Trinidad in 5 Days: What to See, Eat & Do

I visited Trinidad and Tobago in December 2019 for four days and five nights. This is hardly enough time to properly see the island but I maximized every single second and left with my heart full, my taste-buds satisfied and my eyes happy. In the previous three posts, I documented the destinations I visited but glossed over details like the food and culture. This post will tie it all together and concludes my four-part Trinidad series, JUST in time for Trinidad Carnival 2020! In between J’Ouvert, Carnival Tuesday, Panorama and all the fetes, read on for how to enjoy the best of the country’s food, culture, natural landscape and built environment if you have only five days. Feel free to mix and match to create a personalized itinerary that suits your schedule and preferences.

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What to Eat 🍽️

With just under 1.4 million people, Trinidad’s population reflects their history of Amerindian settlement, European colonization, West African slavery followed by South Asian indentureship to replace the declining labour force once slavery was abolished. All these ethnic groups play an important role in Trinidadian cuisine, most notably Indo- and Afro-Trinidadian (creole). There are also small but influential Chinese and Arab populations.

Street Food

Image result for doubles stand

You CANNOT go to Trinidad without eating its street food. This can be had everywhere throughout Trinidad, but I highly recommend Queen’s Park Savannah and Maracas as two must-try spots. The Indian food is allegedly best in Debe, south Trinidad but I didn’t venture that far south on this trip. I had all my Indian food in Arima and at the Savannah, and I was quite satisfied. πŸ˜‹

  • Sizzling at every other major roadside corner is a doubles stand serving up Trinidad’s most popular street food: doubles. Doubles consists of baras (flat fried dough) filled with curried channa (chickpeas) and served with toppings like pepper, tamarind sweet sauce, and cucumber relish. It was a popular breakfast snack eaten by the Indian indentured laborers and farmers before going in the fields. It’s eaten by hand, you eat until you’re satisfied (usually after two or three) then you pay the vendor.

doubles
Doubles. It tastes and smells wonderful.
  • Wait, we’re not leaving the doubles stand just yet.  They also sell aloo pies (fried dough filled with potato), pholourie (fried dough balls dipped in tamarind sweet sauce) and kachori (basically a dense giant dough ball stuffed with chickpeas). Most of Trinidad’s steeet food comes wrapped in grease paper.

  • aloo pie.jpg
    Aloo Pie
    pholourie.jpg
    Pholourie. Similar to Jamaican fried dumplings but lighter in texture and dipped in various sweet or savoury sauces such as mango pictured above. πŸ˜‹
    kachoorie .jpg
    Kachori
  • Bake and shark is a filling sandwich consisting of a fried flatbread (bake) filled with fried pieces of shark or catfish 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. The best place is to get it is at Maracas Beach, thank me later. πŸ˜‹

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    Bake and shark, yum! πŸ˜‹
  • Gyros are everywhere, a testament to the Arabic influence.

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    A gyro. Photo Credit: Escoffier
  • Souse is made from pig, cow or chicken feet and seasoned with onion, garlic, salt, pimento, scotch bonnet peppers, lemon and chadon beni. It is served warm (mostly) or slightly chilled (room temperature).

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    Chicken foot souse. Photo Credit: Metemgee
  • Hit up the soup vendor. If (s)he has corn soup, buy it. πŸ˜‹

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    Corn soup. Photo Credit: Foodie Nation
  • Chow is made with fruit, salt, pepper and various spices, most notably chadon beni, but the fruit is really the star of the show. Chow can be made with otaheite apples (pomerac), unripe mangoes, june plum (pommecythere) and pineapples.
  • You must have a snow-cone from a vendor around the Savannah. It’s sooo refreshing! Once you’re not lactose-intolerant or anything, pay the TT$2 extra for one with milk added.
  • Indoor Dining

    You know the country must have more than street food, right? The street food got me very excited, but let’s sit and continue eating our way through Trinidad.

    • Pelau, a popular rice dish

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    Pelau. Photo Credit: Homemade Zagat
  • Macaroni pie
  • Corn pie, made with cornmeal and evaporated milk among other things.

