While Tobago’s beaches are calm, Trinidad’s waters tend to be a little more eventful, shall we say, with bigger, more powerful waves and rugged cliffs or dramatic mountain backdrops. There’s the world-famous Maracas Beach, which is undergoing a facelift, but still the spot for fried bake and shark (although the sharks are now endangered) smothered in sauces and topped with pineapple, cucumbers, tomato and lettuce. More sustainable and eco-friendly options include fying fish, lionfish, kingfish, and tilapia.
Next along the coast is the wide expanse of Tyrico Bay, a favourite with families, as is our Las Cuevas, the next beauty along the north coast which was once a Blue Flag certified beach several years running. The caves here are part of the attraction; there’s also a car park, changing facilities and snack bar. Walk with insect repellant for the sand flies and mosquitoes.
Other popular northern beaches include Paria Bay, which you can reach by boat or by hiking through the forest from Blanchisseuse, which can be rough (perfect for surfers). At the end of the bay, the Marianne River is a popular spot for kayaking. Salybia and Sans Souci are also magnets for surfers.
In the south, Mayaro (a very long beach that’s usually covered in chip chip — a tiny mollusk that can be cooked) and Quinam are the most frequented, while the west coast boasts warm waters and white sand at Vessigny and Granville, and the coconut-tree lined Manzanilla stretches for miles along the east coast.
Green days by the river
The river lime is a family tradition, especially for the East Indian community. And no river lime is complete without a duck or two being curried and served with rice or roti. On weekends and public holidays, the banks of the Caura and Lopinot rivers are lined with bubbling pots.
A popular hangout for locals on weekends and holidays, the Lopinot Historical Complex was once a sprawling cocoa estate that belonged to a French count. The count (Compte de Lopinot) fled the Haitian Revolution in 1800 and set up camp here (there are still ghost stories about him riding his horse on full moon nights!) This community of farmers can trace their roots back to the First Peoples, French, and Spaniards. At Christmas, this Spanish link is celebrated with a parang festival. Lopinot’s river meanders for miles, with numerous pools along the way where one can wallow in the cold, clear water beneath the forest canopy. A small museum and historical complex showcases artefacts from the days of slavery. Opposite the playing field, Café Mariposa serves cocoa ice cream and other cocoa-inspired dishes, with a guesthouse for nature lovers who want to explore the nearby caves or go birdwatching.
Caura is an easily accessible river off the Eastern Main Road just before Tacarigua, but it is advised that you go in groups or with a guide during the week when it’s more deserted. On the weekends, there are a lot of people around. You can also visit the Jewels of Nature studio and workshop where you can see and hear organic musical instruments made from bamboo and calabash found in the nearby forests. Brothers Baba Ayinde Onilu and Modupe Folasade Onilu are carrying on the Yoruba tradition started by their late father, master drummer Jajah Oga Onilu. Unique in Trinidad, the doption style of drumming that they play is derived from the rhythm of the breath. They also make jewellery and craft from natural materials. Tel: 359-1222/470-1797