Maracas Beach is famous for post-Carnival relaxation & for it's incredible waves and good vibes (& most famously for it's shark-n-bake!), but if you're looking for a less populated beach just drive on past Maracas to Las Cuevas!
Las Cuevas gets it's name from the caves that have been carved out by the pounding surf - the caves are shallow but fun to explore. The waves at Las Cuevas are a little less rambunctious than Maracas (in case you're a wave junkie!) but the beach doesn't seem to draw the crowds that Maracas does, and you won't find as many food vendors at Las Cuevas either. For a quiet day on the beach I recommend Las Cuevas.
There's a snack bar, car park, changing rooms with showers & toilets.
It can be accessed by the Saddle Road through Maraval or by the Saddle Road from San Juan through Santa Cruz, and again onto the North Coast Road - it's roughly 1 hour from Port of Spain
This is the same post as in my 'Must Do Activity' Read on... if you didn't read that one!
Everyone knows about the Trinidad Carnival (I'll post about that some other time!!) and about the lovely beaches in Tobago, but they forget that Trinidad is not your average caribbean island and there is a lot of wilderness left - especially in the Northern Range mountains where the plantations were abondoned in the 1970s and left to grow wild.
Because of the high mountains, there are spectacular waterfalls - if you know where to find them. That's where a hiking guide comes in.
If you are on a budget (who isn't?), consider going with a local guide that charges local prices.
There are several clubs and tour operators to choose from - everything from the 'Hashers' who run through the forest to the Field Naturalists (http://www.wow.net/ttfnc/) who take a more scientific approach and stop to smell the flowers, so to speak.
My favourite for both adventure and socialising is the Hike Seekers (www.hikeseekers.com) - the group was mostly of locals, with a sprinkling of visiting yachtspeople and tourists.
The leader, 'Snake' was an army scout and knows the land. He is always 'blazing' new trails, so every year there are new places to explore!
The hikes range from easy walks and a picnic-lunch (some of the guys carry in food, drink and a propane cooker into the jungle). Other hikes are an endurance course, but always worth the trip!
This is a 'must must' do activity for everyone. Snake and his hiking regulars will welcome you.
Okay, one more look at this amazing bamboo, here I asked Zohara to brave the jungle to get close to the bamboo and she was the brave girl I married and got out of the car and crossed over the 1.5 meters of jungle to get to the bamboo so I could take this picture.
But enough of this, take a look at the size of the bamboo, now when people tell me that in the far east it can be used as scaffolding for buildings, I know up close and personal that it is true.
During the spring, around April, the great Leatherback sea turtle comes to shore along the northeast and east coasts of Trinidad. There are several places, such as Matura or Salybia where a native guide will take you to the beach to observe them laying their clutches of eggs.
At Grafton Bay the small sign opposite the beach side of the road points to this old copra plantation - DON'T MISS IT!
We had the place all to ourselves at about 8:00am and saw lots of birds, including the blue crowned mot-mot. The old copra processing building has restrooms and a place to sit and watch birds come in and feed. The trails are well maintained and fun to walk. There is a donation can inside the old copra building, this place is a great place to see birds and please donate so they can keep it that way.
Along the Leeward side road above Castaras is blessedly undeveloped Englishman's Bay. This is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL beach that hasn't been developed, yet.
There is a little lunch shack, Eula's, that serves a great Buss Up Shut plate for $10TT. Othere than that there are a couple guys selling carved gourds. The snorkeling along the rightside (northeast) is excellent you only need to go out to about halfway to the point and the reef is beautiful.
Rumor has it that this pristine bay is heading for "development", get there now.
There is a sign opposite the short drive to the beach off of the main road.
Lots of people pass through Trinidad briefly on their way to the beaches at Tobago. Fine if all you want is a sun tan, but let's face it, you can get that in Spain or Florida. Spend some time checking out Trinidad instead.... (that's me on the right, with a fisherman at Mayaro, on the completely undeveloped East Coast of Trinidad)
Grafton Caledonia Wildlife Sanctuary offers nature trails and scenic hiking in woodlands. It is a former cocoa estate which, following 1963’s Hurricane Flora, evolved into a bird sanctuary. Birds are fed at the Copra House around 4 pm. But there are not only birds that can be seen...
