Located just off the coast of South America, six miles out from Venezuela, the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago is a friendly tourist attraction that will absolutely reward your time. Thanks to the country’s vast oil and gas reserves, though, a wide gap exists between the nation’s rich and its working poor. In other words, there are some locations in the country where things can get dicey. Of course, a cautious traveler can find plenty of fun in Trinidad and Tobago. The nation has a well-deserved reputation for it’s tourist industry, and a few photos of the country’s lush private resorts are enough to explain why. If you get the opportunity to travel to Trinidad and Tobago, go there. However, here are some things you should absolutely avoid doing.
1. Don’t Stay in Trinidad
Of the two islands that make up the nation, Tobago has a much more tourist-friendly atmosphere and the best resorts. The more industrial island of Trinidad has a bit more of a problem with crime; in fact, even the hotels recommend that you not hang out outdoors in Trinidad after dark.
2. Don’t Walk The Streets After Dark
Even though street crime like theft is more common in Trinidad, Tobago still has an issue with common theft, as well. Most authorities recommend that you stick to your resort once the sun goes down.
3. Don’t Try the Moruga Scorpion Pepper Without a Glass of Milk Handy
Trinidad has recently invented the world’s hottest pepper, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper, which clocks in at about 1.4 million SHU on the Scoville scale, the international measure of shale pepper heat. To give you a point of reference, the Scorpion outpaces its closest competition, the Ghost Pepper, by 400,000 SHU. A cayenne pepper clocks in about 50,000 SHU on a potent day. The Scorpion is hot. Beware.
4. Don’t Overlook the Diving Opportunities
The water around Trinidad and Tobago is typically very warm and clear, so it’s a pleasure to take a dip whenever possible. Beyond that, the island nation is home to some of the world’s most unique coral deposits — including the world’s largest piece of brain coral — and more than 40 certified diving locations.
5. Don’t Forget About the Island’s Literary History
The sunny island of Tobago has reportedly been the inspiration for not one, but two of literary history’s most beloved stories. Daniel Defoe based the island of his marooned hero Robinson Crusoe on Tobago, and Robert Louis Stevenson was supposedly picturing Tobago when he wrote Treasure Island.
6. If You’re Going During Carnival, Don’t Forget the Earplugs
Trinidad is home to the Caribbean’s biggest celebration of Carnival. A wonderful experience, but it’s also very, very loud. The average music truck parading through the streets of Trinidad produced about 110 decibels. That’s like standing next to the speaker at a concert. It’s fun, but it’s loud.
7. Don’t Be Rude While Dancing at Carnival
Again, if you’re going to Carnival, you’ll likely find yourself getting down at some point or another. During the extremely omnivorous celebration, you’ll attract strangers to you like flies. Don’t be a jerk. If you’re approached by someone you’d rather not hang with, just tap their hand and they’ll leave.
8. It’s Probably a Good Idea to Avoid the Weed
A lot of travelers report that marijuana is pretty ubiquitous throughout the nation. People can often be seen toking up in public. That being said, if you decide to partake, you should know that weed is still illegal and tourists are more likely to attract police attention for breaking that particular law. You’ve been warned.
9. Don’t Be Alarmed By Goat Racing
Since 1925, Tobago has been the world’s home to goat racing, which is extremely popular on the island. During the unusual contest, a jockey runs alongside their goat, leading them onward with a leash … it’s strange, but kind of fun to check out.
10. Don’t Just Wander into the Rainforest
The jungles are everywhere in Trinidad and Tobago, so it might be tempting to wander into them just to have a peek at what’s living in the recesses. You know what lives there? Stuff that will kill your face off. Only go into the jungle if you’re accompanied by an actual naturalist who knows what they’re doing.
11. Don’t Skip the Island’s Musical Traditions
Trinidad and Tobago has a rich musical history. The island nation is the home of the steel pan drum, the only musical instrument invented in the 20th century. Calyspo also found its birthplace in Trinidad and Tobago.
12. Don’t Wear Any Camo Print
In Trinidad and Tobago, a camouflage print is reserved specifically for the nation’s military. As a result, it’s illegal for any non-military personnel to wear camo in public. They will ask you to remove it immediately.
13. Don’t Sleep on the Scarlet Ibis
The national bird of Trinidad, the Scarlet Ibis, is incredibly rare throughout the world. Only seen in a handful of places outside the country, in Trinidad and Tobago the Scarlet Ibis are extremely plentiful. If you want to see one of the world’s most majestic birds in its natural habitat, then Trinidad and Tobago is the place to go.
14. Don’t Chug the Puncheon
That delicious liquor cocktail might taste like a wondrous concoction, but Trinidad and Tobago’s popular puncheon is about 75 percent alcohol. If you’re planning on drinking for a while, either take small sips and keep water handy, or pick something else.
15. Don’t Forget the Mud
You might not think to gravitate toward a place that’s described as a mud volcano, but Trinidad and Tobago is home to some of the most interesting (and delightfully filthy) spa experiences. Throughout the country, places like Piparo Mud Volcano attract mud-loving tourists who are searching for the substance’s purported healing properties.