A few hundred metres west from Carenage, past the large white bauxite loading plant that juts into the sea, the Western Main Road enters CHAGUARAMAS (pronounced “sha-ger-rah-mus”). Home to red howler and capuchin monkeys, armadillos, ocelots and anteaters, much of this land here has remained virtually untouched, with shallow beaches around the coast and miles of virgin rainforest in its mountainous interior, much of which is now a protected national park. Along the coast, however, the hulking hangars left by the Americans aren’t particularly pretty, and the string of marinas obscures most of the southern waterline. The area’s administrators, the Chaguaramas Development Company (CDA), have made efforts in recent years to beautify the coast, lining Williams Bay with a lovely boardwalk and, at the time of writing, constructing an adjacent leisure development slated to include a children’s playground and climbing walls. More ambitious plans yet to come to fruition include an upgrade of the golf course at Chagville Beach and construction of a new resort hotel.
The open stretches of coast that remain are popular spots for locals to swim or go fishing; come to Chaguaramas on a weekend and you’ll see people liming on the beaches, paddling Williams Bay in kayaks or splashing in the shallows and, in Tucker Valley, cycling and jogging along the quiet roads and hiking in the forests. Many also make a beeline for Macqueripe Beach, a delightful north coast cove at the far end of the valley and the best beach in the Port of Spain environs, with cool green waters and some handsome landscaping. Chaguaramas is also well worth a visit at night, when a glamorous crowd comes in from the capital to frequent the restaurants or attend one of the regular parties staged in the area’s open-air venues.