Caroni Swamp and Bird Sanctuary is situated on the west coast of Trinidad and is built around the island's largest river, the Caroni. The Caroni Swamp includes fifteen thousand acres of marshland, tidal lagoons, and mangrove trees. The Caroni Swamp is famous for its Bird Sanctuary. Daily evening tours in large flat-bottomed boats take visitors to see flocks of scarlet ibis returning to roost on the mangrove islands. Bring insect repellent and binoculars.
There are quite a few places to visit in Trinidad off the beaten track. You can either contact local tour operators or arrange transportation yourself. Always call ahead and obtain up to date information as to availability of the site.
Some of the things to do or places to see are:
observe Trinidad 'manitees' in the Nariva swamp
watch leatherback turtles lay their eggs watch on the north coast
Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust,
observe wildlife and butterflies and hummingbirds at the Asa Wright Nature Centre located near Arima in the Northern Range.
You can getthere by driving yourself, or hiring a tourist taxi. An actual tour operator will most probably provide a bus for transportation.
Lopinot Village located in Eastern Trinidad is the site of a small museum located in a house built by the Compte de Lopinot.It's located in a valley, with a nice picnic area and beautiful scenery. The village has a strong Spanish Heritage and in October hosts a Spanish Heritage Festival that sees Parang Bands(local Spanish music) performing in the streets and an abundacne of spanish food is on sale. Parang groups come from Venezuela , Puerto Rico and all over Trinidad to take part.
Trinidad is a Mutli Ethinc Cosmopolitan society, so if you are privilaged, get yourself invited to a traditional East Indian wedding. This 3 day ceremony culminates in a pooja where the Bride, dressed in East Indian wear, and Groom are 'married' under Hindu rites.It takes several hours and there are lots to eat after, such as the ever tasty Roti eaten off leaves and using your hands as utensils.
Turtle watching during March to August.At some Hotels like Mt.Plasir in Trinidad and Turtle Beach in Tobago the leather back turtles actually come and nest on the beach. You can also go on a turtle watching expedition at night to see these magnificent leather back turtles up close. This is an endagered species so you are only allowed to look.
Loafer Cruise: You are greeted on board by a courteous crew with a mission to ensure your total satisfaction on this all-inclusive trip. Loafer departs Pigeon Point at 9:30am for the warm waters of Mt. Irvine Bay where you will enjoy reef snorkeling with a vast array of tropical fishes, squids, and corals which can be seen filling the water with a rainbow of colors.
Fresh fruits are served as Loafer continues up the Caribbean Coast past Tobago's popular hotels, fishing villages and secluded beaches. Upon reaching Turtle Beach, the nesting grounds for the great leather back sea turtles, Loafer sails towards your afternoon destination.
Sip a special blend of Loafer Rum Punch from our open bar or frolic in the waist deep crystal clear waters of the Nylon Pool while the Captain prepares a taste of our local Caribbean Cuisine of barbecue fish and chicken. Whether you choose to spend the afternoon relaxing in the ample shade, swimming in the Nylon Pool or soaking up the sun you will surely appreciate the magnificent beauty of this special place and come to understand the wisdom of the local folklore.
The day ends with chocolate cake, coffee and tea being served while the Captain takes you on a short nautical tour of the Bon Accord Lagoon Mangrove system which is one of two unique systems in the Caribbean.
Advanced bookings are required. Loafer Cruises supplies transport to and from your hotel or guesthouse.
THE HIGHEST POINT OF THIS ISLAND NATION IS EL CERRO DEL ARIPO, WHICH STANDS AT 940 METERS. AND HERE IS THE SAGA OF HEALY-SINGH, A BIKER WHO CROSSED PATHS WITH THE MOUNTAIN: In 1997, Healy-Singh was living in Barbados and spending time in Durango, Moab, and Northern California, looking for new places to ride. He saw potential in a topo map of Trinidad and Tobago, which, as the southernmost islands in the Caribbean, hadn't been colonized by the island bikers. So he decided to box up his Marin hardtail and beat them to it.
On Trinidad, the larger of the two islands, he happened upon a combination of rough-cut country paths (linking abandoned cocoa, coffee, and sugar-cane plantations) and singletrack that spidered down rainforest-draped mountains, such as 3,085-foot El Cerro del Aripo, Trinidad's highest peak. 'The first time I rode here, I was freaking out,' says Healy-Singh. 'I couldn't believe the trails, or that no one else was riding them.' Three years later, Trinidad and Tobago remain the best undeveloped island-biking destinations in the hemisphere, so it should come as no surprise that Healy-Singh put down roots. What's surprising is that he doesn't have more company.
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