ANURAG MALLICK and PRIYA GANAPATHY have a blast picking out the best beaches, amazing local cuisine, colourful celebrations and interesting trails in the tropical paradise of Trinidad & Tobago
Set in the vast blue of the Atlantic Ocean, Trinidad & Tobago are the southernmost islands in the Caribbean Sea. Luring explorers like Christopher Columbus and Sir Walter Raleigh, the islands drew Spanish, British, French and Dutch traders to dock here. At one time, Trinidad was a British colony with a French-speaking population and Spanish laws! Between 1845 and 1917 nearly 1,48,000 contracted workers migrated from India to Trinidad to work on the sugarcane and cocoa plantations. A majority of these Indian emigrants were from UP and Bihar and while assimilating into their new environment, managed to leave a lasting influence on its culture, cuisine and cricket. We pick out some of the most exciting things to do in Trinidad & Tobago…
Nature & Wildlife
Visit Emperor Valley Zoo in Port of Spain, Bird of Paradise Island in Little Tobago and Tobago Forest Reserve (the first in the Western Hemisphere) to see hummingbirds, jewelled mot mots and Trinidad Piping Guan or pawi, the isle’s only endemic bird.
White sandy beaches, turquoise waters and the famous thatch-roofed jetty; Tobago’s Pigeon Point beach has become an international tourism symbol for the Caribbean Isles.
Calypso & Carnival
Inspired by the West Kaiso music of African slaves, the calypso and carnival were born in the French-run plantations of Trinidad. Besides Soca, Chutney and Parang music, the steelpan ‘the only acoustic musical instrument invented in the 20th century’ was also invented in Trinidad!
Buccoo Coral Reef
Dubbed the third most spectacular reef in the world, the 10-acre marine park in southwestern Tobago is home to sea turtles, 119 species of marine fish and some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities.
Witness turtle nesting off Trinidad’s northeast coast between May and September of five marine turtle species – Olive Ridley, Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Leatherback, the largest of all sea turtles!
Naipaul literary trail
Born in an Indian immigrant family at Lion House, Nobel laureate VS Naipaul used his grandfather Pandit Capildeo’s 90-year-old home as a setting for his novel ‘A House For Mr. Biswas’. Follow the literary trail from ‘Suffrage of Elvira’ to ‘Miguel Street’ set in wartime Port of Spain.
Lara, Pollard, Bravo, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Ganga, Adrian Barath… the biggest names of West Indian cricket belong to Trinidad & Tobago. Catch a game at Queen’s Park Oval, the largest capacity cricket ground in the West Indies while dining at Jaffa, the pavilion restaurant.
Local Trini cuisine is a delectable mix of Bihari, African, Creole, Amerindian, European and Lebanese influences – try the national dish callaloo, Trinidad & Tobago fish curry, Jamaican jerk chicken, Dalpoori, crab curry, chicken pelau, jeera pork and Curry Goat with Buss-Up-Shut (shredded roti that resembles a ‘busted up shirt’).
Try Barbados Water
Barbados water or rum was first distilled in the 17th century on the sugarcane plantations of Barbados and rum shops serve local brews like Ponche de Crème, Fire Water (puncheon rum) and homemade wines from local fruits and flowers.
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Authors: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy. This article appeared on 17 September 2013 in Conde Nast Traveller online.