Trinidad and tiny sister island, Tobago, offer visitors a fresh mix of a genuine Caribbean life and exquisite sunny days. While visitors can find all the amenities essential for easy travel, a true Trinidad and Tobago experience combines local culture and natural attractions.
Port of Spain, Trinidad's urban center, vibrates with color, Caribbean smells and cricket commentary. Stretch your legs with a trip to the Emperor Valley Zoo and the National Museum & Art Gallery before you head out to investigate birds and beaches.
Bird-watchers will want to stop in at Asa Wright Nature Centre for tropical tweeting and brilliant plumage. On the west coast, get your binoculars out to watch for ibis at Caroni Bird Sanctuary on Caroni Swamp or head further south to Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust for a wetland assortment.
For solitude and a bird's-eye view, climb up Mt. St. Benedict and take one of the area's less-traveled trails. Hikers can also take a north coast trail to Paria Falls for the reward of a late-day soak in the warm waters of popular Maracas Beach. While Trinidad has pleasant sandy shores, superlatives are more often associated with Tobago.
Catch a ferry or short flight northeast to Tobago if your cruise doesn't dock in Tobago's port, Scarborough. Succumb to days cruising the surface with your mask and snorkel or diving with turtles and sharks 20 feet under. If you don't like the idea of getting your air from a tank, try a glass-bottom boat tour of Buccoo Reef instead.
A visit to Trinidad and Tobago will show you a cultural side of the Caribbean that is vibrant and genuine. Sit back on a sandy beach and enjoy the soothing surf and faint sound of a calypso or soca ? and if you're fortunate enough to visit in February, experience Carnival for yourself.
Trinidad is about seven miles north of Venezuela, 20 miles southwest of Tobago.