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Monday,  July 22, 2024   3:58 PM
Island hopping at ease: Trinidad to Tobago

Pigeon Point Heritage ParkAfter a swift evening flight from a lively stay in Trinidad, I woke up in a different world. Drawing the patio blinds of the Magdalena Grand’s oceanfront rooms, I’m met with a sea of palm trees and an array of white sand beach loungers calling for a daiquiri and a book by there side.

Experiencing Trinidad and Tobago in tandem can feel like a two-week trip in one — the city life and the suite life.

With both Caribbean Airlines and WestJet now offering direct flights to Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport, the ease to which the country’s airbridge flights operate give the unique option for travellers destined for Tobago’s beach resorts to experience a taste of Trinidad’s cultural mecca along the way.

The 20-25 minute flight from Trinidad to Tobago’s Crown Point airport has the fortune of being a quick, frequent and inexpensive option at only US$50 a ticket (with a 50 per cent discount for children under the age of 12). The flights run every hour on the hour, from 6 a.m. to midnight. Booking in advance is encouraged and an hour and a half check-in time before the flight is recommended to prevent losing seats to standby passengers.

A direct flight from Canada is on the agenda for Tobago’s Division of Tourism and Transportation and with good reason — efforts in distinguishing Tobago’s tourism from the all-inclusive Caribbean vacation are meeting the demands of the well-travelled Canadian customer in search of more then your typical resort.

The island’s untouched appeal has created an intriguing diversity in accommodations. All-inclusive hotels, such as the Magdelena Grand, have a unique air of serenity to their spacious beach grounds, while private homestead rentals such as the Villas At Stonehaven offer intimate hillside views overlooking pristine bays.

Driving along the coastline, I’m stunned at the number of deserted white sand beaches along the turquoise shores. Even while relaxing at the island’s popular Pigeon Point Heritage Park, the beaches feel vastly unspoiled, with its commercialization confined to an impressive roster of water activities and local fisherman setting up shop along the roadside.

Tobago's natural reserve rainforestJust as untouched is the island’s nature reserve rainforest, the oldest legally protected rainforest in the world. I was shocked when our guide informed us it was the middle of their dry season. I couldn’t imagine anything lusher then the trails I encountered through a hike to the magnificent three-tiered Argyle Waterfalls.

Just as lush are Tobago’s world-class dive reefs, whose beauty is also accessible through snorkeling excursions and glass-bottom boat tours to Buccoo Reef. The Nylon Pool - an in-sea shallow swimming haven with pure white, ground-up coral as its bottom - is a surreal location to spend the day soaking in the sun and sea.

Where modern mixes with tradition is Tobago’s social festivities. For two weeks each July, the entire island jets back in time with 15 of the villages taking on a unique aspect of their cultural traditions in the annual Heritage Festival — the most attended of which is the re-enactment of an old-time wedding celebration through the town. Throughout the entire year, a celebration known as Sunday School has the island rejoice each end of the week not for a church mass, but a street party in honour of dancing to live steel-pan drums and DJs.

There is an impressive amount of diversification in every aspect of the island, but most prominently in the gourmet meals at every stop. From traditional homemade creole-style cooking (including the island’s famous curried crab and dumplings) to authentic Milano Italian, each unique restaurant experience had one thing in common: open-air dining hosted by owners as flavourful and extravagant as the dishes they serve and an oceanside soundtrack for the perfect island ambience.

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