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  • Trinidad and Tobago

    Trinidad and Tobago travel guide

    Overview

    Trinidad and Tobago, known colloquially as 'TNT',consist of the two southernmost Caribbean islands. While the twoislands are vastly different in character, together they offervisitors the best elements of the Caribbean experience.

    Trinidad is home to the bustling capital, Port ofSpain, which is sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and culturallydiverse. The capital's vibrancy is reflected in its mainattraction, the annual Carnival. Locals spend most of the yearpreparing for the lavish February fling which is a pastiche ofcalypso music and dance, food, dazzling costumes, and marvellousfloats.

    Port of Spain is a place of contrasts, where colonialarchitecture exists is the shadow of modern, high-rise towers andthe constant bustle of local colourful markets and bazaars providean alternative experience to the one found in the plush shoppingmalls. This, alongside the patchwork of Gothic cathedrals, mosques,and Hindu temples, testifies to the diversity of cultures that callthe islands home.

    Those looking for a more peaceful experience canleave the frenetic city behind and explore Trinidad's beautifulnorth coast beaches or hike through the forested peaks of theinterior. Along the east coast, nature lovers will find protectedwetlands and coconut groves, while down south on this rectangularisland are some enchanting fishing villages nestled near secludedbeaches.

    A daily domestic ferry service connects Trinidad toits more laid back, little sister island, Tobago, renowned forbeing one of the last slices of unspoilt Caribbean paradise. Tobagois a typical tropical wonderland of palm-fringed beaches, verdantrainforests, and sparkling coral reefs. It also boasts anature-lover's treasure trove of birds, butterflies, floweringplants, and shrubs.

    There are over 100 different mammals and around 70types of reptiles roaming the island, too, most famous of which isthe giant leatherback turtle which nests on the magnificent northbeaches. To the south, the Atlantic beats against a coast studdedwith fishing villages, while the hilly interior is coated with oneof the world's oldest rainforest reserves.

    Attractions in Trinidad and Tobago are as abundantand rich as its oil reserves and much more pristine. Many choose toget lost in the decadence of Carnival or Port of Spain's nightlife,while others marvel at the island's natural wonders. These includethe Gasparee and Aripo cave systems, full of stalagmites andstalactites; the Hollis Reservoir; and the Caroni Bird Sanctuary,which is a treasure trove for bird watchers.

    Maracas Bay is the island's most celebrated beach,but the competition is fierce. Port of Spain is home to somecharming colonial architecture. Perhaps the most notable buildingis The Mount St Benedict Monastery, established in 1912, said to bethe oldest and largest monastery in the Caribbean.

    A ferry connection to the smaller, more relaxedTobago opens up a host of beach and water attractions. Tobago isless developed and crowded than Trinidad and the place to go forpeace and natural beauty. The most spectacular beach on Tobago iswidely acknowledged to be Pigeon Point, but there are many otherbeautiful places, including Campbellton Bay, Englishman's Bay,Bacolet Bay, and Castara Bay.

    Off the east coast of Tobago, across from Speyside,the uninhabited, bird sanctuary island, Little Tobago, beckonstravellers with popular activities in and around the island,including hiking, snorkelling, and glass-bottomed boating.

    Away from the glorious beaches, the best place toexplore Tobago's rainforest is Main Ridge Forest Reserve, said tobe the oldest protected forest in the western hemisphere and hometo more than half of the island's prodigious birdlife.

    Those wanting a touch of culture during a Tobagoholiday can visit Fort King George and the nearby Tobago Museum.Between rainy and dry seasons, October to December and April toJune, are the best times for a holiday in Trinidad and Tobago,allowing travellers to avoid crowds and rain.

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Trinidad and Tobago enjoys a tropical climate withaverage maximum temperatures of 89°F (32°C). Tobago's averagetemperatures are slightly cooler, owing to the more constantnortheast trade winds which bring relief from the heat. There is adry season between January and May and a wet season from June toDecember. Annual rainfall is about 40 inches (200cm) in most of thecountry. Trinidad and Tobago lies just south of the hurricane belt.The rainy season is characterised by afternoon showers and theweather is generally still quite pleasant, while accommodationprices are slightly lower. The best and most popular time to travelto Trinidad and Tobago is during the winter dry season, betweenJanuary and May, when the skies are generally clear.

    Piarco International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 17 miles (27km) from Port ofSpain, Trinidad.
    Time: GMT –4.
    Getting to the city: Transport to the city is operated by the Airport Taxi Driver'sco-operative. Bookings for the service should be made with thedispatcher at the custom's exit.
    Car Rental: A number of car rental agencies operate at the airport.
    Fascilities: There is a Bureau de Change at the airport. There are also ATMsavailable. Restaurants are open 24 hours a day. There are numerousdifferent duty free shops as well as several convenience andspeciality stores. The airport offers free wifi.
    ANR Robinson International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated seven miles (10km) fromScarborough, Tobago.
    Time: GMT –4.
    Getting to the city: There is an hourly bus service to and from Crown PointInternational Airport. Taxis are also available.
    Car Rental: Several local car rental agencies operate out of the airport, aswell as Sixt and Europcar.
    Fascilities: The airport has a bank and ATM. Restaurant facilities areavailable between about 6am and 10pm. There are duty free shops, anewsstand and a gift shop.
    Parking There is free parking at the airport, but only for 75vehicles.
    Money:

    The unit of currency is the Trinidad and Tobago Dollar, or TTDollar (TTD), which is divided into 100 cents. Most ATMs and storeswill accept international credit cards. Travellers cheques, USdollars cash, and credit cards are accepted by most establishments.Money can also be changed at bureaux de change offices. Banks areopen from Monday to Friday.

