Grand Riviere, Trinidad and Tobago

Grande Riviere, a tiny village on the northeastern coast of Trinidad, is one of the few beaches in the world where the leatherback turtle comes to nest. It lies near the end of a serpentine road that hugs the palm-fringed Atlantic coast for miles, then cuts through the lush rainforest of the Northern Range. A river, for which the village is named, and the rainforest—abuzz with the sound of crickets and birds—tumble onto its Caribbean sands, giving the place a remote and sensual air.

Cacao plantations once flourished here but the few hundred people of Grande Riviere now rely on fishing and ecotourism. All three or four of its pricey tourist lodges are near the beach; a village bar, a couple of provision stores and eateries, and a post office are on the main road further behind. The star attraction, and the primary reason for our visit last month, is clearly the leatherback.

My partner, Usha, and I arrived in the early evening with Ulric, our gentlemanly guide of Afro-Carib ancestry, whom we had hired in Port of Spain to drive us to a few places on the island. After we decided to stay at the Le Grande Almandier (the LP guidebook called it "the best value"), he left to spend the night at a friend's place in a nearby town. Being the kind who love their work, he had gone out of his way to bring alive the island and its people to us, not the least through his own personal history. All day his Trini English had grown on me. Dinner consisted of vegetarian pickings from a Creole-French menu, a legacy of the plantation era culture in these parts. At the Visitor Center, we secured our permits to see the turtles, saw a documentary film on them, and waited. (Read more here.)

Grand Riviere (more)

Rainforest by the beach

Leatherback turtle nesting site

Grand Riviere (more)

Leatherback turtle (1, 2)

Struggling in the sand (1, 2)

Which way is the sea?

The sea at last! (1, 2, 3)

Leatherback turtle at night

Depositing eggs (about 80)

Covering up the stash (1, 2)

Largest turtle in the sea

Hard going (1, 2)

Glorious sea! (1, 2)

Hasta la vista

Ancient creature (1, 2)

Survived the dinosaurs (1, 2, 3)

Inching forward (1, 2, 3)

Almost there! (1, 2, 3)

Another mother (1, 2, 3)

Many moods (1, 2, 3)

Endangered species (1, 2)

Teardrop shaped body (1, 2)

Grand Riviere beach

Vultured in waiting! (1, 2, 3)

Closeup of vulture (1, 2)

Formally, Coragys Atratus

Also feast on hatchlings



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