Trinidad is one of the most diverse islands in the Caribbean. Its metropolitan areas are vibrant and it has a great range of natural features to explore. The lush northern coast, with its golden beaches, picture-book crescent bays and stunning headlands is backed by densely forested mountains where there is good hiking and excellent turtle watching.
Elsewhere there are swamps, mangroves and wetlands, home to innumerable birds – from tiny hummingbirds to the magnificent scarlet ibis – and other creatures such as manatee or caiman. Another range of hills runs down the centre of the island and along the south. Forest reserves protect wildlife, preserving habitats and biological diversity. In the south are unusual geological features such as the Pitch Lake, a huge area of tar, and active mud volcanoes.
Trinidad, with its oil and gas industries, is the economic powerhouse of the twin island nation, and its people work hard and play hard. It is the more extrovert of the two islands, full of energy, from sports to nightlife. Sprawling Port of Spain is the heart of business and finance but the city is known for its cultural and artistic creativity, most dynamically witnessed in Carnival, where music, dance, colour, shape and form whirl together in the parades and parties. Calypso, soca and steel pan were all created here; the urban streets throb with rhythm and beat, while the latest calypsos are matters for debate and political commentary.
Unlike most islands in the Caribbean, Trinidad is not dependent on tourism for income and job creation. There are several top-notch hotels in Port of Spain, but these mainly cater to business travellers, and there are no all-inclusive tourist resorts or holiday-type enclaves. As a result, the opportunity here is to appreciate the genuine warmth of the people and experience Trinidadian life at its own pace and style.