    Language:

    English is the official language in Trinidad andTobago.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is in Trinidad and Tobago 110 - 120volts, 60hz. Two-pin flat blade plugs are used as well as three-pinplugs in the North American style.

    Entry Requirements:

    US citizens must have a valid passport for the duration of theirstay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 90 days fortouristic purposes.

    UK passport holders require a passport valid for six months fromthe date of entry, but do not need a visa for 90 days.

    Canadians need a passport valid for duration of stay but do notneed a visa.

    Australians require a passport valid for duration of stay and avisa for Trinidad and Tobago. A visa can be obtained onarrival.

    South Africans nationals require a passport valid for durationof stay, but do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days.

    Irish nationals require a valid passport for duration of stay,but do not require a visa.

    US citizens must have a valid passport for the duration of theirstay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 90 days fortouristic purposes.

    New Zealanders require a passport valid for duration of stay anda visa for Trinidad and Tobago. A visa can be obtained onarrival.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    Passports must be valid for at least the period of the proposedvisit. Visitors require documents for return or onward travel and afixed address for the period of their stay. Since 23 January 2007all US citizens travelling to and from Trinidad and Tobago by airrequire a valid passport; this requirement has been extended toinclude all land and sea border crossings as well. It is highlyrecommended that passports have at least six months validityremaining after your intended date of departure from your traveldestination. Immigration officials often apply different rules tothose stated by travel agents and official sources.

    The wearing of camouflage clothing, or the possession ofcamouflage bags in Trinidad and Tobago is illegal for anyone not inthe military services. Visitors wearing such items will be asked tochange and the camouflage items will then be confiscated. Failureto comply with this rule will result in detention and possiblefines.

    Travel Health:

    A yellow fever vaccination is required for thoseentering Trinidad and Tobago from infected areas, and it isrecommended that all travellers to Trinidad are vaccinated againstyellow fever anyway. Those who are only visiting Tobago do not needa yellow fever vaccination unless arriving from an infected area.Vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are also recommendedfor all travellers. Insect protection is advised, as there is anincreasing risk of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease.

    Medical facilities are limited in Trinidad and Tobagoand medicines may be in short supply. Emergency evacuation to anearby country will likely be required for serious injury orillness. Proof of ability to pay is often required before treatmentis given, even in emergencies. Medical insurance with provision forevacuation is strongly advised.

    Tipping:

    Most hotels and restaurants in Trinidad and Tobago add a servicecharge to the bill, usually 10 or 15 percent. If this is not thecase, a 10 percent tip is expected for good service.

    Safety Information:

    Most visits to Trinidad and Tobago are trouble free, but thereis an increasing incidence of crime against tourists on bothislands. In Trinidad be especially vigilant in downtown Port ofSpain (particularly at night), and when travelling from PiarcoAirport where gangs have been known to follow cars and attack theoccupants at their final destination. There has been an increase inrobberies at tourist sites, including Fort George and the PitchLake, and these attacks can be violent; visitors are warned not toresist muggers and robbers who are also targeting foreigners at carparks outside places like shopping malls and restaurants. Takeprecautions like not wearing flashy jewellery and storing valuablesin hotel safe deposit boxes.

    Local Customs:

    The people of Trinidad and Tobago are friendly and hospitableand generally happy to assist tourists, but keep in mind that it ispolite to greet a stranger before asking a question. Nude ortopless bathing is frowned upon in Trinidad and Tobago. Despite thedecriminalisation of homosexuality, the local population are stillnot fully open to it so homosexual couples may receive someunwarranted attention. The penalties for possession of drugs aresevere and thorough checks are often done at borders. If invited toa home, it is customary to bring a gift.

    Business:

    The economy of Trinidad and Tobago has been growing steadilyover the past few years and foreign investment is on the increase.A firm handshake starts and ends a meeting. Formal attire is commonbut not always strictly necessary; it is worth finding out aboutthe dress code for the relevant sector of business. Business cardsare generally handed out and received immediately afterintroductions. Business hours are generally 8am to 5pm, Monday toFriday, with about an hour taken over lunch.

    Communications:

    The international dialling code for Trinidad and Tobago is +1868. To dial out from the islands the prefix is 011, followed bythe relevant country code (e.g. 01127 for South Africa). Mobilenetworks are in operation on the islands, with fairly widecoverage. There are several internet cafes on the island in themain town centres.

    Duty Free:

    Visitors arriving in Trinidad and Tobago are allowed to bring inthe following goods without paying duty: 200 cigarettes, or 50cigars, or 250g tobacco; 1.5 litres of spirits or wine; gifts; andperfume for personal use. Alcohol and tobacco products are allowedonly for passengers over the age of 17 years.

    Useful Contacts:

    Trinidad and Tobago Tourism: www.gotrinidadandtobago.com

    Trinidad and Tobago Embassies:

    Embassy of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, Washington DC,United States: +1 202 467 6490.

    High Commission of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago,London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7245 9351.

    High Commission of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago,Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 232 2418.

    Foreign Embassies in Trinidad and Tobago :

    United States Embassy, Port of Spain: +868 622 6371.

    British High Commission, Port of Spain: +868 350 0444.

    Canadian High Commission, Port of Spain: +868 622 6232.

    South African Embassy, Port of Spain: +868 622 9869.

    Australian High Commission, Port of Spain: +868 822 5450.

    Irish Honorary Consul, Port of Spain: +868 628 2385.

    New Zealand High Commission, Ottawa, Canada (also responsiblefor Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago): +1 613 2385991.

    Trinidad and Tobago Emergency Numbers : Emergencies: 999 (Police); 990(Fire/Ambulance).
    Trinidad and Tobago