Crime reports and health questions

Your questions on medical and security issues
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Seb Murby

Crime reports and health questions

Post by Seb Murby » Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:26 pm

Hello all. Me and my girfreind have just booked a 2 week holiday in tobago in june and we're both dead excited :D
We're both a little concerned of the reports of recent crime in Tobago and also the apprant lack of a police force. I know your never 100% safe wherever you go in the world but could anyone offer us sum reassurance?
We imagined that you'd be able too wander all over the island at any time of day or night but that doesnt sound very wise from what ive read. Which is a shame coz i was looking forward too sum midnight swimming!
We're staying in the cocco reef resort hotel and i see they have theyre own private beach, do u think that beach would be safe too walk along at night? Also is there any particular type of person that is targeted for crime in Tobago, is there any advice u could offer on how too act in a way that wont make us a target other than the obvious (not flash around wads of cash, jewlry etc)
As for the cops, is there any? lol! And are they out on the beat at night or do they just sit in the cop shop and wait for a call? Are the easy too get hold of incase sumthing happens and are they at all helpfull?
The other issue we have is that of health. The reports of Dengue fever are the most worrying, i dont know much about the diesease but how common is it and how likly are we too catch it? Is there any precautions we can take against it?
I think thats about it, sry too sound so paranoid, we're both just so excited and really looking forward too our trip and we'd hate for anything too spoil it!

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Post by Steve Wooler » Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:34 pm

Hello Seb

Welcome aboard! :lol:

I returned from six weeks on the island last Sunday. During that time I visited every part of the island - mainly by car, but I also did a large amount of walking around the place, taking photos and carrying out research for this site. I never felt in the slightest threatened and the only 'incident' was when some xxxxxxxxx with bad attitude tried to make me pay money to take a photograph of a property on the opposite hillside. I saw more police than the combined total of the last fix or six years. The police force has been really ramped up and the local Tobago government (THA) now have their own security force which are primarily concerned with the protection of tourists.

Night swimming is a bad idea - but not (just) because of security. Swimming in the sea is always dangerous to some degree and should only be done when others on shore can see you and help if need arises. Swimming at night is therefore high risk. However, you will be perfectly safe swimming in the 'pond' at the Coco Reef - so no problem there.

I'm confident that you will have a great holiday.
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Seb Murby

Post by Seb Murby » Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:11 pm

Thanks for the reassurance, good too hear the police force is bumped up. What about this denge fever tho, thats the other major concern we have, also as we're going in the rainy season wont the mosquitoes be out in full force? Whats the best protection againsts them, and against the virus? Also I've heard there have been accounts of hepatitus A being a problem, Is there a vacination against it and are there ne more vacinations we shuld have before our trip? What are the mosquitoes like over there, is it a case of u see one every now and again or theyre buzzing around you non stop? Also whats the weather like in june, i know its the rainy season but is it gonna rain non stop or just be the odd few hours a day of heavy rain? Sorry for the long list of questions, we're just a little worried about things....Thanks Seb.

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Post by Ronald » Thu Mar 22, 2007 6:44 am

Hi Seb

I´m in Tobago 4-5 weeks every year sometimes during june - september, staying by a local family in Bon Accord I know since 15 years.

Dengue fever was alert some years ago and than they start cleaning up some areas in Bon Accord, like old empty places, too much graas beside the road and so forth. Peoples are more alert of the risk no a days.

I haven´t seen any info about dengue since that time, in the paper or by peoples, so that risk is lower now, even if the mosquito is around in both Trinidad and Tobago. There is no vacination against dengue.

The "normally mosquitos" are always around during early morning and after sunset, but they are small and easy to protect against. Many, as myself, often has less problem with them compared with locals.

During the night I use an electric bugmat, using tablets, each tablet last for 8 hours. If there are more mosquitos than "normally" I use to burn a stronger ones, they are all avaiable at Penny Savers.

June is the start of the rain season and is normally more wet compared with july. But, as you know, normally weather doesn´t exist any more, some years june-july is quite dry. The rain mostly comes during the night, with showers in daytime, but not every day. Normally it´s not raining day-after-day, only if the over all weather situation is bad with big clouds and/or tropical storms.

Tobago is very small so a cloud easy cover the whole island, but mostly Trinidad use to take the worst part.


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Post by David Watkins » Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:59 am

I agree with Steve.The police presence has definitely been ramped up the formation of THA's own force,the RPS.As for sea swimming at night ,as hizonner says to dodgy because if something happens no one to help!
I too have travelled the length and breadth of the Island for many years,and been out limin''til late in Scarbro'but always stuck to the well lit and well populated areas.
Dengue fever is more prevalent in the south and west of Trini.About 5/6years ago there was a suspected outbreak of it on Tobago,but that soon petered out.It si not fatal to normal healthy adults and has been compared to a really bad case of 'Flu!!
Don't worry,take all commonsense precautions and you will be OK.
Enjoy,David :)

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Post by Tony G » Fri Mar 23, 2007 8:29 am

Chill out Seb. I'm sure that you will both have a wonderful time.

