At this point you might be wondering, “Isn’t Trinidad an island in the Caribbean? What about the beaches?” Even though our hotel was not on the beach, and Trinidad is apparently not *known* for its beaches, it certainly does have some. We were determined to see them.
We had already taken the local bus from the airport to Port of Spain upon our arrival in Trinidad. This was significant because I was highly debating renting a car in Trinidad when Elliott pointed out that it might actually be cheaper to just use local transportation for the week. Once I did a few online searches the morning of our trip (better late than never!), we figured out how the local bus worked well enough to try it. It turned out to be easy! The hardest part, in fact, was getting past all the taxi drivers and finding the locals waiting for the bus.
We were excited to try it again for our beach excursion; however, the bus had other plans that morning. We found the bus station and ticket booth and the correct bus lane, but after waiting for 20 minutes or so, a man drove up in a car and told us that the *only* morning bus to our desired beach, Maracas, had broken down. We quickly altered our plans with his help and took a different bus to a more local beach named Changuaramas.
It was a small beach, with a new boardwalk that led to a family fun area which is still being built. There were even paddle boats, but the rental place wasn’t open. We walked to the end and back and found a nice tree to sit under, and took one of those awesome beach naps.
Later we went in the water, which was filled with locals and boats, and cracked up reading the “No Loud Music” sign as one local’s loud music entertained us.
The next day was a Sunday and we planned to take the ferry to Tobago to check out the other small island portion of the country. We woke up early and walked to the ferry terminal by 6:10 for a 6:30 ferry, and were informed that the ferry was taking no more passengers. Foiled again! (And what kind of ferry requires you go get there so early? Apparently this kind. We were later informed we needed to arrive two HOURS before departure time.)
Good thing we’ve learned to be flexible… it was not even 7am but we made a new plan to try once more to get to our original destination from the day before – Maracas Beach. No local buses were running on a Sunday so we didn’t have to worry about the bus breaking down again. We used another form of transportation we’re becoming more and more familiar with. It has different names depending on the country – here it was called a MaxiTaxi, in the Dominican Republic it was called a Gua Gua. Basically you get in a van with a bunch of other people who want to go to your destination, and you pay a lot less than a taxi since there are a bunch of you. The key is that the driver will only go when enough people have filled the van. On this early Sunday morning, we sat in the van for almost an hour before leaving! But we were both really exhausted from being up so early and Elliott simply slept the time away.
This was our first time really getting out of Port of Spain, and the drive was absolutely gorgeous – so gorgeous it reminded us of the Drive to Hana in Maui, Hawaii. Lush green large-leafy plants, beautiful bright flowers, bridges over deep gorges with waterfalls on one side and the sea on the other. After having spent several days in the city, this was a really nice and surprising change of scenery. (Too bad we didn’t take any photos, but how good could they be from a moving van anyway?)
Our MaxiTaxi dropped us off on the side of the road and we could see there were two beaches we could access, divided by a bridge crossing a stream of fresh water that flows into the ocean. We walked down to the beach on the left and crossed the bridge, pausing to take it all in. This was a really pretty beach! It was filled with tons of palm trees, white sand, and no people. We found a nice shady spot to park our stuff and took naps before anyone else even arrived!
We had a great day. As it wore on, more locals appeared, but it never got very crowded. We read magazines, went for walks on the beach, swam, and took more naps. We tried a new delicious local food called Bake ‘n’ Shark, which consists of shark meat on a delicious fried flatbread, on which you can put all kinds of items from the toppings bar – cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, pineapple, garlic sauce, cilantro and Elliott’s beloved hot sauce (which is seriously hot in Trinidad). We even saved a sting ray that kept getting washed up onto the beach and couldn’t seem to beat the waves as he swam back into the water.
On our last full day, we set the alarm for the ungodly hour of 2:45am so that we could get to the ferry terminal by 4am to buy our tickets. We were asleep on our feet, but we got the tickets this time. The ferry ride was actually four hours, not the advertised three, and many of you are probably already thinking we’re insane for bothering. (You think that a lot about us, don’t you?) So let me say for the record: it was a long day, but well worth it.
Tobago turned out to be tranquil, beautiful, and everything and more than we had imagined Trinidad to be. It’s small, and the main road goes along the coast, which is full of gorgeous beaches with swaying palm trees. This is the stuff they put in magazines!
In fact, when we got to our destination of Pigeon Point, it was literally the place where many magazine covers have been photographed, with that long dock and a little gazebo at the end. See for yourself! We plan to go back to spend a week someday.
We had to return to the ferry within a few hours. Since there is only one daily trip back to Trinidad, they make you arrive so freakin’ early, and it was going to be another four hour journey. But we made the absolute best of the few hours we had. We spread out our things and walked along the curve of the beach, snapping photos of the stunning scenery and boats.
When we saw the sport rental shop, I couldn’t resist. Trinidad had been pretty cheap; maybe the rentals would be cheap too!
They were, and so Elliott quickly saw his relaxing-on-the-lovely-beach time turn into a stand-up paddle board (SUP) adventure. I have wanted to try this activity ever since it became popular several years ago, and it’s always been on the pricey side in my opinion. At this place, it was only $20 per hour! And who needs a lesson? We have good balance and we know how to use a paddle in a boat – how hard could it be?
The vendor gave us the very basics and wished us luck. And I have to say, it was one of my most enjoyable hours in a long time. I felt like a native sea person, trying to move myself through the sea…. It was fun and silly and we both fell off a few times, which was great since it was so hot out. And what a workout! You’ve gotta try it if you’re the outdoorsy, fitness-y ocean type, or even if you’re not and you just want to try something new and different.
Our first attempts…
Now we’ve got the hang of it!
Bravely trying some yoga poses…
(If you want to see some live action, check out this video.) It was one of those fabulous, amazing days you wish could never end, or could at least repeat themselves over and over! But alas, we did have to return on the ferry.