February 26, 2024 | Allison Robertson

Trinidad and Tobago


Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago is a beautiful Caribbean island nation known for its undeniable beauty, which includes an array of stunning waterfalls, sandy beaches and intriguing wildlife—some of which hold world records.

But as beautiful as this place is, it comes with a strict warning to reconsider travel.

Trinidad and concerned woman with child split image

Fast Facts

Before we jump into the dangerous details, let’s gain some perspective.

Official Name: Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Population: 1, 221, 047
Area: 5, 128 sq km
Capital City: Port of Spain (the epicenter of unlawful activity)

Island Michael Bluschke, Shutterstock

An Island Paradise

Trinidad and Tobago is a melting pot of cultures with influences from Africa, India, Europe and the Caribbean, has the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, and is home to an array of birds, monkeys and sea turtles.

The country holds a few intriguing world records that are worth noting as well.

Island Richard Semik, Shutterstock

World Record: Tobago’s Coral

The world’s largest piece of brain coral can be found at Speyside—the popular diving and snorkeling spot. It measures 10 by 16 feet.

The islands are home to over 300 different species of coral.

But that’s not all.

Trinidad and TobagoVisit Tobago

Advertisement

World Record: La Brea Pitch Lake

La Brea Pitch Lake is known as “a destination of amazement and mystery” as it is the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world.

It is one of only three in known existence—and it holds approximately 10 million tons of asphalt.

The island’s hold another world record for size too.

Asphalt Lakemaloff, Shutterstock

World Record: Queen’s Park Savannah

Queen’s Park Savannah is a park in Port of Spain, and it is the city’s largest open space. The park is encircled by a 3.7km perimeter road—making it known as the world’s largest roundabout.

Queen's Park SavannahPeakd

Queen’s Park Savannah

At Queen’s Park Savannah you’ll find a stunning botanical garden, carnival grounds, the Magnificent Seven houses—and a very popular evening activity that is a hit among tourists.

Royal Botanical GardensPatrick Messier, Shutterstock

The Open Air Food Court

The Open Air Food Court is an evening food court at Queen's Park Savannah.

From 6:00-10:00pm you’ll find a variety of food and drink vendors set up, including doubles, corn soup, shawarmas, jerk chicken, bake and shark, and even a refreshing coconut water stand.

The vendors are also there for the island’s most famous festival—which holds another world record.

TrinidadNandani Bridglal, Shutterstock

World Record: The Largest Caribbean Carnival

Trinidad and Tobago is most known for its lively Carnival celebrations, which are filled with music, dancing, and colorful costumes.

The main celebration is what holds records though.

Carnival Masqueraders cross the stage at the Queen's Park SavannahJean-Marc, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival

The main celebration is known as “The Greatest Show on Earth”, and is so elaborate that some locals spend over $1,000 on their costume.

That’s not the only thing the island is rich in, though.

Junior Parade, Trinidad & Tobago Carnival.Idobi, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Advertisement

An Eco-Adventurer’s Paradise

Trinidad and Tobago is the best Caribbean destination for Nature lovers.

The islands boast over 470 species of birds, over 600 tropical butterflies, and hundreds of rivers and waterfalls.

The head of an adult male Scarlet IbisCharles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Best Nature Holiday Award

The islands won the 2015 UK Telegraph Caribbean Travel Award for Best Destination for a Nature Holiday. 

Don’t forget about the turtles, though.

Pigeon Point beach, Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago, west Indies.Kp93, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Leatherback Turtles

Each year over 10,000 giant Leatherback turtles visit the island’s shores to nest.

In 2015, Time Magazine named Trinidad and Tobago as the best place in the world to see Leatherback Turtle hatchlings.

There’s also a swimming pool in the middle of the ocean.

Leatherback turtle nesting on a beach in Grande Riviere, Trinidad and Tobago.Jordan Beard, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Ocean’s Swimming Pool

The Nylon Pool is a natural, 1-meter-deep crystal-clear swimming pool with a sandy bottom—and it’s located in the middle of the ocean.

It was created by an offshore sandbar and a still lagoon.

Natural ocean poolAnna K Mueller, Shutterstock

The People

Trinidad and Tobago’s people are among the happiest and most positive people in the world.

In 2013 and 2015, the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network ranked the islands as the Caribbean’s Happiest Country. 

But just because they’re happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. Trinidad and Tobago has some challenges too.

Streets in Trinidadgvictoria, Shutterstock

A Rough Start to the Year

Current statistics don’t look great for Trinidad and Tobago.

The year 2023 is said to “undoubtably be remembered as a time of upheaval in Tobago’s history”, with controversies, scandals, heated battles, and more, the headlines were dominated with negativity.

And 2024 doesn’t seem to look any brighter.

Trinidad PoliceMark Williams Pics, Shutterstock

Advertisement

Unlawful Activity in 2023

Already in 2024, the islands are struggling with an increase in incidences involving fatal home invasions, taking of children, and fatalities involving mostly women.

The first major incident happening already on New Year’s Day.

Port-of-Spain Morning, A view of the hills and the capital city of Trinidad & Tobago.formulanone, Flickr

The New Years Incident

On January 1st, 2024, a 41-year-old individual lost his life. He was targeted after refusing to join a specific street group.

On the same day, someone else fatally shot.

