A genuine Caribbean experience
Trinidad and Tobago, officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles.
The true Caribbean (as residents like to refer to the islands), Trinidad and Tobago offers visitors a ‘true’ Caribbean experience like no other.
When you visit, you will have the opportunity to explore these Caribbean islands which are rich in history, culture, and biodiversity.
But! Before you go, be sure to learn about the many special events taking place throughout the year in Trinidad and Tobago, because you won’t want to miss many special events that attract visitors from around the world!
Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the main islands, comprising about 94% of the total area and 96% of the total population of the country.
The island of Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498 to the capitulation of the Spanish Governor, Don José Maria Chacón, on the arrival of a British fleet of 18 warships on 18 February 1797.
A visit to Trinidad today would reveal a multicultural melting pot stirred by the descendants of settlers from Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East. But in 1498, when explorer Christopher Columbus set foot on Trinidad, things were very different.
Arawak and Carib Indians prospered here on the island the Amerindians called Ieri, land of the Humming Bird, until Columbus spotted the island he named for the Holy Trinity.
Nearly a century would pass before Spain established Trinidad’s first European community, San Jose de Oruna (St Joseph), which was sacked and burnt by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1595.
The British would capture Trinidad in 1797 and negotiate an amicable treaty of rule with the Spanish.
The islands achieved independence from England in 1962 and became the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in 1976. Trinidad (Spanish: “Trinity”) is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago.
Port of Spain has been the capital of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago since 1757. It is the most developed city of the republic, and serves primarily as a retail and administrative centre.
Named for the tobacco cultivated by the original Carib population, Tobago existed separately from Trinidad for centuries. While the explorer Christopher Columbus sighted the island in 1498, he did not land and no attempts were made to colonize Tobago.
Today the island is serene, yet the many forts and batteries that dot Tobago’s landscape hint at a thrilling past. Fierce slave revolts, bitter battles for control between European powers, attacks on European settlers by the Amerindian Indians who inhabited the island and pirates are all part of Tobago’s rich history.
Diversity is the status quo in Trinidad and Tobago. It is sometimes known as a “rainbow island” or more fondly “a pothound” (local dialect for a mixed-breed dog). There is a wide range of ethnicity, religion, and culture.
There are multiple festivals that are based around the music of the Caribbean and the steel pan, which originated in Trinidad and is the country’s national instrument. These festivals include the world famous Carnival, J’ouvert, and Panorama, the national steel pan competition. There are also places that can be visited that hold cultural significance, such as Mount Saint Benedict and the Temple in the Sea.
Trinidad is popular with nature lovers and birdwatchers. But if you’re looking for beach activities, take a ferry ride to Tobago. Resplendent beaches line the island’s coast, and many remain untouched and desolate. Some of the best beaches lay near the southern end, including Store Bay or Pigeon Point. And if you’re thinking of visiting in winter, Trinidad’s famous Carnival celebration is a must-do.
There is a wealth of cultural and sightseeing activities to explore, and here is a quick guide …
Argyle Falls is Tobago’s premier waterfall and a highlight of the Windward coast drive.
Fort King George has been overlooking Tobago’s capital from 140m (460ft) above the Windward coast, and is the twin islands’ best-preserved historical site.
The steep descent into the fishing village of Charlotteville from the Speyside-Charlotteville road is a truly memorable experience.
Main Ridge Forest Reserve is home to abundant flora and fauna, and where you will want to bird watch. Some bird species to look out for include the white-tailed sabre-wing hummingbird, jacamars, and mannequins. A certified guide is recommended.
Under water you will find the Buccoo Reef & Nylon Pool, the largest and most frequently visited of Tobago’s reefs. An arc of five reef flats separated by channels, it boasts a wonderful array of vibrantly coloured aquatic life, including 40 species of coral. French explorer Jacques Cousteau labelled it the third most spectacular reef in the world, and it was declared a marine protected area in 1973.
Diving draws many visitors to Tobago and Speyside is the island’s diving mecca. Premier sites like Angel Reef, Black Jack Hole, Kelleston Drain, Coral Gardens and Japanese Gardens lie just offshore.
And this is to name just a few.
But, did you know …
- Tobago has changes hands more than any other Caribbean Island, around 30 times before the English finally settled in 1814
- Just South of Little Tobago on a dive site called Kelleston Drain lies the largest recorded brain coral in the world
- Inhabitants of Tobago are called Tobagonians, Inhabitants of Trinidad are Trinidadians but Trinidad &Tobago people call themselves Trinis
- Tobago was the location of the book “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe, and is also believed to be the place Robert Louis Stevenson had in mind when he wrote Treasure Island.
- The Caribbean Steel Pan, famous for music throughout the Islands was invented here.
So. If you are contemplating a truly Caribbean experience, consider visiting Trinidad and Tobago. You certainly are in for a memorable time and a diverse and rich cultural experience!
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