Trinidad

There’s no better way to bring in the new year than on the beach. So I wished and prayed on it, and two days before ringing in 2017, I found myself at the Piarco International Airport in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The experience was everything that I hoped it would be... and then some; paradise had taken on a new form for me.

While exploring the country, it is highly recommended to rent a car.  Beware, though, the roads are dangerous, wild dogs own the highways, and the drive to the beaches from Port of Spain is like a wild crazy taxi ride elevating  +4000 feet above sea level by each bend. It’s only 90 miles to the very popular Maracas Beach, which is about an hour drive (depending on how you drive on the left side of the road) on a two-way narrow road alongside the Trini mountains. Small cars are better than large Range Rovers to get to the beach, but it doesn’t mean you won’t be greeted by hungry wild dogs that will try to end your life by darting in front of your car because they are in search of food and water. Maracas Beach has everything you would want for a beach; Bake and Shark ( fried shark served on doughy bread with lots of Indian toppings), chair and beach towel rentals, a nice ocean sound, the perfect waves to jump over,  a relatively clean public bathroom, a parking lot and a bar!

 

Drive a few kilometers further from Maracas Beach and you will get to Las Cuevas beach, which is located in one of the coves on the side of the Trinidad. This beach doesn’t have many amenities, but a bathroom. The view is breathtaking! I perched on the stone wall leading down to the beach and observed hummingbirds flying over my head. 

 The view from the rest stop half way to the beaches. 

The view from the rest stop half way to the beaches. 

 Caroni Bird Sanctuary Swamp Tour

Caroni Bird Sanctuary Swamp Tour

In regard to nature, I only came to bird watch. The Caroni Bird Sanctuary consist of a two-hour long swamp tour on rickety wooden boats, through a narrow swamp around dusk.   The Caroni Swamp is a major roosting place for the Scarlet Ibis, which are a part of the flamingo family. They are so beautiful in flocks. They all gather on this one untouched region of Trinidad that can only be seen by boat on this specific tour. The birds fly in flocks to this inhabitable island and you’re just on a wooden boat watching them all fly over your head to feed and mate, and I guess, see them in their natural habitat. It’s so relaxing and exciting! We all just sat quietyly and watched hundreds of red flamigos fly from all different directions to unite at this one location. 

 Hiking with the Asa Wright Nature Reserve Guides

Hiking with the Asa Wright Nature Reserve Guides

Another dangerous drive to Arima on Trini roads will lead you to The Asa Wright Nature Reserve. I always wanted to see Hummingbirds up close, and as soon as I got here, they were flying all over my head. I felt like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, except my rescurer is a bit more handsome.

 

Now,  Macqueripe Bay was by far the most dramatic experience in paradise and not only because it’s a scene for a religious baptism or because I actually witnessed a young Trini drown and die from cliff jumping, but because the water gets super deep with a few steps in from the shore line. The drive to Macqueripe Bay Beach is along the scenic western coastline of Trinidad. You have to drive through the Chaguaramas Golf Course, where I was told the wild Monkeys on the island frequent at 5am to eat food from the dumpsters. Macquaripe Beach is only for good swimmers. You walk out and the water is instantly at your waist, swim a few feet and you are fully treading in 30 feet of water. As my travel partner and I waded in the water, we were surrounded by dozens of locals and it was a wakeup call.  Forget lifeguards, the locals here just wanna relax and enjoy their beach day. They were dressed in their finest beach attire; thick gold necklaces and skimpy bathing suits,  amongst whole families eating buckets of KFC on the sand. As I watched a few locals dragged this poor boy out of the water and onto the dock (He was knocked unconscious underwater after jumping off a nearby cliff into an area of the bay filled with rocks even though there are clearly warning signs to not cliff jump!) , I felt helpless. I had no phone to call 911 and so I immediately lost my appetite for swimming in Paradise. It was baffling to see that people were still swimming in the bay and even cliff jumping as the friends of this poor unconscious boy performed CPR to no avail.  In America, the lifeguards would have ordered everyone out of the water. But sometimes there’s trouble in paradise and there are no rules. Everything that's beautiful is not always good for you. All I really needed to ring in 2017 was a reality check on the beach with bae.