Church's Chicken on Henry Street in Port of Spain, TrinidadAnneli Salo, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

January 2, 2024: Drive-By

The very next day, three women had also lost their lives, one being a 19-year-old who was shot during a drive-by.

Two others met the same awful fate, at the hands of a family member.

Church's Chicken on Henry Street in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.Anneli Salo, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

January 2, 2024: Domestic

The other two women were victims of a domestic situation where the husband/son-in-law made good on his threats.

The pattern continued from there, with each day bringing more lives lost.

High Street, San Fernando, Trinidad And TobagoKalamazadkhan, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Substance Use

A lot of the violence that occurs in Trinidad and Tobago are substance related and carried out by known street groups.

2023 and 2022 statistics confirm that there’s been a change in recent years.

Lower High Street, San Fernando, Trinidad And TobagoKalamazadkhan, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Statistics

While the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) reported a five percent decrease in lives taken, the numbers are still concerning.

There were 576 lives taken in 2023 and 605 lives taken previously in 2022.

Even so, citizens remain concerned for their safety and distressed about the levels of domestic violence in the country.

San Fernando -Trinidad And Tobago Street VendorsKalamazadkhan, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Advertisement

The Prime Minister’s Thoughts

In October 2023, Prime Minister Keith Rowley recognized that Trinidad and Tobago was in some trouble when it came to the “glamorization of firearms”, and the acceptable of “violence as a way of life”.

His plan is to disarm the perpetrators and increase operational state security. But the citizens had a different opinion.

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., January 29, 2024.U.S. Department of State , Wikimedia Commons

Local Concerns

Locals are concerned that the government is not getting to the root cause of the problem—too many citizens are armed.

There is also a common fear of reporting.

San Fernando, Market at Mucurapo StreetKalamazadkhan, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Small Communities

Most of the population live in small communities where everyone knows one another, and many people are afraid of being victimized if they report any wrongdoing.

Aerial Photo of Point Fortin, Trinidad and Tobago.Grueslayer, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Laws

And although Trinidad and Tobago does have laws in place for owning and discharging a piece, it is not hard to find them unlawfully on the streets.

In fact, the citizens like to remind the government of this on one specific night.

Trinidad and Tobagorobertonencini, Shutterstock

New Years Eve Tradition

A recent trend in Trinidad and Tobago has apparently emerged—firing shots into the sky at midnight on New Years Eve.

Authorities pleaded with citizens not to continue this—but it only hurt their credibility more.

That’s not the only concern in the islands, though.

Trinidad and TobagoJohn de la Bastide, Shutterstock

Most Dangerous Countries List

In 2023, Trinidad and Tobago ranked 12th in a list of the world's most dangerous countries, with taking lives being the biggest concern.

But taking people in general is another huge concern.

Trinidad and Tobagomaloff, Shutterstock

Snatching People

After a middle-aged businesswoman was taken only 3 feet from her home recently, citizens have started speaking up about the level of unlawful activities happen in Trinidad and Tobago in recent times.

The islands have been several kidnappings each year including mostly women and children.

Downtown Chaguanas with KFC and Courts in view.Trinidad-News.com, Flickr

Citizens Are Living in Fear

Constant fear of being taken in broad daylight is only one worry the locals have. But even tourists are now being advised to keep a careful watch of a few things as well.

Claude Noel Highway, Tobago, the main road than links most of the towns in the south and east of the Island.Kenny Mitchell, Flickr

Tourism Warnings: From Trinidad and Tobago, Itself

Trinidad and Tobago advise tourists of the following: “exercise a high degree of caution in Trinidad and Tobago due to the threat of violent crime”.

The US has its own warnings too.

Landscape photo of a beach in Trinidad and Tobagosubherwal, Flickr

Tourism Warnings: From the US

The US Department of State suggests Americans to “reconsider travel to Trinidad and Tobago due to crime”, and if travel is a must, “exercise increased caution due to terrorism and kidnapping”.

The most common concern for American tourists though is theft.

hotel in trinidadRichard Semik, Shutterstock

Robbery

Armed robbery among both locals and tourists is extremely high. This can include anything from a simple, “give me your wallet”, to a perpetrator forcing a tourist to empty their bank account at an ATM.

Home invasions are common, including at some off-resort tourist housing locations.

Store Bay, Trinidad and Tobago, cloudy sky in backgroundSteve Bennett, Flickr

Tourist Advisories

It is advised that tourists do the following:

  • Do not wear jewelry in public (leave it at home entirely)
  • Avoid carrying large quantities of money or multiple cards
  • Avoid isolated areas after dark
  • Travel in groups of more than two

Ocean viewsshipfactory, Shutterstock

Tourist Advisories Cont’d

  • Use locks – on everything from cars, luggage, hotel rooms, etc.
  • Only use licensed transportation (plate number will begin with ‘H’)
  • Only stay in reputable hotels/resorts
  • Use official tour guides for excursions, not people who offer from the street

Landscape photo of a Pigeon Point beach with palm trees in Trinidad and Tobagoneiljs, Flickr

Final Thoughts

With already 15 lives taken so far in 2024, and a record high of lives taken in the previous two years, the future of Trinidad and Tobago is looking grim.

While it remains one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, its safety ratings are at an all-time low making it one of those places that is suggested we admire from afar.

beach in trinidad and tobagoRichard Semik, Shutterstock

Sources: 1, 2, 3