Looking out over the moonlit ocean. Arca Swiss 4x5, Kodak Ektachrome.


Northeast Coast Road Trip

Check your tyres and fill up your gas tank as Trinidad Dreamscape's road trip gets going again. We have provided a map of Trinidad so that you can get your bearings. We weren't joking about filling up the tank; this is a long trip along winding roads. Also, make sure your car is in relatively good working order, especially the brakes, and be prepared for some evasive manoeuvres as you may encounter landslides along the way. Damaged sections of the roadway are often poorly lit at night so be alert to prevent the unfortunate event of skydiving off a precipice with your car. Forgive us for reminding you of the obvious, but do not drive if you have, or intend to, consume alcohol. And finally, don't forget to take along a garbage bag to put the rubbish in!

The trip to the Toco lighthouse should take about one hour and forty minutes from St. Augustine. Proceed to a V intersection at the beginning of the Valencia stretch. Take the left branch road and follow the main road. Road signs have been greatly improved recently, and navigating the route should be easy. You will eventually meet the Toco main road at a T-junction. Turn left to proceed to Toco. It is now just a matter of following the road. You will soon pass the satellite dish at Matura followed by Matura village. Matura beach can be reached via Orosco road, but the beach is a restricted wild-life refuge for nesting Leatherback turtles. Access is only granted with an appropriate pass, and you must be accompanied by a guide from the Ministry of Agriculture/Marine Affairs/Wildlife Division. "Nature Seekers Tours, Inc." are authorised to operate on moonless nights to allow those interested to view the nesting turtles.

Further along the road, you will come to Saline Bay. There will be a road to Saline Bay that runs parallel to the Rio Seco river and its new bridge. Along the river are Bloodwood trees. The beach is approximately 2.1km long. The bay is good for bathing except that there is a deep channel that forms underwater because of the river mouth. On the opposite side of Rio Seco bridge is the trail-head to Rio Seco waterfalls. Saline Bay is a popular picnic area and has rudimentary beach facilities. Salybia Nature Resort and Spa is located nearby.

There are numerous areas that you can stop and enjoy the view along the way to Toco. Some are more developed than others. There are also a couple well hidden beaches for you to explore: look carefully!

Photographic interlude

Sea view Moonlight peering over
raging sea sunset luminescence looking south

Balandra Bay

You will arrive at Balandra beach approximately forty minutes after passing Saline Bay. The beach is 1.8km long and slopes gently to the water. There is moderate vegetation including some almond trees. There is a small fishing village to the north of the beach and Balandra river opens into the middle of the bay. Bathing is generally safe at Balandra.

balandra beach balandra beach

Sena Bay

This is my favourite pit-stop beach, but I would not recommend bathing here. The waves are usually quite large and there is no prominent headland to protect you from strong currents. The beach has a moderate amount of vegetation and can become quite overgrown. Watch where you step as it is not unknown for snakes (or worse) to nest in the coconut branches strewn along the ground. The beach becomes pebbly near the breakwater.

sena bay reflections

Salybia Beach

Proceed past Rampanalgas village and turn right onto the Paria Main Road at the junction with the Toco Main Road. The Toco Composite school is nearby. On your left you will see many large trees with minimal underbrush and large clearings used for picnics. Depending on when you visit, you may be unfortunate enough to witness a man-made environmental cataclysm whereby the beach is converted into a repository for refuse. This usually follows a beachside fete during the Carnival season, commonly sponsored by radio stations. This is a great beach for bathing, though it can be spoilt when rotting garbage goes floating past you. Nonetheless, the water is clear and the waves are small. The eastern end of the beach is protected by a reef that you can walk out to at LOW TIDE. Breakers become very dangerous as the tide comes in. Additionally, it is advisable to wear sandals on the reef because of the presence of stinging corals. The best advice would be, of course, to stay away from the reef (or any reef for that matter) if you don't have training in marine conservation methods. Coral reefs are very fragile ecosystems and stomping around and, worse, breaking parts off a reef undoes hundreds of years worth of growth.

You should be aware of a very stong long-shore current along the beach. The currents are strongest in the central portion of the bay.

The road trip continues on to the Toco lighthouse which can be reached after passing over a wooden bridge spanning the Salybia river.

old tent bridge old bridge Wood
salybia beach twilight sunset at salybia footprints

Toco lighthouse and environs

Our road trip ends today at the Toco lighthouse. It has been recently been 'renovated'. There is a path to the northeast promontary of the island past the lighthouse.

lighthouse rocks rocks

Update - 2006
rocks Dawn Dawn 2

Update - 2007
rocks mirage perch sunset rock

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