, culture and food. It is a showpiece into Tobago's long held traditions and a unique glimpse into the island's way of life.

Trinidad's north coast (Toco/Matelot/Grand Riviere)

The North coast of Trinidad is beautiful and largely unspoilt. There are a lot of scenic beaches and undeveloped areas. At the North East tip of the island is the village of Toco. The North East trade wind blows literally 24 hours per day and lounging on the beach can be quite relaxing.

Maracas Beach - Las Cuevas

Pigeon Point Beach - Crown Point

Adam Smith Square - Port of Spain

Castara Beach - Charlotteville

Pitch Lake - La Brea

Turtle Beach - Plymouth

Fort King George - Scarborough

Galera Point - Toco

Manny Ramjohn Stadium - San Fernando

Argyle Waterfall - Speyside

Blanchisseuse Beach - Blanchisseuse

Mayaro Beach - Mayaro

Manzanila Beach - Manzanilla

Cedros Beach - Cedros

Fort Millford - Crown Point

Queen\'s Park Savanah - Port of Spain

Las Cuevas Beach - Las Cuevas

Englishman\'s Bay - Charlotteville

Scarborough Botanical Garden - Scarborough

Long Circular Mall - Port of Spain

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