Eco-Related Activities

To get you acquainted with the natural landscape of the islands, here’s a video of the northern and eastern coasts of Trinidad. This amateur clip shows off the island’s lush green rural land and lovely beaches, and it features the soothing music of local artist, Mungal Patasar.

The North and East coasts of Trinidad are popular areas for eco-related activities and are not too far from the capital city, Port of Spain.

Though not developed to its full eco-tourism potential, T&T offers quite an array of nature-related activities.

My Top Eco-Related Picks:

1.       Hike to Three-Pools

Blanchisseuse Forest

Many enjoyable summers during my teenagers years were spent exploring the rural area of Blanchisseuse with my family. Located on the North Coast of Trinidad, Blanchisseuse’s forest hosts a number of hiking trails, including my favourite, Three Pools. As its name suggests, this trail involves hiking along a path that has three “pools” or basins of water, with the final leading to an enchanting waterfall, which you can swim in. The trail is known to be relatively easy and is usually an all-day affair; however, a tour guide is required to navigate the hike. While hiking through the dense forest, you also get an opportunity to view the tropical wildlife and vegetation. This economical trek (<$10US) is a great bonding experience for both family and friends.

2.       Beaches:

Trinidad – Surf’s Inn Bay

Surf's Inn Bay, Trinidad, Surf

Surf’s Inn Bay

In terms of relaxation, my favourite spot is of course in Blanchisseuse. Many people favour Maracas Bay, but to me it can’t compete with Surf’s Inn Bay. Sure you get tasty food and attractive scenery in Maracas Bay, but Blanchisseuse offers cleaner, clearer waters and less crowded but equally beautiful surroundings. Since Maracas is on the way to Blanchisseuse, I often stop there to pick up some food and then head straight to Surf’s Inn Bay for some peaceful leisure time (especially after a night of partying). The quaint beach is frequented by a few surfers and is somewhat secluded (except for the private beach houses). During low tide, on the right side of the beach, by the rocks, you can explore the natural rock-reef pockets filled with water that are home to many small sea-creatures like hermit crabs, sea urchins, lobsters, fish, and the like.

Tobago – Pigeon Point

Tobago, Pigeon Point

Pigeon Point

Generally noted for having more picturesque beaches than Trinidad, Tobago is home to a number of sublime beaches. Located close to the south-western tip of the island is Pigeon Point, my preferred beach. Known as one of the more popular beaches on the island, this spot has a seemingly endless sprawl of white sandy shorelines and aquamarine coloured waters. Even though it’s the only beach in the country with an entry cost (~$3US), Pigeon Point has well-developed facilities, and it offers several activities for tourists and locals alike. Besides basking in the seductive sun, you can wind surf, play volley ball, snorkel (my favourite activity), build sand castles, listen to live entertainment, have your hair braided, and enjoy local cuisine, among other things.

3.       Buccoo Reef Tour

Buccoo Reef, Tobago,

Buccoo Reef

Located in Tobago, Buccoo Reef is rated by infamous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau as the third most spectacular reef in the world. Tobago’s largest reef is home to an abundance of tropical marine species. Each time I’ve visited the magnificent reef, I took a fantastic glass-bottom boat tour. This tour allows you to not only view the thriving and colourful wildlife that live in the coral beds through the transparent bottom of the boat, but also to snorkel and get an up-close look at the reef. Additionally, the boat ride makes a stop at the Nylon Pool, which is known for its white coral sand and shallow light blue-green waters, where you can snorkel and swim. Normally the tour returns in the evening, giving you a chance to experience a breathtaking sunset at sea.

Popular picks from others (on my to-do list):

  1. Hike to Paria
  2. Turtle Watching
  3. Gasparee Caves

Check out Limin’n’Stylin’ Caribbean Style for additional eco-related activities, plus more!



Trinidad and Tobago has a multiplicity of festivals. In terms of events for visiting students with tight budgets, the following are a few select annual festivities that students might be interested in:

Carnival – March/February

Frequently referred to as “the greatest show on earth”, many flock to Trinidad and Tobago to experience Carnival. It can be traced back to the Europeans who brought the tradition during the colonisation period. The two-day celebration takes place before the Christian period of Lent. Over time, the many distinct cultures of the islands helped to transform it into what we know as Carnival today. While passing through the streets, expect to see brightly coloured costumes and to hear the roar of sweet soca and calypso music. Though the overall aesthetic seems to be gradually getting closer to that of the Brazilian Carnival, traditional costumes (satires and folklore characters) are still worn.

Trinidad, Carnival, Costumes, Masqueraders, Colourful,

Carnival in Trinidad

Costumes, especially well-made ones, are quite expensive (> $500 US), but sometimes you find great deals. Harts, Island People, and Tribe are the popular carnival masquerading bands. If you can’t afford the high prices of the Carnival costumes, you can still participate in the festivities, by observing from the sidelines and by attending the pre-parties. J’ouvert is also another cheaper possibility; many participate in both Carnival and J’ouvert.

