If you take the Ferry from Port of Spain to Scarborough and plan on returning, buy a return ticket when you leave Port of Spain. Scarborough ferry terminal is poorly run and choatic. The employees make up their own rules. If you do get stranded, flights from Tobago to Trinidad are cheaper than you would expect.
My family and I visited Trinidad at Christmastime. I had planned to book a ferry ride to Tobago when we arrived to Trinidad. Unfortunately, when we arrived, we were told the ferries were all booked until after our departure date. Our only option was to go to the ferry terminal, (at the corner of Wrightson Rd. and St. Vincent Street in Port of Spain), to see if we could get on standby status. However, if we were successful getting to Tobago, we would only be given a one way ticket and we would have to be on standby status on our return trip, also. The website is http://www.ttitferry.com. I did not check it before I left for our trip, and it appears that booking tickets must be done at the terminal or through an authorized travel agent. It looks like the ferry travels only a few times daily, and passengers must be at the terminal one and a half hours before departure. Also, book on the TT Express or TT Spirit, which are faster vehicles; avoid the Warrior Spirit, which is a cargo ship and takes about six hours to go one way.
After bad experiences with car rental companies in Port of Spain (see my comments on Econo Car Rental and Southern Sales) we had a positive surprise on Tobago with Sherman. I made reservations from home by email within one evening. They answered my emails within less than an hour! When we landed at Crown Point on Tobago the car was ready, clean and in good shape. The rental contract was filled in correctly. It was a very good car for the 11 days we had it. When we returned it it was picked up at the time agreed. A company to be recommended!
Best way to get around in Tobago is by rental car.
Rental cars are cheap to rent. (40 - 60 dollars a day.)
We asked for a day andpaid for that day only. And they came to pick up the car 4 days later.
(They didn't hire itso they didn't need it....the caribbean way.)
And filling up the car is a relief, as it was about 0,35 eurocents for a liter of gas (similar to euro95).
Roads are in fairly good condition and for the most part drivers are surprisingly cautious of oncoming traffic. Blind curves can make for a harrowing journey at times, but getting around the island would be much more difficult without a car. It was well worth the $265/8 days. Rocky's Rentals out of Crown Point was terrific, meeting us at the ferry in Scarborough with a car. Rocky even gave us a free cell phone in case we had any trouble. Don't assume that just because there is a gas station at your destination that it has gas available! No one in Charlotteville seemed surprised that there wasn't any...except the tourists.
One of the easiest ways of traveling about Tobago is to hitchhike. If your female take the precaution of only accepting a lift from other women. Just stick your thumb out and in no time a car will stop. People don`t expect payment but its nice to offer a few TT dollars at the end of your trip. If you are asked for money before you get in the car then I`d advise not taking the lift.
Trinidad is a Country best navigated by Car. It will give you the independence and the safety that the local taxi's lack.
The drive from the International (Piarco) Airport to the capital Port of Spain is about 30 minutes. It takes a course along the Beetham Highway. The Highway is flanked by Cane Fields on the South Side and Shanty town to the North.
Whatever happens if you have an accident or get a flat tire on this stretch of Road DO NOT STOP. The town alongside the Road is one of the most dangerous areas in Trinidad. If you are in an accident continue driving into the City and there is a police Station off Belgrade Street on the Right hand side.
Always lock your car doors whilst driving.
A car is the perfect way to Drive around the entire Island. There are some magic places worth going to by Vehicle: Maracas Bay, Toco, Mayaro, etc. A car is the best option for long or short distance travelling.
This form of Transportation is only for BUDGET and RISK TAKING travellers, and should be avoided if you are European looking or clean cut.
There are two types of travel Options:
1. Maxi Taxi's - are mini buses that normally service Routes that are well utilised by the locals. They are always stopping to drop-off and pick-up new passengers along the road. There are no designated Bus stops. You can flag them down with your hand anywhere.
Depending on how far you are going it could cost you between $3TT and $10TT.
2. Group Taxis - these are ordinary cars that pool passengers, but have the number plates with "H". There are many cars with plates starting with "P" -private, that operate illegal taxi businesses.
DO NOT get into any Group Taxi with "P" plates, as kidnapping is a lucrative Crime in trinidad. Though to date (dec05) few foreigner have ever been kidnapped.
Down-town Port of Spain has designated streets with Cab Ranks for particular routes. They are:
***Port Of Spain to MARAVAL Route ****- these taxis leave from the Corner of Duke and Charlotte Street. Rank is on Duke Street (nb. this is very close to Laventille - which is a VERY dangerous area - use caution)
***Port Of Spain to ARIMA (central)*** - Corner of Brain Lara Prominade and Henry Street, Rank on Henry Street.
***Port Of Spain to ST ANN's route***- Corner of Woodford Square and Frederick Street.
***Port Of Spain to ST JAMES route*** - Corner of Tragareet Road and Park Street, Rank is on Park Street.
Private Taxi's are another legitimate way of travelling around Port of Spain. There are several reputable companies including: Piarco Airport Taxi Co (669-0282), Kalloo's Taxis (622-9073 ) etc.
