One week in Trinidad, or can we do better?
January 23, 2013 8:26 PM   Subscribe

Two part question: 1) Can you recommend a great one-week itinerary in Trinidad and Tobago, or 2) Should we go somewhere else?

1) A friend and I are planning an ~8-day trip to Trinidad (and maybe Tobago) in mid-March from Boston. We are drawn to the islands for the culture and food, but know next to nothing about good destinations. We're interested in beautiful beaches, hiking etc through the rainforest, interesting urban spots, calypso and other music, food, dancing at night, etc. The more local/authentic and less touristic the better, and socially/environmentally responsible preferred. Can you recommend destinations and/or a week-long itinerary for us? We're in our 30s and are not interested in lodging in loud/dirty hostels, but are not interested in isolated resorts, either.

2) Should we go somewhere else instead? Our broad criteria include a warm destination that's: no more expensive than the U.S., culturally rich/distinctive, our only options are not tourist traps and resorts, is not a fortune to fly to (under $800, please), where we won't experience much jetlag from Boston, with good or great food, and where we can cover some ground in 8 days.

Hate to sound like a snob, but I traveled to Turkey a few years ago and was sort of disappointed. Maybe b/c I did inadequate research, maybe b/c I used to travel a lot and it takes a lot to get a rise out me. I've always dreamed of going to T&T, but imagined myself dancing to the steel drums and, if my friend and I are not going to be there for Carnival, perhaps we should just go elsewhere? I bought a travel guide to the islands but am not hit over the head with inspiration. I rarely travel these days so there's a lot of pressure for my seldom vacation days and dollars to be spent in a really memorable way. Oy.
posted by AlmondEyes to Travel & Transportation around Trinidad, CO (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you know anyone in Trinidad? I've been several times but always to visit locals who live there. That most assuredly is the way to see T&T. If you don't know someone, you might find that an eight day trip is a bit long and lonely.

But that said, you can have an amazing time checking out Maracas beach with its bake 'n shark, renting a boat go 'down de islands,' hiking through the rainforest, seeking out the best roti there is, checking out steel pan bands, hanging out on the avenue (Ariapita), hanging at Movietown, making a jaunt over to Tobago's beaches for two or three nights, and grabbing doubles in the wee hours. You don't need to be there for Carnival to be amazed by Trinidad, but sure it would help.

The country is absolutely chock full of culture, diversity, and experiences. But I find that the country is so little touristed that making your way without a local guide or frequent traveler to the island country might make you feel a bit on the outskirts.
posted by superfem at 8:37 PM on January 23, 2013

Thanks much for your response, Superfem. I'd love more specific recommendations - nightlife, restaurants, hikes, beaches, etc - and steel pan in particular (in March/the off season)! If you have a moment. Sounds like we may dance to the same drum.
posted by AlmondEyes at 7:33 AM on January 24, 2013

Asa Wright nature Centre is not to be missed.
Also if you can get into Callallo Company studio / workshop in Chaguaramas do not miss the chance to see any thing to do with the incredible Peter Minshall.
Hiring a car is a good to see round the big Island.
I stayed at Moniques about 5 mins walk from the Savannah which is near several Pan yards.
I see they now offer to organize tours.
As superfern points out Trini is not really a beach island but liming at Maracas is fun.
Beaches = Tobago
Here is a list of Panyards on both Islands.
If you see roadside vendors of sweets and snacks pull over. T+T with it´s mix of India and Africa have some amazing eats and of course is the home of roti, with hot tamarind sauce, or try spicey pineapple rings or any of the dumplings and samosas.
You will hear Pan and Soca but see if you can find some Calypso you might not be able to understand it but it is frequently social commentary at it´s best. Enjoy
posted by adamvasco at 8:19 AM on January 24, 2013

Seconding what superfem says...If you know someone who lives in Trinidad and can drive you around then Trinidad is great! Without that, Trinidad isn't so great for more than a couple days. Cabs charge you a lot to get around (make sure to negotiate). Navigating the buses isn't simple. However, the food is amazing. While the doubles are amazing at Singhs Roti (in Boston/Dorchester) and the rotis are delicious at Ali's (Boston/Dorchester), they are no where as good as what I got there.

Tobago was amazing for the beaches and a few days of relaxation. It is really one of the prettiest places that I have seen. We stayed about an hour from the airport. It was a few years ago and I can't think of where we stayed. If I can dig it up, I'll PM you since it was just a house on a hill, blocks from the beach.

Don't expect much in the way of Calypso. It's almost all about Soca now. Sunday School (read about it) in Tobago had a steel drum band, that was mainly for the tourists (since the tourists get there early and the locals stay there all night).
posted by toddst at 8:45 AM on January 24, 2013

Don't know if you are still checking this thread, but I found my post from 2008:
posted by toddst at 10:14 AM on January 25, 2013

Yes, just booked tickets for seven days on the islands. We're planning on 1-2 days in POS, Maracas Bay, hiking in the north, and then a couple of beach days on Tobago. Thanks, everyone!
posted by AlmondEyes at 10:40 AM on January 29, 2013

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