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    Corn Pie. Photo Credit: Jehan Can Cook
  • Callaloo is a side dish (nothing like what we call callaloo in Jamaica!) made of young dasheen leaves, okra, crab or pigtails, pumpkin, onions, coconut milk, pimento and spices like of course chadon beni. Callaloo is often served with cornmeal coo coo, plantain, cassava, sweet potatoes, dumplings or rice. NB- There are no callaloo leaves in Trini’s callaloo y’all!

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    Photo Credit: I Love Being Caribbean
  • Curried duck is popular and served with roti or rice. Local curried duck cooking competitions are often held with multiple variations being created.
  • On that note, roti is common everywhere and the two varieties are buss up shot (flaky shredded roti, like a busted up shirt? lol) and dhalpuri. Roti is commonly eaten with curry.

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    Buss up shot
  • Pastelles, but this is more homemade and usually just at Christmas. The dough is cornmeal, the filling usually beef and is cooked inside a banana leaf. It’s like the savoury cousin of Jamaican “blue drawers.”Image result for pastelle
  • Beverages

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    The smashup of small malta = “smalta” is so genius!
    • Have a Carib beer and for true beer-lovers, a Stag, the stronger of the two Trini local lagers.
    • Sorrel (in Jamaica we add ginger while Trinis add cloves, an interesting difference). Also, do try a Carib sorrel shandy (but Jamaican Red Stripe sorrel beer is killing the competition).
    • Ponche de creme, a Trini version of eggnog with rum added and drunk at Christmastime. This was amazing!

    Image result for ponche de creme
    Ponche de creme. Photo Credit: The Trinidad Guardian
  • Mauby, a bitter drink made from the mauby bark which not even the strongest sweetener can mask. Everything else mentioned above is lovely but this one is an acquired taste I didn’t spend any time trying to acquire. In fact, I take it back. Don’t try this one or you’ll wind up becoming the amusement of Trinidadians who will laugh at you then staunchly defend their drink.
  • What to See & Do

    Image result for maracas lookout trinidad

    Trinidad’s terrain is a mixture of rugged mountains and wide plains which lead to beautiful beaches. The Northern Range runs parallel with the north coast, and contains the country’s highest peak, El Cerro del Aripo, which is 940 metres (3,080 ft) above sea level. The rest of the island is generally flatter. The east coast is noted for its beaches, most notably Manzanilla Beach, a hatch site for the leather-back turtle. Trinidad and Tobago lies on the continental shelf of South America, and is believed to have been physically connected to the South American mainland centuries ago. Thus, its biological diversity is unlike that of most other Caribbean islands, and has much more in common with that of Venezuela, giving rise to ocelots, deer, capuchin and red howler monkeys, the caiman, iguanas and geckos. With a tropical maritime climate, the main ecosystems are: coastal (coral reefs, mangrove swamps, open ocean and seagrass beds), forest, freshwater (rivers and streams), karst, secondary forest and savanna.

    Here are some sights worth seeing:

    1. Spend a day exploring the capital Port-of-Spain on foot. Visit the:
      • Emperor Valley Zoo and feed the giraffes! emperorvalleyzoo.jpg
      • Royal Botanic Gardens and admire the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers. Have a snowcone too. royal botanic garden5.jpg
      • Queen’s Park Savannah, or just di Savannah for short. Visit just after sundown and eat all the food you can! Of course, the savannah will look different during Carnival season but I’m sure revellers eat too so the food may be even more abundant than during my December trip.

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    Circular road, the Savannah and the skyscrapers of Port of Spain in the distance.
  • National Academy for Performing Arts (NAPA) and admire the architectural masterpiece. napa north tt.jpg
  • Memorial Park and have a moment of silence for the fallen Trinidadian soldiers who fought in the World Wars.
  • National Museum and Art Gallery of T&Tnatgaltt.jpg
  • Maracas Beach, Trinidad’s most popular beach with the best bake and shark in the island. Maracas is beautiful but it’s commercialized and crowded.

