Northern Trinidad is home to several beaches, inlets and bays. I beach-hopped at two beaches located roughly an hour’s drive from the capital Port-of-Spain. Maracas Beach is Trinidad’s most famous beach and rightfully so. It’s a long beautiful stretch of coastline touted as the best spot to get bake and shark, a local fried fish sandwich topped with various condiments and popularly eaten at the beach. However, visiting the most popular beach equals a crowd, thus it’s worth checking out its more peaceful and equally as scenic sister a mere five minutes’ drive away, Las Cuevas Beach.
You can trust Google Maps for directions to Maracas. The road winds through Trinidad’s Northern Mountain Range which extends from the Chaguaramas peninsula on the west coast to Toco in the east. Drive carefully. There are two lovely lookout points along the drive. I can’t exactly direct you to them but if you notice the road widens and there are parked cars and people oohing and aahing while looking out into the distance, that’s probably one of the spots.
I wish I’d stopped at the second, known as Maracas Lookout Point but by then my boyfriend and his father’s AirBnB guests were weary of the drive and just wanted to reach! We forgot all about the intention to stop on the way back too, so just enjoy this stock photo instead. 😅😬
Would you believe all their beaches are free? Yes, there are no entry fees to any Trini beach for neither local nor foreigner, unlike in Jamaica. That’s exactly how a country should develop their natural environment, but I digress. Maracas is commercialized, as using their changing rooms, bathrooms, deckchairs and umbrellas come at a not-so-unreasonable fee. I changed in the car and we rented chairs so we’d have a place to leave our things when we went in the water. Maracas has an extensive car-park which is free to use, and since the main road passes right next to the car park, you really can’t miss the beach. There’s no turn off to it, it’s right there.
Several things struck me about this beach at once. 1) It was larger than I expected stretching on for about 2km. 2) It was jam-packed! People were scattered about like ants so it wasn’t possible to get a single photo of the beach’s general ambiance without people in the background! It was the holiday season, true, but it was a weekday and not a public holiday. Where all these people come from? You’d think the island only has one beach. I couldn’t help smiling at thought of how my mom would love this place for the exact reason I slightly disliked it. I love my water bodies emptier, sorry. 😅😬 3) The waves were rougher than I was used to. The only time I’d experienced waves that rough was in 2018 at Gut River‘s beach but like then, I wasn’t mad at that at all. The waves were too rough for any kind of water-sport, except perhaps surfing, BUT you didn’t miss the water-sports because dodging the waves and occasionally failing miserably was so fun! It was awesome testing my physical strength against the power of the water and seeing the sheer magnificence of it. The water is quite shallow for far out.
Maracas is absolutely beautiful! I had a wonderful time and it ranks up there as one of my top 2019 experiences, as did my previous day in Port of Spain. You’re already sold on Maracas as a must-see Trini spot right? Great, but there’s more.
Bake and shark is street-food ambrosia.
Bake and shark is street-food ambrosia and the best place to have it is at Maracas! The shark is caught in the offshore surf, but since several shark species are currently endangered, many stalls use substitutes such as catfish. Bake and shark is a filling sandwich consisting of a fried flatbread (bake) filled with fried pieces of shark meat and topped with various other ingredients and sauces. Before frying, the shark meat is either seasoned with a herb blend and breaded, or marinated in a mix of lemon juice, onion, garlic, thyme and pepper. Popular additional ingredients are lettuce, coleslaw, tomatoes, pineapple and liquid condiments such as mustard, ketchup, garlic sauce, chili sauce and chadon beni (culantro) sauce. Chadon (pronounced shadow) beni sauce is it guys! It! You pay for the plain bake and shark sandwich then add as much or as little as you’d like afterwards at the toppings and condiments station. I ate at Richard’s since I heard his stall was the best, and given the crowd I can believe that. I added lettuce, cucumber, pineapple, garlic sauce, chadon beni, pepper, ketchup, mustard and a little cole slaw. Yum!
Las Cuevas Beach
After the bake and shark, we were ready to hop to the next beach. Up the road just two minutes’ away is Maracas Bay, basically a more secluded extension of the same beach. We only looked then headed on to the real destination: Las Cuevas. The name of this beach and other place names give insight into Trinidad’s more lasting Spanish influence. The Spanish spent more than a century longer in Trinidad compared to Jamaica, with Britain not assuming ownership of the island until 1797.
Las Cuevas translates to the caves in English; caves we did not find but a beautiful empty beach we did! The beach is easy to miss from the road as you can’t drive directly up to it like you can at Maracas, so look out for these odd-looking barriers below. Park as close to them as you can then walk to the beach (less than 5 minutes’ walk).
Northern Trinidad is home to some beautiful beaches definitely worth a stop if you’re ever in the island. I hope you enjoyed part 3 of my Trinidad series. Catch part 1 (Turure Falls) and part 2 (Exploring Port-of-Spain) here. Check out my Trini highlights on Instagram too, and until the next and final post in the series, walk good. 👣