Often referred to as the “deep south”, Trinidad’s southwest peninsula offers a mix of gritty industrial development around oil towns such as Point Fortin, Siparia and Fyzabad as well as some marvellous drives to sleepy backwaters such as Erin and down through teak plantations to gorgeous beaches like Quinam, where the soft brown sand is backed by red-earth cliffs and lapped by calm seas – an escapist’s fantasy and usually deserted apart from the odd fisherman. Heading along the Southern Main Road down to Trinidad’s extreme southwest tip takes you though seaside Cedros and down through the vast coconut plantations around Columbus Bay to Icacos Point, with its rugged fishing beach and pretty wetlands. The atmosphere in this part of Trinidad is irresistibly low-key – and this tranquillity, along with the scenery, is its main draw.
Despite its proximity to industrial San Fernando, and its threatened status thanks to the construction of the new highway between San Fernando and Point Fortin the mangrove swampland of the Oropuche Lagoon remains a wildlife haven, teeming with tropical birds and seldom visited. The area’s most important tourist site, though, is the unique Pitch Lake at La Brea, an interesting and worthwhile excursion if you are in the area. As to culinary exploration, look no further than the delicious roti shops and street-food stalls of Debe, one of Trinidad’s most wholeheartedly Indian settlements.