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    Maracas Beach

    Some other great beaches worth checking out include the Las Cuevas, Blanchisseuse, Manzanilla, Quinam and Macqueripe Beaches.

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    Elle admiring Las Cuevas Beach
  •  Hike to their highest point: El Cerro del Aripo.
  • Visit the Pitch Lake, the world’s largest naturally occurring deposit of asphalt.

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    The Pitch Lake. Photo Credit: Lonely Planet.
  • Visit a mud volcano. There are about a dozen to choose from, mainly in the interior and southern end of the island.
  • Their waterfalls! I don’t think Trinidad has any commercialized waterfalls the way we do in Jamaica, so most if not all require a bit of hiking with a lovely reward at the end. Check out Turure Water Steps, Paria, Rio Seco, Avocat and Argyle Falls.

  • admiring turure water steps
    Turure Water Steps
  • Learn more about the country’s Amerindian history at the Cleaver Woods Park in Arima.
  • Take a boat tour of the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, especially near sunset, and admire the National Bird of Trinidad and Tobago, the magnificent scarlet ibis, in its natural habitat.

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    Scarlet ibises in flight at the Caroni Swamp. Photo Credit: Repeating Islands.
  • Visit the Yerette Hummingbird Sanctuary and get a chance to view 13 of their 17 native hummingbird species. Did you know Trinidad is called the Land of the Hummingbird?
  • Hit up the malls and amusement parks! I was pretty impressed. For such a small country, they have humongous plazas and malls bearing nearly every single American fast food franchise you can think of. The two I checked out were Cinnabon for their delicious cinnamon rolls and of course Haagen Dazs for their icecream since we have neither of the two franchises in Jamaica. My favourite mall was Trincity. You could literally spend an entire day there and not get bored.
  • Wrap Up

    There you have it, the best of the twin island republic summed up into one post minus Carnival and its history, and of course Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago is the birthplace of Carnival so I’d love to play Mas here one day and experience the fetes and competitions which make Trini Carnival unique. Hopefully I can have time to check out Tobago on that trip along with a few other new sights in Trinidad. If you’re playing Mas this year, I hope you caught this post in time. Let me know which foods and sights are your favourites in the comments.

    Thanks for reading. ‘Til next time.


    Until the next post, catch Elle on Facebook and Pinterest. (Elle is currently on an indefinite Instagram break).

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    Published by

    Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle

    Adventures from Elle is a blog for locals & visitors who want to experience the best of Jamaica, one adventure at a time. Also a budget travel blog, Adventures from Elle is written by Rochelle Knight, a junior doctor who began this blog as a student & wants to see the world, starting with her own country. She frequents off-the-beaten-path waterfalls, beaches and places with interesting history. Join her in Jamaica!

    46 thoughts on “Trinidad in 5 Days: What to See, Eat & Do

    1. Wow, not only the places look absolutely stunning, the food too seems delicious! It must be so hard to choose which thing to get as everything sounds and looks amazing 😍 This really made me hungry ahah! Thanks a lot for sharing 😊

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Wow it seems like you had a good time.

      PS. Even though I have never been to Trinidad (unless you count a connecting flight) I have heard of most of those dishes. I guess its just because every island has a slight variation of something like that. Also dhalpuri is one of my favourite things to eat [the older indian deneration in St.lucia does it]

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s great. The eastern Caribbean seems to have a lot in common when it comes to food, because most of these dishes were new to me even though I’ve heard the names in passing before from Trini classmates or tried a few from a Trini restaurant we have near to UWI Mona in Jamaica.

        Like

      1. Really? That’s pretty interesting. Chow refers to food in Jamaica, but not any food in particular, just a meal in general like breakfast or lunch. In Jamaica, we use ‘nyam’ the way you use ‘chow’ to mean eat. And you’re right, it’s amazing how much there is to learn. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    3. I was born and lived in T&T until I was 24. I lived in the US more than I did in Trinidad. Looking at all that Trini food has me really wanting some right now! Beautiful country but not what it was when I lived there from the 60s through the mid 80s. The current Trinidad I have no desire to visit at all. I do really miss the food tho. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I believe Trinidad is still worth a trip even if it differs from your younger memories, and crime, corruption etc. is worse. That’s the only way you’re going to get all that great food again πŸ™‚ at least authentic, plus much like Jamaica, you can experience a vacation entirely untouched by the country’s issues if you stay in the safer neighborhoods or at a hotel. It’s even better if you still have close family in T&T. I also am of the belief that you should help out your country if you’re able to, in whatever way possible, even if you’re reluctant to live there now for whatever reason.

