Travel, Currency and Money saving tips for Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago are an exercise in contradiction. In Trinidad, pristine mangrove swamps and rainforested hills sit side by side with smoke-belching oil refineries and ugly industrial estates. Tobago has everything you’d expect from a Caribbean island, with palm trees and white sand aplenty, yet it’s relatively unchanged by the tourist industry. Combined, this twin-island republic offers unparalleled birdwatching; first-class diving; luxuriant rainforests perfect for hiking, waterfall swimming and cycling; and electric nightlife, with the fabulous Carnival easily the biggest and best of the region’s annual blowouts. But don’t expect anyone to hold your hand. The oil and gas industry leaves tourism low on the priority list, so it’s up to you to take a deep breath, jump in and enjoy the mix.
What currency to use in Trinidad and Tobago?
The official currency of Trinidad and Tobago is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TT$), divided into one hundred cents. Because Trinidad and Tobago are not known as a tourist destination, Trinidad and Tobago is one of the cheapest Caribbean destinations available. Banking hours vary slightly, but are usually Monday to Thursday 8am–2pm and Fridays 8am–noon and 3–5pm. There are ATMs in all cities and towns, and some machines will dispense in US dollars. ATM machines are usually well-indicated in the larger cities.
How to get around in Trinidad and Tobago?
Caribbean Airlines operates the 20-minute flight between Trinidad and Tobago (one way TT$150). The checked baggage weight allowance is one piece at up to 20kg. While it’s wise to book in advance, it is often possible to buy tickets at the airport on the day of departure. Note that flights are often subject to delays and cancellations.
Fast catamaran ferries make the 2½-hour trip between Queen’s Wharf in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and the main ferry dock in Scarborough, Tobago. It’s a cheap, comfortable way to travel (unless you’re prone to seasickness), with the added bonus of not having to get all the way to Piarco airport. The ferries have a bar, cafeteria and deck, and movies are played in the air-conditioned interior.
Buses offer travelers an inexpensive way to get around, especially on longer cross-island trips, but can be infrequent and unreliable. For shorter distances, travelers are better off taking maxi-taxis or route taxis.
Taxi cabs are simply normal passenger cars with no special markings. However, their license plates start with the letter "H". They are found at Taxi stands which may be at a street corner or at the side of the road. Taxi stands in the cities and boroughs are usually marked, but outside of the city they are not. If planning to go to the other side of the island (Trinidad), get an early start and allow the entire day with nothing important scheduled for the late afternoon. Although the island is not huge, getting somewhere can take longer than you might think.
Maxi-taxis are 12- to 25-passenger minibuses that travel along a fixed route within a specific zone. They’re color-coded by route, run 24 hours, are very cheap and are heavily used by locals. Rides cost TT$3 to TT$12, depending on how far you go. You can flag a maxi at any point along its route, or hop on at the appropriate taxi stand. Keep in mind that, due to their frequent stops, maxi-taxis can take a long time to get from A to B, though in Trinidad maxis that take the Priority Bus Route can be pretty speedy.
Travel tips for Trinidad and Tobago.
The population here is much less ethnically diverse than that of Trinidad. Tourism is much more a part of the island's economy, and you can find excellent resorts and facilities—along with pretty white-sand beaches. Trinidad is a popular location among yacht owners. Most anchor in the Chaguaramas area on the far northwest side of the island. Tobago is 23 miles (37 km) northeast of Trinidad.
The two parts of this twin-island nation in many ways couldn’t be more different. Trinidad, multicultural heartland of the southern Caribbean, is busy, developed and partly industrialised. Port of Spain, its cosmopolitan capital, lays on the Caribbean’s largest and wildest carnival – an amazing spectacle and an intense experience. Trinidad also has some of the world’s best birdwatching, notably in the rainforest at the Asa Wright Nature Centre (where you can stay), and the Caroni Bird Sanctuary swamp, a roosting spot for thousands of scarlet ibises.
For a laid-back beach holiday, go to Tobago instead. A fraction of the size of its big brother and largely unspoilt, it has lovely golden-sand beaches, along with characterful fishing villages and protected rainforest. The diving is outstanding, especially near Speyside, and Tobago also has an impressively abundant and varied avian population, best spotted in the rainforest and on Little Tobago, a seabird sanctuary.