While most know Trinidad as a carnival destination, for Dr. Nicole Grimes, educator and creator of Geek Treks, Trinidad is home. Born and raised on the island, Nicole can only describe Trinidad as “Unlike any other island, with a cultural diversity and infectious Trini vibe that will leave you wanting to return as often as possible.” If you’re looking to explore the island beyond the annual jump up, let Nicole show you how to take a lime the Trini way.
Where To Stay:
Trinidad does not rely significantly on tourism revenue so you will not readily find large resorts here. The Hilton, Hyatt Regency and Courtyard by Marriot hotels are all wonderful options located fairly close to each other in the capital city of Port-of-Spain. However, if you are looking for something aside from big chain accommodations, you can check out Crews Inn Hotel or Kapok Hotel. Ideally, you want to be in Port-of-Spain (~13 miles from the airport), where all the action is, however if you rent a car (or hire a driver) it’s the easiest way to get around the island.
What/Where To Eat:
Good food is at every turn in a cosmopolitan nation like Trinidad. With a rich history and cultural contributions from many groups of people, there is tremendous diversity in the cuisine of the island thanks to African, Indian, Chinese & Spanish influences among many others. In terms of local food pelau, stewed chicken, bake and roti are must trys. Street vendors are literally everywhere. Feast on delicious coconut jelly, corn soup or cowheel soup, from vendors littered around the perimeter of the Queen’s Park Savannah. Along the popular strip Ariapita Avenue, locally referred to as ‘The Avenue,’ you will find vendors selling mouth-watering doubles, souse, gyros, burgers and more until wee hours in the morning. The extremely popular local Breakfast Shed is a must for local cuisine. Restaurants are far and wide depending on the type of food you’re looking for. Chaud Cafe is great stop for drinks/ brunch/ dinner, while Peche Patisserie & Adams are great for breakfast/brunch/lunch stops as well. Chinese food in Trinidad has its own unique taste so be sure to try some, and the island’s most famous sandwich will leave you salivating – bake and shark from Richard’s at Maracas Bay. Lastly, fast food chains are not as popular in Trinidad unless you are talking about KFC or the local Royal Castle. You’d be missing out if you did not try fried chicken at either of these chains on the island. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Where To Lime & Fete:
It’s probably a Trini’s favorite pastime, so you will undoubtedly hear someone mention a “lime.” It’s the local word for ‘hanging out.’ Really great liming/drinking spots are mostly located on The Avenue stretch that houses a slew of bars and restaurants. Some options to try: Frankie’s or Kaiso Blues Café for live local entertainments and open mic nights. For some late night partying or ‘feteing’, check out 51 Degrees or Paprika on Thursday/ Friday/Saturday. Tzar boasts a popular Saturday party as well the newest spot Club 1. While Trinidad is widely known for its annual Carnival celebration with too many fetes to count everyday, know that off-season, there is still a very active night life and parties galore on the island. Keep your ears open and you’ll be sure to hear about huge fetes during your stay.
What To Do:
Trinidad has a tremendous amount of unique experiences to offer its visitors. Beaches can be found on the north or eastern coast with the best options being Maracas Bay, Las Cuevas, Blanchisseuse, Toco and Salybia Beach. During March and September, it’s peak nesting season for giant leather back turtles that return to Matura Bay and Grand Riviere to lay their eggs each year making Trinidad the 2nd largest nesting site in the world. Take a drive southwest to the Caroni Bird Sanctuary. Slather on some insect repellent and enjoy an afternoon boat tour of the swampland to see the incredible Scarlet Ibis – the island’s national bird.
A drive further south and you’ll arrive in La Brea where you’ll find the Pitch Lake – the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world. If historical religious sites are your thing, cathedrals, mosques and Hindu temples are littered across the island. If you like the idea of visiting other islands for some adventure, then secure a tour to Gaspar Grande one of many islands located in Dragon’s Mouth, between Trinidad and Venezuela, for some great hiking and home to the Gasparee Caves, a natural limestone cave system with a translucent blue pool at its base. Consider other Bocas islands in the area as well: Chacachacare, Monos or Huevos. The most popular off island fun of course, involves either flying or taking the ferry over to Tobago, Trinidad’s sister island. In Tobago, enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever lay your eyes on including Pigeon Point, Store Bay and Englishman’s Bay.
I could write forever about my ‘sweet, sweet TNT,’ but if you ever touch down on the island, know that these things are a must for enjoying where I’m from.
-As told to Danielle Pointdujour