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Kayaking in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is an island in the Caribbean so there are countless opportunities for kayaking. However for those who don’t want to contend with big waves, ocean swells and ocean currents, Trinidad and Tobago offers a selection of sheltered saltwater and freshwater kayaking opportunities. In this article we will explore some of these kayaking areas.
Nariva River, Manzanilla, Trinidad
Nariva, on the east coast of Trinidad, is the largest wetland in Trinidad and Tobago, with approximately 32 square miles of freshwater herbaceous marshes. It combines four major wetland types (mangrove swamp forest, palm forest, swamp wood and freshwater marsh) and has been formally designated as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. Much of the water in this area drains into the Atlantic via the small tidal Nariva River.
The Nariva River offers year-round opportunities for kayaking and empties into the ocean at Manzanilla Bay. There are two easy access points; At the mouth of the river and at the bridge along Manzanilla/Mayaro Road which spans the river. Care must be taken when entering or exiting the river mouth at low tide to avoid being swept out to sea as the current can be strong. It is possible to see basking caimans along the river, while tarpon (locally known as grand écaille) are sometimes seen near the water’s surface.
Nariva Marsh is home to an incredibly diverse range of reptiles, mammals and birds, some of which are rare and endangered. Nariva is home to more than 171 species of birds, including manakins, tanagers, antibirds, caracara and woodcreepers. There are 5 species of parrots (including macaws), 2 species of owls, 2 species of trogons, 11 species of hummingbirds, potoos, toucans and limpkins. Blue and gold macaws have been reintroduced to Trinidad in Nariva itself. Nariva is home to 59 species of mammals including red howler and capuchin (Cebus albifrons) monkeys, deer, porcupines, three-toed and silky anteaters and opossums. Trinidad’s last surviving colony of West Indian manatees is at Nariva. Nariva is also home to a variety of reptiles including the giant anaconda, fer-de-lance snake and caiman.
Ortoire River, Trinidad
At the southern end of Manzanilla Bay, the Ortoire River empties into the sea and also provides year-round opportunities for kayaking. In addition to the entry point at the mouth of the river, another easy access point to the Ortoire River is beside the bridge spanning the Rio Claro/Mayaro road outside of Mairo.
Godineau River, Trinidad
The Godineau River is also known as the South Oropouche River. Kayaking in the Godineau area takes you through a variety of habitats, from saltwater mangrove swamps to freshwater wetlands, partially cultivated areas. A variety of birdlife can be seen on this kayak trip including Scarlet Ibis, Southern Lapwing, Osprey, Savannah Hawk, Wattled Jacana, Cattle Egret, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Lesser Yellowlegs, Black Bellied Whistling Duck and a variety of migratory ducks (northern winter).
The Godineau River is one of the rivers in Trinidad that offers year-round kayaking opportunities as the water level is always adequate. This kayak trip can be started from the ocean or inland through a woodland area, including an area known as Mosquito Creek.
Marian River, Blanchesuse, Trinidad
The Marianne River empties into the sea at Blanchiseuse, and it’s easiest to start your paddle from the mouth of the river. This is not an extended kayak trip for most kayakers as there is an area known as Three Pools upriver which makes for a somewhat difficult portage. Kayaking in this area is best at the end of the rainy season as the water level is high enough to allow paddling for the entire trip. During the dry season there are parts of the river where kayaking is required due to low water levels.
Freshwater swamp vegetation exists along the banks of the river at the mouth of the river while freshwater swamp forest further inland with tall stands of bamboo. A variety of bird life can be seen while kayaking along the river, including spotted sandpipers, kingfishers, gray kingbirds and striped herons.
At the mouth of the river, kayaks are available for rent daily, year-round.
Fullarton, Cedros, Trinidad
The entire Cedros Peninsula is a birdwatching experience. The Fullerton Swamp Armchair is ideal for birdwatchers. The road from Fullarton Village to Ikakos Village goes through the middle of the swamp and it is possible to see the birds literally without leaving your vehicle. However, it is a great pleasure to park the vehicle and enter the water, where you can see many small birds nesting in the mangroves. The existence of the road makes it very easy to enter and exit the water. Birds seen in this area include Greater Egret, Scarlet Ibis, Black Skimmer, Black-necked Stilt, Black Bellied Whistling Duck, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Yellow Chinned Spine Tail, Common Moorhen, Snowy Egret. .
Williams Bay, Chagarmas provides kayaking opportunities in relatively sheltered ocean waters. In the coastal bay in front of the Military Museum it is sometimes possible to see marine iguanas on the rocks and in the sea and capuchin monkeys in the trees.
Kayaks are available for rent daily throughout the year from the Kayak Center.
Another kayaking opportunity in the Chagarmas area starts at the Almoorings Fishing Depot/Cruise Inn Marina area. From this starting point it is possible to kayak along the coast to Bocas or turn south to Centipede Island and then across the channel to Gasparry Island.
When paddling this area, especially on weekends, one should watch out for the various power boats entering and leaving the various marinas.
Located at the end of the Windward Road in Charlotteville Tobago, this small quaint village is nestled in the bay of Tobago’s best deep water harbor. On one side the lush green of the high mountains and on the other the sparkling blue waters of Man-O-War Bay. As the name suggests, this wide deep bay was once an anchorage for English warships. Today it is used as a sheltered anchorage by visiting yachts. The northern part of the bay is called Pirate’s Bay, a nod to its past. There are many coastal rocks in this bay that provide shelter. Kayaks are available for rent on the creek.
This bay is a nesting place for turtles.
Bukku Bay, Tobago
The azure waters of Buccoo Bay and Bon Accord Lagoon are sheltered by the offshore Buccoo Reef, providing a kayaking area with only light blooms. Kayak rentals are available at nearby Storebay and Pigeon Point. The fringing mangrove swamps of Bon Accord Lagoon contrast beautifully with the white sand beaches of Pigeon Point and Bukku Bay in the middle. Branches of the reef also shelter adjacent Milford Bay, allowing one to kayak southeast from Bon Accord Lagoon around Pigeon Point to Milford Bay or vice versa.
When you’re thinking about your vacation activities, consider the kayaking opportunities in Trinidad and Tobago.
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