Looking to get your adventure on? A wee bit wary of ‘big thrill’ type activities? Then Trinidad and Tobago is the place to be. One of the world’s top eco destinations, these islands offer a host of adventures that are designed to challenge and excite, leaving you with a healthy glow and enough energy to make the most of your downtime.
For the person who wants to get out there and experience the destination in a fun, educational but stress-free way, soft adventure is just the thing. Activities such as zip lining above the rainforest canopy, kayaking through protected swampland, hiking along mountain trails, cocoa plantation jeep tours, drift diving and animal expeditions to see rare ocelots and even rarer Pawi, are just a few of the amazing soft adventures one can enjoy on the islands.
Zip lining is a relatively new experience in Trinidad and Tobago, and it’s been a success ever since its launch in 2013 by the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA). Part of the CDA’s boardwalk development initiative for the northwest peninsula, the zip line offers adventurers of all ages a quick adrenaline rush high above the forest canopy and the swimmer friendly Macqueripe Bay.
For adventure seekers who want to keep their feet firmly on the ground, another favourite pastime is hiking. With hiking clubs offering organised weekend walks on trails ranging from easy to “ok-give-me-five-minutes to recover”, hiking is a great option for families or groups of friends; especially since the dual-island republic boasts four forested mountain ranges. Many hikers make a cook-out or picnic of it and the payoff usually comes when the group discovers a hidden waterfall or secluded beach, a most delightful reward for a few hours’ efforts.
For water babies seeking more aquatic exploits, there are many wet adventures to be had. Drift diving along Tobago’s famous reefs ought to be on every nature lover’s bucket list as the coral and marine life are some of the rarest in the world. Horseback riding in the surf is very new and only available in Tobago, but if you have a penchant for adventure, then rent a kayak and share some space with the rare West Indian Manatee. Want to up the ante? Take to Tobago’s wild waves for body surfing, wind surfing or a nocturnal bioluminescent stand up paddleboarding tour.
Nature lovers seeking to commune with the environment, without compromising creature comforts, can enjoy the Caribbean’s best bird and turtle watching without leaving their lodge. At the world renowned Asa Wright Nature Centre, visitors can watch up-close a plethora of winged and four-legged beasties from a comfy recliner under a shady veranda. If you are looking for more of a challenge, feel free to venture from the restful confines of the gracious colonial home for a leisurely stroll along one of the many trails that criss-cross the property’s ground. Keep those binoculars handy as you never know what you’ll see.
Other than open eyes, no special viewing equipment is necessary when visiting Yerette, home of the most beautiful and rarest of Hummingbirds that inhabit Trinidad. Dr Theo Ferguson and his wife Gloria have created a haven for hummingbirds in their garden. They have played host to a long list of dignitaries fascinated by the pint-sized beauties, including China’s first lady Peng Liyuan, and you too can sit on the terrace with a cup of tea while enjoying the hummingbirds’ buzzing wings and iridescent exquisiteness.
At the Pointe a Pierre Wild Fowl Trust, a leisurely stroll along a well maintained path guarantees up-close views of peacocks, ducks and exotic wild fowl. But even more amazing, this wildlife reserve sits in the heart of an oil refinery, making it the only one of its kind in the world. Another protected birdwatchers haven is the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, where at sunset, visitors can relax in large, flat bottomed boats while taking in the spectacular sight of thousands of roosting Scarlet Ibis among the dense mangrove.
Another spectacular spectacle takes place on beaches along Trinidad’s northeast coast every March to August. A long-time conservation cause célèbre in Trinidad and Tobago, the nesting of leatherback turtles occurs on only a few beaches around the world, and you guessed it, T&T’s coastlines are amongst the chosen. Book one of the beachfront properties and you need not get out of bed to witness the phenomena.
For those interested in mixing their adventures with history and science, a trip to the Gasparee Caves are well worth the boat ride and hike to the cave entrance. The cave system features stunning stone formations, stalactites, stalagmites, sink holes and a deep crystal pool that shimmers with reflected light, and it is just one of several tours offered by the CDA that both educate and entertain.
Of course no trip to Trinidad and Tobago would be complete without a visit to the uber famous Pitch Lake, the world’s largest natural asphalt deposit and the eighth wonder of the world. Walk on the wrinkled greyish surface or call at the museum exhibit in the Visitor Centre which explores the lake’s origins and the myths that surround its creation.
With so many options, T&T’s soft adventure activities are rapidly becoming a must-do for both locals and visitors.
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Photos courtesy the Tourism Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited.