Gaspar Grande, Trinidad

Photo: Grueslayer [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or CC BY-SA 3.0   (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0 )], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Grueslayer [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0 )], via Wikimedia Commons
You’re heading to a secret island. It’s made of limestone, covered with unusual plants, and lined with deserted beaches. It was once home to a whaling station, sugar plantations, and forts. A pirate’s treasure is supposedly still buried there. While a natural cave system is deep underground.

The island is Gaspar Grande. It’s one of the Bocas Islands, which lie in the Dragon’s Mouths that separates Trinidad from Venezuela. Though only a few miles west of Port of Spain, Trinidad’s busy capital, few tourists visit—or even know about—”Down the Islands.”

So you were curious the first time you heard about them. Then you became determined to go when they were mentioned again. That’s how you ended up on a little fishing boat jostling across the choppy water from Chaguaramas Bay.

Photo: Go Trinidad and Tobago
Photo: Go Trinidad and Tobago

After a quick, 15-minute ride, you arrive at Point Baliene, the former whaling station, on Gaspar Grande’s southwestern coast. Pass tall yellow poui, manicou figs, and sugar-apples as you head inland. Two yellow-headed parrots seem to guide the way toward the Gasparee Caves. It’s a steep descent into them, though it doesn’t take long to start seeing fascinating geological formations. Stalactites, stalagmites, and flowing stones are near the entrance. Colorful lights shine on them. A small saline pool is in the twilight area. It sparkles from the little bit of sunshine reaching it. While the dark zone is true to its name. You follow your guide and stick to the path illuminated by the headlamps.

When you finish exploring the Gasparee Caves, you can continue to others: White Cave, Brioge Cavern, and Precipice Cavern. See the old canons from World War II at Bombshell Bay, a former fort. Try to find William Dampiers Tunnel—according to legend, the pirate’s treasure chest is only accessible a few days each year. Walk along Winn’s Bay, Bordel Bay, or St. Madeline Bay. Then hike to the island’s highest point—it’s only 399 feet—for a beautiful view of the Bocas Islands and Trinidad. You may not have found the treasure, but you certainly found a gem.

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