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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Get Off the Beach in Trinidad


5. Oddball Day

A worker shows tourists the tar extraction process at Pitch Lake.  

Heal thyself during a day trip to Trinidad’s southwest corner, home to two unusual geological formations believed to have medicinal properties. Maxi taxis run regularly from the capital to Chaguanas; look for the green markers on the side. From Chaguanas, shuttles then run to San Fernando, a good rally point for the day. Or, hire a private driver for the day ($50–$100). The Pitch Lake (in La Brea) has been sealing the world's cracks since Sir Walter Raleigh waterproofed his ship here in the sixteenth century. From La Brea, Spanish for "tar," between 180 and 240 tons of asphalt are extracted each day. Visitors will be more interested in the lake's legendary ability to heal aching joints and cure sinus troubles. Stop for lunch in Third, Fifth, or Sixth Company villages, so named for the former American slaves who settled here after serving as free men in the War of 1812—on the British side. Inhale the vapors at the Devil's Woodyard, a few miles inland in Princes Town. The mud volcano is a natural rarity, prone to covering entire villages in thick, foul-smelling muck—tiny nearby Piparo was buried under tons of the stuff in 1997. European settlers likened the subterranean rumblings to Satan stockpiling kindling, but the vapors will at least clear your sinuses.

Published on May 28, 2009 as a web exclusive.

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