Maracas Bay, Trinidad — Joy and Despair

This is my favourite beach in the whole, damn world! And one of my favourite places, period. I’ve swum in the sea here more than at any other stretch of coastline. During my 10-years of living in Trinidad and 26 years visiting it, Maracas Bay has been my most common destination after the supermarket. I love Maracas because of its tropical beauty, the magnificent backdrop of the rainforest of the Northern Range, the ambience, the warm water and great bodysurfing it offers. And, of course, I love the food! Many people drive all the way from Port of Spain, 45-minutes over the mountains, just to sample the shark n’ bake or potato pies. Wash those down with a cold Carib or rum and coke on a hot beach and you’re as close to heaven as it’s possible to get.

Maracas is Trinidad’s most popular and therefore most important beach. All tourists come here. Half the population seems to come here the day after Carnival for a “cool down”. But Maracas is still hopelessly managed, or rather, barely managed. The tourism authorities here have taken the opposite attitude to their counterparts  in Tobago who have over-managed their flagship beach Pigeon Point to the point where they have ruined it. At Maracas apathy and neglect rule. Ok, the lifeguard huts are nice, but behind the sands the same complaints I wrote about for the Express (Decay of Maracas Bay) 10-years ago remain — open, dangerous drains by the road carrying a distasteful cargo to the river at the south of the beach and then to the sea.  No sewage plant  has been built to deal with Maracas Village and surrounding agricultural areas, and the nutrient load is likely to be far worse now. When it rains at Maracas you’d be advised to swim well away from the river or stay on dry land. The food vendors, and their customers,  are still struggling with the same drainage issues they had 10-years ago, as well as the weeds and biting insects. Is this the way your flagship beach should be run? I think not. It shouldn’t be like this! At the end of the pretty photos showing the good part of Maracas are examples of the neglect and disrepair that could so easily  be repaired. And of course, add the investment of a sewage plant. Governments have spent countless millions on grand, showboating structures in Port of Spain, so why don’t they spend something on de people beach!

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