It’s almost summer time, and so one can expect that most people travelling for the vacation would have confirmed travel plans with destinations identified and tickets booked. If, however, you’re a last minute, spur of the moment traveller like me, and you want to explore new places, but you can only afford to do so on a budget, you can consider a Caribbean destination where you can enjoy at once the delightful combination of sea, sun and sand, vibrant nightlife and the rich and colorful culture derived from the blend of ethnicities that have made this part of the world their home.
The string of islands spread across the Caribbean Sea, seeming almost to link North and South America boasts distinct and rich cultures, delicious cuisine, and new experiences that you are guaranteed to enjoy on a budget.
In the event that you are travelling to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, here are some places that you can visit and things you can do on the island of Trinidad alone to make your experiences enjoyable. Though it is smaller in size, the island of Tobago is a glorious destination by itself with many beautiful tourist destinations, too many to include in this post, and so it will be given its own blog.
The Pitch Lake, a geological wonder
The world’s largest natural deposit of asphalt, the Pitch Lake on the island of Trinidad is a geological wonder measuring one hundred acres with an estimated depth of 76 meters in the center. It has a semi-solid surface and can be walked on in most areas, though you should be careful not to stand in one spot for too long. You can sink!
This lake is the source of many romantic local legends, including an ancient Amerindian legend that told of a tribe buried beneath the tarry surface after killing the sacred hummingbird and angering the gods.
This is a legend that seems entirely possible when you are out in the open in the midst of the vast expanse of water and tar, perhaps fortunate enough to witness one of the prehistoric trees that sometimes rise to the surface only to disappear again after some time.
The geological explanation for the pitch lake that has paved many of the world’s roads, is that it was created thousands of years ago by the opening up of a fault when the Caribbean continental plate was forced under another plate opening fault lines and causing oil to rise to the surface where it was converted to heavy asphalt.
Looking for the fountain of youth? Well, on the pitch lake you might not have to look far because the water settling in pools on the surface is warm and reputed to have healing properties due to its sulphuric content.
For their safety, visitors to the pitch lake are advised to use only the official tour guides and routes.
Visit this link for a comprehensive description of the pitch lake and for some nuggets of information about its history and legends.
A walk on San Fernando Hill
The San Fernando Hill has cast an imposing shadow over the surrounding town of San Fernando, the second city on the island of Trinidad. This site is also another source of local legend as it was reputed by the island’s first settlers to be home to the gods.Today, a visit to San Fernando Hill affords beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors are, however, advised to pay close attention to their safety and never to travel there alone or at night.
Visit this link for more information on San Fernando Hill including past legends and its history.
Sailing into The Dragon’s Mouth
If you’re willing to venture further afield, you can take a boat ride “down the islands” and into the Dragon’s Mouth to explore the Gasparee Caves which can be found on the island of Gaspar Grande, one of the Bocas islands off the island of Trinidad. Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds!
There are quite a few limestone caves on the island, with the largest, the Blue Grotto, boasting a clear tidal pool approximately 100 feet underground. If you’re visiting this site, be sure to have a tour guide with you.
Exploring the Devil’s Woodyard
The Devil’s Woodyard in South Trinidad mightn’t spit larva, but it does spew mud and it is quite easy to understand how sites such as these with liquids rumbling beneath the surface or bubbling up and spewing several feet high into the air without warning could have been a source of reverence and fear back in the day when phenomena like these could not be easily explained. Once a local marvel, this spot is an attraction today complete with recreational facilities and a playpark.
A Day at the Beach
Is sea, sun and sand your thing? You’ll be sure to find this on the island of Trinidad too, and after an invigorating swim, you can grab one of the island's iconic bake and shark sandwiches!
While Trinidad's sister island, Tobago, boasts the more beautiful beaches, there are many beaches you can visit on the island of Trinidad as wel with the island’s more popular beaches including Maracas Bay, Las Cuevas and Macqueripe. Be prepared to spend the entire day there.
An evening with Birds
The Winston Nanan Caroni Bird Sanctuary is home to Trinidad and Tobago’s national bird, the Scarlet Ibis. The Scarlet Ibis is known for its beautiful red feathered coat and it is absolutely surreal and beautiful to capture images of these birds flying in formation on evenings as they return home to nest.
So I've given you a hint of some of the tourist destinations on the island of Trinidad that can be easily accessed and enjoyed by the traveller on a budget. Of course, there are tons of other places one can visit and a host of activities that one can partake in on the island of Trinidad alone. Other tourist destinations in Trinidad include the Botanical Gardens, the Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust, and the Asa Wright Nature Centre among many others.