Marking the start of Carnival, J’ouvert commences at the crack of dawn. People dress up in inexpensive make-shift costumes (<$28US) and go out on to the streets in the wee hours of the morning to have fun. Paint, oil, chocolate, and like matter are thrown around, making it a messy but enjoyable time.

For more information on dates, fetes, costumes, J’ouvert and the like, visit Trinidad Carnival Diary.

Diwali (Divali) – November

Known as “the festival of lights”, Diwali is celebrated not only by the Hindu community, but also by the wider population. It commemorates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness. Deyas (diyas) are lit in remembrance of this triumph; they function as a symbol of good, dispelling the darkness (physically and mentally). Hindus during this period pray to the goddess Mother Lakshme, for prosperity and wealth.

Deyas, Trinidad, Diwali, Divali

Girls Lighting Deyas in Trinidad

Many public areas (temples, savannahs, houses etc) around the country are converted to exhibit this show of lights. The Divali Nagar is one such space to visit during this season. At Diwali events, music from tassa drums and rhythm sections can be heard; traditional Indian cuisine is served; people dress in classic Indian attire; customary dances are performed; and of course deyas are lit and displayed on intricate cut-out bamboo displays.

Foreigners are always welcomed to join in on the activities. Festivities are normally open to the public and are free. Even the deyas and related supplies are modestly priced (~$1US each). Diwali is a great opportunity to experience the many aspects of Hindu culture, especially when in Trinidad where the population is notorious for being warm and friendly.

Tobago Heritage Festival – July/August

Bele, Dance, Tobago Heritage Festival

Bele Dancing in Tobago

Known as one of Tobago’s main yearly events, this festival seeks to preserve the distinct traditions of Tobagonian culture. During the commemoration, locals and foreigners visit charming villages and learn about life of the early 1900s. Villagers dress in costumes reminiscent of the past and share via performance their folk dancing and singing; local dishes are served as well. Other activities that take place include story-telling, stick-fighting, and limbo.

The cost of attending the festival’s events varies, but it is generally cheap (~$7US), and in many cases events are free. Visit the official Tobago Heritage Festival site for more information on this culturally-rich celebration.

Want to know more about the major happenings in Trinbago?
Visit to find out more.

Feel free to share (by leaving a comment) any festivals you think international students may be interested in.

Next week: Look out for a post on Eco-related activities!

Overview of Trinidad and Tobago’s History

The present-day diverse culture and population of the islands is best understood with knowledge of the country’s historical background.

Map of Caribbean Region

Map of Caribbean Region

Originally, Amerindian settlers (Arawak and Carib tribes) from South America inhabited the two islands. Colonisation ensued following Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the lands in 1498; the local tribes were enslaved by the Spanish, however, the horrible conditions they were subjected to resulted in a near genocide of the indigenous population. Few descendants of the tribes remain today (mostly Carib) and even fewer of their cultural elements prevail (with the exception of place names).

Subsequent to the Spanish’s conquest, multiple changing of “hands” occurred with the various colonial powers over the years. While the British were the last to rule, the Dutch, Courlanders, French, and Spanish colonial powers still had a significant impact on the local culture, which is reflected in place names, foods and dishes, language, and local customs today.

During colonisation, West African tribes were enslaved and brought to the islands to work on plantations under the rule of the prevailing colonial masters. The slaves were separated and not permitted to practice their native cultures; they had to adopt that of their masters (Christianization of the slaves) or risk being severely punished or even killed. As a result not many African cultural traditions survive today, though there have been recent efforts to revive them.

Indian Indentured Labourers on the Plantations

Following the emancipation of the slaves in 1834, indentured labourers from India (largest of the group), Madeira, and China were brought to supplement the shortage of labour on the plantations. They were allowed to keep and practice openly their cultural traditions under this new free system.

Later, migrants from other Caribbean islands, Venezuela, Syria, and Lebanon settled on the islands and also had a great impact on the contemporary population of the islands.

Today, all of these various racial and ethnic groups make up the ‘melting-pot’ of a population that is Trinidad and Tobago. The country’s populace is predominantly Indian, followed by African, Mixed, Caucasian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Other (all in descending order based on population size). The resulting culture is that of a “mosaic” of the various individual groups, fairly blended and yet distinct in many ways.

Throughout this blog, posts will focus on the island-life culture and the places to visit on a student budget.

*Disclaimer: This is a summary of the country’s history, it does not intend to comprehensively cover all of the happenings in the country, but it merely acts as a brief encapsulation of the historical events that led to the current population and culture of Trinidad and Tobago.