Port of Spain

Destination Location

Port of Spain
  • 10.602089, -61.339413:primary
  • 10.595278, -61.337221:secondary

Overview

There’s a reason Trinidad and Tobago is called “the true Caribbean.” Trinidad and Tobago are the most southern islands in the Caribbean, located a mere seven miles off Venezuela's northeast coast. But it’s here you’ll find an oasis that appeals to all the senses. View the country’s beauty as you explore coral reefs and open ocean. Feel the warmth of its year-round warm temperatures and refreshing breeze. Smell and taste the area’s unique island cuisine and hear the sounds of calypso music and the steelpan as you relax on the beach.

Destination basics

Like most of the Caribbean, Port of Spain has a tropical climate. From January to May the climate is dryer than in the latter half of the year, though even with more rainfall visitors are still assured plenty of beautiful, clear days. Year-round daily temperatures average 31 C (88 F) during the day and between 20 C (68 F) and 25 C (72) in the evenings.

The twin Caribbean isles of Trinidad and Tobago offer a king's feast in terms of drinking and dining. Most of the fine dining restaurants are housed in hotels with single theme-based restaurants such as Indian, Chinese or seafood cuisine found in nearby regions.

Most restaurants are licensed to serve alcohol, which of course includes everything from beer to alcohol with strongest proof around. For the twin isles, dining and drinking is a very important and big part of the social scene. The ritual of drinking is viewed almost as a national pastime of sorts, and people tend to dress for the occasion. The restaurants provide ambience, décor and variety. With locations in the open-air, overlooking the sea or with breathtaking views of golden sunsets, to establishments of fine dining with exquisite interiors that transport you to a different place in time. Most are affordably priced and within reach of the major hotels. The menus are varied offering everything from local cuisine of roti and curried meat to the international flavors of the Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre, located just minutes away from downtown Port of Spain and opposite the Queen's Park Savannah.

For the adventurous traveler, there is the taste unique to Trinidad and Tobago in the way of Indian, Creole and a special blend of Chinese food. These dishes consist of fresh local ingredients. Creole food is a purely local cuisine influenced by the African flavour. Such dishes on offer are callaloo soup, a pride and joy of Trinidad and Tobago, which consists of dasheen leaves (a local spinach type leafy vegetable), ochroes, crab, hot pepper and local seasonings. Pelau is another Creole dish, which is primarily a rice dish with peas, cooked meat, coconut and pepper. A restaurants that caters specifically to the Creole menu is the Shirvan Watermill situated in Mt Pleasant in Tobago.

Indian food is a popular cuisine in the twin isles. Its origin comes directly from India via the indentured laborers. The influence this culture has had on our taste buds is evident in the endless roti shops. These feature roti, which is Indian flat bread, served up with accompaniments such as curry meat or vegetables. The local touch consists of curried mango, hot pepper and local fresh seasoning, such as the chadon beni leaf, which gives the food a unique taste, very different to the authentic East Indian curry dishes. Most of the Indian food restaurants tend to be fast food establishments. One that offers authentic Indian food, such as tandoori and biriyani, is Apsara, which can be found in a scenic spot facing the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain.

Chinese food is equally popular with fine dining establishments, stylish restaurants and fast food outlets. The taste is distinctively a local style with a twist of Cantonese or Thai. The actual establishments vary from authentic looking pagodas painted in traditional green and red with gold embellishments to contemporary styles using subtle interior designs. The menus cover everything from seafood to vegetable dishes. Some examples of Chinese restaurants to be found are the Tamnak Thai, located around the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain and Jenny's on the Boulevard, located on Cipriani Boulevard in Newtown, just outside Port of Spain. Other restaurants feature Syrian, Italian European, and of course international menus.

