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Trinidad & Tobago Travel Journal

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I just spent nine days in T&T and I thought I'd share my impressions, etc. with the readers of fodors.com.

My trip began with a couple of days at the Hilton Trinidad & Conference Center. Although the hotel is considered the nicest one in the Port-of-Spain area, please remember that this is Trinidad. The standards are lower. The service was pretty poor, but it was nice to be (relatively) near the airport.

Port-of-Spain is a bit of an industrial wasteland. There are some beautiful buildings (especially the seven mansions lining the western side of the city's park), but there's not much of interest.

The highlight of my two days was a trip to the Asa Wright Nature Centre. As your taxi driver climbs higher and higher into the mountains, you know you're in for a real treat. The Centre is home to 160 different species of birds. While I was there, I came face-to-face (more or less) with daring hummingbirds on the Centre's rustic veranda as well as a boa constrictor. The admission fee includes a tour (twice daily) led by a knowledgable guide.

After two days, I headed to Tobago. I spent three days at the Blue Mango in Castara (about 40 minutes from the airport). My friends and I stayed in the Sweet Point Cottage and had a breathtaking view of Castara Bay. Because it is the wet season, be prepared for lots o' bugs (hence the mosquito netting on each bed). I used a spray for my clothing (applied prior to arriving) and brought a topical cream with 20% DEET. That, more or less, seemed to work. The Blue Mango's restaurant, The Clay Kitchen, had pretty good food. As you drive to and fro the beaches along this side of Tobago, you'll discover different places to have lunch and dinner.

The beaches along this section of Tobago, including Castara Bay, Englishman's Bay, Parlatuvier Bay, and Bloody Bay were great. We preferred Castara since it was within walking distance and had a beautiful coral reef to explore.

After three days in Castara, we headed to Speyside, one of the Caribbean's best diving locations. We spent four days at the Manta Lodge and were pleasantly surprised. The Lodge is directly across the street from a beach (perfect for early evening strolls, but not swimming) and has a swimming pool and a nice restaurant. The staff was very friendly and the owner, Clyde, makes a MEAN pina colada! We quickly "discovered" Pirate's Bay and headed there each of the four days. Although it's a reputed 165 stairs to and from the beach, it is well worth the effort. There were never more than ten people on the entire beach and there are easily 20 different kinds of fish, etc. to be seen. We took a glass bottom boat ride to Little Tobago (Frank has a booth in the parking lot of the overrated Blue Waters Inn), a birdwatcher's paradise of an island just east of Speyside. Along the way, they stop so that you can view one of the world's largest brain corals. Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond series, built a home on the nearby Goat Island. Although it's private property, it makes for a nice picture or two (from a distance).

If you're interested in "the road less traveled," then Tobago is for you. The beaches were quiet and the people were nice. If you enjoy the commercial islands of the Bahamas or Jamaica, etc., then Tobago is (probably) not for you.

That's all for now!

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