Trinidad’s best beaches, coast to coast
An introduction to Trinidad’s beaches
We do a different kind of beach here. Not for us the calm, placid pond in baby-blue. Uh-uh. Our waters are a little livelier. With few reefs, the waters off the North Coast can kick up some rather playful waves (surfers like Toco, especially). It’s not unknown for a bikini-wearing bather to lose their top to pummelling surf. Maracas Bay, especially, is one of the beaches most beloved by locals for its sprightly waves, misty mountains and food stalls. Great for jumping, ducking, body-surfing and boogy-boarding, Maracas is usually a refreshing workout that guarantees you – and the kids – a good night’s sleep.
Along with Maracas, Las Cuevas and Blanchicheusse are two of the other most popular north coast beaches, though the Atlantic waters can get rough (and chilly) between November and April. The north and northeast coasts also boast the greatest concentration of accommodation, ranging from private beach houses to all-inclusive resorts. But that’s when the northeast, in direct path of the northeast trades, becomes are surf country. Because of the current, be sure to check with locals for advice on the safest bathing areas.
The beaches of the east coast, onto which break the waves from the Atlantic Ocean, are a stark contrast to the popular north coast beaches. The currents at Mayaro and Manzanilla are stronger, and it’s unwise to go swimming. West coast beaches are much calmer, sheltered by the Gulf of Paria.
However inviting they may look, it’s best to avoid the beaches in the Chaguaramas area, with the exception of Macqueripe, due to the preponderence of yachts and industry in the area. The same goes for beaches in the southwest and southeast of the island, as the oil and petrochemical industries can sometimes contaminate otherwise pristine beaches.
Here are some of the best and most popular choices for beach excursions in Trinidad, by coast (with photos in the right sidebar on larger screens, or below the article on smaller screens)
North coast beaches
Maracas Beach is the most popular beach in the north (see above) — great food, good stretch of sand, on-site facilities, surfing if the conditions are right, lifeguards (10am–6pm), and a hotel and gas station nearby. Popular for camping at Easter time (permit required). Currently seeking Blue Flag certification. About 40 minutes from Port of Spain. NB: For the sake of sustainability, we recommend having flying fish or king fish instead of shark with your bake!
A great smaller, quieter alternative to Maracas if you’re a bit agorophobic, especially since you’re still a stone’s throw away from Maracas’ amenities. There’s decent surfing, in season, and a popular spot for camping at certain times of year. A lifeguard service is usually provided 11am–5pm daily.
Just a few miles further along the North Coast from Maracas and the island’s only Blue Flag beach (until 2017), this long, looping bay has great bathing and runs a very close second to Maracas for the title of most popular beach in Trinidad. It’s is usually calmer than Maracas, with crystal-clear water, and gentle waves, plus small caves along the beach to tuck away in if you’re not up for sunbathing; white sand, and flowering trees. All this makes Las Cuevas perfect for a lazy day spent contemplating the beauty of the universe. There is a snack bar; changing facilities including showers and toilets (nominal fee); parking; and lifeguards (typically 10am–6pm daily). About 50 minutes from Port of Spain.
About 100 winding steps lead down to the rocky beach below. Often calm waters, good for snorkelling. No facilities.
Popular weekend getaway, with its wild and rugged shoreline. Several hiking trails to the nearby waterfall, into the rainforest, and along the as-yet unpaved north coast. Guesthouses and holiday homes available for rent (springing up in increasing numbers). The Marianne River that flows into the bay is great for kayaking. In season, there’s also good surfing, turtle-watching, plus bird-watching year round. An hour or more from Port of Spain.
Sheltered and secluded bay in Chaguaramas only accessible by boat. Calm clear water good for snorkelling and swimming. About 30 minutes from Port of Spain.
Small secluded bay in the Chaguaramas National Park, at the end of the Tucker Valley Road. Good for swimming and snorkelling, with recently renovated bathroom/changing rooms, car park, children’s play park — and a new zip-lining course overhead. The Park is usually bursting at the seams with families who come to enjoy the range of other activities. Entrance fee.
If you’re looking for a quiet and out of the way spot, you’ll enjoy the journey as much as the destination here. Rocky cliffs, golden sand, and an oasis where the river meets the sea await. No facilities or lifeguards.
Northeast coast beaches
Rough waters make it inadvisable for swimming, but between March and August, is a popular and important leatherback turtle nesting site.
Saline (“Sally”) Bay:
The official name is Saline Bay, but it’s often called Sally Bay, and worse yet often confused with Salybia Bay — even though it’s near the town of Salybia. Nevertheless, good for swimming with clear water. Beach facility and lifeguards available, though mostly on weekends.
Sheltered, and good for swimming, and even bodysurfing at the rougher end of the bay.
Good for surfing, bathing, camping, with lifeguards on duty.
A popular bay for surfing (November–April), and ideal for swimming between June and September. There’s an offshore fringing reef off the eastern end. Beach facilities have recently been built.
Perfect for a weekend getaway, particularly and eco escape if you like the outdoors. Between March and August, it is the second largest leatherback turtle nesting ground in the world. Good for river bathing and kayaking as well, as well as hikes into the forest. Beach facilities and several guesthouses available.
Southeast coast beaches
Perfect for sunbathing and jogging, bordered by the distinctive “Cocal” along the roadside. There’s a new boardwalk, plus facilities and lifeguards in designated areas. There is a large estuary where the Nariva River meets the sea, and a few guesthouses and holiday homes for rent.
Glorious stretch of beach — the longest in the island — and perfect for long walks. In the sand, you will see the shells of “chip chip” which, like clam shells, protect small oceanic organisms; they are also a local delicacy and make delicious cocktails. Mayaro is popular for long weekends and public holidays. On afternoons, one can witness (or participate in) a local fishing ritual: bringing in the seine, the catch of the day, in huge fishing nets. Unfortunately, offshore industrial activity sometimes contaminated parts of the bay. There are quite a few guesthouses and holiday homes for rent.
South & southwest coast beaches
Columbus Bay, Cedros, and Icacos:
These bays are stunning in good weather. Cedros has the widest beach on the island at low tide, good for bathing, biking and kayaking. These pristine bays and quiet fishing villages have wonderful views of the southwestern coast, and on clear days, of neighbouring Venezuela. There are no facilities here, but Trinidadians inevitably make sure that food and drink establishments are nearby! Keep driving all the way down and you’ll reach magical Icacos, the absolute southwestern-most point in Trinidad.
The road to the beach is an adventure in itself — keep following the signs! Popular on weekends and for Ash Wednesday Carnival cool-down parties.
Probably the most popular south coast beach. On this mile-long beach, the waters are calm and good for swimming, and the sand is fine and brown, although it disappears during high tide. A favourite for family outings on the weekend, with several amenities and trails into the woods.
The beach isn’t the prettiest, but most weekends, it becomes a venue for beach parties and excursions. There are changing rooms, picnic tables and a snack bar open on weekends and during school holidays. Unfortunately, offshore industrial activity sometimes contaminated parts of the bay.
The Blue Flag beach certification
This certification indicates compliance with strict criteria around water quality; environmental education, information, and management; and safety and other services.
Lifeguards & rough seas
Lifeguards are typically on duty 9am–5pm or 10am–6pm where available, but not at all beaches. Red flags indicate unsafe bathing areas. Click here for any recent rough seas bulletins from the Meteorological Service.
Written by Caroline Taylor