The wild and rugged coastline of Trinidad’s northeast tip feels more remote than anywhere else in the region; it takes close to four hours to drive from Port of Spain to Matelot, where the paved road ends. Cut off from most of the island by the dense rainforest of the Northern Range, the region seems suspended in a time warp; people and houses are few and far between and an air of hypnotic quiet pervades. The villages strung along the coast are close-knit and spirited communities, making their own entertainment at rum shops, country parties and fishermen’s fetes. Farming and fishing are the mainstays of the economy, with tiny roadside stalls offering fruit and vegetables, plus shark oil, saltfish, honey and sea moss.
The Toco Main Road (also known as Matura or Paria Road) loops northeast from Sangre Grande to Matelot, beyond which untamed bush and unreachable rocky coves entice you to scramble down the cliffs. While a number of fantastic waterfalls lie inland, the region’s coastline is most famous for the leatherback turtles, which lumber up onto the sand here to lay eggs between February and August, their eggs hatching tiny shuffling babies between June and September. Matura and Grande Riviere are the most well-known places for guided night-time turtle-watching. Grande Riviere has the advantage of a good choice of accommodation, though its distance from Port of Spain means some visitors opt for Matura, enabling them to do some turtle-watching and return home the same night. Most people take a few days to visit this region, however, in order to fully appreciate its awe-inspiring coastline of weather-beaten cliffs and golden beaches, with surfers riding the breakers.