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Island getaways are typically go-to getaways for beach lovers and adventure addicts, with water sports, rain forest hikes and rum-filled nights topping itineraries. But the nation of Trinidad and Tobago supplies an unusual opportunity for travelers to experience an exciting mix of activities on two islands, all within a 20-minute flight between them. How different can the two islands be, you might ask? Well, Trinidad is boisterous, with big city excursions, glam resorts and non-stop energy. Tobago, meanwhile, is laid-back, with more traditional Caribbean charm and spectacular nature tours. Here’s the best of the best in both Trinidad and Tobago.

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BEACHES

Maracas Bay Beach in Trinidad | Photo courtesy of Trinidad & Tobago Tourism Ministry

Trinidad: Maracas Bay Beach

This crescent-shaped, pearly-sand beach surrounded by mountains, is the most popular beach in Trinidad, attracting big crowds of locals and tourists alike on weekends. But it’s not just about sand and sea, this is also where you can sample a Trini street food staple: bake and shark. A delicacy of fried shark meat between fried flour dough with piles of condiments (tamarind sauce, pepper sauce, mango chutney, coleslaw), bake and shark is essential to a real Trinidad experience. Dozens of vendors line the beach, but the classic hut to visit is Richard’s, where the lines can last for 30 minutes or more.

Tobago: Pigeon Point Beach

With pristine sand, swaying palm trees and calm, aquamarine water framed by a thatched-roofed jetty, Pigeon Point is the stuff island dreams are made of. Equipped with six shops, five eateries and glass boat tours to stunning Buccoo Reef & Nylon Pool, Pigeon Point is a 125-acre nature preserve that satisfies every requirement for the perfect beach day. Although very popular, this beach retains an air of tranquility and many days, you’ll find only a handful of beach goers.

RESTAURANTS

Jemma’s Treehouse in Tobago

Trinidad: Joseph’s 

Trinidad’s teeming capital city of Port of Spain is filled with street food shacks, cafes and restaurants but none more elegant and welcoming than Joseph’s. Offering a sophisticated haven in the hustling atmosphere of the city, Joseph’s serves up expertly prepared Mediterranean cuisine like mezza, lamb and pan-seared shrimp. A family owned spot, Joseph’s features patio dining  in a pretty courtyard.

Tobago: Jemma’s Seaview Kitchen

Officially called Jemma’s Seaview Kitchen, locals just call it the Treehouse restaurant and you’ll quickly see why. Built into and around a towering almond tree overlooking the bay to Goat Island and Little Tobago, this restaurant provides scenic views and excellent cuisine. Seafood is the star of the menu, but don’t miss local dishes like breadfruit pie, callaloo and curried fish.

NATURAL WONDERS

Gasparee Caves

Trinidad: Gasparee Caves

Located on Gaspar Grande island off Trinidad’s northwestern coast,  Gasparee Caves is a network of sculpted caverns,  sinkholes and caves featuring a glistening tidal pool called the Blue Grotto. Look out for limestone formations in the shape of dinosaurs and scores of stalactites and stalagmites.

Tobago: Argyle Waterfalls

Tobago bursts with natural beauty, but Argyle Waterfall is one that is a must see for every visitor. A short hike through a lush rain forest will reward you with a view of three cascades that fall into a deep pool that invites a dip.

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CULTURE

Heritage Fest, Tobago

Heritage Fest | Photo courtesy of Tobago Tourism

Trinidad: Carnival

The greatest show on Earth isn’t found under a big top or in Vegas. Rather, it’s the uproarious street party that happens annually through the streets of Port of Spain before Ash Wednesday. Trinidad Carnival is a weeklong celebration of African tradition and European influence combining music, dance, costumes and unrivaled Trini spirit that demands participation from onlookers. Fast-paced, ribald and exuberant, Carnival is the hallmark of Trinidadian culture.

Tobago: Heritage Festival

Although many revelers come to Tobago to relax after Carnival, Tobago hosts its own notable celebration called Tobago Heritage Festival. Held for two weeks annually at the end of July and early August, the festival showcases traditional Tobagonian culture including folklore, dance, music, 18th-century wedding rituals, boat christenings and drama. Each village presents their own aspect of Tobago history, giving a fascinating glimpse into island heritage.

BARS/CLUBS

Trinidad: Space La Nouba

Limin’—or hanging out and having a good time—is intrinsic to Trinidadian culture so nightlife is a serious part of the lifestyle. Rum shops, bars and clubs are everywhere but there are none quite like the futuristic Space La Nouba. Chrome railings, metal tubes and orange, purple and blue padded walls create an otherworldly spaceship atmosphere. An elaborate light show, pumpin’ techno tunes and Champagne Fridays make it the place to be.

Tobago: The Shade

An open-air club with the same relaxed vibe that you find on the rest of the island, The Shade draws crowds with several DJs playing a mix of dancehall, soca and pop hits. Come after midnight if you want to party with the locals.

Tagged: Caribbean, Destinations

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

Rosalind is a writer/author/blogger/teacher based in Chicago. She covers travel, lifestyle and arts topics and her credits include Salon, Hemispheres, Miami Herald, Woman's Day, Brides, Midwest Living, Go Magazine, Bravo Jet Set and The Rough Guide to Women Travel. Follow her hyphenated adventures with her blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, as well as on Twitter and Instagram @FarsightedGirl.
Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

@farsightedgirl

Journalist, author & blogger of #travel, culture, #music & fashion.#binder Lover of passion fruit. Climber of volcanoes. Teacher of #journalism. SATW Member
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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates
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