Welcome to the twin Island republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Located at the northern edge of the South American mainland and lying just 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) off the coast of northeastern Venezuela.
Today we focus on Trinidad the larger of the twin island republic and also the more Industrialized of the two islands, Is is known for the invention of the STEELPAN widely regarded as the only major musical instrument to be invented in the 20th century.
Today we’ll be checking out the island of Trinidad and all of the attractions, local cultures, traditions and much more.
Known for its steelpan, limbo, carnival, jouvert and the musical styles of calypso, soca, parang, chutney, chutney soca, extempo, kaiso, parang soca, pichakaree, and rapso. Trinidad is ethnically and culturally diverse with Afro-Trinidadians and Indo-Trinidadians being the largest ethnic groups followed by “Mixed” Races, European, Chinese, Syrian/Lebanese descent and many more.
THINGS TO DO
CARNIVAL FESTIVAL AKA The Greatest Show on Earth!
Regarded as the largest street party in the world, Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival is celebrated on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday every year. The pre-carnival season starts just around December and lasts until just after Ash Wednesday with a multitude of amazing parties for daytime, nighttime and the beach and also major cultural competitions and events, but Band and Costume preparations and launches usually start as early as July!
Carnival Monday opens with J’Ouvert at 4am, when revellers parade through the streets immersed in paint, grease and mud until sunrise. Later in the day on Monday and all day on Carnival Tuesday, thousands of masqueraders flood the streets throughout the islands in bold, colourful costumes, dancing through the parade routes to the exhilarating sounds of soca, steelpan and calypso music.
So what exactly does the Monday and Tuesday street party entail?
Well to start the street partiers are more commonly referred to as masqueraders and these masqueraders don’t simply throw on any old thing and party! There is usually a process which starts months before Carnival actually launches, starting with costume preparation. Most Band houses produce “costumes” for their masqueraders to purchase usually upfront or a deposit is made and the rest paid off during the year. These costumes range from Brazil style exorbitant or simpler yet stunning costumes.
Most carnival bands are All Inclusive, which means you pay one price upfront and get access to costumes, security, food and unlimited drinks during the Monday and Tuesday Carnival celebrations. And for those who may want to opt out of the all inclusive, there are some bands offering costume only.
Not to be left out the children also partake in Carnival with their street parade usually held the last two Saturdays before the major Carnival celebrations and in my honest opinion this is what Carnival is about as these costumes are truly spectacular and the kids have a ball!
You should definitely put this on your bucket list and if you guys are interested in checking out Band Houses and what they offer for carnival check out a list of them below and most importantly don’t forget to plan early as some bands start taking reservations beginning in August and most hotels are sold out by October!
Sidenote check out my About Me page for a video clip of Trinidad Carnival!
- Amazon Carnival (formerly Dream Team)
- Bliss Carnival
- Carnival Tribe
- Colorz Fuh So
- Clay J’ouvert
- “D” Harvard Boys
- D’ Krewe Mas Group
- Fantasy Carnival
- ICandy Carnival (J’ouvert band)
- IRave Jouvert (J’ouvert band)
- Island People Mas
- K2K Carnival Mas
- Kalicharan Carnival
- Lordstreet and Break-a-Leg Productions
- Mas Rebellion
- Monday Nite Jammerz
- National Carnival Bands Association of Trinidad & Tobago
- National Carnival Commission
- Peppers Jouvert
- Petle Mas
- Ronnie & Caro McIntosh
- Rosalind Gabriel
- Rugeri Promotions
- Trini Revellers
- Trinidad Carnival Diary
- Undercover Promotions (Facebook)
- Undercover Promotions-UCP (Facebook)
- YUMA Vibe
PLACES TO SEE
Caroni Bird Sanctuary
The Caroni Bird Sanctuary is located off the west coast of Trinidad, in a bay situated a half-hour drive from the capital Port-of-Spain, this swamp is the second largest mangrove wetland in Trinidad and Tobago and is home to over 100 bird species including the Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber). This Sanctuary also provides a variety of habitats for flora and faunal species and It’s also a nursery for marine and freshwater species.
