When studying abroad in Trinidad and Tobago, there are so many activities and places to experience that will enhance your trip, so don’t miss out on these “must-do” activities.
1. Turtle Watching
Numerous companies offer the chance to see leatherback turtles come out of the water and lay their eggs on the beach. Matura Beach and Grand Riviere Beach are two of the more popular locations. Turtle watching season is typically from March to April, although the peak-nesting season lasts from April to July. Turtles come up on shore during the night, and can lay up to 100 eggs. It is absolutely amazing to watch these turtles methodically dig holes as large as themselves in the sand, lay dozens of tennis-ball sized eggs, and then crawl back out to the water.
There are caves all throughout the island, and on the smaller islands to the southwest of the mainland. Gasparee Cave is one of the many caves, and tours are available to students and groups. Inside the caves, the water is warm and clear, and is home to hundreds of blind fish, who cannot see as a result of the dark environment in which they live. Tourists can jump off the side of the caves and cliffs into the water, and swim in the warm waters. They shouldn’t be surprised, however, when the blind fish swim into their legs!
Although grocery stores are located close to campuses typically, some of the more traditional markets offer a better variety of fruits and vegetables and are often less expensive. Tunapuna, a market just west of the University of the West Indies for example, is within walking distance of the campus providing cheap produce to international and local students alike. Fruit and vegetable vendors work the markets every day, and students can buy everything from root vegetables to fresh mangos and pineapples. This is truly the way to experience buying food like the locals.
4. Sports Events
The atmosphere that is created by fans at Trinidad’s national sporting events is unlike any other. The excitement and energy that the fans bring to the match creates a party like environment that celebrates the pride that they have for their country and their teams. Cricket and football (American soccer) are two sports that have national teams and attract tens of thousands of fans. As an example, a cricket match between the West Indies (Trinidad’s team) and Sri Lanka lasts for an entire day, and includes food, drinks, and live music throughout the stands. After the win, the crowds normally spill into the streets and continue the party. Fans are friendly, and can help to explain the rules to those who may not be as familiar with cricket.
Getting to the sister-island is relatively easy, flights are available from the airport in Port of Spain directly to Tobago. However, a less expensive and equally easy way of getting there is by taking a ferry. The beaches on Tobago are more similar to what people think of when they think of the Caribbean, and for that reason Tobago is known as the “vacation spot” in Trinidad and Tobago. There are beautiful resorts on the island but there are also smaller hotels and bed and breakfasts that are reasonably priced, located close to the main beach area.
Made out of two bara (flat, fried bread) and curried channa (chickpeas), Doubles is a food that originates from Trinidad and is one of the more popular choices of local cuisine. Doubles stands can be found in small towns, large cities, and even on the side of the highway. Served hot, these sandwiches are enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and are typically topped with pepper sauce (hot sauce). The sauce is hotter than may be expected, and it may be a good idea for newbies to order them with “slight pepper” to begin.
7. Shark and Bake
Another food item to try is Shark and Bake, which is a local treat. Maracas Bay, one of the most popular beaches in Trinidad, has numerous shops that sell fried shark sandwiches on bake (again, fried bread). These shops offer dozens of toppings, such as coleslaw, cucumbers, mango, and of course, pepper sauce to pair with Shark and Bake sandwiches.
8. Rainforests & Nature
The proximity to South America, means that the agriculture and nature of Trinidad is different than other Caribbean islands, and more similar to Venezuela. Rainforests are home to tropical plants and animals, and tours are available by foot, bus, or boat. Another natural attraction of the nation is Pitch Lake, a tar pit that is slowly overtaking a small town.
9. Steel Drums
Originating in Trinidad, the steel drum is an instrument made out of oil drums and hammered down until it is able to produce the right tones. Steel drum bands perform all over the island, and a warehouses around the country produce the traditional drums. Touring a warehouse where they make the drums, or listening to steel drum bands is a must for study abroad students in Trinidad.
As a bonus, if you happen to be on the island the week before Lent begins, you can attend “Carnival”, which is arguably the most significant event that the island hosts each year. Celebrated in countries around the world, Carnival originated when West African Slaves paraded through the streets with masks and dances to make fun of their French owners. The modern day celebration still incorporates masks and tradition, but also includes elaborate costumes, dancing, food, drink, and is essentially a giant party.