5 Reasons to Visit Trinidad other than Carnival

When you think of Trinidad, the first thing that comes to mind is…Carnival with its spectacular costumes and jump-up calypso, but Trinidad isn’t just about bacchanal and masqueraders, there’s so much more to see year-round.

Pointe a Pierre Wildfowl Trust

The Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust is located in South Trinidad. It is an expansive area set on 29 hectares that form a wetland rainforest for wild birds. To visit you need to book in advance. Once there, a short informative session is given at the on-site educational center. You are given the option to take a guided tour which will give you a better informative experience, or you can follow the trail yourself. Walk along the wooden boardwalk that begins around the middle of the lake. Listen to the birds, crickets and the hum of the rainforest. Look for the birds amongst branches, twigs, and the forest.

A beautiful experience awaits you to connect, support, and be a wild bird lover.

Beautiful idyllic untouched nature (wetlands) with sunshine, a lake with waterfowl, water lily petals and a brown wooden gangplank / footbridge in Pointe-à-Pierre on the Caribbean island of Trinidad
Pointe-à-Pierre on the island of Trinidad

Turtle Nesting at Grande Rivière

Every year between March and September, an estimated 15,000 visitors from all around the world descend to Grande Riviere to see the Leatherback Turtle nest. These turtles trek tens of thousands of miles to the protected beaches of Trinidad’s Northeast coast to lay their eggs. Visitors take a 3-hour drive from Port of Spain to arrive at the Nature Centre, where tour guides give information on the do’s and don’ts of turtle watching and then lead small groups out to the protected beaches. The process occurs around midnight when the leatherback turtles haul themselves from the sea to the dry sand, where begin to dig a hole with their expansive flippers to accommodate 60–100 ping pong ball-sized eggs. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with these prehistoric turtles.

Leatherback Turtle Nesting, Grand Riviere,Trinidad

Nature Lover’s Caroni Swamp Boat Ride 

Peaceful, serene, and green, that’s what the tour on the Caroni Swamp Bird Sanctuary boat ride feels like. The main purpose of the ride is to see the Scarlet Ibis (a bright red feathered bird), the national bird of Trinidad & Tobago, which, after a day’s flight, returns to roost in the mangroves of the Caroni Swamp. Now, don’t think that by using the word swamp, there are creatures and monsters waiting to get you. The surroundings are serene, with flora and fauna and the occasional bird or snake – seen at a distance.

The narrow waterway widens onto a lake where the captain switches off the engine to await the arrival of the striking red, scarlet ibis as it flies overhead. The birds fly in formative v-shape lines to the roosting area on the branches of the trees. From a distance, the trees resemble Christmas trees decked in red, and with the backdrop of the Northern Range Mountain, it’s a perfect boat ride to share with someone special.

Caroni,Swamp, Trinidad
Caroni Swamp, Trinidad

Swimming, Sunbathing, and Shark at Maracas Beach

Contrary to what you might think, all Caribbean beaches are not the same. Maracas Beach is Trinidad’s premier beach located on the North coast. The roadway curves upwards through the Moka Valley into the heights of the Northern Range Mountains and back down again. 

Once on the beach, you sit beneath the shade of the tall coconut trees or available umbrellas and deck chairs. After sunbathing and swimming, look out for the shark – Bake n’ Shark. This is the must-have signature food of Maracas. It consists of a deep-fried shark fillet sandwiched between two thick fried pita-type bread called “bake.” Then garnish it with pineapple, lettuce, green pepper, onions, tomatoes, and hot pepper sauce. 

Maracas Bay
Maracas Beach

Day Cruise Down de Islands

The best ‘on the water’ fun is definitely cruising to the Bocas Islands, which lie between Trinidad and Venezuela and are locally known as “Down de Islands.” Cruise boats are rented at various spots on the West coast and host a number of guests with two or more accompanying crew members that cater food and drinks for the trip.

Once on board, you can sit under the shade of a canopy or stretch out on the sun-kissed deck of the boat. From the marina, the skyline of Port of Spain dazzles in the morning sunshine as the captain hits the throttle. Suddenly, with a flick of a switch, loud music pulsates as you cruise by clustered islands out at sea. If you’re lucky, at some point, your captain will cut the music and turn off the engine and ask everyone to be quiet because dolphins are near!

View of the Five Islands, Carrera Island and Point Gourde near in Chaguaramas, Trinidad
View of the Five Islands, near Chaguaramas, Trinidad photo by: Wikimedia user Jean-Marc /Jo BeLo/Jhon-John under Creative Commons License

So, next time you think of Trinidad, know that there is a whole other side to the land of calypso and Carnival, in the form of birding, turtle watching, swamp rides, beach days, and a day at sea – all part and parcel of Mother Nature’s finest attractions.