These are private taxis that will have Number Plates starting with "H" - i.e Hire Car.
A rental car is essential, when staying in Tobago. Many hotels and villas are in quite isolated areas and a rental car gives you freedom to go wherever and whenever you want so that you don't allways have to rely on taxis. It is a great way to tour the island, lots of nice places to see, but beware...roads can be in quite horrible condition plus narrow and winding. Many locals drive like maniacs too. But I have to say that locals do help when there's a tough spot for example mud on the road or a really narrow place. There's allways someone showing you how to pass it without any harm.
We rented a car from Sherman's and didn't have problems. Can recommend their services to others.
And by the way, you don't need an international drivers licence as we thought. European and American licences will do.
And a last word of warning...Petrol stations are very few on the island, especially on the north side. If you're driving to Speyside or Charlotteville, check your fuel meter in Roxborough, because the last petrol station is there when going north!
Everybody does it, the locals I mean. They stand on the side of the road and indicate with their thump the direction they wish to go from the next junction. It is a good way of getting around for them and doesn't cost much.
But as a tourist, you should be careful. The locals know each other, but you don't. You have no way of knowing who you're giving a ride to or getting a ride from. It may be a pleasant experience, but then again you never know. But it is said to be polite to give a lift to women and children.
But to be fair, there are lots of nice locals you can trust. We got a ride from two local rastafarians and had a great time; reggae music blasting from the radio and the driver singing along. Pay what you feel like, no problems, they said. They gave us their phone number and we called them again, when we needed a ride.
Taxis are a good way to get around in Tobago if you're not willing to learn using the local transportation system, which can be complicated to understand. Generally taxis are reliable (not the cars exatcly...or at least they don't allways look so reliable), but do ask the price beforehand. Taxis cost about 60 TT for a journey from Crown Point to Stonehaven, not cheap but not that expencive either. Usually you can pay in US dollars as well. Some taxi drivers are very informative, tell good stories and show you houses of famous people. Sam, an elderly gentleman, from Pigeon Point taxi (located opposite the bank and Coco Reef hotel in Crown Point) is a real gem. Full of information. Some taxi drivers do tours too.
Rent a car across the street from the airport and drive all over the island. You won't get lost. The roads are windy in places but in good condition.
We usually get a jeep but you could use a car just as well.
There are two ways to get around Tobago. One, take a cab driven by a certified cab driver. They wear blue uniforms if I remember right. The cabs are also not very cheap. Two, stick your hand out on any road and catch a ride with someone. It's sounds strange, but it is quite safe and really cheap. It is also very much the custom in Tobago.
My friends and I stayed at the Hilton and would have to take a certified cab to get into town or to go out for dinner. To get back at night or make our way to the next location we would thumb a ride. The ride in a certifed cab cost 3, 4, or 5 times more than thumbing a ride. It was super easy to do and besides you are able to meet some of the locals.
One last tip. If you gamble at the local casino (which is really more of a shack than a casino) you can get them to pick you up and take you around for the night.
Most Major airlines service the Trinidad route, and Tobago has several independent carriers. The national airline is Bwia Ltd. or Bwee.Their web site is www.bwee.com
The best way to get around if you are not renting a car in Trinidad is by Maxi Taxis. These 12 and 24 seater mini buses ply most routes in Trinidad and the hub is at City Gate in South Quay.From there you can get a maxi taxi to take you to any part of Trinidad, the most expensive fare being $1.50US.
The bus system is good also and can be accessed at City Gate.For route taxis, there are stands scattered all over Port of Spain.Just ask a native for directions and the price so you won't be over charged.
There is a new taxi service that is substanially less that taking the hotel taxis called 628-taxi. They are good to use if you need to get picked up or dropped off at a certain place, just call them and make arrangements .
Also, the PTSC bus service in Trinidad and Tobago host "know your country tours" using public buses that take you on tour to various places of interest for a fraction of the price of the tour companies. The buses are air conditioned, with comfortable air plane type seating and these tours are a great value for money. Check the bus station for a brochure of tours available and prices.
In Tobago the best bet is to rent a jeep. The roads leading to Charlotteville are narrow and winding,so be careful when driving there. Other than that, Tobago is easy to navigate and the roads are good.
If you choose to hire a taxi the fares are pretty expensive,but route taxis are avaiable and a cheaper alternative.
If you want to get to Tobago from Trinidad or vice versa you have two options plane or boat. The flight is 15 mins long on Bwee and costs $50.00US. The boat ride is 7 hours long, and costs a little less than 10.00US.
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