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CruiseDirection - Magazine May 2019

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There is nothing like the sound of steel bands, carnival, and calypso music; everything you will find when you visit the islands of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. Located off the coast of Venezuela, these sister islands are separated by twenty miles of warm, blue waters. Trinidad is a bustling island, oil-rich and modern, while Tobago is the opposite; laid back, lush, fertile, and with many different types of beach to explore. Both islands, however, have been embroiled in invasions and conquests since their discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1498 and it wasn’t until 1962 that Trinidad gained its independence, with Tobago following in 1987.  

If one were to fly over the islands, they would notice the great geographical differences between the two. Trinidad, as compared to her lush and fertile sister Tobago, is dominated by the Northern Range of mountains at the head of the island. These mountains overlook the capital city of Port of Spain. The centre of the island is low and flat, with agricultural areas that are still used today. The north and east coasts have luxurious beaches and the west coast of the island is the home of the Caroni swamps and their bird sanctuary which is inhabited by the scarlet ibis.

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Why visit Trinidad ?

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Warm blue waters

A stunning backdrop for a wonderful holiday

As you walk through the cities and towns on both islands, you will be amazed at the many different languages you will hear. The official language of the islands is English. French, Spanish, Hindi and Chinese are also spoken and prevalent. The religions of the islands are just as varied, which makes the atmosphere a conglomerate of interesting attitudes and feelings. If you listen to the music of the calypso and pay attention to the words of the songs, you will see that political and religious views are satirised here. The residents extend their hospitality to all visitors and entertaining is usually done within the homes. Like the other islands in the Caribbean, lightweight casual wear is accepted at any place and time of day while beachwear is limited to the beach.  

Accommodation on the island includes the standard international hotel chains that are located around the world. There are also smaller private hotels and guesthouses that are available. These can provide you with a more local flavour to your holiday. Tobago also offers visitors many different self-catering options in both the cities and more rural areas.  

Of course the biggest activity on Trinidad is the Carnival, a wild and colourful event that starts after Christmas and runs through to the beginning of Lent with the festival’s climax at that time. Similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival is when the calypso tents and performers are in abundance on the streets of the cities, entertaining and celebrating this festive time of year. Additionally, there are steel bands to be heard around Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain and Panorama, and the Grand Steel Drum tournament is held one week before Carnival.  

Water sports are abundant in Trinidad and Tobago and if you are not into laying around on the beach soaking up the sun, then you may enjoy instead going out on a boat and fishing for Spanish mackerel, Wahoo, kingfish, yellow tuna, salmon, snapper, and more. Deep-sea and fresh-water fishing are both available. Plus, there are reefs to explore while scuba-diving as well as glass bottom boat trips that will provide you with a wonderful opportunity to see the water’s denizens without getting too wet.  

Nature lovers will enjoy the Royal Botanic Gardens with over 622 species of butterflies and 700 species of orchids in Port of Spain while animal lovers can visit the Emperor Valley Zoo to see some of the native wildlife. Nariva Swamp, Aripo Savannah, and the Asa Wright Nature Centre all on Trinidad offer ample opportunity for visitors to watch the native birds. More unusual natural sights include the Aripo Caves and Pitch Lake, a 90-acre lake of asphalt that continuously replenishes itself.  

If you prefer more cosmopolitan settings and activities, there is always a cricket game being played or tours of the many local cathedrals, castles, and museums on both islands that will interest visitors.  

Trinidad and Tobago offer you a stunning backdrop for a wonderful holiday that can be filled with excitement, adventure, and simple relaxation all in one warm and sunny place.

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