Port of Spain to Arima Blanchisseuse Maracas

Leaving the city on Beetham Highway, head east and exit when you see the sign for Arima. We would give you directions through Arima to Blanchisseuse Road, but in Arima we got lost, hopelessly, as always. A maxi-taxi driver with all his passengers took the time to lead us out of town. He drove up and down, and around, and left and right and got us to the right road. He was an absolute angel - we gave him TT$15 to have a beer on us when the day was done.

You never know whether or not to pay someone for a service like the one described above, but we've found that tips are appreciated when you say something like "have a beer with a friend on us," rather than just handing over money and saying thanks. That can sometimes be insulting when somebody's done something nice for you with no expectation of payment.

The Blanchisseuse Road, where you'll find Asa Wright, runs between Arima and Blanchisseuse. It is a marvelous drive, crossing the mountainous area called the Northern Range, which separates busy, commercially developed Arima and the tiny, quiet, village of Blanchisseuse on the northern coast. The road itself is very narrow, a winding mountain trail that takes you through luxuriant, seemingly impenetrable, rain forest. It is a feast for the eyes and for the spirit, dense green vegetation and almost complete isolation. We found ourselves in awe of nature's great abundance.

Along the way you'll see nothing but the spectacular rain forest foliage, wildflowers, birds, and butterflies. If we could choose only one day's drive in Trinidad, this would be it. It has stiff competition from the drive to Toco, but the Blanchisseuse road wins for several reasons. The road surface is in better condition, the vegetation is spectacular without being overpowering, and it's deserted. You might see five cars along the way, but no more. It's very easy driving, but you'll get lots of arm and wrist exercise on the steering wheel. The road is one of the most twisted we've been on.

As you near the coast there is a newly built, quite fancy intersection. If you bear right, you'll find yourself in Upper Blanchisseuse, a very small village. Keep your eyes open for Surf's Country Inn and Restaurant, Second Spring and Bougan Villa guest houses. Follow the road along the coast through the village and you'll see the Marianne River, the Blanchisseuse Beach Resort and Coco's Hut Restaurant. Some rivers in this part of Trinidad have caiman, but the Marianne is said to be safe for swimming. Over the river there's an old bridge with a sign that warns of its deteriorating condition. You can cross it in a car, but the road doesn't go very far before ending and there are only a few homes on the other side. From Blanchisseuse, hiking trails lead back up into the mountains and to

Paria Waterfall. It's best to have a guide. Ask for Evette Olivierre at the Marianne Camping/Car Park when you get to Blanchisseuse; she knows the hills well.

Turning around, follow the road through town once again and turn right at the fancy intersection. Following that road all the way will take you right back into Port of Spain, and there's lots to see along the way. The road between Blanchisseuse and the next town leads through a bit of jungle with a few houses here and there. It's pretty quiet. Heliconia grow wild beside the road. The plant looks much like a young banana plant, but with narrower leaves and heavy hanging flowers with red with yellow edges. The heliconia is prolific in the rain forest.

Continuing along this road you'll come to Las Cuevas, another small coastal village. There's a public beach facility here, but the beach goes on almost forever if you want to take a walk to a more deserted section. Even right next to the public buildings there are few people on the beach during the week. There's one very basic hotel in town for the young and not too fastidious.

Back on your way, a little farther down the road and over a hill you'll spot Maracas Bay. This is the most popular beach in Trinidad and it is quite beautiful. Fringed with palms, the beach has recently had an overhaul with new facilities and a general sprucing up. Stop here and have a bake and shark for lunch at one of the food stands on both sides of the road - try Natalie's or Richard's. There's a small fishing village adjacent to the beach. As of this writing, there is one hotel in Maracas, but we think you'll find those in Blanchisseuse much nicer. Two new hotels are planned for this beach area, but they have not yet broken ground.

This is a very full day s drive from Port of Spain if you do it all at once. Consider staying over in Blanchisseuse, one of the few really delightful places that also has lovely guest accommodations. See the listings for Blanchisseuse in the Where To Stay and Where To Eat sections.

The road from Maracas begins climbing as you prepare to cross the Northern Range returning to Port of Spain. Following the road up, you'll pass the aptly named Bay View Restaurant on your right (and they aren't kidding about the view). Stop for a bite or soft drink. Farther ahead there's a wide overlook area with a telephone booth from which you can see Venezuela on a clear day. Right there is an almost invisible road down to what used to be the Timberline Restaurant. Unfortunately, it is no longer in business, but we heard there are plans to develop something here in the future. Take a look, because things can spring up pretty quickly. Check your brakes before descending. It is extremely steep; once on your way you will not be able to back up or turn around.

Not too far past the overlook, you will be near the top of the mountain and you'll come to what is locally called "the saddle," though there's nothing special about it. Turn right to descend into Port of Spain about a half-hour away.

The road from Port of Spain to Maracas was built for strategic reasons by the American military when they had a base in Trinidad in the 1940s. Trinidad later extended the road to Blanchisseuse.

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  • Madonna
    Where to eat in blanchisseuse?
    8 years ago

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