Port of Spain, on the northwest coast of Trinidad island, is the capital city of Trinidad and Tobago. The city is famous for its carnival, second only to that of Rio in importance but preferred by many because of its perceptions of being safer.
A bustling and friendly city, Port of Spain is a great place to spend a couple of days and is the hub for the Trinidad's famous carnival. It has been the capital since 1757 and is the main administrative center, although not the largest town.
The main shopping area is between Frederick Street and Charlotte Street, running south to Independence Square (Brian Lara Promenade). As well as the bricks-and-mortar shops, there are numerous stalls on the street selling everything from fruit to CDs.
In the evening Independence Square is full of locals liming - hanging around, chatting to their friends and sampling food from the stalls scattered throughout. Wandering through here is a great way to get a feel for what Trinidad is about.
Port of Spain enjoys warm temperatures all year round. It is slightly cooler in January and February.
|Port of Spain|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
- 1 Piarco International Airport (POS IATA) (about 45 minutes from the center of Port of Spain. Allow more when flying out if your trip coincides with the evening rush hour as many people commute from the area around and beyond the airport to downtown Port of Spain.).
The airport is served by:
- Air Canada (Rouge) - Toronto-Pearson
- American Airlines - Miami
- British Airways - London-Gatwick and St. Lucia
- Caribbean Airlines - Antigua, Barbados, Caracas, Curaçao, Fort Lauderdale, Georgetown–Cheddi Jagan, Grenada, Havana, Kingston–Norman Manley, Miami, Nassau, New York–JFK, Orlando, Paramaribo, St. Lucia–Vigie, St. Maarten, St. Vincent–Argyle, Tobago, Toronto–Pearson
- Copa Airlines - Panama City
- JetBlue - Ft. Lauderdale and New York-JFK
- Surinam Airways - Curaçao and Paramaribo
- United Airlines - Houston-Intercontinental and Newark
- WestJet - Toronto-Pearson
From Tobago there are 14 flights a day on Tobago Express, which is operated by Caribbean Airlines. Flights are on a De Havilland Dash 8, cost US$24 each way and last about 20 minutes. Despite the great frequency of flights these can get booked out very easily.
There is an authorized taxi dispatch at the airport. A trip to Port of Spain costs 30 USD (eq. ~205 TT as of July 2019).
There is a coach from the airport at Piarco weekdays only and it costs 4 TT. The coach will drop you off at City Gate.
When the coach is not running and you aren't carrying massive luggage, you can take a local taxi with a licence plate starting with H at the taxi rank (100 metres to the right of the arrival hall exit) towards what's called "The Junction" and, there, hail a frequently running red-white minivan (Maxi Taxi), which also will drop you off at City Gate (South Quay bus terminal). The taxi is 5 TT, although you'll have to wait for the vehicle to fill up with 4 passengers (which does not take long), and the minivan is 7 TT - altogether considerably cheaper than the 30 USD for the authorized airport taxi.
From Scarborough, Tobago there are hydrofoils that take 2 1/2 hours and conventional ferries that take 5 1/2 hours to Port of Spain. Hydrofoils cost 50 TT one way.
Taxis are expensive, with a minimum price for a journey within Port-of-Spain being US$10. There are no standard color coded markings for taxis in Port-of-Spain e.g. yellow taxis and by all appearance resembles private motor vehicles. However, all vehicles for hire will have an license plate starting with H instead and you should not be surprised if one stop by and ask if you want a ride. Remember to check if it is a taxi! It is preferable to contact the taxis through your hotel.
During the day, in the central areas, you can move easily even on foot. At dusk, it is recommended for tourists not to venture alone on foot.
By public transportation
The urban area is covered by a bus service. It is necessary to have the travel document before boarding because the drivers do not accept cash, much less credit cards.
- The beaches.
- Carnival. The Trinidad Carnival is one of the best in the world and hotels can be guaranteed to fill up when it is held and double their rates! Taking place in the days before Lent it is a mixture of parades and music and calypso competitions. Participants wear elaborate costumes and parade dancing through the streets to the sounds of a steel band or a soca band. Each year on Carnival Sunday a competition is held to award the King and Queen of Carnival. On Carnival Monday and Shrove Tuesday, the bands compete to win the "Band of the Year" title. Everyone takes part, from young to old and rich to poor. In the weeks before the events the Steel Bands rehearse nightly at their Pan Yards. There may be several in one stretch of road, such as Western Main, and you can buy a beer and watch the rehearsals.