As for fast food, although the international giants are a major force, the twin isles also have their own local fast food alternatives in the form of Royal Castle, which serves up a local taste of chicken and fries, together with the best pepper sauce. There's also Mario's Pizzeria and Pizza/Burger Boys, which serves chicken and fries, burgers and of course, pizza. One thing that should be noted is that many locals tend to smother ketchup over pizza, with a hint of mustard and of course pepper sauce. This is what's called the "Trini way" of doing things. All these restaurants have locations across Trinidad and Tobago.

Another unique flavour of fast food that truly encompasses the local taste is what is known as "doubles". This is derived from the East Indian heritage and comprises to hand-sized roti type skins called bharra, sandwiched together with curried channa in the middle. This can be purchased from roadside vendors who usually have coconut vendors close by for the accompanying cold coconut water drink. Popular doubles locations can be found throughout Trinidad, such as at the Barataria Roundabout, outside the grounds of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in St Augustine, and at the El Socorro Junction in San Juan.

The Trinidad and Tobago dining experience also extends beyond the bounds of the restaurant environment to the sun-kissed beaches, and particularly, Maracas Beach on Trinidad's North Coast. Here, the recommendation of the day can only be one thing and that is fried bake and shark. This is thick, golden brown fried bread with a nicely seasoned fried shark fillet sandwiched in between. This is purchased from food huts on the beach itself and some places also offer fresh green salad, chutney and other condiments to spoon into your bake and shark.

Tobago also has its own specialty and that would be crab and dumpling soup. A unique blend of Caribbean flavors culminates into this most delicious soup.

Trinidad and Tobago are an unusual blend of cosmopolitan urbanity and Old World charm. While these islands are the birthplace of calypso, limbo and the steelband, countries from almost every continent have influenced the culture and heritage. In Trinidad, there is a certain sophistication that is not found elsewhere in the Caribbean, while the lush tropical environment of Tobago offers scenic beauty and excellent diving.

Adjacent to South America, Trinidad and Tobago were once attached. Together they form the southernmost islands of the Lesser Antilles chain. Often claimed the best islands in the Caribbean for eco-tourism, their flora, fauna, geological formations and wildlife are similar to the South American mainland in many ways.

Port of Spain
As the capital city, Port of Spain is where you will find historical buildings, formal parks, museums, zoos, the commercial district and the Cruise Ship Complex. At Woodford Square, soapbox politicians expound the probing issues of the day. Central to the city is the Queen's Park Savannah, the largest park on the islands. This venue combines athletic and cultural activities, inclusive of an aerobic centre, concert hall, Carnival stage, football and cricket fields, jogging tracks; in addition to housing some of the finest restaurants and casual pubs. The Magnificent Seven is a row of Colonial great houses built in various European styles circa 1900. Also of architectural interest are the Queen's Royal College; Whitehall, the Prime Minister's office and the George Brown House on the south side of the Savannah.

Port of Spain Suburbs
Port of Spain was developed around the Harbour that is protected by the hills of the Northern Range. The city's oldest suburb is actually the birthplace of the modern day Carnival. It is a community that is influenced greatly by African traditions. The crowded ‘hill' district is home to the Shrine to Our Lady of Laventille and the residence of Trinidad's leading bands, the Witco Deperadoes.

In the southwest, Maraval Road is the suburb that features small businesses, restaurants, and where modest residential houses line the streets. On Marli Street, one can find the US Embassy.

St Clair is a residential community that developed in the 1960s. It is home to the Canadian, British and French Embassies and the Queen's Park Oval, a popular cricket ground.

Ariapita Avenue that runs the length of Woodbrook, east to west is being reinvented and is often described as a smaller version of New York City's Greenwich Village. Here you will find entertainment venues and restaurants that feature every conceivable type of cuisine.

Western Main Road to the Sea at Cocorite is an East Indian immigrant district. It features Moslem Mosques, a Hindu mandir and Christian churches and is a busy commercial and shopping area.

The Maraval valley was first settled by French families and today features attractive shopping, restaurants, bakeries and several guesthouses. The St. Andrew's Golf Course is an 18-hole course that can be found at the far end of the Maraval valley.

