1. Hiking here is a walk in the park.
Not quite. If you’re not careful, you may stumble upon a poisonous Fer de Lance snake or someone’s marijuana fields. Hike with local hiking groups and wear proper gear; that means leave the flip flops and short shorts at home.
2. It’s okay to use PH taxis.
In Trinidad and Tobago, cars usually carry different plates: P for Private and H for Hire. Although you will never actually see a PH plate, it refers to a private vehicle owner who hustles for passengers. You never know what could happen to you in a PH taxi. Plus, you’re not covered by any insurance if the car gets in an accident. Instead, only use taxis with the H number plate. On another note, don’t ever offer a short route taxi driver TT$100 note and expect change. All you will get is an angry stare, a big steups and probably, a cuss out.
3. You need to try bake and shark.
Yes, bake and shark is a favorite among locals, but because of local concerns about overfishing, vendors have been offering other, equally delicious alternatives such as bake and kingfish or bake and shrimp.
4. All we do is street food.
Street food in Trinidad and Tobago is great, but did you know we also have a growing fine dining scene? For example, sushi has recently become immensely popular with locals, with some restaurants offering their interpretations of the Japanese export.
5. Maracas Bay is the only good beach in Trinidad.
Yes, we love Maracas Bay. However, if you drive a little further along the North Coast, you will find Las Cuevas Bay. Las Cuevas is currently the only Blue Flag certified beach in Trinidad and Tobago, meaning it’s the most environmentally sustainable beach and has the cleanest water you can find on the two islands. Likewise, many guidebooks point to Store Bay and Pigeon Point in Tobago, but there are so many unspoiled and less crowded beaches on the sister isle, particularly Pirate’s Bay and Cotton Bay.
We prefer to eat local all the time.
Yes, we like our local food but when it comes down to it, many prefer a box ah dead from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Some of us cannot resist the hot, crispy and spicy local variation of the Colonel’s famous fowl. Also, the KFC outlet on Independence Square in Port of Spain is reputed to be one of the franchise’s most profitable outlets in the world.
7. Everyone plays mas at Carnival and if you don’t, you’ll feel left out.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, some of us are Carnival diehards but there are also Trinbagonians who use the Carnival long weekend to lime with friends and family at home or by the river, at the beach or under a cool waterfall in the middle of the rainforest.
8. Carnival time is the only time you should come to Trinidad and Tobago.
Of course, guidebooks love to tell visitors that Carnival is the best time to visit the islands, but that also means exorbitantly high prices for flights and accommodation. Instead, travelers can visit any time of the year to experience many other unique festivals like Phagwa in March/April, Ramleela and Divali in October/November, parang season from October to the first week in January and Tobago Heritage Festival during August.
9. You can drive coast to coast in Trinidad within a matter of hours.
Unlike Tobago, Trinidad is plagued with traffic jams on a daily basis, even on the weekends, so you’d better not try to see everything in one day. Instead, what you need to do is go against the grain. Translation: head to the beach and the main attractions on a weekday (once it’s not a national holiday) and during off peak travel times.
10. It’s safe everywhere.
Don’t go to Fort George, San Fernando Hill or Chancellor Hill alone. Also, don’t linger in hot spots in Port of Spain, Laventille, Sea Lots and Beetham unless you’re a fearless journalist trying to make a documentary about crime in Trinidad and Tobago.
11. It’s hot and sunny during the dry season.
Technically, we have a dry season (from January to May) and a wet/rainy season (from June to December). However, it can rain anytime so if you’re planning to visit, please bring a small umbrella and waterproof shoes. Also, if it really pours, city and town streets can become flooded and you’re likely to get stranded. Always keep an eye on the forecast before heading out.
12. The Mystery Tombstone in Plymouth, Tobago is a must-see.
For some, it’s just a piece of concrete with some cryptic sentences, with not much to see otherwise. You may be better off exploring the island’s many forts, beaches, nature trails and coral reefs.