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Three Perfect Days: Trinidad and Tobago

This Caribbean nation proudly celebrated 50 years of independence in 2012—but with its sublime landscapes, sensational food, riotously fun nightlife and vibrant culture drawing a new generation of appreciative visitors, the best is yet to come

Author Sam Polcer Photography Sam Polcer

Lunch at No Man’s Land

Picture 3 of 12

DAY THREE There are two things open for breakfast at this ungodly hour: the fruit bowl in your room and, to your delight, a doubles stand just outside the hotel. At the latter, you grab a few to go. Also close by: the ferry terminal, from which you embark on a two-and-a-half-hour voyage to the port town of Scarborough, Tobago.

Upon your arrival, a taxi takes you to your accommodations at The Villas at Stonehaven, where you check in, drop your bags, inspect the Jeep that’s been arranged for your stay, discover a private infinity pool out back with a view of the ocean, and fall in love with the beauty of it all.

After bonding with a neighborhood cat who’s figured out that vacationers give good leftovers, you tear yourself away from the pool and drive west to Pigeon Point for a private cruise along the island’s Caribbean coast. Your Tobago Waterholics captain insists, repeatedly, upon being called “Captain Jack Sparrow” (like his adopted namesake, he sports dreadlocks and a shiny grill). He takes you past secret waterfalls, secluded beaches and hidden coves. Idling in Englishman’s Bay, where a forest abuts a sliver of sand, Captain Jack suggests that you catch lunch from the boat, with the idea being that you’ll commandeer one of the grills at a beach called No Man’s Land. “No fish, no lunch!” he chides. “No pressure!”

You’d like to say it doesn’t take long to reel in the bright red snappers that you and the jolly captain toss onto the grill, but the truth is that a kindly fisherman provides the catch after your attempts yield little more than used bait. But no matter. Standing there under a palm tree, your toes in the sand and the crystalline water halfway up your calves, picking apart tender flakes of salty fish cradled in a grape leaf, you are struck by the thought that failure has never tasted so good.

After a quick wade in the Nylon Pool— a popular swimming area on a sandbar of ground-up coral, supposedly named by Britain’s Princess Margaret for its sparkling-clear blue water—you’re back on land and driving east toward a spot in the lush Tobago Forest Reserve called Gilpin Trace. Tobago is a world-class destination for birders, and you’re there to meet up with their most popular guide, noted local ornithologist Newton George, a charming, easy going gentleman who convinced David Attenborough to feature Tobago in his landmark nature series “The Trials of Life.” The hike that follows goes like this: George spots something colorful in the distance, asks if you see it, frames it for you in a telescope, asks again, points with a green laser, asks again. Repeat.

The last meal of your trip is at the homey seafood restaurant El Pescador, where you order the jumbo lime shrimp, sweet plantains, rice and steamed vegetables. The dish, with the help of some local Angostura 1919 rum, lulls you into a reverie. You are brought back by your waiter, who politely informs you that the drumbeat you hear in the distance is the weekly “Sunday School” party getting started around the corner. You like the sound of that: dancing, drinking, street food, the smell of the ocean. You pay your bill and walk toward it, stepping to the rhythm being carried over the breeze.

Hemispheres editor at large SAM POLCER wishes that 85-foot monkeys played more of a role in his major life decisions.

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Area, in square miles: 1,980

Population: 1.3 million

Length of coastline, in miles: 225

Distance from the Venezuelan coast, in miles: 7

Barrels of oil produced annually: ≈154,000

Distance that Keshorn Walcott threw a javelin in the 2012 Olympics (giving his country its first gold in a field event): 277′ 6″

Number of steel pan bands: 225

Date of next Carnival: 2/11-2/12

5 Responses to “Three Perfect Days: Trinidad and Tobago”

  1. Gwendolyn A. Henry Says:
    December 3rd, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    I want to thank the Company for acknowledging Trinidad and Tobago . A great place to visit and rubbed shoulders with the locals , everyone needs to experience the trueness of this historical Country. thanks

  2. Nyree Says:
    December 3rd, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    I am so happy that UNITED Hemispheres did Three Perfect Days: Trinidad & Tobago. My hubby and I visit the twin island republic every year for carnival (for the past 9 years or so). I love Trini people, the food and carnival.

    Also as an island girl, from St.Lucia (though I now live in Virginia), I thought it necessary to mention that the poet Derek Walcott is St.Lucian. He is one of two Nobel Laureates from St.Lucia.

  3. T. E. Davenport Says:
    December 16th, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I would spend three days on my rear end…

    December 16th, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    My name is usha & my family in the U.S. Houston TX works for United. I have benefits with ur Airline & ur the best. I’ve flown to India, China, Ireland & always had the best treatment with all airline employees. also took part in ur airplane magazine contests. i live in Trinidad&tobago & it’s an honor for ur airline 2 show our country. THE QUEENS PARK SAVANNAH IS THE BIGGEST ROUND-A-BOUT IN THE WORLD. We also have the PITCH LAKE IN POINT FORTIN- which is 1 of the 7 wonders of the world. Right now our Government is building Highways which will take u to alot of the rural areas which is beautiful, our PRIME MINISTER is from this area, & the highway will take u 2 the pitch lake in no time. OUR MINISTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY WAS FIFA’S VICE PRESIDENT, MR BARACK OBAMA WAS HERE ABOUT 2 YRS AGO AT THE HYATT REGENCY IN POS FOR THE SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS.We have MAYARO-TOCO-CEDROS-CHAGUARAMAS,4 CORNERS OF TRINIDAD & we have in TOBAGO 15 mins by air the NYLON POOL IN THE MIDDLE OG THE OCEAN WHERE U CAN BATHE IT’S KNEE DEEP & also the BUCCO REEF WHERE U TAKE A TOUR WITH THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT.THANK U FOR HIGHLIGHTING OUT TWIN ISLAND.

  5. Dennis O'Donovan Says:
    December 16th, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Didn’t even know United flew to Trinidad-Tobago. I’m a Hawaii regular; I’m inspired to check out T&T.

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