Chaguaramas
This district features wooded hills and uninhabited valleys, which have remained relatively undeveloped. Chaguaramas Public Golf Course is a challenging 9-hole course, which is within walking distance of Edith Falls. The Trinidad and Tobago Yachting Association is based here and there are a number of marinas that accommodate boats from all over the world. The underground limestone caverns on Gasparee Island Gasparee Island & Gasparee Caves may be visited here as well.

North Coast
The Northern Range is a rocky coast that includes a dense rainforest. Here you will find one of Trinidad's favourite beaches at Maracas Beach and El Tucuche; one of the highest peaks is situated between Maracas and Las Cuevas. Nestled within the Arima Valley is the Asa Wright Nature Centre (The), which provides birdwatchers with access to the colony of oilbirds.

East-West Corridor
The Eastern Main Road traverses along the Northern Range from Port of Spain to Matura and Manzanilla. The towns along this strip all seem to have converged into one continuous urban sprawl. At the Fernandes compound you can tour the Angostura distillery. If you are nature lover or picnicker, the sacred region of the Maracas Waterfall is very popular. Mount St. Benedict Church and Monastery is the oldest Benedictine Monastery in the Caribbean and overlooks St. Augustine and the Caroni Plains in this district as well.

Crown Point
Tobago's tourism mecca is at Crown Point. Here you will find many hotels, guesthouses and beaches. Store Bay is one of the most popular beaches on the Island. Known for its excellent snorkeling, it is a haven for brain coral, trunkfish, parrotfish and baby squid. Families will enjoy Pigeon Point where the waters are calm and watersports, restaurants, entertainment and shopping are all within close proximity.

Scarborough
The small capital town of Scarborough houses 50,000 locals. Cruise passengers frequent this port of call for shopping, the Botanical Gardens, Fort King George and Tobago Museum (The).

The Lowlands
Tobago's biggest resort project can be found at the Lowlands. The Hilton Tobago houses 200 guestrooms and a championship golf course. The additional phases are scheduled to include a 120-berth marina and a yacht club.

Unique architecture, religious diversity, cultural traditions and cosmopolitan populations accentuate the towns and cities. Virtually a melting pot Trinidad and Tobago are home to Africans, Chinese, Hindus, Muslims, Indians, Syrians, Portuguese, Spanish, French and the English. Collectively called ‘Trinbagonians', they co-exist in harmony and pride of their multicultural heritage. The national psyche is one of peace and their inherent enjoyment of life can be found in all of their neighbourhoods.

The islands of Trinidad and Tobago offer many very interesting and intriguing ways to entertain oneself. In addition to vibrant nightlife and local festivals, plenty of outdoor adventures can be had. Visitors might find themselves amidst tropical swamps, in the lush surroundings of mountainous rain forests and across rugged hiking trails or dancing the night away. Whether your interest is eco-tourism, local culture, aqua marine life, or just having good old-fashioned fun, the twin isles have everything on offer to add to your Caribbean experience.

Nightlife centres on the capital city, Port of Spain, where a few scattered nightclubs and many bars cluster. Eating and drinking is part of the local culture, particularly local cuisines inspired by Creole, Chinese and Indian traditions. Additionally, many of the larger resorts on Trinidad, and especially Tobago, offer entertainment, including live music.

Trinidad is the birthplace of Calypso and also boasts other distinct music traditions including soca (which blends soul and calypso), ragga soca (which blends of reggae beat and soca rhythms) and chutney soca (which is a mix of Caribbean Indian music with tassa drums, sitar and calypso). Live performances occur nightly on both islands.

Festivals
Because Trinidad and Tobago blend a number of different cultures, a vital tradition of festivals exists on the island, the most popular being Carnival, when the whole island comes alive with joy and celebration as brightly costumed revelers parade through the streets. Visitors should note that accommodations are scarce during Carnival, and it is best to book way in advance.

