Best Things To Do in Trinidad & Tobago
Trinidad is popular with nature lovers and bird-watchers, but if you're looking for beach activities, we recommend a ferry ride to Tobago. Resplendent beaches line the island's coast and many remain untouched and desolate. Some of the best lie near the southern end, including Store Bay and Pigeon Point. And if you're thinking of visiting in winter, Trinidad's famous Carnival celebration is a must-do.
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Not to be confused with Tobago's Fort King George in Scarborough, this historic Trinidadian structure provides visitors with a taste of the island's colonial heritage. Fort George was built in 1804 by former British Governor Brigadier-General Sir Thomas Hislop to protect the Port of Spain from any perceived military threats. However, the formidable structure never saw conflict and the military eventually retired it in 1846.
One of Fort George's best known features is its intricate wooden signal station, which provides a stark contrast to the fort's original cannons and dungeons still on display here. Constructed in 1883, this less intimidating, almost quaint structure was designed by Prince Kofi Nti, an Ashanti royal from West Africa who immigrated to Trinidad in 1881.
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A cheaper alternative to neighboring Pigeon Point, Store Bay's free beach offers travelers a relaxing place to soak up some sun and cool off in Tobago's famous clear, blue waters. But visitors don't just come for the beach. Beachgoers can watch planes come in and land at nearby Arthur Napolean Raymond Robinson International Airport. Store Bay's other big draw is its array of street food vendors, which serve up affordable, local delicacies like crab and dumpling, bake and shark, and pelau (a mixture of rice, vegetables and meat or crab that’s been browned in sugar). Additionally, this beach is one of two departure points for trips to the area's popular snorkeling spot Buccoo Reef.
The beach at Store Bay is free to enter, but visitors looking to use one of the beachside loungers or changing facilities should expect to pay a small fee. Some recent beachgoers also warn that Store Bay may not be ideal for those who are elderly or in need of handicap accessible ramps since beach access sits at the bottom of several flights of stairs. The beach is open 24 hours daily, but for those looking for an on-duty lifeguard, plan your visit between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
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Much like Fort George in Trinidad, this mountaintop fort mixes stunning ocean and city views with a dose of Tobago's military and colonial history. Built after the French captured Tobago from the British in 1781, this military compound was controlled by the French until 1793 when it was recaptured by the British. In 1804, it was named Fort King George in honor of King George III, and in 1854 it stopped operating as a military structure.
Within Fort King George, travelers can explore the prison and officers' mess, as well as the quaint Tobago Museum located inside of the former barrack guardhouse. The Tobago Museum features weapons and pre-Columbian artifacts found in Scarborough alongside old Tobago maps and photographs. Outside of the historic buildings, visitors can find several canons and expansive views of Scarborough Bay.
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There is a beach with all of the stereotypical Caribbean amenities — the swaying coconut trees, the bone-white sand, the sparking aquamarine water — and it resides in southwest Tobago. If you haven't picked a resort near Pigeon Point, just about everyone says you need to make a special trip to this beach for at least a couple of hours of beach time.
If there's a drawback, it would be this: Pigeon Point charges a minimal entry fee to enjoy its beautiful shores, and considering there are Tobagonian and Caribbean beaches to visit for free, it could be all too tempting to pass up a day lounging on this one. If you do decide to spend the cash to visit Pigeon Point, also consider taking a snorkel tour of the nearby Buccoo Reef.
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The Asa Wright Nature Centre is home to more than 400 species of native birds, plus 55 different reptile species, 25 amphibians, more than 600 butterflies and more than 2,000 types of flowering plants. In short, northern Trinidad's Asa Wright Nature Centre is bursting at the seams; it's the ultimate stop for both novice and experienced bird-watchers and nature lovers.
You could easily spend a day at the expansive park (in fact, the center offers overnight accommodations) but most only took two hours to explore the grounds. Be sure to wear insect repellent and long-sleeved clothes since there are plenty of mosquitos on the property.
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Nestled within Trinidad's Maracas Valley, this lush sanctuary is home to a variety of native flora and 13 of Trinidad and Tobago's 17 species of hummingbirds. Started accidentally by Dr. Theodore Ferguson and his wife, Gloria, to make it easier to photograph birds (one of the doctor's hobbies), Yerette, which borrows its name from the Amerindian word for "hummingbird," is one of Trinidad's most popular bird-watching spots.
Visitors of Yerette rave about the property's vibrant grounds and unparalleled access to the country's hummingbird population. According to previous travelers, so many hummingbirds visit Yerette that it's easy to hear the buzz of their wings. The property is also a favorite among photographers, who claim that the close proximity provides plenty of opportunities for capturing high quality photos.
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Situated just off the coast of Tobago's Pigeon Point Beach and within 2 miles of Store Bay, Buccoo Reef is highly regarded by locals and visitors as one of Trinidad and Tobago's best areas for snorkeling. Even though parts of this massive reef are starting to die off due to poor conservation efforts, recent travelers said they saw a wide variety of fish and coral while snorkeling. However, more experienced snorkelers may want to skip Buccoo and try out the island's better protected Speyside reefs instead.
To visit Buccoo, visitors will need to sign up for one of several glass-bottom boat tours departing from Pigeon Point and Store Bay. The tours typically last two hours and include snorkeling equipment and a stopover at Nylon Pool, a natural, in-sea coral pool that's located just around the corner from Buccoo Reef. Prior visitors note, though, that the cheaper half-day tours, which start at $20 USD, do not include food or restroom facilities. To avoid an additional beach admission fee, choose a tour that departs from Store Bay. Tours are offered daily throughout the day and can be booked through a hotel concierge, at Pigeon Point or Store Bay, or by contacting one of several glass-bottom boat tour companies. Hew’s Tours and Pops Tours both receive favorable reviews from recent travelers.
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Located about 9 miles southeast of Port of Spain, Caroni Bird Sanctuary offers many of the same thrills of the Asa Wright Nature Centre without requiring the far pilgrimage to the island's northern rainforest. But the real reason to visit Caroni is to observe the scarlet ibis, the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago that resembles a brilliant blood orange flamingo. The best time to see the ibis is in the late afternoon; arrive a little early and you can enjoy a glass-bottom boat tour of the swampland while you're waiting for the ibis to appear.
Like any swamp, this one has plenty of mosquitoes a-biting and reptiles a-crawling. If you're at odds with nature, you might want to skip this bird sanctuary altogether. Even if you like the great outdoors, be sure to slather on the insect repellant and wear long sleeves and pants.
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