The twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) offers a bountiful selection of wildlife, ranging from the iconic scarlet ibis to docile leatherback turtles.
The indigenous Carib and Arawak population gave the land the name ‘Iere’ meaning ‘Land of the Hummingbird’ – a name most fitting for this incredible country.
In fact due to the proximity of South America, many species of flora and fauna from the mainland can be found on the islands, making for a unique wildlife experience when compared to the other islands in the Caribbean.
Take a walk on the wild side with these six beautiful locations to see wildlife in Trinidad and Tobago!
Caroni Swamp and Bird Sanctuary
This intricate maze of lush, dense mangroves is home to an abundance of wildlife.
Most famously the nation’s national bird can be found – the aforementioned scarlet ibis. Visit here and you’ll see a tantalizing display of vibrant red nestled amongst thick leafy foliage. These creatures are a real treat for the eyes.
The swamp is also home to many other species such as cook’s boa, crabs and caiman.
The location is easily accessible from the country’s capital, Port of Spain, as it is only a 30 minute drive away. You can choose from numerous reputable and knowledgeable tour guides in the city to take you here, or better yet, let your hotel find one for you.
If you want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city, then Caroni Swamp and Bird Sanctuary is the perfect escape.
This two in one location is perfect for wildlife lovers who want to enjoy a beach vacation whilst getting the opportunity to witness nesting leatherback turtles.
Situated along the north coast of Trinidad, this fairly remote location is perfect for those looking for peace and tranquillity.
It’s a place not widely known by tourists and so offers a very local experience.
The beach itself is quiet, long and wide, however the real highlight are the turtles that can be found nesting between March and August; with peak months being April and May.
Please note that to view these gentle giants you must purchase a permit from the Grand Riviere facility, as the beach is heavily protected to prevent poaching and other activities that may disturb the turtles. It’s all for good reason, as it helps ensure that a healthy population of these wonderful creatures will continue to populate this stunning coastal landscape.
The local people here also have a strong connection to nature and view the natural world in a spiritual way. In particular, the ‘Earth People’ who practice a religion that is a cross between Rastafari and various West African religions.
Our main tip to enjoy the full experience? Stay a night or two at one of the many local guesthouses or hotels in the area so you can fully enjoy this untamed region of Trinidad.
*Ticket costs: US$15 for adults, US$8 for children (12 and under), the ticket includes a permit, information and a tour guide.
*Bonus location: Matura is another location to see nesting leatherback turtles.
Asa Wright Nature Centre
Located in the Arima Valley, this bird watchers paradise is a great opportunity for visitors to observe an array of colorful birds as they weave among exotic flora.
Getting to explore nature here, is not just a treat for the eyes. It’s also one for the ears as you’re exposed to a tropical orchestra of birdsong.
It’s a good idea to use a guide as they will help identify the wildlife that inhabit the tropical forest, along with any points of interest,
There are two commonly walked trails, ‘The discovery trail’ and ‘The oilbird trail’, however you can venture further into the forest to explore more wildlife.
The lodge at the nature centre also offers accommodation and a restaurant to ensure you are fully rested and energized for your adventures.
Do remember to wear appropriate footwear as some routes are slightly more difficult without it.
Wildlife you may encounter include: oilbirds, bearded bellbird, hummingbird, red-rumped agouti, toucan, and many more weird and wonderful creatures.
Situated in East Trinidad, this biologically diverse area of marshland, forest and mangrove, is scarred by winding waterways and is home to a multitude of wildlife.
Expect to see the reintroduced blue and yellow Macaw (and its red counterpart) as well as loud red howler monkeys – all of which are cane be seen via trails that enter the vegetation.
Due to the swamp’s sheltered location, this environment is also home to the highly endangered West Indian manatee. Although it is rare to see these docile creatures, they are occasionally spotted – maybe you will be one of the lucky ones!
This place is also a perfect example of how similar the nature and wildlife is between nearby Venezuela and Trinidad, and as such, how unique the island is when compared to other Caribbean nations.
A guide is recommended if you want to learn about the wildlife you will encounter.
Nestled in the central range of Trinidad, these caves are home to a huge variety of different bat species.
In fact it’s estimated that there are about three million bats within these caves, making it the perfect location for those who appreciate these interesting creatures.
The steady ascent up Mount Tamana is pleasant, allowing visitors to catch glimpses of the Caroni Plains from a distance.
Once the mouth of the cave is reached (about a 30 to 40 minute walk) you will be able see a crowd of bats covering the caves’ ceiling. Expect to see nine different species such as the Trinidadian funnel-eared bat, the long-nose bat, and supposedly according to local legend, the infamous vampire bat which likes to live deep in the cave – keep your eyes peeled!
The trek, and the copious amount of bat droppings you will encounter, are made worthwhile at dusk when the bats feed, creating a blanket of flapping, leathery wings that make their way out of the cave to hunt insects.
A visit to Tamana Caves truly is an adventure of a lifetime.
Scuba diving in Tobago
If you can scuba dive, or wish to learn to scuba in Tobago then you will be exposed to an array of incredible sealife.
Scuba divers in Tobago are lucky as they can dive in the reefs around Tobago which are teeming with marine animals such as moray eels, nurse and reef sharks, turtles, stingrays, eagle rays, barracuda and a colourful assortment of reef fish (our favorite is the parrot fish).
Conveniently you can become a qualified scuba diver, as there are many schools on the island. Here are five dive spots to explore when in Tobago:
- Kariwak Reef – A perfect place for beginners to get a feel for diving. Located just off Store Bay, the water is shallow and clear, still allowing divers to see octopus, turtles, and moray eel.
- Mount Irvine Wall – One of the most popular dive spots in Tobago, and a great place to see queen angelfish, eagle rays, turtles, and barracuda.
- The Sisters – Sitting off the shore of Englishman’s Bay, these rock protrusions are host to many passing marine life, such as the elegant manta ray, turtles, lobster and octopus. However if you are visiting in winter there is a possibility to see hammerhead sharks.
- Cove Crack – A location teeming with a variety of reef fish, the ledges and cracks act as a nursery for fish. Groupers and parrot fish are common, as well as different species of ray.
- Diver’s Dream – Off the shore of Crown Point, this Tobago dive spot is home to 6ft sponges, black-tip reef sharks, and occasional sightings of bull and tiger sharks. If comfortable around sharks this spot is a must.
Our hope is that this article will help you discover the incredible wildlife on offer in Trinidad and Tobago – as a bonus, here are some other locations that may interest you!
- Little Tobago – Bird watching
- Main Ridge Forest Reserve – Bird watching
- Speyside – Bird watching and snorkeling/diving