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PLACES OF INTEREST IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Asa Wright Nature Center

The Asa Wright Nature Center is a former cocoa and coffee plantation that has been turned into an 80ha (198ac) nature reserve. Located amid the rainforest in the Northern Range, the centre has attracted naturalists from around the world since it was founded in 1967. There's a lodge catering to birding tour groups, a research station for biologists and a series of hiking trails on the property.

A wide range of bird species inhabit the area, including blue-crowned motmots, chestnut woodpeckers, palm tanagers, channel-billed toucans, blue-headed parrots, 10 species of hummingbirds and numerous raptors. The sanctuary encompasses Dunston Cave, which is home to a breeding colony of the elusive nocturnal guacharo, or oilbird.

Asa Wright Nature Centre is less than a two-hour drive from Port of Spain.

Caroni Bird Sanctuary

Caroni Bird Sanctuary is the roosting site for thousands of scarlet ibis, the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago. At sunset the birds fly to roost in the swamp's mangroves, giving the trees the appearance of being abloom with brilliant scarlet blossoms. The sight of the ibis flying over the swamp at sunset is a treat not to be missed.

 

Maracas Bay

Just a 40-minute drive from the capital is Maracas Bay, Trinidad's most popular beach. This fishing hamlet has a broad, sandy beach and occasionally has decent waves for bodysurfing. Tyrico Bay, just to the east of Maracas Bay, is quieter and less commercial. Las Cuevas, 8km (5mi) east of Maracas Bay, is a pretty, U-shaped bay with a nice brown-sand beach; there's surfing at its west end and calmer conditions at the centre.

Manzanilla Beach

Trinidad's east coast is wild and rural, a mix of lonely beaches, rough Atlantic waters, mangrove swamps and coconut plantations. You may not encounter many travelers along the entire coast, but you will encounter free-roaming cows, water buffaloes, vultures, egrets and herons. The main east coast beach, Manzanilla Beach, has brown sand, palm trees and white beach morning glory.

 

Pitch Lake

 

The oddest attraction in Trinidad is Pitch Lake, a 40ha (99ac) continually replenishing lake of tar which is the source of the world's single largest supply of natural bitumen - however, as a sight it's reminiscent of a huge parking lot.

 

 

 

 

Toco

 

Located on the North East coast of Trinidad Toco is one of the remaining un-spoilt natural wonders of the country. Its picturesque beaches are washed by both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic ocean. Toco is primarily a fishing community and is a nesting ground for the famous Leather-back turtles during the months of May to August.

Tobago

Tobago is a delightfully relaxed island with much to offer travelers. There are good beaches, pristine snorkeling and diving spots, excellent bird watching opportunities and just enough tourism to make visiting Tobago easy, yet not so much that the island feels overrun.

The airport town of Crown Point is in the middle of Tobago's main resort area. It's surrounded by palm-fringed, white-sand beaches with good year-round swimming and snorkeling. The attractive fishing villages of Speyside and Charlotteville are interesting out-of-the-way destinations, and the nearby uninhabited islets of Little Tobago, Goat Island and St Giles Island are ecotourist destinations with abundant birdlife.

There's great diving at Buccoo Reef, offshore from the little visited village of Buccoo, and good snorkeling at Pirate's Bay, off Charlotteville. The latter derives its name from the secluded haven it provided to marauding buccaneers three centuries ago. It's rumored that there's still buried treasure around Pirate's Bay today.

Buccoo

Buccoo is a small village that's only lightly touristed. The narrow brown-sand beach at Buccoo Bay doesn't compete with the generous white sands at Store Bay, but Buccoo's offshore waters are lovely.

A handful of glass-bottom boats provide tours of the extensive fringing reef between Buccoo and Pigeon Point. The boats pass over the reef, much of which is just a meter or two beneath the surface, stop for snorkeling and end with a swim in the Nylon Pool, a calm shallow area with a sandy bottom and clear turquoise waters.


 

Fort King George

Tobago's best remaining colonial fortification (1779) is well worth a visit for its history, coastal views and park-like grounds. Cannons line the fort's stone walls, and there's a working lighthouse, a shop selling local crafts and a small museum with displays on Amerindian artifacts and Tobago's colonial history.


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