- International Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Rd. A major skyscraper development designed to revitalise the city's waterfront with the Hyatt Regency Trinidad at its heart. This is the only section of Port of Spain's waterfront which is accessible to the public.
- National Academy for Performing Arts (City side of the Savannah. Can't miss it.). Opened at the end of 2009, the construction of this building led to numerous allegations of corruption. The design is supposed to represent Trinidad's national flower but it has been much criticised as being out of keeping with the environment. "Copulating slugs" was perhaps one of the politer descriptions.
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Cotton Hill. Established in 1818, these are one of the oldest gardens in the Caribbean. 700 trees of which 13% are indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago.
- Royal Victoria Institute, Frederick Street. This is the National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago. Founded in 1892, this striking colonial building houses an extensive collection of artifacts and antiques from throughout Trinidad's history
- The Magnificent Seven Houses, Maraval Road. These seven buildings from colonial times have very interesting histories. Only one, Roomor, is still a private residence. The biggest, Queen's Royal College, is a major secondary school. Stollmeyer's Castle, a mansion built like Balmoral Castle in Scotland, was built on the money of an entrepreneur in the coconut water business called Conrad Frederick Stollmeyer.
- Knowsley Building, City side of the Savannah. Built in 1902 by a wealthy merchant, Mr. William Gordon, this house features a veranda made of white marble, hand hewn yellow limestone bricks, and a staircase constructed from wood from Guyana.
- Woodford Square (Frederick Street). This central square overlooks the courthouse, the "Red House", the seat of Parliament and the Anglican church dedicated to the Holy Trinity. On the southwest side of the square is the national library building.
- Independence Square. Some of the tallest buildings in the country, the Nicholas Tower and the Eric Williams Plaza are located on the southern side of Independence Square.
- Queen's Park Savannah is a large park in the middle of the city. It has a circumference of 3.5 km and is a popular spot around sunset for joggers and walkers. With one-way traffic circulating clockwise, it claims to be the world's largest roundabout or traffic circle.
- Cricket: 1 Queen's Park Oval, Tragarete Rd, ☏ . Opened in 1896 and rebuilt in 2006 after an earthquake, this has a capacity of 20,000. It hosts the combined Windies Test team, the Trinidad & Tobago island team, and Trinbago Knight Riders in the T20 Caribbean Premier League.
There are many types of traditional and Trinidad food that must be tried, some of these include:
- Bake and Shark
- Chow (e.g. Mango/Pineapple Chow)
- West Indian Style Curry
- Jerk Chicken/Fish
Western Main Highway at St James is a popular night spot with a long stretch of bars and eateries. There are also many food stalls selling Rotis, Doubles, and other local delicacies.
A local flour and chick peas delicacy called Doubles (available all over the island, even just outside the airport). There are several stalls on Independence Square can get these for 5TT each - make sure to get their early though as they tend to sell out pretty quickly.
- 1 Mano's Food Delight, 52-B Park Street.
- 2 Dopson's Roti, Maraval Road.
- 3 George and Son Doubles, Carlos St.
- 4 Sauce On The Avenue, Ariapita Ave.
- Royal Castle. The totally local fast food chain
Ariapita Avenue, in the Woodbrook neighborhood of Port-of-Spain, is a popular dining and nightlife area with a good selection of mid-range restaurants.
To eateries like - Benihana and many others available at Trincity Mall, 15 mins from Piarco Airport
- 5 Lola's Food Company, 82 Tragarete Rd.
- 6 Town Restaurant & Bar, 51 Cipriani Blvd.
- 7 Jenny's on the Boulevard, 6 Cipriani Blvd.
- 8 House of Chan, Corner of Warner &, Woodford St.
- 9 Creole Kitchen, 22 Boissiere Village #1.
- 10 Angelo's, 38 Ariapita Ave.
Beer is a little expensive, priced 10 TT (1.5 USD) at grocery stores and 15 TT (2.5 USD) at restaurants for a 275mL bottle. The local brew consist of Carib and Stag (lager). Rum is widely available and the local distiller Angostura is among one of the top producers in the region with its Royal Oak line.
