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Trinidad & Tobago

Health & safety

Dangers & annoyances

Tobagonians warn of rampant lawlessness in Trinidad, and Trinidadians say crime is increasing in Tobago. While such claims substantiate a real crime increase, they tend to exaggerate the dangers of travel on the islands. At night, avoid walking alone at night, especially around dark, desolate areas and particularly in Port of Spain. Theft can be a problem, especially in touristy parts of Tobago, so keep an eye on your valuables.

The perceived (often real) disparity between ‘rich’ travelers and ‘poor’ locals is sometimes too much to bear. Paranoia is unnecessary, but you should be aware of your belongings, and avoid carrying large sums of cash. When you go to the beach, even the more remote ones, don’t bring anything of value.

Some travelers find the aggressive selling tactics of souvenir hawkers or boat-ride sellers annoying. Just be firm but polite and you’ll usually be left alone. Women may also feel frustrated by the overt attention of men, but – again – be firm but polite. While flirting will invite more hassle, a friendly, formal greeting can be disarming. Whether you’re male or female, a ‘good morning’ is the first step to befriending a local.

Trinidad and Tobago gets its share of no-see-ums (tiny fleas that munch on your skin), especially in the afternoon and early evening. Mosquitoes in the rainforest can also be a bother. A good, strong bug spray will make you a much happier person.

If you’ve traveled around other Caribbean islands you may have encountered a lax attitude toward drugs. Beware – smoking pot in Trinidad and Tobago is a serious offense and getting caught can quickly ruin your holiday.

AIDS and HIV is an increasingly dire problem in the Caribbean, and Trinidad and Tobago is not excluded, especially Tobago. UNAIDS reported that 27, 000 people were infected in 2006. If you do choose to have sexual relations, always use a condom. For the most current information, check out www.unaids.org. The national AIDS hotline is 625-2437.