Additionally, the local festival of Hosay, the Hindu festivals of Divali and Phagwa have become an intrinsic part of the local culture. Secular events which celebrate the local history and music, respectively, include the Tobago Heritage Festival and the Parang Festival. Diving
Tobago is the place for underwater adventure; you can dive, snorkel, see, touch and experience the untold treasures of the blue waters. Every known species of coral, including the world's largest brain coral, which is 12 feet high and 16 feet across, lies at the bottom of the Tobago Ocean floor. Popular underwater tours are to the Angel Reef, Japanese Gardens, Blackjack Hole and The Sisters, all of which can be found off the coast of Tobago near Speyside.

Bird Watching and Eco Tourism
For avid bird lovers, there are extensive tours to showcase over 400 species in Trinidad and 210 in Tobago. The species of birds include the Tufted Coquette, Toucan, Yellow Headed Parrot, Red-billed Macaw, Osprey and of course the Scarlet Ibis which is the national bird. Some of the recommended tours in Trinidad are the Pax Guest House, Mount St Benedict, which offers birding packages and accommodations on their 600-acre tropical rain forest in North Trinidad. Similarly, the Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge, near the Eastern Borough of Arima, offers the most accessible colony of oilbirds on their 200-acre conservation in North Trinidad. The centre offers buffet-lunch, 2 hour guided tours and visitors are encouraged to bathe in its waterfall and pool. The Point-A-Pierre Wild Fowl Trust in South Trinidad offers daily tours around their resource and learning centre, that protects endangered waterfowl.

Those wanting to take an adventure by boat to a smaller island off the coast of Tobago can enjoy an exclusive wildlife sanctuary on an island called Little Tobago. All of the nature reserves are equipped with knowledgeable guides, nature trails and maps.

The adventure does not stop here, as there is the flora and fauna for the nature lovers who enjoy ecological wonders, tropical flowers, magnificent trees and rich plant life. In April and May the hills are alive with the flamboyant pink and yellow colors of the Poui tree. Both islands offer botanical gardens that are free to the public and have accessible information about the plant life, without the use of guides. There are several trails to explore, with tour guides to take you through the lush, green tropical forest.

Other tours of interest include one to the famous Pitch Lake, located in La Brea, South Trinidad. As the name suggests, the lake is an endlessly replenished supply of pitch or natural asphalt that is used to cover roadways. Tours can be arranged from major hotels and through local operators.

Another delight of the twin isles is that the East Coast beaches. Here you will find protected beaches that play host to Leatherback Turtle Egg Nesting, which takes place from March to August every year. Access to the protected beaches is only made available through guided tours. Visitors can get close to the leatherback turtles as they lay their eggs.

Waterfall hikes are very popular with tour groups. The Paria Waterfall in Trinidad offers one of the most scenic hikes on the northern coastline. Other options are the Maracas Falls, Maracas; Salybia Waterfall, Arima and the Rincon Waterfall in Las Cuevas. In Tobago there is the Argyle Waterfall in Roxborough.

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago By The Numbers
Population: 1,349,667
Trinidad Elevation: Ranges from 0 meters at sea level to 940 meters (3,084 feet) at its highest point.
Tobago Elevation: Ranges from 0 meters at sea level to 640 meters (2100 feet) at its highest point.
Trinidad Average Annual Precipitation: 211 centimeters / 83.1 inches
Tobago Average Annual Precipitation: 250 centimeters / 98.4 inches
Average January Temperature: 26°C / 79°F
Average July Temperature: 27°C / 81°F

Quick Facts
Electricity: 115-220 volts Ac, 60 HZ, two-pin plugs

Time Zone: GMT -4

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 868

Did You Know?
Trinidad and Tobago is famous as the birthplace of calypso music and the development of the acoustic musical instrument, the steel pan.

The popular 1960s party dance, the Limbo, was invented in Trinidad and Tobago.

