Geographically, Trinidad’s south presents a mirror image of the north: a long littoral extending beyond the main body of the island, with the low ridge of the forested Southern Range as its spine. In the Gulf of Paria, where the southwest peninsula crooks a finger towards Venezuela, Trinidad’s second city, precipitous San Fernando, sits at the base of its oddly shaped landmark hill, while to the south, the vast reserves of asphalt at the Pitch Lake represents the only organized attraction in these parts.
That’s as far as the comparison goes, however. San Fernando is a booming business town, but beyond its city limits lies Trinidad’s most sparsely populated region. Although many southerners still earn a living from agriculture and fishing, the economy here is hinged around oil, pumped both from offshore rigs and the 1600-odd pumping jacks scattered all over the countryside, many in large expanses of forest which, aside from the pumps, remain largely undeveloped. The coast, meanwhile, is similarly untouched, with picturesque Cedros and Icacos, and the remote fishing village of Moruga, seeing few visitors, despite offering gorgeous scenery and lovely yellow-sand beaches, best visited during the dry season (December to May) when the sea and sand are clear; during the rainy months, rivers wash mud and a fair bit of rubbish into the sea.
Though the south isn’t traditional tourist territory, you’ll find that hospitality is second to none here, with locals keen to show visitors what Trini life is like away from the capital. The lack of tourism is a mixed blessing, though: there are no crowds but also few facilities for visitors. Outside of San Fernando, accommodation is practically nonexistent, but given the somnolent nature of the south, and its relatively compact area, you’re best off staying in San Fernando anyway, exploring by way of day-trips and returning in the evenings to take advantage of the city’s bars and restaurants. Given that Port of Spain is only an hour’s drive from San Fernando, it’s also more than possible to see the south from there.
Top image: Cliffs of Columbus Bay © Kevin Huggins/Shutterstock