CHAGUARAMAS, Trinidad -- An ambitious initiative to transform this
14,500-acre peninsula into a tourism and recreation center in the
Caribbean may soon present travel agents with an array of new
Trinidad vacation options to sell.
Situated in the northwestern corner of the island, the
Chaguaramas Peninsula is characterized by 3,000 acres of
relatively flat lands with five beachfront areas and a mountain
system separated by two valleys.
Chaguaramas also encompasses four offshore islands.
A master plan for the area includes the development of resorts,
nature reserves and recreational offerings.
"We want Chaguaramas to be a place where locals and foreigners
can engage in golf, horseback riding, hiking, nature tours, diving,
deep-sea fishing and sailing," said Richard de Lima, general
manager of Chaguaramas Development Authority.
Chaguaramas, a 20-minute drive from the capital city of
Port-of-Spain, has remained underdeveloped, largely because it was
leased to the U.S. by the British government in 1941 for use as a
The U.S. closed the base in 1967 and handed the peninsula over
to Trinidad and Tobago.
In 1972, the CDA was established to develop and manage the
The authority's master plan emphasizes preservation of the area,
development of tourism and marine resources, establishment of a
national park and recreational facilities.
Many of those initiatives have come to fruition, and more are
expected to be completed in the next few years.
The peninsula is a national park with a number of designated
Chaguaramas Bay has become a yacht haven with marinas,
restaurants and bars.
"Our main challenge is to protect the natural resources while
development takes place," de Lima said.
The peninsula has a diverse collection of flora and fauna,
including palm, coconut and bamboo trees, mangroves, crocodiles,
monkeys and birds.
In CDA's proposals, the majority of the peninsula has been set
aside for nature reserves.
Other sections are earmarked for ecotourism zones, resort areas
and marinas, which will include cruise ship terminals for small
"We are concerned about the carrying capacity," de Lima said.
"To maintain and enhance the environment, Chaguaramas could not
hold more than 1,500 hotel rooms."
The CDA envisions a number of small hotels with no more than 250
Projects include a 50-room ecolodge which breaks ground this
year with completion in two years.
Another 46-room property is under construction and is expected
to open in early 1999.
Larger projects include a proposed 250-room, five-star resort on
The CDA plans to renovate Chaguaramas' historic convention
center and hotel, built during World War II.
The hotel features 90 rooms, and the convention center has a
capacity for 2,000 people.
The CDA is expanding the existing nine-hole golf course with an
18-hole championship facility slated to open in 2001. The
surrounding land will be used for resort development.
The CDA is courting investors to develop other upmarket resorts
in areas such as Macqueripe Bay at the northern end of the
peninsula as well as ecolodges in the inland areas and secluded
The four offshore islands will be positioned as getaways for
diving, fishing and nature tours, according to de Lima.
"The area is virtually unexplored diving territory full of
shipwrecks," he said.
Chacachacare, a former leper colony, is an island targeted for
The 900-acre island has a rain forest, a saltwater lake and a
19th century lighthouse.
CDA hopes to find an investor to restore the doctors'
headquarters as a hotel.
Also slated for small-scale development are two other islands:
Gaspar Grande, noted for its caves, and Monos.
Other initiatives include enhancing the three beaches and
expanding the Military History and Aviation Museum.
CDA hopes to expand the hiking trails, restore the village of
Mount Pleasant and build an observation tower at Mount St.
Until the hotels open, visitors to Trinidad can take advantage
of Chaguaramas as an excursion option for nature outings, golf,
historic sights, beach outings and dining.
Phone: (809) 634-4364