The first thing that pops into your mind when you hear Trinidad is probably Carnival: elaborate costumes, soca music, and never-ending street parties. It’s up there with New Orleans’ Mardi Gras and Spain’s La Tomatina as one of the craziest parties in the world. The annual event is held before Ash Wednesday; in 2014, the crowds will descend on Port of Spain in the beginning of March. But what about the rest of the year?
The celebration actually begins right after Christmas with concerts, limbo competitions, and steelpan band practices. No one travels to Trinidad for the preshow, though. Instead, they head to the southernmost Caribbean island–only seven miles north of Venezuela–for the Creole food and culture, as well as the deserted beaches.
To find those deserted beaches though, you have to head away from the busy, oil-focused capital. Sans Souci, a small town on the northeastern coast, fits the bill nicely. On one side, it’s where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. Plantain farms are on the other, with the Northern Range as the backdrop.
Make Anise Resort and Spa your home base. Their shuttle will pick you up from the airport and drive you through the winding country roads. You’ll be welcomed to the small, family run resort with a glass of fruit punch–with a strip of sugar cane instead of a straw–and the view over the pool to the water. Given the resort’s location, make a point to watch the sun rise at least one or two mornings. Have coffee on the rocks at Galera Point, where the ocean meets the sea, near the Toco Lighthouse. Or have a sunrise breakfast on the beach. Swim in the infinity pool that has a mosaic of the Toco leatherback sea turtle. Sip a nutty Carib Beer from a stool at the Swizzle Stick Bar. And get a hot stone massage at the spa.
When you’re ready to explore, follow L’Anse Noire Road through the tropical forest for views of the northern coast. Along the nature walk, you’ll see black sage used for sweeping and bamboo used for crab traps. Then head to Big Bay. The beach will be empty except for a few surfers wiping out in the huge waves. Walk along the yellow sand to find rock pools, waves pounding against rocks, and bending palm trees. One of them will be a perfect place to take a nap. And now that the last surfer is gone, you have the entire stretch of sand all to yourself.