For non-alcoholic drinks, Trinidians in general favor a sweeter flavor. Some of the local beverages can be found in the list below:
- Sorrel, a sweet dark pink beverage made from the Roselle plant
- Mauby, a bitter sweet drink with a herbal flavor made from the bark of a local tree
- Peanut Punch, a drink made from peanut butter, milk and sugar
- Maracas Bay Hotel, Maracas Bay Rd, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. From $87.
- Monique's Guest House, 114-116 Saddle Road,, ☏ , fax: . From $70.
- Par May Las Inn, 53 Picton Street, Newtown,, ☏ , fax: . From $56.
- S&D Guesthouse, 4 La Puerta Court, Diego Martin, ☏ . From $40.
- Samise Villa Bed & Breakfast, 47 St. Anns Road, St. Anns, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. From $35.
- The Little Inn, 41 Picton St (close to the Savannah), ☏ , fax: . offers a cozy home like feel. from 50US per double room and from 22US per person for groups over 8.
- Tony's Guest House, Papnis Drive, Petit Valley, ☏ , fax: . From $30.
There is now a surfeit of "Splurge" rooms for much of the year. Try bargaining to get rates less than those listed.
- The Brix, 2-4 Coblentz Ave (to the west of the Savannah), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-out: 13:00. Excellent rooms but rather boring restaurant, bar and overall ambience. US$200.
- Courtyard by Marriott Port of Spain, Invaders Bay, Audrey Jeffers Highway, ☏ . Spacious accommodation, free high-speed Internet, a full-service restaurant and other convenient amenities and services. US$149.
- Crowne Plaza, Corner Wrightson Rd and London St (Waterfront), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. New waterfront hotel with revolving restaurant. US$190 inc tax and service.
- Hilton Trinidad & Conference Center, Lady Young Road, ☏ . The hotel boasts hosting President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the whole US delegation during the 2009 Summit of the Americas. Despite the renovation, however, maintenance leaves much to be desired. Built on a hillside overlooking the Savannah, you enter from the top floor. Perversely, the high numbered floors are actually lower down, which takes a bit of getting used to. Great views of POS from the hotel's many terraces.
- Hyatt Regency, 1 Wrightson Road, (International Waterfront Centre), ☏ , fax: . Hotel with 428 rooms. $250 minimum inc. taxes.
- Kapok Hotel, 16-18 Cotton Hill (just off the Savannah near the Botanical Gardens), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Almost a Port of Spain tradition. US$180.
SIM cards are easily available.
Trinidad has a bad reputation (it has a shockingly high murder rate), but if you are sensible and stick to the main areas, you shouldn't have a problem and will find the locals incredibly friendly. Avoid any ostentatious display of wealth, and don't wander down dark backstreets at night on your own, and you shouldn't experience any problems at all.
Wear sunblock, even in early morning or late afternoon, since Trinidad is very close to the equator.
Embassies and High Commissions
- Australia, 18 Herbert Street, St Clair, ☏ . The High Commission is also accredited to Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Christopher (Kitts) and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.
- Barbados (Consulate), 12 Mayfair Gardens, Lower Santa Cruz, ☏ , fax: .
- Canada, Maple House, 3-3A Sweet Briar Rd., St. Clair, ☏ , , fax: .
- China, 39 Alexandra St, St. Clair, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com.
- France, 7 Mary St, St Clair, ☏ , toll-free: . By appointment only. Foreigners who are legally resident in Trinidad and Tobago must apply at the Embassy of Spain in Port-of-Spain for Schengen visas for travel to main destination France in the Schengen zone. Other visa applications (Long Stay and for travel to the French Overseas Departments and Territories) must be made at the French Embassy in Castries, St. Lucia.
- Guyana, 12 Alexandra St, St Clair, ☏ , .
- Netherlands, 69-71 Edward St, ☏ , , fax: . M-F 09:00-12:00
- Spain, 7th Floor, Tatil Building, 11 Maraval Road, ☏ , fax: .
- Suriname, 5th Floor, Tatil Building, 11 Maraval Road, ☏ , fax: , AmbSurPDE@opus.co.tt.
- United Kingdom, 19 St Clair Ave, St Clair, ☏ . M-Th 09:00-16:00 and F 09:00-13:00.
- United States, 15 Queen's Park W, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
- Venezuela, 16 Victoria Ave, ☏ . M-F 09:00-14:00.