Travel Log #2 — Manzanilla on a Wednesday

Woah geeeeeeeed! What’s that smell? Manzanilla, located on the eastern coast of Trinidad is one of those places that you can’t believe unless you visit it. It’s one of the closest beaches to my home town of Rio Claro, and as a kid, I knew it well. Now, as an adult, I picked up a whole carload of people from my new home on San Fernando to make the almost 2-hour drive to Manzanilla.

The Trip Down

We left San Fernando around 9AM. Heading down the Naparima Mayaro road which meanders from one end of the island to the other and is in a state of constant disrepair didn’t sound like a good idea at all. However, I knew a couple short cuts which I proceeded to take.

It was Just One Wrong Turn…

So I made a wrong turn. Instead of passing through Hindustan, I ended up trekking through Nagee Village instead. Eventually we found our way back to the NMR near to Persad’s massive grocery store in New Grant, but that wrong turn stuck a whole 45 minutes detour into my travel plans.

Finally, Mayaro

We got to Mayaro around lunchtime and had lunch in the town, before buying the beer and the the ice and heading up the Manzanilla stretch. It was no wonder some of my guests were wondering where the hell the beach was (none of them are locals, so you’d have to forgive them not knowing how far we had to go).

Landing at the Bridge

We drove and eventually the stretch unfurled before us, like a magic ribbon of asphalt, surrounded on both sides by the overhanging palm trees. According to one of my friends, the road resembled something out of Brazil. Never having been there (as yet) I had to take her word for it.

Along Manzanilla stretch are two massive concrete bridges, erected when I was still a teenager. The bridge we pulled up to was built to cross the Ortoire river. The Ortoire is one of the largest rivers in south Trinidad. I took the opportunity to take a picture of the island at the mouth of the river.

The centerpiece was the island, of course. But that concrete retaining wall all but cut us off from accessing the beach. We hopped back in the car and drove back down the stretch, looking for one of those sandy roads that made their way out on to the open sand.

About five minutes later we pulled into one of them, driving almost all the way onto the beach. I took care, since I know how treacherous it could be sinking a vehicle in the sand.

We set up under a handily placed coconut tree and relaxed the day away. There was next to no one on the sand for about a half a mile in either direction. The beach was pretty deserted, but one thing stood out as soon as we vacated the car and headed onto the sand.

Geez! What’s that Smell?

Manzanilla, thanks to its mangrove, has a bit of brackish water situated on the other side of the magnificent road you see in the pic at the top of the page. Normally, this brackish water gives off a stink that’s enough to chase anyone from the beach.

On this occasion, we were somewhat lucky. Whether it was a Tropical Storm that braced the island on Monday or something else entirely, the smell had dissipated to such an extent that you didn’t even smell it on the beach anymore.

Pick Up Yuh Blasted Trash!

Manzanilla is what’s known as a destructive beachfront. The waves erode away the land, taking the stuff on the beach out into the sea. Trinbagonians tend to leave a lot of their refuse lying around when they visit the beach, and this is indicative of the typical culture. That refuse makes it way out into the sea and screws with the ocean. Trinis, we need to change. What would otherwise be an amazing beach ends up looking something like this. I think we can do better. And we SHOULD do better.

We left the beach at around 4PM and had little to no traffic heading back into San Fernando. I wish I could say the same for the people we encountered heading the other way. We saw at least a mile of traffic on the NMR. Not only is the road in a state of utter disrepair, but the volume of traffic and lack of options for commuters makes it one of WORST drives that a Trini can attempt.

Next week’s journey isn’t decided as yet, but we may be headed into the heart of the country to take a look at cocoa, coffee, and old plantations.

Until then, no matter where you live, remember there’s an adventure right around the corner if you want it!

Originally published at




Self-employed writer. Amateur Game Dev. Personal finance enthusiast. Techie. Traveler. Made a side-hustle into a full time gig.

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Jason Dookeran

Jason Dookeran

Self-employed writer. Amateur Game Dev. Personal finance enthusiast. Techie. Traveler. Made a side-hustle into a full time gig.

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