With profuse floral growth (700 varieties of orchids alone) and a diverse population, South African Bishop
Trinidad and Tobago
These two unique Caribbean siblings, southernmost outposts of the West Indies, sit slightly north of Venezuela (11km or 6.75 miles) amidst the Windward Islands.
People themselves are an attraction in Trinidad, the most cosmopolitan island in the Caribbean with Syrians, Chinese, Americans, Europeans, East Indians, Parsees, Madrasis, Venezuelans, and the last of the original Amerindian settlers along with Hindustanis, Javanese, Lebanese, African descendants, and Creole mixes.
With its colourful
, Trinidad is larger and more animated, having fashioned its
(asphalt) into one of the region's most industrialized economies. Its bountiful countryside and vast forest preserves and marshland are mainly off the charts for most tourists. In comparison, Tobago, 30km (19 miles) miles northeast, offers cozy resorts, picture-postcard beaches and a stunning marine environment. In fact, locals suggest that one allow 2 days for sightseeing and shopping in Trinidad, and then the rest of your holiday for Tobago's beaches.
Through recording artists,
, calypso music, soca music and steelpan are what Trinidad and Tobago were best known for in the 50s. Along with folk songs and African and Indian-based classical forms, indigenous music includes soca, rapso, chutney, and other derivative and fusion styles. On Trinidad, the city's nightclubs offer a lively mix of the throbbing island beat.
, Trinidad's capital, a $2-million cruise ship complex makes this a major port of call for Caribbean cruise lines. Check out the impressive turn-of-the-20th-century mansions called the "Magnificent Seven" along with Trinidad's clutter of shopping bazaars. For nature appreciation, a 90-minute drive north, the
Asa Wright Nature Centre & Lodge
, draws birdwatchers with its
exhibit, the only nocturnal fruit-eating bird. At the
Caroni Bird Sanctuary
, (there are 400 species of birds) boat tours bring visitors within viewing distance of the
rare scarlet ibis
, and the
. Off shore, divers discover the world's largest known brain coral, as well as rocky canyons and deep caves populated with barracudas, dolphins, whale sharks, orange ball anemones, porpoises and manta rays.
The Spanish founded Trinidad, 80km (50 miles) long and 65km (40 miles) wide in 1592 and held it longer than their other Caribbean real estate. The English settled Tobago in 1642 and captured Trinidad in 1797. Both islands remained in British hands until independence in 1962 with British influence remaining visible through both dialect and a fondness for cricket.
The two islands, connected by frequent flights, Tobago's beaches, (a honeymooner's paradise), are home to film crews and travel brochure photographers and they include the best strips of sand in the southern Caribbean from
Lovers' Beach to Englishman's Bay
. Tobago offers forests of breadfruit, mango, cocoa, and citrus and unlike bustling Trinidad, Tobago (43km or 27 miles long and 12km or 7.5 miles wide) is quite sleepy. Trinidadians arrive on weekends to enjoy the legendary home of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. The main port, Scarborough, is its nondescript capital located on the southern coast, surrounded by mountains.
Food is fun here with abundant choice from Chinese, Lebanese, French, Italian, Indian, Thai and local cuisine.
Airports serving the two islands are Trinidad's Piarco International Airport (POS), 17 miles from Port of Spain and Tobago's Crown Point Airport, (TAB), 7 miles from Scarborough. Flying times are: Barbados: 35 minutes, Miami: 3.5 hours, Toronto: 5.75 hours. Average temperature (high & low) in winter is 30 & 21 degrees C. Yum!
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review, Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine.
Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Development Corporation
Trinidad and Tobago, officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is an island country off the northern edge of South America, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles.
The country covers an area 5,128 square kilometres (1,980 sq mi) and consists of two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, with numerous smaller landforms. The two main islands are divided into nine regions, and one ward. Sangre Grande is the largest region of the country's nine regions, comprising about 18 percent of the total area and 10 percent of the total population of the country. The nation lies outside the hurricane belt.
Trinidad and Tobago is known for its Carnival and is the birthplace of steelpan, calypso, soca, chutney and limbo.