Driving along the North Coast Road
The adventure began along Trinidad’s North Coast Road. This winding road ran along the most extreme of terrains; walls of rock rose from the asphalt on one side and dangerous precipices lay on the other. Thick vegetation grew haphazardly from the downhill slopes, disguising the steepness of the terrain but beyond them, the deep blue ocean can be seen. This road was about an hour’s drive from Trinidad’s capital city of Port of Spain and it is the only way to access the area of Maracas.
Local refreshments at Maracas Bay
Whenever I drive to Maracas, I visit the Maracas Bay to indulge in local refreshments. It was a great idea to carry refreshments on the hike and have lunch at Peechon Cove. At Maracas Bay, a bake and shark sandwich is the most popular delicacy. Bake is a fried dough pocket which is filled with fried shark fillets. This sandwich is usually eaten with several fixings such as pineapple chunks, tomatoes, lettuce and condiments which range from ketchup and barbeque dressing to coconut chutney, minced cilantro and tamarind sauce.
For additional snacks, I bought other local refreshments such as seasoned fruit slices (locally called chow) and shaved ice topped with a sugary syrup (locally called snow-cone). This was a refreshing snack for the hike.
Hiking through the Maracas Forest
The trail started at the edge of a precipice where the road cuts through the Maracas Forest. This spot is located along the North Coast Road but before the popular Maracas Bay Lookout. The sloping landscape was dotted with clumps of bamboo but further out I saw abundant greenery. As it was the peak of the dry season, the ground was littered with brown bamboo leaves. These can be very slippery underfoot and to get proper footholds, it was best to squat and hold onto bamboo stalks for support as you make your way down. I discovered a faster way past the bamboo stalks when I fell and slipped my way down to flatter terrain, surprisingly unhurt!
From here, it was much easier to hike as the terrain was not as steep. The trail cut around the steeper parts of the land as opposed to straight downhill although you can choose the more straightforward but challenging shortcuts from time to time. Inside the forest, the air was humid and still as the trees provided a barrier from the breezes blowing inward from the sea.
In addition to tall trees teeming with birds, there were also wild shrubs in the Maracas Forest. Some were adorned with thorns and the occasional vine made sneaker entanglement a frustrating experience. Others were more pleasant to look at such as this exotic looking shrub bearing green berries from bright pink stems.
Mosquitoes were fairly non-existent during the hike but butterflies were fairly common, as well as tiny spiders that scurried over the forest floor. Chiggers were plentiful but you won’t realise until several hours later – I woke up to red, itchy blotches the next morning! Smearing Kwan Loong Oil (a medicated Chinese oil sold at local pharmacies) on your skin can greatly alleviate this.
Peechon Cove is separated into two parts by a peninsula made of tall rock and after hiking for forty-five minutes, I arrived at the western side of the cove. Glimpses of the pocket beach that lay below were seen and I heard the sea splashing against the rocks. Excitement thrilled my senses as waves of cool sea breeze mixed with the heat of the morning fanned out over the trail to meet my smiles. There was a cliff which provided a quiet spot to sit and take in the picturesque view; lush mountains meeting beautiful turquoise waters, mysterious sea caves beckoning in the distance and white sea froth forming and dissipating as the sea splashed against the rocks.
From the cliff, there was a rocky path that led to the inlet below. The path was bordered with short green tropical plants with heart shaped waxy leaves. A beautiful pocket beach greeted me as I explored the unfamiliar scene. The shore comprised of millions of pebbles, sea glass and shell fragments. Large walls of rock secured the beach on three sides, some sprouted grasses that bowed down upon the shore and waved in the wind. The sea seemed temperamental; dark rocks lay beneath the waves and the caves to the west constantly sucked in water, which made the currents somewhat unpredictable. I would not recommend prolonged sea bathing here for this reason.
At the eastern side of the cove, the rocks were narrower and higher from the sea. Adventurers have the opportunity to rappel down the sturdy face of rock which leads to the deep sea below. There is no beach here. There is a higher face of rock that can be seen before getting to this point which features a waterfall which plunges approximately thirty feet into the sea. When the tide is low, you may be able to climb down the treacherous rocky slope to meet shallower seawater and bathe beneath the falls.
Returning to the starting point
Returning to the starting point was more difficult than the first leg of the journey! Hiking downhill to Peechon Cove was easy compared to hiking uphill. I found it to be a challenge especially when I dared to look further ahead and saw how far away from the starting point I was. If you choose to do this hike, you may need to stop and rest during the return hike. It took about an hour and a half to return to the starting point from the cove. However, when you arrive at the top of the slope where you began, it would all be worth it as it is not every day one can visit such a hidden gem as Peechon Cove.
This is not a popular hike but it is slowly starting to become more known among tour guide services and hiking groups in Trinidad and Tobago.