Why go to Trinidad?
A birder's paradise, Trinidad also offers a lovely beach, hiking and cultural attractions
The beach is an hour from port (or on sister island Tobago), and rush hour is crazy
Enough to do for a day, especially for nature enthusiasts, on the rare cruise line port call
Trinidad Cruise Port Facilities?
Inside the port facility are several souvenir and clothing shops and stalls, as well as duty-free shops. It's a good place to pick up souvenirs, as the stores downtown mostly cater to locals. There's also a tourist office, but you'll find the red-shirted tourist board representatives throughout the port and downtown, handing out maps and directing cruise travelers to the city's main attractions. A taxi dispatcher can help you get a cab and tell you the fixed rates for popular destinations.
Good to Know?
On Sundays and public holidays, downtown Port of Spain is deserted, and it's not recommended for tourists to walk around by themselves, as they run the risk of getting mugged. Also, watch out for unauthorized taxis. The rates are cheaper, but they are not regulated by the government.
Rush hour is fierce in Trinidad between the hours of 6 and 9 a.m. and 2:30 and 6 p.m. With 50,000 people living in Port of Spain and 300,000 commuting into the city for work, the streets are jammed with cars, and the going is slow. If you're on an independent excursion, leave plenty of time to get back to the port. Driving is British-style, on the left.
On Foot: It's a very easy walk -- just several blocks -- to Trinidad's downtown, centered on Independence and Frederick Streets. If you head up Independence Ave. from the waterfront, turn left on Frederick Street and take it until it ends, you'll reach the Queen's Park Savannah, Magnificent Seven, Botanical Gardens and Zoo -- but this is a much longer walk of about 20 to 30 minutes.
By Taxi: Taxis in Trinidad are not metered, so be sure to agree on a price before you get in. There are fixed rates from the port to the major tourist attractions; for example, a cab for up to four people to Maracas Bay costs $90 for dropoff, pickup and a few hours at the beach, while a ride to the Savannah will cost $15. Government-regulated cabs have license plates that start with the letter H and can be hailed at the port (taxi dispatchers can assist you) or at the taxi stands you'll see scattered around downtown and by the Queen's Park Savannah.
By Car: There are no national car rental agencies at the port, but a few local agencies have offices nearby. If you do choose to rent a car in Port of Spain, remember that driving is U.K.-style on the left, and traffic can be very heavy. If you have a short day in port, you're probably better off taking a taxi or tour to destinations outside the city.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Local currency is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar; check www.xe.com for current conversion rates. The Trinidad and Tobago dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of TT$6.30 to $1. U.S. dollars are accepted in many places, so be sure to ask which type of dollar is being quoted if you're unsure. You can find many banks and ATM's along Independence Ave., a short walk from the port. Credit cards are accepted in most restaurants and shops and even at some Bake & Shark stands on the beach.
English is the official language, but most people speak a Trinidadian Creole English dialect.