By Nadia Ali. The Toco lighthouse is a national landmark, located at Galera Point on the east coast. It sits majestically amid tranquil surroundings. Visitors can relax under the shade of trees at the wooden picnic tables after the long scenic drive and enjoy their home-packed food and drinks. The beautiful white structure of the 70-foot lighthouse is the centre of attention as it towers into the blue of the sky.
Breakfast on the go
A recent road trip to the Toco Lighthouse took my family and me on a long scenic drive along the extent of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway heading east to the village of Toco. The journey is about 65 miles from the heart of Port of Spain or two-and-a-half hours drive. The trunk of the car had everything we wanted to eat and drink and just before we entered the main town there was a doubles vendor that caught our attention for an early morning breakfast on the go.
We then turned off at Antigua Road towards the Valencia Junction and onto the Valencia Main Road. The scenery is lush countryside. It is here you can see the Valencia Forestry Division with its impressive tall forest. As the car turns the wide corner at Cumaca Road it slopes downwards to a beautiful river spot where the Valencia River offers an ideal place for curry cook-outs and river limes.
Driving along the roadway a bridge crosses over the Matura River into Matura. This is the first turtle watching area where locals and foreigners alike can visit to see the 5,000 or so Leatherback Turtles nest. The area has many signs with turtles shown on them and a sign that reads, “Welcome to the Turtle Village Trust”. This is where the protected beaches for turtle conservation is located under the watchful eye of the popular Nature Seekers organisation.
Toco Lighthouse a brilliant white structure
As we continued along the Toco Main Road, we turned onto Galera Road. It’s a fairly long winding road that takes you past the Keshorn Walcott Secondary School and downwards towards the sea. The sign for Salybia Bay comes into sight and from there on we started wondering where the lighthouse was. It soon came into sight on the straight of the road peeking over the tall grassy fields.
The entrance takes visitors into the 10,000 sq foot car park facility which is free of cost. Having parked you then walk to the picket fence which encloses the area around the Toco Lighthouse. The brilliant white structure stands at 70-feet tall and has a big plaque which briefly tells of its history having been built in 1897 by the British.
Wonderful view of the ocean
The area surrounding has picnic tables under the shade of the trees; allowing visitors to sit and admire the lighthouse and not to mention eat and drink. Walking down the pathway to the back of the area reveals a stunning cliff edge. Simply go through the white fence and you find yourself on the rugged coastline. The view is wonderful allowing you to view Tobago on a clear day and witness the rough waters below where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea meet. Legend has it that this was the point that Arawaks jumped off in order to escape from the Spanish.
The drive to Toco Lighthouse was definitely an experience that I would recommend to others. The scenery beckons you to pull aside and step outside of your vehicle to fully look, admire and photograph the exceptional beaches, bays, bridges and lush forest.
Once at the Toco Lighthouse, the surroundings welcome you to take a seat and enjoy the view. So, pack up a picnic and enjoy the east coast of Trinidad.
October 2013 – Issue 6 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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