Trinidad and Tobago are the most southerly islands in the Caribbean, situated just north of Venezuela (only 11 kilometers/7 miles away). The islands are mostly plains with some hills and low mountains. The highest point is El Cerro del Aripo at 940 meters (3,084 feet), in the Northern Range on the island of Trinidad. Environmental issues include water pollution from agricultural chemicals, industrial wastes, and raw sewage, oil pollution of beaches, deforestation, and soil erosion. Pitch Lake, on Trinidad’s southwestern coast, is the world’s largest natural reservoir of asphalt. The Environmental Management Authority was established by the government to address the country’s environmental problems. The government also maintains the Trinidad and Tobago Biodiversity website, listing Matura National Park. The Environmental Network of Trinidad and Tobago maintains a page on Facebook.
The main project of the local NGO Nature Seekers, formed in 1990, is their Matura Turtle Conservation Programme. In 2006, Nature Seekers joined other community organizations, such as Save Our Sea Turtles – SOS Tobago, to form the Turtle Village Trust. The international NGO Earthwatch Institute now runs tours to Matura Beach in support of Trinidad’s leatherback sea turtles. The Grande Riviere Nature Tour Guides Association is a non-profit, community based organization, specialized in turtle protection. Grande Riviere is a village on the north coast of Trinidad. In 2012, the world was shocked by news of thousands of leatherback turtle eggs and hatchlings being crushed by bulldozers trying to shore up the Mt. Plaisir Estate Hotel, built too close to a river mouth. (There are three more hotels available in Grande Riviere, Le Grande Almandier, McEachnie’s Haven and Acajou.) Buccoo Reef Trust is responsible for integrated watershed and coastal area management for Tobago’s spectacular Buccoo reef.
Within the Petrotrin oil refinery, the Pointe-à-Pierre Wild Fowl Trust was established in 1966 as a nature center for environmental education about wetland conservation and endangered species. Caroni Swamp, on the west coast of Trinidad, a Ramsar wetland and home to the Caroni Bird Sanctuary. Both Madoo Bird Tours and Nanan Bird Tours provide guided tours of the Caroni Bird Sanctuary. Saut d’Eau, a small island just off the north coast of Trinidad, is one of thirteen official wildlife sanctuaries, and one of two breeding grounds for Pelicans. Trinidad Birding is a website maintained by William L. Murphy, author of A Birdwatcher’s Guide to Trinidad and Tobago (2003). Cuffie River Nature Retreat is a secluded birding resort in the rainforest on the edge of Tobago’s Main Ridge reserve, listed on the Tentative Lists of World Heritage. Peter Cox’s Tobago Nature Tours guides bird watching tours into Tobago’s tropical rainforest at Main Ridge reserve, Argyle Waterfall, and Little Tobago bird sanctuary. The Belle Garden Wetland Association, a project of Environment Tobago, offers ecotours of Belle Garden Wetland around Clarkes Bay, on the Atlantic coast of Tobago.
According to the Asa Wright Nature Centre, the island of Trinidad is home to four kinds of venomous snakes, the fer-de-lance, bushmaster, and two kinds of coralsnake; note, the island of Tobago has no venomous snakes. The Asa Wright Nature Centre, originally the William Beebe Tropical Research Station, is a famous ecolodge on the island of Trinidad, responsible for the protection of much of the remaining Northern Range rainforest in the Arima valley. In the reputedly haunted village of Lopinot, Mariposa Gardens is a bed and breakfast inn, restaurant and cafe, with organic vegetable garden, offering herb tours and nature walks. Also on the island of Trinidad, LimeLand House is nestled in the middle of an old cocoa estate, close to the Navira Swamp wetland. Ben Deloraine Nature Reserve, with over 200 acres of private virgin forest, offers accommodations and camping on the southeast coast of Trinidad.
Rainbow Nature Resort, a living, breathing farm, bills itself as an agro-ecological retreat. Man-O-War Bay Cottages is locally owned, with the ambiance of a West Indian fishing village. On the island of Tobago, the Tobago Bed & Breakfast Association lists more affordable accommodations, such as Adventure Eco Villas.
