Trinidad and Tobago
|Two of the best islands for nature tours, birding|
Trinidad, home of the Caribbean's most famous Carnival, is the more economically developed and prosperous of the two.
Tobago, on the other hand, still retains a rare old-time Caribbean feel and charm: slow living and friendly and genuine people. Plus good diving and hiking. For birders, Little Tobago is like a page out of the Galapagos. (See separate Tobago section)
Unlike some islands,Trinidad doesn't have gorgeous white sane beaches. It has something even better that somehow has managed to remain a well-kept secret.
Trinidad has more different bird and animal species than any other Caribbean island. It is home to over 430 species of birds including such exotic species as parrots, toucans, hummingbirds, bellbirds, oil birds and the beautiful scarlet ibis. It also has 2300 species of flowering plants and over 600 different butterflies. Asa Wright Nature Centre is the best place to see them.
The diversity of plant and animal life on Trinidad is richer than on any other island of comparable size. Trinidad is just 37 miles wide and 50 miles long.
The reason for Trinidad's rich diversity: It is an extension of the Venezuelan mainland, only 7 miles from Trinidad. Essentially, Trinidad is an annex of South America and not truly part of the West Indies.
Trinidad's Northern Range is actually an eastern spur of the Andes, all that remains of a sunken mountain range. Situated just seven miles off the coast, Trinidad was probably joined to South America as little as 10,000 years ago.
Because of its continental origins and close proximity to South America, Trinidad has evolved into a huge animal and plant reserve, a microcosm of South American flora and fauna.
Ocelots, capuchin and howler monkeys and wild hogs are just a few of the animals Trinidadians refer to as "moving scenery."
Giant leatherback sea turtles nest on the beaches each spring.
Trinidad is butterfly heaven: 620 different species of colorful "flutterbys." The variety of orchids is even more diverse: 700 types. Birds come in 430 species, mostly South American, including 17 hummingbirds.
Although you may never have visited Trinidad , you probably are already familiar with part of its culture. The island's influence on music heard around the world has been tremendous.
It is Trinidad that originated calypso, limbo and steel band, the unique, lively music and dancing that have come to characterize the islands. They all were born in Trinidad , not as gimmicks to attract tourists, but as enthusiastic expressions of everyday life. (See Trinidad Carnival photo album)
These musical forms were so instantly popular that many other tourist-seeking islands adopted them and attempted to pass them off as their own. This plagiarism was so successful that most people probably believe calypso and steel bands started in the Bahamas or Jamaica. But no, Trinidad is the birthplace of the Caribbean 's most lively musical spirit.
Every February Trinidad displays its artistic vigor in one gigantic celebration known as Carnival, a huge revelry that combines the world's best calypso and soca music with elaborate and original masquerade costumes. Trinidad 's Carnival is the Caribbean 's largest and loudest celebration.
& Tobago Calendar of Events
Wright Nature Centre
Sea Turtle Nesting
Tabor/St. Benedict Monastery
Lake, La Brea
Wild Fowl Trust
Hills Wildlife Sanctuary