2 4 Castara

Port of Spain

Explore the vibrant island capital of Trinidad and Tobago to the joyful sound of steel pan drums, a large rum and coconut water in hand. Fleur Rollet-Manus steps to the beat.

Travel Time 10hrs 10min

Why go?

With a knotty history that fuses Spanish, English, French, African, Chinese and Portuguese influences, the Caribbean’s most southerly island capital is a welcoming melting pot that proudly celebrates its multi-faceted past. You’ll find it present in everything from the cuisine and architecture to the frequent toasts of Trinidadian (or ‘Trini’) rum bestowed by food vendors, barmen and shopkeepers. Take advantage of the affordable accommodation rates on offer this month post-carnival (March) while enjoying the calm that returns as everyone synchronises watches to island time. Suiting Trinidad’s slower pace, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest bocaslitfest. com on 1-5 May showcases the finest Caribbean writers with a series of workshops, readings and screenings as an entire city block is transformed into a hub of creative activity. Sun-drenched days with temperatures teetering above 30C are an added bonus.

What to do

Rise early and head straight to Queen’s Park Savannah, a 105ha oasis dotted with coconut vendors, food stalls and a hive of commuters seeking out their favourite roti: it’s the pulsating heart of Port of Spain. Stroll past the Magnificent Seven Houses – mansions hailing from the days when Trinidadian cocoa was in prime demand. For a moment of calm, seek out the Royal Botanical Gardens’ Bamboo Cathedral – a stretch of road where the bamboo bends to form a soaring archway. For those azure waters and blonde sands, soak up a slice of paradise with a drive to Maracas Beach, just outside of town. En-route stock up on picnic provisions at Eden’s Sweet & Sour Hot Spot: think bags of kurma (deep-fried dough biscuits) and coconut and rice cakes spiked with ginger.

Where to stay

Family-run Thanna’s Place 00 1 868 621 3246, thannas.com embodies the capital’s hospitable spirit as staff are more than happy to point out their favourite salt fish joints or where to go to sink sundowners. The colourful rooms are simple yet offer great value, with some of the city’s main sights just a stone’s throw away. Tucked away in an upmarket suburb is the 16-room Coblentz Inn 00 1 868 621 0541, coblentzinnhotel.com – the city’s first boutique hotel. Behind the peppermint-green facade you’ll find rooms shaped by the country’s abundant culture: the ‘Central’ room is decorated in swathes of rich Indian fabrics inspired by royal palaces. For something swankier, check in to the 423-room Hyatt Regency Trinidad 00 1 868 623 2222, hyatt.com – perfectly poised next to the buzzy waterfront and boasting a turquoise infinity pool. Rooms are huge – as is the sumptuous breakfast buffet.

Where to eat and drink

Food here adopts a distinctive East Indian flavour; the culinary legacy of 19th-century labourers. Hole-in-the-walls dominate, with each side street concealing another vendor only identifiable by the fragrant spices wafting through the air. The Breakfast Shed on Wrightson Road – quite literally, a shed – offers the most varied selection of Trini cuisine. Each Saturday expect queues that snake around the plastic tables as locals congregate for their weekly pelau, a rice dish mixed with chicken or beef, coconut and pigeon peas. Shun cutlery and get stuck in to a roti bursting with potatoes, mango and chickpeas using buss up shut (a buttery Caribbean bread) to scoop up the sauces at The Hott Shoppe 00 1 868 622 4073. Book ahead for a table at Chaud Creole 00 1 868 621 2002 – famed for its curry crab dumplings and kingfish creole. Chef Khalid Mohammed has been largely responsible for elevating the city’s fine-dining scene. After, try the popular ‘shark ‘n’ bake’ – fried pitta stuffed with lionfish (‘shark’) smothered in fiery chilli sauce. The best comes from Richard’s 00 1 868 681 9880. Liming, a Trini word for chilling out, is best exemplified by sipping a rum and coconut water at Stumblin’ on the Avenue 00 1 868 223 5017 to a raucous soundtrack of dancehall.

Time running out?

Educate yourself on the steel pan at Duke Street’s All Stars Pan Yard. A key part of island culture, the drums are explained through vibrant performance. 00 1 868 627 2127


Travel Information

Travel Information

Currency is the Trinidadian dollar (TTD). Time is 4 hours behind GMT. Flight time from London is around10 hours. A taxi from Piarco Airport to Port of Spain takes around 1 hour (£25-40).

Getting There

American Airlines has flights from London Heathrow to Piarco International Airport with one stop in Miami. american.com

British Airways flies from Gatwick via Saint Lucia. britishairways.com


The Ministry of Tourism of Trinidad & Tobago has a website packed with information to help you plan your visit. tourism.gov.tt

Average daily temperatures and rainfall

Min Temp212122232323232323232322
Max Temp293030313130303131303029

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