“Miss Andrea, why are you carrying that heavy bag on your shoulder? Put it on the cart. You’re in Trinidad now. You can relax.” I had to laugh. Yes, I could relax, as our welcoming committee at Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre had said. We were home.

Trinidad is unlike most other Caribbean islands; you won’t find the all-inclusive beach resorts often equated with the Caribbean. You will find a country that you’ll fall in love with, from the mountains and beaches to the music and food. My children and I have been traveling to Trinidad for many years and consider it our second home. We have many sights and foods that we consider an essential part of any visit, but our ideal day is always a trip to Maracas Bay.

Maracas Bay is my favorite place to be in Trinidad. This beach is the closest to Port of Spain, about a 45 minute drive from town, although you’ll only cover about 15 miles to get there. This is thanks to the twisty, winding road through the Northern Range.

Honestly, if you or your children are prone to car sickness, best to be prepared with your favorite cure (see some useful tips here). The views are stunning though, shifting from thick, tropical forest to that first amazing glimpse of the ocean as you reach the crest of the mountain range. We always take a break at the Maracas Overlook, which is just a few minutes from Maracas Bay.

We get that first, grand view of the bay and we can stock up at the little snack stands filled with local specialties plus many familiar candies and snacks. But try something different! My children love the preserved fruit, like salt prunes and plums, while my favorite is mango chow, an absolutely fantastic mix of just barely ripe mango, hot peppers, lime and most important, chadon beni, a local herb.

Leaving the Maracas Overlook, the road curves down the mountain for just a few more miles until you turn that final curve and see Maracas Bay. I crave this first, up close view with the combination of the rough ocean, coconut trees, and the small food shacks, ideally while soca plays on the local radio station.

This is not an isolated beach; you’ll find the essentials you need to stay for a day including restrooms and those very important food shacks. The beach also has lifeguards who carefully monitor the currents, which can be treacherous. When it comes to Trinidad food, you cannot leave without a shark and bake (a fry bread) from Maracas Bay. Three sauces are essential: pepper (hot sauce), chadon beni, and garlic. Heaven. Pholourie is a great snack to have after the shark and bake has settled. Kids particularly like it, as it consists of bite-sized balls of fried, seasoned dough with spicy sweet tamarind sauce to dip in.

After a long, hot day at the beach, we head back to our home away from home, Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre. The hotel is ideally located on a hillside in Port of Spain with a gorgeous view of the city, Queen’s Park Savannah, and the Gulf of Paria. We particularly enjoy the unusual hotel layout, where the main entrance and lobby are situated at the top of the hotel, with the rooms located on lower floors. Our favorite memory of the hotel is eating breakfast on the restaurant balcony while watching iguanas in the trees.

As always, we treasure our time in Trinidad and look forward to when we can return. Consider bringing the kids to this Caribbean island for a unique experience.

This article was originally published by Hilton Mom Voyage.

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