Friends of Botanic Gardens of Trinidad and Tobago supports the Royal Botanic Gardens in Port of Spain. The Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago manages the Emperor Valley Zoo adjacent to the Botanical Gardens. The El Socorro Center for the Wildlife Conservation is located at the Wa Samaki Ecosystems peramculture farm on Trinidad. La Vega Estate Nature & Recreation Park is a tropical plant nursery and butterfly garden open to visitors. Maracas Bay Agri Tourism Park is a new development near Maracas Beach. Island Hikers is a local fitness walkers group based in the capital Port-of-Spain that organizes weekend outings. The Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club has published their trail guide, “Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club Trail Guide”. Trinidad and Tobago NatureLink is a general website covering the flora and fauna of the islands. The Outdoors Trinidad website provides information on outdoor recreation. There are quite a few caves in Trinidad and Tobago, but speleotourism does not seem to be well developed yet. (See Wikipedia Caves of Trinidad and Tobago.) Based in the Santa Cruz Valley of Trinidad, Banwari Experience offers a variety of nature tours. With offices on both Trinidad and Tobago, DiveTnT supports the gamut of scuba divers’ needs.
The islands came under British control in the 19th century, and independence was granted in 1962. Trinidad and Tobago is one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean due to its large reserves of oil and gas. The people of Trinidad and Tobago are together referred to as Trinbagonians. The currency used is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar. There have been recent reports of horrendous crimes against foreigners. (See Wikipedia Crime in Trinidad and Tobago.) It’s worth checking the current British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Trinidad and Tobago travel advice. As with many tropical destinations, periodic outbreaks of mosquito born dengue fever are reported.
Although there are no official World Heritage sites in Trinidad and Tobago, the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve has been added to the Tentative Lists of World Heritage. There are a number of public and private organizations involved with heritage and cultural preservation. The government Ministry of The Arts and Multiculturalism – Culture Division is one. There is also the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Citizens for Conservation, a program of Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme de Paris. The Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago is dedicated to advocating for visual artists and the visual arts. The Santa Rosa Carib Community is the major organisation of indigenous people in Trinidad and Tobago.
The music of Trinidad and Tobago is well known as calypso, soca and steelpan. Major events include the annual Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, overseen by the National Carnival Commission, the Tobago Heritage Festival, and the local We Beat St James festival in Port of Spain. There are Emancipation Day celebrations, coordinated by the Emancipation Support Committee. Indian Arrival Day is also celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago. (See Wikipedia List of Hindu temples in Trinidad and Tobago.)
Formed in May 2005, the Tourism Development Company is a state enterprise responsible for improving the local tourism sector, for instance though their Small Tourism Enterprises Project. The Sugar Heritage Village is one project born out of a need to preserve the memories of Trinidad and Tobago’s sugar industry. The Brasso Seco Paria Tourism Action Committee has helped to develop the Paria Springs Eco Community community based tourism project. In 2013, Trinidad and Tobago is slated to host the 14th Caribbean Tourism Organization Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Development Conference. Apparently, the country’s Immigration Act bars entry to homosexuals; so in 2012, the international NGO AIDS Free World was suing the government over its entry ban against homosexuals. Also in 2012, departure tax from Piarco International Airport was doubled to about USD 31.
The Inter-Island Transportation Company operates regular ferry service between the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, by INCAT 046 wave-piercing catamaran and T&T Spirit fast ferry. The Pier 1 C/Prowler ferry links Trinidad with the Venezuelan port of Guiria.
- Trinidad’s Tourism Debacle: Between ‘Glocal’ Heritage and National Economic Development by J Scarpaci, 2002
- An Examination of Tourism and Agricultural Linkages in the Caribbean Region with Reference to Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago by J Nichols, 1998
- Formulating Tourism Development Strategy in Trinidad and Tobago by G Williams, 1993
- Institutional analysis as an approach to tourism development: the case for Trinidad and Tobago, MIA Ryan, University of Waterloo, 1992
- Tourism as a Tool for Economic Development with Specific Reference to the Countries of Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana by JF Jones, 1970