As for worries about crime, I wonder if people from T&T are being warned not to vist London. Last year there were reported to be around 40,000 street robberies.

I know where I have felt safest.


Seb Murby

Post by Seb Murby » Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:31 pm

Ok thanks for all ur advice and reasurrance so far. The other thing we need too know about is how much money shuld we be looking too bring? How much is too much lol! I was thinking sumwhere in the region of 1500 tobago dollars too bring in and then if we run out i was hoping too use my mastercard too withdraw more money. Are there cashmachines on the island? And do resturants etc take cards or not? We were hoping for sum excursions while we're there aswell such as diving, boat trips and walking in the rainforest, im assuming using a card for these trips is just silly so what sorta money shuld we aim too take out with us on a day trip?

The other question i have, although i shuld probably start a new thread, is what insect repellant can neone reccomend? We were looking in boots the other day and theres like 20,000 different types too choose from lol! Also, i was wondering what is deet, as most of the sprays and lotions seem to contain it and it sounds like some kind of pesdicide, which we'd rather avoide unless its vital. The other thing we were looking at is sun screen lotion, what sort of factor shuld we aim for baring in mine neither of us are really sunbathers and arnt too interested in getting a tan, but we dont wanna burn!

Thanks for your advice...Seb

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Post by Clyde Alleyne » Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:10 pm

Seb, some answers to your questions.
Cash: 1500 TT dollars is a good amount to travel with. Many restaurants and the larger supermarkets also accept credit cards. There are ATMs around for cash withdrawals. Check here for a list of locations
Insect Repellent: Deet is the active ingredient in many commercial insect repellents. Its very effective and the higher the percentage of Deet listed in the ingredients, the longer it will last after application. I personally use Deep Woods Off! which has 25% Deet and lasts up to 5 hours which is useful if you were planning an outing in the forest and expect to be still out at dusk. Repellents containing Deet are perfectly safe although if you were applying it on children you might want to use a type that has a lower concentration like Off Skintastic which has 7% deet and lasts about 90 minutes. But many people don't like to use a commercial repellent, and prefer to use Citronella oil. Check this thread for a discussion on Citronella
Sun Screen: If you're not used to tropical sun then you should use a minimum of SPF30. Go for the waterproof type and don't forget to reapply after swimming when at the beach.
Hope this helps.

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Post by Steve Wooler » Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:13 am

Hi Seb

You might want to have a look at our article on insects and how best to avoid their bites. See menu: Odds & Sods/Health & Safety/Insects & Nasties.
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Post by James_Cox » Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:47 pm

This was sent to me from USA Gov
Trinidad and Tobago Consular Information Sheet

April 13, 2007

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Trinidad and Tobago is a developing nation in the Caribbean composed of two islands. The islands gained independence from the British in 1962. The country is one of the most prosperous in the Caribbean, largely as a result of petroleum and natural gas industries. Tourist travel is mostly to the smaller of the two sister islands, Tobago. Tourist facilities are widely available. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Trinidad and Tobago for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport is required of U.S. citizens for entry to Trinidad and Tobago. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for tourism or business-related visits of 90 days or less. Work permits are required for compensated and some non-compensated employment, including missionary work. Visas may be required for travel for purposes other than business or tourism. For further information concerning entry, employment and customs requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago, 1708 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20036, telephone (202) 467-6490, email, or the Trinidad and Tobago Consulates in Miami or New York City. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Trinidad and Tobago and other countries. Visit the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago’s website at

See Entry and Exit Requirements for more information pertaining to dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction. Please refer to our Customs Information to learn more about customs regulations.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: American citizens traveling to or residing in Trinidad and Tobago should avoid large crowds and demonstrations. While non-violent demonstrations occur on occasion, widespread civil disorder is not typical.The downtown area of Port of Spain experienced four bombings in 2005.While no similar incidents have occurred since that time, the perpetrator(s) have not been arrested and their identities and motive remain unknown.Americans living or visiting Port of Spain are advised to exercise caution, especially in crowded urban areas.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

CRIME: Incidents of violent crime have been steadily on the rise on both islands. Visitors to Trinidad and Tobago should exercise caution and good judgment, as in any large urban area, particularly when traveling after dark from Trinidad's Piarco Airport. There have been incidents involving armed robbers trailing arriving passengers from the airport and then accosting them outside the gates of their residences. Areas to avoid in Trinidad include Laventille, Morvant, Sea Lots, South Belmont, scenic rest stops, walking across the Queen’s Park Savannah, and downtown Port of Spain (after dark), as tourists are particularly vulnerable to pick pocketing and armed assaults in these locations. Holiday periods, especially Christmas and Carnival, often see an increase in criminal activity.

