Trinidad and Tobago

Two of the best islands for nature tours, birding

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Trinidad and Tobago Travel Information

Trinidad and its sister island, Tobago, are the Caribbean's southernmost islands. (see Trinidad map)

Trinidad, home of the Caribbean's most famous Carnival, is the more economically developed and prosperous. 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 their "moving scenery." Giant leatherback sea turtles nest on the beaches each spring. The island is a butterfly heaven with 20 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 types of hummingbirds.

Although you may never have visited Trinidad, you probably are 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.

Trinidad Deep Background
This CIA report also includes Tobago.

Trinidad & Tobago Calendar of Events
What's happening when

Arrival Briefing
What You Need to Know If You Go

Major Attractions

Aripo Caves
Trinidad's highest peak also contains
extensive caves

Asa Wright Nature Centre
Hummingbirds, oilbirds & walking trails

Beaches of Trinidad
The sand may be darker but it's clean!

Blue Basin Waterfall
A very short walk to some popular falls

The Caribbean's biggest, loudest & best

Caroni Bird Sanctuary
Located in Trinidad's third largest swamp

Caurita Plantation
A 400-acre nature center in the mountains

Chaguaramas National Park
Ocelots, monkeys, caves & more walking trails

Devil's Woodyard
An active mud volcano

El Tucuche Climb
The trail goes through an animal sanctuary

Leatherback Sea Turtle Nesting
A hiking/camping trip to see leatherbacks

Magnificent Seven, Port-of-Spain
These old mansions deserve special billing

Maracas Falls
The main fall is 270 feet high

Matura Beach/Fishing Pond
Two good places for seeing leatherback turtles

Mt. Tabor/St. Benedict Monastery
The guesthouse here is a bargain

Paria Falls
A popular semi-strenuous day hike

Pitch Lake, La Brea
The world's largest asphalt deposit

Point-a-Pierre Wild Fowl Trust
This preserve specializes in breeding endangered fowl and birds

Port-of-Spain Walking Tour
A zoo, a huge park and more

Trinidadian Saying: "Okra don't bear peas." (Children inherit traits)