Hi, Friends -
1) In Port of Spain, I was lodged for four non-consecutive nights at Hyatt Regency Trinidad, and in Tobago, I was lodged for four consecutive nights at Castara Retreats. My very positive reviews of those lodgings have already been published by TripAdvisor.
2) For a guidebook, I used "The Rough Guide to Trinidad & Tobago." Sadly, this was the only guidebook that I could find that covered Trinidad and Tobago. Anyone planning on visiting the islands, especially for Carnival, might find this book helpful. No, you don't have to read the entire book, just the relevant chapter(s).
3) When you fill out the Customs and Immigration form on the airplane prior to arriving in Port of Spain, be sure to keep the bottom portion (Departure Card) of this form when it is given back to you by the Immigration agent. You will need to present this Departure Card to your airline agent when you leave the country.
4) Be prepared for rigorous questions from the Customs agent. I was asked how long I was going to be in Trinidad, where I was staying, why I decided to visit Trinidad, and a couple of other questions. It was the most thorough questioning that I've ever received while traveling to 28 different countries since 2008.
5) The bright yellow taxi desk is immediately after you go through the Customs area at Piarco International Airport.
6) $30 US for a taxi from the airport to Hyatt Regency Trinidad and vice-versa. Between the hours of 10pm and 6am, the cost is $45.
7) A SIM card and service plan can be purchased for your unlocked smartphone at the Digicel office on Independence Square. You will need your passport to make the transaction. Here is a list of Digicel's service plans:
I chose the 10-Day Quick Pick Plan for 100 TTD and purchased a SIM card for an additional 49 TTD.
8) I exchanged $200 US for 1340 TTD ($1 US = 6.70 TTD) at Western Union, located on the second floor of Excellent Stores shopping center on Independence Square. I needed to show my passport to make the transaction. I did notice a couple of stores offering 7 TTD per $1 US in the vicinity of Woodford Square.
9) The Greyfriars Church (mentioned in "The Rough Guide to Trinidad & Tobago" as being dilapidated and in need of renovation) has now been completely torn down and is simply a parking lot.
10) The restaurant Chaud (mentioned in "The Rough Guide to Trinidad & Tobago as being located at 2 Queen's Park West) has moved to 6 Nook Avenue. A Haagen-Dazs ice cream store is now located at 2 Queen's Park West.
11) While in Trinidad, a variety of tours are available through Banwari Experience:
I selected their North Coast Hop and Beach Stop tour. Pick-up was at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad around 1130am, with the tour ending in the same location at 5pm. The tour (by car) started at the lighthouse in Port of Spain, with a drive past notable landmarks in the city. The tour continued through the mountains towards Maracas Beach, with stops at the Maracas Lookout and a small chocolate shop (unfortunately closed the day before due to flash flooding). After Maracas Beach, the tour continued through Paramin and Maraval and ended back in Port of Spain. Small candies at the Maracas Lookout, a bake 'n shark at Richard's Bake 'n Shark, and a rum beverage at Cool Breeze Bar in Paramin were all included in the cost. The tour was very picturesque, with several stops along the way for photo opportunities. Because it was just me alone for the tour, the cost was $125 US, but I believe for 2 or more people, the cost drops to $65 US per person.
12) Taxis between Piarco International Airport and Hyatt Regency Trinidad, depending on traffic, took between 20 and 25 minutes for the journey.
13) At Piarco International Airport, while waiting for your Caribbean Airlines flight to Tobago, do not attempt to take pictures of the airplanes. Posted signs expressly forbid the taking of photographs, and if you are seen by an airport staff member taking pictures, you will be approached and told to delete the photograph(s) from your phone or camera.
14) Argyle Falls: 60 TTD entry fee.
15) The best supermarket in Castara (stocking everything from toiletries to alcohol to fresh fruit to batteries to cold drinks) is located across the wooden bridge and in the immediate vicinity of the restaurant Cascreole.
16) For a bird watching tour in Tobago, consider Newton George:
The tour began at 6am and ended at 10am. For bird watching, the tour included several stops on the road in the Tobago Forest Reserve as well as a hike along a slightly muddy/rocky trail deeper into the Reserve. Cost $65 US.
17) Sunday School is a popular social event held every Sunday in Buccoo Village beginning at 730pm. Steel pan drumming, partying, local guys meeting foreign girls, and foreign guys meeting local guys, are popular activities at Sunday School.
18) Service is very slow in restaurants in Tobago. It was not unusual for me to receive my food 1 to 2 hours after placing an order.
19) The tip (service charge) was included on my bills in restaurants in Trinidad and Tobago.
20) The exchange rate that was used on Tobago was $1 US = 6 TTD.
21) African drumming is performed at The Boat House in Castara each Wednesday beginning around 830pm, with a bonfire on the beach in from of Cascreole in Castara each Thursday. A charge of 20 TTD was included in my dinner bill at The Boat House as an admission fee for the African drumming.
22) In Trinidad, great meals were had at Apsara and Richard's Bake n' Shark. In Tobago, great meals were had at D' Almond Tree, Cheno's, Caribbean Kitchen, Marguarite's, Jemma's, The Boat House and Cascreole.
23) You will not pass through Immigration again at Piarco International Airport when you leave Trinidad.
24) When checking-in with your airline, use the kiosks instead of standing in the long check-in line (I was able to do this when checking-in for my American Airlines departure flight).
Comments and questions are welcome from other TripAdvisor members.