Trinidad and Tobago, a nation comprised of two separate islands, gives travelers the best of both worlds as they venture into the Caribbean. Lying close to South America, the twin islands offer distinct experiences, catering to resort-goers, outdoorsy types, and nightlife lovers alike. And like many countries in the region, your dollar will go a long way here.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival celebration, scheduled for February 28 in 2022, rivals Brazil’s as the best in the world. With a little luck, and a downtrend in COVID-19 cases, the colorful festival will return to the island, bringing huge parties fueled by rum, costumes, and band-lead parades.
If you miss the festival, you can still experience live music while traveling the country. Steel drums, the official instrument of Trinidad and Tobago, were brought to the islands by Africans in the 1700s, and the invention of steel pan music is attributed to the islanders in the 1930s. But even just walking the streets, you’re sure to hear Afro-Caribbean genres like reggae, calypso, soca, and dub. Tobago also has an annual Jazz Experience, set to return in April 2022, where jazz greats from around the world come together.
When you’re ready to dive into outdoor activities, you’ll have your pick of beaches, watersports, and hikes on either island. Add in natural wonders like Trinidad’s Paria waterfall and Tobago’s wildlife, and you’re bound to be busy. This is particularly true for bird-watchers, as there are over 500 avian species throughout the islands. The Adventure Farm and Nature Reserve in Tobago showcases one in particular, with no binoculars required. There, you can feed hummingbirds while learning all about the beautiful species.
The local food culture will surprise even the most adventurous eater, especially in Trinidad. Start your culinary tour at Maracas Beach’s Richard’s Bake & Shark, which is said to have the best shark sandwich on the island. Bake and shark is a traditional Trini dish. Ironically, the bake refers to fried bread that’s wrapped around a piece of fried shark, which is served with various toppings, including the spiciest hot sauces. Trinidad is home to the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, one of the hottest peppers in the world at more than two million Scoville heat units, which is the equivalent of more than 400 jalapenos.
Later, for dessert, turn to the country’s world-class chocolate. Cocoa has been grown on plantations in Trinidad and Tobago for centuries. Many of the chocolate estates are currently closed for tastings, but you can still pop into a local shop and grab a famous chocolate bar.