Trinidad Carnival 2023
Returning to Trinidad was so sweet. It was like we never left. I am going to tell you all about my trip back to Trinidad Carnival. We will touch on everything from flights to fetes.
This year flights prices were at an all time high. American Airlines was canceling flights 2 - 3 months before carnival. All ticket prices were running about $1500 to $2000 one way no matter where your destination city was. POS is not an 24hr airport. During Carnival they change their hours to 24hrs to accommodate the influx of travelers. The line was long going through TSA. It took us about 1.5 hours to get through. In customs when completing the form you must provide the address and phone number to where you are staying as well as declaring large amounts of cash or other items.
Airline: Flight 303 Copa Airlines - LAX to PTY 12:52am - 10:34am (6.42hr flight) with a 10.28hr layover in Panama City then PTY to POS 9:02pm - 1:07am (3.5m hr flight)
Cell Phone Service
When arriving there are 2 cell companies in the airport. We stopped in and got a SIM card so we can get service on the island. B-Mobile and Digicel. During carnival they may offer a special for visitors. This year Yuma teamed up with Digicel for a discount package. Even with the SIM card we still had to use WhatsApp on the island to communicate with people locally. You will get a local number. But the down side is you will not get your calls and texts from your original number while using another SIM card.
The rental car company we rented from was not open when we landed. There were some companies that were open. I would recommend booking your rental or transportation after you purchase your airline tickets. We were left stranded by Economy Rental Car. I took a maxi and went to my Airbnb for the night he charged us $60US. Got up the next morning and took a maxi back to the airport to pick up my rental ca. He charged us $40us. The going price to the airport is $40us. When I arrived to the airport I was 30mins late to my reservation time and they canceled my reservation. I had booked a car with them for $400 for the week. I ended up having to look around to another rental car company and spent $800+ for the rental for the week. Only drive if you can drive on the left side of the road and the right side of the car.
Transportation options: Maxi also known as a taxi. They are always available. Get the drivers name and number so you can call when you need a ride. Especially outside of normal hours. Rental car - Try to grab a deal before getting to the island. Ride Share - You can prebook a ride share for about $60us per person per day to transport you and a group to fetes and your hotel.
We stayed at a very nice Airbnb 2 mins away from Queens Park Savannah. It was very quiet and convenient. Prices per night for any space and hotel ran abut $500 - $600 per night. On the off season the hotels run $115 - $216 per night. Staying in or near POS is most expensive because that is where all the action happens. In 2020 we stayed in Arouca near the golf course. It's further from POS, the neighborhood was nice and the prices were cheeper.
Stay Options: Hotel - Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Brixx and the Raddison. Of course there are lots more but I have not stayed or heard feedback about them. Airbnb - When booking an airbnb do not book a stay unless you talk with someone who knows the area pretty well. Just like any other place some areas are not safe. Taxi drivers will not even take you there. If you have friends or family stay with them and pay them for your room and board.
There are doubles vendors and corn soup vendors on the road. You must stop and grab a bite. It is one of my favorite snacks when I hit Trini. We took a trip up to Maracas Beach and got some Bake and Shark. The best Bake and Shark was at Natalie's. Fresh Coconuts are a must. There are vendors are all over the island. Royal Castle chicken is sooo good. At every store the line was almost out the door. But I finally got my hands on some. I love the warm honey roasted peanuts. Peanuts are sold around Queens Park Savannah, the peanut guy likes to walk around the street at a light and we found them at the stick fighting competition.
Sites to see
We hiked to Maracas Waterfall. It rained a bit on the way there and back but the sun dried it quickly after. The hike took about 45mins and it was medium in level of difficulty. It was so beautiful and powerful. The waterfall fall was charging.
Manzanilla Beach is one of my favorite beached off the beaten path. After the floods the water damage was shocking. The roads were washed away as well as the homes. We had to drive on the dirt road to access the beach.
Maracas Beach is a common beach everyone goes to for Bake and Shark. On Ash Wednesday there is a cool down fete. The iconic I love Trinidad sign is sitting at the entrance. The drive up to Maracas is pretty dangerous. All hills for miles. Careful you must share the road. Keep and eye out for the occasional stray dog. But the view is beautiful.
Carnival Costume & Carnival Band
We played with Yuma in their Rozay section with Ramajay. Costume pick up is best when you are able to grab your costume on your sections scheduled day. The closer it gets to the weekend it gets very busy and it's crunch time. More people have arrived to the island and want to grab their costumes so they can commence to fêting. The mas camps are a mad house the closer it gets to carnival. Yuma did something a little different this time. Usually pick up is at their headquarters. There was 2 pick up locations across from Queens Park Savanah. We picked up at the main location.
You can end up spending over $2000us to attend the fetes. I do not like spending my whole trip on any island at the fetes. I pick two of the best fetes and the rest of the time we are traveling around the island visiting, eating and going on excursions.
Fete 1: Soca Brainwashed - Theme was Birthday. The venue is
always at St. Mary's College. The cell phone service in this area is bad because it is a dead zone. When you entered they handed you a Soca Brainwash cup and a birthday tiara. It was beautifully decorated. Colorful and social media picture ready. This is an all inclusive party. The food ran out fast. There were bars all around the park. There were 2 stages with DJs so you had a choice with music. Jumbies. Freebies. When you leave they hand you a goodie bag.
Fete 2: J'ouvert - We played J'ouvert with Red Ants who is managed by Tribe. In order to get a J'ouvert package with tribe you have to know a committee member to send you a link to register and purchase a T-Shirt or Monokini. Pick up was fast and organized. Meet up was at 3am Monday morning and you could grab a coffee and paint at the start. We crossed the stage at the Soca Dome at sunrise. The feeling is like no other. J'ouvert ends around 9am.
In Trinidad you have 2 days of carnival.
Carnival Monday - starts around 10:30am following J'ouvert. Bands do not provide Monday wear. Some bands sell it but you must get your own Monday wear by making it yourself or ordering a custom piece from a designer. Tribe picks a color theme every year. In 2020 the color was white. This year 2023 the color was orange. Since I was with Yuma we didn't have a color theme. I still wore orange. I got my Monday Wear piece from Touched by Nicole.
Carnival Tuesday - This was the day we had been waiting for. Meeting up was in front of Yuma's building. They cross 2 stages on the route. The first stage is small then around 2pm we hit the rest lunch spot. Grabbed a bite, listened to music and got some shade. Once back on the road we headed to the Soca Dome to cross the stage. The sun was setting so the pictures were not the best like 2020 when we crossed during the day. This year most of the bands crossed the Soca Dome and we were one of the last bands to cross the stage. As we hit the main Street headed back to Yuma we picked up a huge crowd. We finally stopped around 11pm grabbed a bite and crashed before our flight home.