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Repeat after me: I may be not be rich with money, but I’m rich with experiences.
This time last month I was coming home from vacation to one of the most beautiful and diverse countries I’ve ever seen… Trinidad and Tobago. Now those who know me in real life know that I’m a proud Trini-American. My parents and most of my extended family are from the great land of T & T while myself and my brother are from Jersey. I had the pleasure of enjoying Trinidadian influenced food, fabulous music and holiday traditions for my entire life. Because Trinidad isn’t a tourist attraction, like other Caribbean islands, most people would look at me confused when I told them about the nuances of my heritage. Hell, a lot of them have never even heard of Trinidad. It’s no surprise that Trinidad isn’t exactly on the top of a lot of people’s list when it comes to travel (unless you want to go to carnival) My goal is to provide a little insight and hopefully a change of heart. Here are 11 reasons why you should visit Trinidad and Tobago.
- Traveling there isn’t too expensive.
With the help of Cheapoair, I was able to find round trip tickets for myself, son and husband for just over $900. I stalked the site like crazy and once I noticed that flights were finally starting to dip again, I jumped at the price. Now keep in mind that United Airlines does not offer free tickets for babies under two on international flights so we had to purchase Little Prince’s ticket at 10% of the the adult ticket. Still when you consider that we really paid about $300 per person round trip during a busy travel season it was a great deal! (Our travel dates were around Trinidad independence day as well US Labor Day) Thanks Cheapoair! And we flew direct from Newark to Piarco Airport in Trinidad! We could have gotten even cheaper tickets if we took connecting flights.
2. You’ll be rich when you arrive
Well not really… unless you left the US rich. The exchange rate in Trinidad is $1 US – $6TT. And depending on where you go, you might even be able find an establishment for $1Us – $7TT. So you won’t actually be rich, but I certainly felt a tad richer when I get all those extra dollar bills in my possession.
3. You’ll never have to worry about a hurricane
Yes you read that correctly. If you travel to Trinidad, you’ll likely never have to wonder if a hurricane is coming your way. Located down by Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago is far removed from the hurricane belt. In fact, my family from Trinidad didn’t experience a hurricane until they came to visit us in NJ a few years back! Considering the hurricane season we’re currently going through, I’m sure that will put much of you at ease. However, you do need to beware of rainy season.
4. The beaches are picturesque
The beaches are to die for. Just miles and miles of clear turquoise waters surrounded by the most beautiful trees I’ve ever seen. And the activities you can do on the beach are endless. Unfortunately a majority of our time there it was very rainy so we didn’t get to do all the activities we wanted to do. However, we did enjoy snorkeling which was a big deal for me because I am terrified of the ocean. Had the weather cleared up we would have gone jet skiing and visited the infamous Nylon Pool which is a shallow area in the ocean where you can go snorkeling as well hike through the Tobago rain forest. Heavy down pours ruined our planned excursions. It certainly didn’t stop us from lounging in beach chairs and visiting the oceanfront bars and restaurants.
5. The beaches aren’t crowded
So can you believe that even with beaches that beautiful, they aren’t crowded? Mind you when we went to Trinidad it was during their Independence weekend. Imagine what a NJ beach would look like with perfect weather on the 4th of July. Thats the beauty of traveling to a location that isn’t a tourist hot spot. I truly believe its one of the Caribbean’s best kept secrets. I almost don’t want to publish this post in fear too many people will discover the hidden gem and over run it.
6. Visit two islands in one.
It always baffles me that so many have never heard of Trinidad much less know that its made up of two islands. Trinidad is the main island you fly into when traveling from the US while Tobago is the smaller island northwest of Trinidad – both islands are the same country. (If you’re confused think Hawaii. It’s made up of several smaller islands but they are all part of the state of Hawaii). Though, I’ve been going to Trinidad for years, this past summer was my first time traveling to Tobago. I felt super spoiled because I felt like I was getting two vacations in one. Each island has it’s own charm and characteristics. Not to mention it’s not too difficult get to Tobago.[bctt tweet=”Not a tourist hot spot, but Trinidad & Tobago is a must-see vacation spot. ” username=””]
You can either take a 30 minute flight or a 4 hour ferry ride. Both are responsibly priced at $50 round trip person for the plane and $25 round trip person for the ferry. We took the ferry there and I really don’t think it was bad. My husband on the other hand, gets seasick so he did not enjoy it.
7. You will be blown away by all the colors
I never liked how dull the architecture in New Jersey is. While nice, all the houses are muted or earthy shades of brown, olive greens, and red. However, all the houses in Trinidad scream with personality. I can’t help but smile at all the cheery homes painted in bright colors such as pink, lime green, and orange.
8. The music is addictive
When most people think about music from the islands, the first thing that comes to mind is usually reggae in Jamaica. Well call me biased, but nothing beats the smooth melody of the soca and the contagious rhythm of calypso. Nothing is better than the sweet sound of a steel drum ringing through your heart. If you’ve never heard it before click here or here.
Of course, I can’t forget Machel Montana, Trinidad & Tobago’s king of soca. I dare anyone to listen to this music and not want to get up and dance!
9. You’ll be in heaven with all the fresh fruit.
Some people can’t go a day without coffee, I can’t go a day without fruit. If I don’t have any fruit in my home I’m convinced we don’t have anything to eat. Luckily, there is no shortage of fruits in this tropical paradise. I had the luxury of picking mangos and avocados right in my grandmother’s backyard. One of my absolute favorites is chenet. Others may recognize the fruit as quinep. Its got a tough green shell on the outside that you bite to reveal a softer yellow inside that you can suck all the juice out of. Other than mango, it’s is my favorite fruit. I only wish I could find it in NJ.
10. The food is one of a kind.
So my absolute favorite food is some good ole roti and curry. Since it’s considered “fast food” there is no shortage of it in Trinidad. While it may be similar to the roti many people are familiar with in India, Trinidad roti is prepared slightly different. It’s made with split peas and normally wrapped around curried chicken, potatoes, shrimp, pumpkin or chick peas. But you can also have your curry on the side and just dip the rot in it. Aside from curry and roti other Trinidad favorites include bake and shark, sailfish and dumplings, beef pies, or aloo pie (bread with potato filling) or pelau which is a rice and pea dish. They even have delicious street food located on the Ave in Port of Spain. The Ave is the place to go for nightlife and entertainment. Also, a lot of the foods that are grown and raised there don’t have additives and hormones we are used to the US which is why I think the food tastes must richer there.
11. My family is amazing
I know this is supposed to be about reasons why you should travel to Trinidad. My family isn’t your family so it holds no weight with you. However, my heart was filled with so much joy traveling to Trinidad to see my family. Before this trip, I hadn’t been back to Trinidad since 2010. That’s way too long to go without seeing some relatives. And nothing brought me more joy than being there to see my son and husband experience the country that has so much influence in my life for the first time. The fact that we were visiting for my cousin’s all-white wedding was the icing on top the cake.
While my family isn’t your family, I do believe you will be treated like family once you arrive in Trinidad. The people of Trinidad are so welcoming that it very well may feel like you never left home.
Bottom line: An affordable trip to a caribbean island a tad off the beaten path filled with rich music, bright colors and unforgettable cultural experience is priceless.
Have you ever been to Trinidad or another island in the West Indies?
Terrific Quip: Don’t just listen to what they say. Go see it