The twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago are the farthest south of all the Caribbean islands, within swimming distance from Venezuela. Despite being the wealthiest nation in the Caribbean—and one of the wealthiest in all of the Americas—gang violence and robberies do take place. However, by avoiding crime hot spots and keeping an eye out for common scams, you should have no problems while visiting and thoroughly enjoy your stay on these paradisal islands.
- Due to COVID-19, the U.S. State Department has released a "Reconsider Travel" warning for U.S. visitors to Trinidad and Tobago. As of November 16, 2020, Trinidad and Tobago's borders remain closed until further notice.
- Prior to COVID-19, the U.S. State Department warned visitors to "Exercise Extreme Caution" when visiting Trinidad and Tobago due to the possibility of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping.
Is Trinidad and Tobago Dangerous?
To talk about safety of Trinidad and Tobago, it's best to split up the two islands. Tobago is the much smaller of the two and sparsely inhabited. Travelers who visit Tobago go for the unspoiled beaches and the natural beauty of the island. Crime in Tobago is very rare, although break-ins to hotel rooms or villas have been reported.
Trinidad, on the other hand, is much larger and home to over a million citizens. Even if your final destination is Tobago, everyone has to pass through Trinidad. Gang activity and violent crime are frequent but concentrated in the outer neighborhoods of the capital city, Port of Spain, although they don't usually affect tourists. However, robberies around the capital city are common and this is where visitors are often targeted. Queen's Park Savannah is one of the most notorious places for crime in Port of Spain, especially at night or on weekdays when it's less crowded. Other neighborhoods that should be avoided include Laventille, Beetham, Sea Lots, and Cocorite.
The biggest event of the year, without a doubt, is Trinidad Carnival, which brings tens of thousands of tourists to the island for an extravaganza. Carnival-goers should use the same precautions as any other major festival—don't drink too much and guard your valuables—but this is generally considered one of the safest times to be on the island. Be wary of pickpockets, but the increased police presence and sheer number of people cause a drop in violent crime.
Is Trinidad and Tobago Safe for Solo Travelers?
Solo travelers in Trinidad should be extra vigilant when walking around, especially in Port of Spain. You're likely to already stand out as a foreigner, so don't attract further unwanted attention by wearing glitzy jewelry or carrying expensive tech products. If you can join a group of other travelers or know some locals to show you around, it's always safer to be in a group rather than alone. At night, don't travel to unknown areas and avoid walking around Port of Spain.
Is Trinidad and Tobago Safe for Female Travelers?
Sexual harassment on the street is the most common incident that female travelers have to endure, and catcalling or comments from strangers is an everyday occurrence. If you're receiving unwanted attention, you should politely—but firmly—say no and continue on. Smiling back out of politeness may be interpreted as giving permission for the harasser to keep talking with you, so don't feel bad saying no or removing yourself from the situation.
DROP is the most popular ride-sharing app on the island and is considered a safe way to travel around, but women should also download the app PinkCab before arriving. It's a ride-sharing app made exclusively for female passengers and with all female drivers.
Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers
Before April 2018, all types of "homosexual acts" were illegal in Trinidad and Tobago and punishable with prison terms of up to 25 years. The High Court overturned that law and marked an important step forward regarding LGBTQ+ rights in the country, allowing same-sex couples to live openly for the first time. Later that same year, Trinidad and Tobago celebrated its first-ever Pride Parade in Port of Spain.
However, conservative attitudes are still prevalent in the Caribbean nation. There are no legal protections against discrimination for LGBTQ+ individuals and same-sex unions are not recognized.
Safety Tips for BIPOC Travelers
Trinidad and Tobago is an abundantly diverse country, with about a third of the country tracing its roots back to South and East Asia and another third tracing roots back to Africa. So even though travelers of color may stand out as foreigners, it won't be due to the color of their skin. Trinidadians of both major ethnic groups complain of racism throughout the country, which is often aggravated by the major political parties, but travelers are by and large removed from these issues.
Safety Tips for Travelers
- In general, travel outside of tourist areas should be undertaken with caution, especially at night, due to the prevalence of unmarked and unlit roads.
- Be vigilant when using public telephones or ATM machines, especially those located near roadsides or in secluded areas.
- As in many U.S. metropolitan areas, wearing expensive jewelry, carrying expensive objects, or carrying large amounts of cash should be avoided.
- While at the beach, visitors should safeguard valuables. Although hotels and resorts are generally safe, loss of unattended items is possible.
- Hotel burglaries may occur in less reputable hotels, and all valuables should be locked in room safes when possible.
- Keep doors and windows locked especially at night. Burglaries of residences are generally achieved by exploiting a vulnerability such as unlocked doors and windows, substandard door and window grills, and poor or non-existent outdoor lighting.