        Thanks for reading and sharing as well. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    4. Great post about Trinidad my lovely! More I read about Trinidad, more I am convinced that we need to come back to explore this lovely island. When we visited Tobago, everyone said to us that we should not go to Trinidad as it is very industrial and the locals are not friendly. I guess, we made a mistake.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Really? It’s sad that they discouraged you from visiting the main island. I guess that’s how many Jamaicans would tell people to stay away from Jamaica because of the crime, corruption etc. yet the island’s tourism is still booming and Jamaica can be a paradise if you choose the right places to visit and also have the funds to experience the best of the island. There’s always beauty in the places people say not to visit and I guess perspective is everything. πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading πŸ€—

        Liked by 1 person

    5. Wow! What a post! So filled with such edibles and places to visit. Trinidad can be enjoyed in just 5 days as you have proven and sounds like a place to add to the bucket list, among other CARICOM countries. Thanks as always for sharing.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Thank you so much for reading! I hope you get to visit one day. πŸ™‚ It’s a lovely country with many similarities to Jamaica and interesting differences which were fun to experience. I know of the alleged Jamaican-Trini rife and while I won’t discount the negative experiences of several Jamaicans at Piarco Int’l or even Grantley Adams airport in Barbados, I thankfully had a pleasant experience at customs and throughout my time there. I hope those experiences which make news are few and far between (plus we know our people can galang bad overseas sometimes and make things bad for themselves).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Jamaicans do tend to show us in a negative light at times. Regardless of the strife, I plan to start my way around the CARICOM real soon and enjoy those other beautiful Caribbean countries. By the way, you mentioned Barbados, did you travel through there to get to Trinidad?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No, I mentioned it based on what I’ve heard but I had a straight flight to Trinidad. All flights from Jamaica to Barbados however stop in Trinidad first. And that’s true, sometimes I’m appalled at the things our people do overseas but I guess if we can’t always control them here, is it really shocking?

        My return flight had a one hour stop in St. Martin/Maarten though which allowed me to see almost all the islands from air, unlike my first flight which just flew over the Caribbean Sea. It was lovely looking at the map in the airline magazine and then looking out the window and seeing it down below. The pilot also pointed out the islands. I’m not sure if that’s typical of every flight but I really enjoyed that portion. Guadeloupe was easily identifiable with its butterfly shape and St. Lucia with the Pitons. It would make me choose Caribbean Airlines again. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Caribbean Airlines has been my airline of choice coming from New York, they have a flight that departs New York at just after 2 am and get me to Jamaica by 6, and I can get home with the entire day to spare. I know the pilots are very friendly so this is probably why they pointed out all the islands to the passengers. Was it a full flight? Fantastic that you were able to see those other islands from the air, now you can plan your next trip based on what you saw and the ones you would like to see next.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’ve visited St. Lucia once and enjoyed. We stayed in the southern part of the island and had great views at almost every turn. I do like to support Caribbean but depending on where I am flying from in teh US, this becomes very difficult. Caribbean Airlines doesn’t fly from Atlanta, where I used to live, so I had to go Delta. The Jamaican population continues to grown in Atlanta and Delta is the only airline that offers non-stop flights to Kingston from there. So, Caribbean Airlines…if you’re reading, shouldn’t Atlanta be on your mind when you’re considering expansion? Just saying.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. That’s great! And ha, I’d be so flattered if this blog, article or even the comment section ever catches the eye of someone from Caribbean airlines in the future. But that would be great if they expanded to Atlanta one day. I can think of at least 2 persons I know with that struggle too.

        Liked by 1 person

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