Blanchisseuse beach © Andy
The island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, known colloquially as 'TNT', consists of the two southernmost Caribbean islands, which are geologically an extension of the South American continent. While the two islands are vastly different in character, together they offer the best of everything one can expect from a Caribbean experience.
Trendy Trinidad, site of the bustling capital Port of Spain, is sophisticated, cosmopolitan and culturally diverse, its vibrancy reflected in its main attraction, the annual Carnival. Locals spend most of the year preparing for the lavish February fling which is an orgy of calypso music and dance, steel bands, food, dazzling costumes and marvellous floats. The chic capital, with its colonial architecture and modern high-rise towers, continually hums with colourful markets, bazaars, and malls, with a mish-mash of Gothic cathedrals, mosques and Hindu temples testifying to the diversity of cultures and creeds that throng the streets.
Those wanting a quieter experience can leave the hectic city behind and explore Trinidad's beautiful north coast beaches or hike through the forested peaks of the interior. Along the east coast nature lovers will find protected wetlands and coconut groves, while down south on this rectangular island are some enchanting fishing villages nestled near quiet, empty beaches.
A daily domestic ferry service connects Trinidad to its more laid back little sister island, Tobago, renowned for being one of the last slices of unspoilt Caribbean paradise. A typical tropical wonderland of palm-fringed beaches, verdant rainforests and sparkling coral reefs, Tobago also boasts a nature-lovers treasure trove of birds, butterflies, flowering plants and shrubs. There are 100 different mammals and 70 kinds of reptiles roaming the island, too, most famous of which is the giant leatherback turtle which nests on the magnificent leeward (north) beaches. To the south the Atlantic beats against a coast studded with fishing villages, while the hilly interior is coated with one of the world's oldest rainforest reserves.