& the ABC ISLANDS
Winter escape to islands off the coast of Venezuela
> 7 weeks across Trinidad, Tobago, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao in the Caribbean off Venenzuela <
Trinidad is quite un-Caribbean due to its very individual character. In fact, Trinidad feels very different from the rest of the +20 Caribbean islands that we’ve been visiting during several trips. It is a hotpot of mixed people descended from Africa, India, Lebanon, Syria and China. All over are open-air stalls serving curry roti – perhaps the best outside the Indian subcontinent –, callaloo soup and root beer. We stayed two weeks here on Trinidad during late December and based ourselves on the northern coast in the mountains, an extension of the Andes Mountains since before Trinidad broke off from South America. A rented car brought us around the island to explore its many windy beaches, mangrove swamps, and mud volcanoes, while we also did several hikes into the rainforest of the northern range to search for remote waterfalls. After celebrating a wild, street-party-style New Year’s Eve in Port of Spain together with the Trinidadians, famed for their legendary party stamina, we continued to Tobago, the next-door neighbor east of Trinidad.
In Tobago, a local saying goes: “If there is no room in heaven send me back to Tobago”. In many ways Tobago is a microcosm of what first-time visitors might imagine a Caribbean island to be: frequently deserted beaches, an unspoilt rainforest, and a local island population practicing a go-slow attitude. We stayed here for two full weeks during January, rented a four-wheel drive and toured around the island several times. In south and west are several lazy beaches and coves such as Pigeon Point, Man o’War Bay and Pirate’s Bay, while the route around the island tracks the northern ridge of mountains and runs up through the rainforest to the fishing village of Charlotteville with good diving offshore. There are many small secret corners of the island, where the mood is mellow and we could laze on the beach to watch the evenings ebb away with a bottle of Stag or Carib beer.
Finally, while fleeing the Danish winter, we spent three weeks hopping across the southern trio, the ABC islands, off the coast of Venezuela, down in the deep south of the Caribbean. Aruba is all about beaches, but the coast on the northeast is rugged and wild and hence good for long walks. Also, there is a splendid barrier reef on the southwest coast. Bonaire is the odd island of the ABCs. It is desert-like and dry, but it has some of the best preserved reefs in all of the Caribbean. Acutally, many belive it is the absolute best diving spot across the entire Caribbean. It’s relative lack of tourists means much of its coral is very intact. Flamingos wander the terrain of multicolored salt plains, and the island is one big eco-friendly backpacker haunt. Finally, Curacao is the most “Creole” of the three islands with a very vibrant cultural mix and lovely exotic markets. The natural beauty of the island is astonishing – it’s a real gem. Also, there is a range of good walks crisscrossing the island.
For more Caribbean adventures nearby check our or pages on the upper part of the Volcanic Arc, the lower part of the Volcanic Arc, the Limestone Arc of islands and Montserrat. Other more farflung adventures in the Caribbena are the Mesoamerican Reef, the Corn Islands and the Bocas del Toro islands.