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Exploring Toco


Bavina Sookdeo

February 1, 2024

Toco, locally known as the ‘M to M network’, encompasses a stretch of villages from Matura to Matelot along Trinidad’s enchanting northeast coast. Tevin Mills, the Destination Coordinator of Totally Toco, says it “is a unique tourism destination because it provides everything from eco, agro and food tourism, to both soft and hard adventure tourism.” The region was once a food basket for the nation, providing everything from nutmeg and cocoa, to fish, plantain, banana and a variety of ground provisions.

He explains that the Toco fringing reef is captivating for leatherback turtle watching in Matura and Grande Riviere and each year conservation efforts for protecting the leather back turtles can be supported. Rewarding bird watching experiences in Salybia and Grande Riviere, can also be enjoyed.

The heart of Toco lies in the Matura National Park ESA, bordered by the communities that make up this vibrant region. Home to diverse wildlife, such as the Ocelot, Pawi, and Bearded Bell birds, the park is a testament to Toco’s commitment to conservation. Mills urges visitors to explore this ecological gem, which can be accessed via the park’s official website — "Matura National Park Biological Survey".

For those seeking sun and sand, Mills insists that Toco boasts some of the best and most accessible beaches, including Balandra Bay, Saline Bay (Toco beach), Patience beach, and Almond Bay. Kayaking along the serene Salybia River is a peaceful treat, while surfing enthusiasts can enjoy spots like Balandra, Saline Bay, San Souci, and Matelot.

Toco also boasts historical landmarks. The iconic Toco Lighthouse at Galera point is a must-visit, along with one of the last operating cocoa houses in Grande Riviere.

When it comes to cuisine, Toco offers a tantalising array of must-try foods, including crab or crayfish and dumpling, pacro (a salt-water mollusk), wild meat and provision, and breadfruit oil down.  

For adventure enthusiasts, Toco provides ample opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, 4x4 off-roading, surfing, camping, and more. Mills recommends reaching out for guided experiences and emphasises the importance of trained local guides for hiking trails like Rio Seco, Rampanalgas, and Matelot waterfalls. “For bird watching, Bajnath’s Estate and Grande Riviere Nature tour guides offer this activity in some of the best birding spots,” said Mills.

Mills highlights the friendliness of Toco’s people and the plethora of accommodation which ranges from multi-room hotels to private villas and beach houses. He suggests using maxis from Sangre Grande or private vehicles. Additionally, he highlights the significance of checking the weather and tide before planning a visit, accentuating that Toco’s weather can greatly impact the experience.

“The majority of places you’d go to in Toco will not be prepared to deal with Foreign Currency,” said Mills, “so be sure to have local money on hand. If you’re driving in on your own, fill up before coming to Toco, there’s only one gas station to service the entire north-east coast. The pipe borne water is also 100% drinkable!”

Totally Toco is a tour and destination management company, founded in 2020, with the aim of promoting the North East region of Toco as a tourism destination, as well as to create employment via tours and business development.

Totally Toco can be reached by email and phone, both linked in its website as well as via its social media pages on instagram, Facebook, tiktok and threads @totallytoco.