The Beautiful San Fernando
Trinidad's southern region is similar in geography to its northern counterpart. It has a long coastline extending beyond the island's main body, with the forested Southern Range serving as its backbone. In the Gulf of Paria, the southwest peninsula curves towards Venezuela and the city of San Fernando is located at the base of its uniquely shaped hill. To the south of this city lies the Pitch Lake, which is home to vast asphalt reserves and is the area's only major tourist attraction.
San Fernando is a bustling business hub, but beyond its borders lies Trinidad's most sparsely inhabited area. While agriculture and fishing still provide income for many people in the south, the economy primarily focuses on oil extracted from offshore rigs and approximately 1600 pumping jacks scattered throughout the countryside. These jacks are often found in vast tracts of forest, which remain largely undeveloped. The coast is largely untouched, with Cedros, Icacos, and the remote fishing village of Moruga all offering stunning scenery and lovely yellow-sand beaches, best visited during the dry season (December to May) when the sea and sand are clear. However, rivers wash mud and trash into the sea during the rainy months.
While the south is not a typical tourist destination, hospitality is second to none, with locals eager to showcase Trini's life away from the capital. The lack of tourism is a mixed blessing, though, as few visitor facilities exist. Accommodation outside of San Fernando is practically nonexistent. Still, given the peaceful nature of the south and its relatively small area, it's best to stay in San Fernando and explore the surrounding area on day trips. You can return in the evenings to enjoy the city's bars and restaurants. Additionally, Port of Spain is only an hour away, so it's easily accessible if you want to venture out.
San Fernando is a city in Trinidad and Tobago located at the base of a flat-top hill with the same name. The city is known for its beautiful landscape and old-fashioned charm despite being the country's industrial capital. Its sloping streets resemble those of San Francisco but on a smaller and quieter scale, with picturesque sea views. San Fernando has a unique spirit of independence and is primarily an oil city, which attracts many business visitors but few tourists. However, the friendly and hospitable locals make it a pleasant place to experience the Trinidadian way of life. In recent years, the city has seen significant growth in entertainment options, including a Jazz Festival on San Fernando Hill, high-quality bars, restaurants, and clubs, as well as numerous options for dining, drinking, and partying.
The Gulf of Paria borders San Fernando on one side and San Fernando Hill, a rocky and wooded outcrop, on the other. The city's compact centre is easily accessible on foot, with most historical sights, shops, and transport stands on and around Harris Promenade. The promenade is a broad and elegant boulevard that runs west from the main junction and focal point, Library Corner.
Harris Promenade is an essential civic centre in San Fernando, featuring several colonial-era buildings. The promenade stretches from the San Fernando General Hospital's 1950s-stle facade to Library Corner in the east. The area has benches, tables, and shady spots, including an ornate Victorian bandstand and statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican black rights activist. The city's police station, recognized by its distinctive yellow-stone building with curving arched windows, is located on the southwestern end. Unfortunately, half of it remains roofless after a fire in 2009. Across the road, the grand Neoclassical City Hall from 1930 dominates the western end of the promenade, though facing stiff competition from the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help located one block to the east. This church is a vast, white, modern building with a tall clock tower that can be seen from most places in the city.
The promenade's two roads converge in front of the Carnegie Free Library. This ornate terracotta pile was built in 1919 and financed by the Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, as were many other libraries worldwide. Behind it, on the promenade, an old steam locomotive serves as a reminder of the last run from Port of Spain to San Fernando in 1968. People packed the carriages, hanging out of the windows to be part of this historic occasion, which was subsequently immortalized by the late Lord Kitchener's famous calypso, "Last Train to San Fernando." The chaotic junction of seven roads just east of the library is called Library Corner, with its modern clock tower.