4 mins

Double bill: Trinidad and Tobago

Sitting off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean, this two-island nation boasts incredible biodiversity, fascinating marine life and hiking opportunities - so make sure you explore both of them

Maracas Bay, Trinidad (Shutterstock)

Trinidad

Tobago

The capital

Port au Spain, Trinidad (John de la Bastide/Shutterstock)

Port au Spain, Trinidad (John de la Bastide/Shutterstock)

Fort King George, Tobago (Shutterstock)

Fort King George, Tobago (Shutterstock)

While the name Port-of-Spain is a reminder of the 1592 Spanish colonisation, much of the city dates from the 19th century, after the British took charge. Visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral, admire the Red House (home of the Parliament) and walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Look out for steelpan performances in Queen’s Park Savannah.

Get the measure of Scarborough at Fort King George: as well as enjoying its city and sea views, visit the museum to swot up on the French/British tussle for the island from the late 18th century. Downtown, skip the modern harbour in favour of the Botanical Gardens, then see a show at Shaw Park Cultural Complex.

Trinidad

Tobago

Marine life

Maracas Bay, Trinidad (Shutterstock)

Maracas Bay, Trinidad (Shutterstock)

Pirate Bay, Tobago (Shutterstock)

Pirate Bay, Tobago (Shutterstock)

Maracas Beach, an arc of creamy sand within a cockleshell-shaped bay, doesn’t just attract people: critically endangered leatherback turtles come here, too. You may also spot turtles nesting on the Blue Flag beach of Las Cuevas, where there are also caves to explore.

If snorkelling among parrot and queen fish appeals, then seek out Englishman’s Bay, which is bordered by forest. Pirate Bay – where the 1954 film Robinson Crusoe was shot – is just as secluded, only accessible by 155 steps. Snorkellers may see green turtles, sea urchins and stripy shrimp.

Trinidad

Tobago

Hiking

Paria waterfall, Trinidad (Shutterstock)

Paria waterfall, Trinidad (Shutterstock)

Argyle waterfall, Tobago (Shutterstock)

Argyle waterfall, Tobago (Shutterstock)

The island’s highest point, Mount Aripo, is 940m. It’s easy to get lost as the route up twists through misty rainforest, so consider hiking with a group such as Island Hikers. Alternatively, follow the short trail to the Río Seco waterfall or trek from the suspension bridge at Blanchisseuse Beach (look out for leatherback turtles) to Paria Falls.

Take the easy, well-marked trail to Argyle Falls, a three-tiered cascade that drops into a bathing pool. Alternatively, Gilpin Trace is a flat, sign-posted route in the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve that takes around two hours – look out for cocrico, Tobago’s national bird. The island’s highest point, Pigeon Peak, requires a guide.

Trinidad

Tobago

Biodiversity

Bamboo Cathedral, Trinidad (Shutterstock)

Bamboo Cathedral, Trinidad (Shutterstock)

A frigatebird, Tobago (Shutterstock)

A frigatebird, Tobago (Shutterstock)

Keep your eyes peeled for ocelot, peccary and agouti, caiman, green iguana and green anaconda. Iëre, Trinidad’s original name in the language of the indigenous Arawaks, means ‘land of the hummingbird’; Yerettê, in the lush Maracas Valley, is a sanctuary dedicated to the birds. Red howler monkeys prefer Bamboo Cathedral.

Main Ridge Forest Reserve – which is on UNESCO’s tentative list – is home to 16 species of mammals, 24 types of non-venomous snakes and 210 bird species, including the rare white-tailed sabrewing hummingbird. Little Tobago Island, off the northeastern coast, is popular with frigatebirds and red-billed tropicbirds.

Trinidad

Tobago

At a glance

Population Around 1.34 million

Area 4,768 sq km

Famous for Steel pan, Carnival, costume designer Peter Minshall, Christopher Columbus landing here in 1498

Population Around 61,000

Area 300 sq km

Famous for Sugar plantations, bird watching, goat racing, being the possible inspiration for Robinson Crusoe

Need to know

BA flies to both islands, with stopovers in Antigua or St Lucia. Once there, you can fly between the islands or use the ferry service that connects Port of Spain with Scarborough. The fast ferry takes 3hrs. You can rent a car from both islands’ airports, use Uber to get around or take a bus or maxi taxi (private minibus).

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