I had a wonderful opportunity to spend a week in the Caribbean with some of my fellow Travel Counsellors. We were part of a wining incentive competition entitled “Pirates of the Caribbean”.
The destination … Trinidad and Tobago!
Trinidad and Tobago are two small islands that form the Southern Caribbean, with the closest point of Trinidad only 7miles from Venezuela. Trinidad is the more industrial/commercial of the two islands. Tobago is far more relaxed and the buildings are never higher than the palm trees!
“Trinibagons” are known for their carnivals, soca music, “liming and wining” and Brian Lara! But Trinidad and Tobago are also a haven for divers and bird watchers alike. Both islands have untouched rainforests, pristine beaches, rich coral reefs and beautiful sunsets! The locals are warm and friendly and always willing to tell you stories about their heritage.
As these two islands lie so far south, they do not fall into the traditional Hurricane Belt. The last hurricane to affect Tobago was in 1963. This is a real selling point for anyone looking at travelling between June and November. The weather is typically hot and humid with the average temperatures being between 26 and 35 degrees Celsius. There’s only two season – wet and dry! Rainy season falls between June and December.
There's a wide choice when it comes to accommodation on Tobago ranging from guest houses, self catering apartments, villas to hotels. We stayed at the Turtle Beach Hotel (named so because the giant leatherback turtles come to lay their eggs on their beach from March to July). We also stayed at the The Grand Courlan Hotel and Spa and the Coco Reef Hotel. We visited a number of other hotels but my favourite is the Bacolet Beach Club Boutique Hotel which has a Cuban inspired restaurant on the premises.
We spent 7 nights on Tobago with a day trip across to Trinidad. It’s fairly inexpensive to fly between these two islands and takes about 20minutes. Our day trip on Trinidad included a brief tour through the Capital – Port of Spain, where we visited the new trendy 5 Star Boutique hotel The Carlton Savannah for lunch. We also visited the Asa Wright Nature Reserve and Caroni Wetlands. Asa Wright Nature Reserve is located in the Arima Valley and forms part of the Northern Mountain Range. It is home to hundreds of different species of birds, mammals, reptiles and butterflies and is a hiker’s paradise! The Caroni Wetlands in central Trinidad is home to the national bird of Trinidad – the Scarlet Ibis. It’s a beautiful sight to watch at sunset as they flock in a blaze of red to the mangrove trees to roost for the evening.
On Tobago we were treated to a guided walk through the Main Ridge Rain Forest Reserve and up to the 3-tiered Argyle waterfalls (wellies and all!!). The rain forest covers 60% of the island. We enjoyed a tour of the capital city, Scarborough. The population is only 17 000 people! Tobago used to be a pirate’s haven and buried treasure has been found in Man O’ War bay in Charlottesville! (Calling Captain Jack Sparrow!) A definite must is a meal at Jemma’s Tree House Restaurant. It is family run and the food is just divine!
Two of our days were spent relaxing on the beaches and in the waters of Tobago…
The Sun Fun is a glass bottom boat trip which includes a snorkelling trip to Buccoo Coral Reef, a swim in the Nylon Pool and a beach BBQ on No Man’s Land. The Nylon Pool is a shallow white sand bank. Legend has it that a swim in the Nylon Pool will take 10 years off your age!
Our last day was spent on the Island Girl catamaran, discovering the very scenic Caribbean coastline. What an awesome experience! We set anchor in Cotton Bay - a beautiful, unspoilt bay accessible only by boat – where we spent hours swimming and snorkelling (equipment provided). Lunch was prepared and served onboard. The menu included grilled fish, local stewed chicken (and goat!), salads, fruit, garlic bread, with coffee or tea and, of course, plenty rum punch! The crew was very professional and ensured a day of total relaxation.
In summary it was an amazing trip and Trinidad and Tobago are definitely a must if visiting the Caribbean! It is such a diverse destination that has something for everyone. The locals made us feel truly welcomed. Nothing was too much trouble and they approached everything with a smile!