Orientation
Trinidad and Tobago is located in the southern Caribbean Sea, about 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) off the coast of Venezuala. The archipelagic state consists of the two main islands along with 21 smaller islands.

Trinidad was the first inhabited island of the Caribbean, having been settled by Amerindians from South America as early as 5000 BC. They called the island "Ieri", the land of the hummingbird.

Later, Trinidad and Tobago became the first Caribbean Islands occupied by both the Igneri, a peaceful subgroup of the Arawak tribe; and the hostile Caribs. In 1498, Columbus claimed the islands for Spain. However, since the Carib Indians were aggressive and warlike, they prevented the colonization of the islands until late into the 17th Century. Over the next two centuries, the natives were taken into slavery by the Spaniards and exposed to hard labor and European plagues that virtually wiped out the entire population.

Tobago's history was equally volatile. After the Spaniards defeated the Caribs, the English, French, Dutch and various bands of pirates made attempts at dominating the island. It wasn't until 1877 that it was finally ceded to the British.

Port of Spain developed slowly attracting the Catalan Capuchin missionaries. Attempts at tobacco and cocoa production failed due to blight and competition from neighboring islands. During the Napoleonic Wars, in 1797, the British seized the opportunity to take islands from the Spaniards and in 1815; Tobago came under British Rule and made a ward of Trinidad at the end of the century.

Immigration opened up after slavery was abolished and a new labour force was needed. Ethnic groups changed the make-up of the populace. As the islands are today, Trinidad and Tobago became a melting pot due mainly to its openness to religious freedom. Consequently the floodgates opened to Americans, Scots, Irish, French, Germans and the Swiss. By 1917 when the East Indian immigration ceased, there were more that 140,000 Indians working as indentured servants on the islands.

Bringing their own festivities and culture, the Indian influence is very prominent throughout the islands today. While the Muslims introduced Hosay, the Hindus brought Divali. Indian food, such as roti and curry has become staple dishes for all Trinidadians.

Several companies of American black soldiers who had supported the British in its 1812 war against the US were given grants of land in southern Trinidad, where they founded villages and named them after the companies in which they served.

In 1853, the government brought 2500 Chinese to Trinidad to help work the plantations. The plan failed due to the excessive cost of transportation and the high mortality rate among the immigrants. The descendants of these people constitute a small but visible minority to this day on the islands.

The first political movements on the islands developed in the 1930s during the economic depression. Adult suffrage was introduced in 1946 and political parties began to take shape in the 1950s. Dr. Eric Williams became the first Chief Minister in 1958. Displeased with what he perceived as servitude to the tourist class, he vowed to avoid what he called the mistakes of his Caribbean neighbors. As a result T&T's economy did not benefit from tourism until the mid-1980s.

Trinidad and Tobago gained independence from the British on August 31, 1962. On August 1, 1976, T&T gained Republic status. In the 1970s, offshore drilling produced oil and Trinidad found a new natural resource to boost the economy. As a result, the standard of living improved immensely as literacy rates rose to the highest in the Caribbean; the road system was introduced and electricity was established throughout the islands.

In July, 1990 there was an attempted coup of the government by a 100-strong group of Islamic extremists. Not backed by any additional support from abroad, the rebellion was squelched after five days. Militant Islam has played no future role in shaping the government today and they have displayed minimal political unrest ever since.

The President is the constitutional head of state, but the executive power is split between the Prime Minister and the cabinet. This comprises a Senate with 31 members and a House of Representatives with 36 members. Since, the 1980s, Tobago has had its own 15-seat House of Assembly and was granted full internal self-government by the national government in 1987.

Trinidad and Tobago is today a model of racial harmony. It has worked hard to create a stable economy and the GDP has grown steadily since 1994. Oil continues to be the major source of revenue, and the country is using the income it generates to develop other sectors, including manufacturing, finance, insurance and tourism.

Points of interest in Port of Spain

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