The Caroni Swamp is protected under the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar Convention is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources . It all started during the 1960’s when people became concerned about the increasing loss and the degradation of wetland habitat for migratory birds. The treaty was first adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971. The Ramsar Convention is the oldest intergovernmental environmental agreements which came into force in 1975. The Caroni Swamp has a total of 20 endangered species and is ecologically diverse. source: caronibirdsanctuary.com
For Tours check out: www.nananecotours.com
Asa Wright Nature Centre
This centre is home to over 400 bird species including the purple honeycreeper, tufted coquette (a hummingbird), tropical mockingbird, and oilbird. On the nature trails you can also spot Red brocket deer, Agouti as well as the elusive ocelot.
The Centre offers day visits daily from 9am – 5pm, guided walks are conducted and usually last 1.5 hours, afterwards you can then relax at the centre’s Jade Vine Terrace or Verandah which offers spectacular views. There is also a restaurant serving buffet style lunch and afterwards you can then take a dip at the lovely clear water pool.
For those wishing to stay for a longer visit the centre has a Lodge offering accommodations in cottages located near the main house. Rates include Sunrise coffee or tea on the Verandah, Breakfast and Lunch in the Dining Room, Afternoon Tea and Sunset Rum Punch on the Verandah, and Dinner in the Dining Room.
The Pitch Lake
Located in the southwestern area of La Brea, the Trinidad Pitch Lake is the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world.
This natural wonder measures approximately one hundred acres and is estimated to be 76 meters deep in the center. The surface of the lake is semisolid, and can be walked on, however the asphalt is so soft in certain areas you can sink slowly if you stand on the surface for too long.
Although the lake appears dormant the asphalt still moves with a natural slow “stirring” action. Not only can the flow lines be seen on the surface of the asphalt, but trees and other objects have been known in the past to have appeared, disappeared and reappeared.
The origin of the pitch lake was created thousands of years ago by the process of subduction, when the Caribbean continental plate was forced under another plate. This opened fault lines that allowed oil from deep underground deposits to rise to the surface, where it collected in a volcanic crater. The air caused lighter elements of the oil to evaporate, leaving behind the heavy asphalt, a mix of oil, clay and water.
There are official tour guides on site and after paying a fee in the visitor facility building, one of the guides take you out on the lake for an informative tour.
Here’s a recipe for the famous Bake and Shark: http://www.simplytrinicooking.com/bake-and-shark/ try it and see!
It is a wondrous site to see these majestic creatures emerge from the beaches and slowly make their way to nest and lay their eggs. The hatchlings emerge into the world two months after.
They usually nest at the Grande Rivière and Matura beaches and it should be noted in order to protect these endangered species, these beaches are prohibited areas and permission and permits is required for the purpose of turtle viewing.
Leatherbacks are the largest surviving turtle species on earth. Some can reach up to seven feet long and weigh more than 2,000 pounds. These reptiles can dive to depths of 4,200 feet — deeper than any other turtle — and can stay down for up to 85 minutes. They can live up to 45 years. Once prevalent in every ocean except the Arctic and Antarctic, the leatherback population has declined dramatically in many parts of the world. Source: discovertnt.com
In addition to the Leatherback turtle, Trinidad is also an important nesting ground for other turtle species mainly the Hawksbills, Green Turtles, Olive Ridleys and Loggerheads.
- Do not touch or disturb nesting turtles or hatchlings in any way. Give them ample space
- Lights (including flash photography), noise and activity tend to disorient both turtles and hatchlings
- Try to be quiet and unobtrusive, and do not use flashlights or flash photography
- Do not try to pick up hatchlings or impede their progress to the sea
- Do not drive on nesting beaches; the weight of the vehicle can crush eggs buried in the sand.
Check out http://www.turtlevillagetrust.org/turtle-watching.htm for more information on obtaining permits and visiting.
Trinidad is a very diverse land with many things to see and do but you should make the above your “to do list” when visiting and you won’t be disappointed!
After all the excitement from Trinidad, a well deserved break in Tobago is up next, check out the island of Tobago HERE!