Violent crimes, including assault, kidnapping for ransom, sexual assault and murder, have involved foreign residents and tourists, including U.S. citizens. The perpetrators of many these crimes have not been arrested.

Burglaries of private residences are common. Robbery is a risk, particularly in urban areas and especially near ATMs and shopping malls. Visitors should avoid wearing expensive jewelry or displaying large amounts of money in public. One victim was targeted for driving an expensive new car. In some cases, robberies of Americans have turned violent and resulted in injuries after the victim resisted handing over valuables.

In Tobago, the media have reported an increase in the incidence of violent crimes. While local authorities have announced increased measures to fight crime, the U.S. Embassy advises that when making reservations at private accommodations, visitors should ensure that 24-hour security is provided. There have been reports of home invasions in the Mt. Irvine area, and robberies occurring on isolated beaches in Tobago. Visitors to Tobago should ensure that all villas or private homes have adequate security measures.

Visitors to Trinidad and Tobago are also advised to be cautious when visiting isolated beaches or scenic overlooks where robberies can occur. In particular, we advise against visiting the Ft. George scenic overlook in Port of Spain because of lack of security and a number of recent armed robberies at that site. Tourists at La Brea Pitch Lake in South Trinidad were targets of criminals in 2004 and 2005. Visitors should not walk alone or in unfamiliar areas. Valuables left unattended on beaches and in other public places are vulnerable to theft. Visitors should avoid neighborhoods known for high crime rates. When in doubt, consult the establishment where you are staying to identify areas to be avoided.

Taxis available at the major hotels or through pre-arranged pick-ups with reputable companies are generally safe and reliable. The U.S. Embassy urges caution in the use of the small buses or vans in Trinidad, known as "Maxi Taxis" (full-size inter-city buses are usually safe). Unmarked shared taxis authorized to pick up passengers will have the letter 'H' as the first letter on their license plates. Some shared taxis and maxi taxis have been linked to petty crime and serious traffic accidents. Valuables including travel documents should not be left unattended in parked cars, especially in parking lots, as several thefts have been reported.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

See our information on Victims of Crime.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before traveling. Medical care is limited compared to that in the United States. Care at public health facilities is significantly below U.S. standards for treatment of serious injuries and illness, with limited access to supplies and medications. While care at some private facilities is better than at most public health facilities, patients may be expected to prove their ability to pay before assistance is given, even in emergency situations. Patients requiring blood transfusions are expected to arrange for at least the same amount to be donated on their behalf. Physicians and nurses may go on strike, causing serious strain on both public and private medical resources. Ambulance service is extremely limited both in the quality of emergency care and in the availability of vehicles in many parts of the country.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at Further health information for travelers is available at

MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Trinidad and Tobago is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic moves on the left in Trinidad and Tobago. Most vehicles are right-hand drive, but left-hand drive vehicles are permitted. Rental cars are available, and are generally right-hand drive. A U.S. driver's license and/or an International Driving Permit are valid for up to 90 days after arrival. Seatbelts are required for drivers and front seat passengers, and cars may be pulled over and drivers fined for not wearing seatbelts. Older cars are not required to be equipped with rear seatbelts; many taxis, being older cars, thus lack rear seatbelts. There are no particular requirements for child safety seats.

Trinidad has several good four-lane highways and one controlled-access highway. However, road quality decreases quickly on secondary roads. Rural roads are narrow and often have deep drainage ditches on either side. Some are in poor repair, and are frequently congested. Night travel should be avoided other than on major highways. Roadside assistance exists, but is extremely limited and subject to lengthy delays. The Ministry of Works and Transport is responsible for road conditions and safety in the country. Emergency ambulance services exist but may take prolonged amounts of time to reach the site of an accident and may not provide service in rural areas.

Trinidadian drivers often use hand signals to indicate turning, stopping, or slowing, which do not necessarily correspond to hand signals used in the United States. Trinidadian drivers are generally courteous, but can be flexible with the rules of the road. For example, cars traveling north on a two way street may cross into the southbound lane to stop and let passengers out. Visitors need to be attentive and alert. Intoxicated drivers on the road are a particular concern on the weekends, especially after dark when many locals are going to or returning from social events. Drivers should take extra precaution on narrow and windy roads leading in and out of beaches and small towns in Trinidad and Tobago. As always, defensive driving is strongly encouraged.

The country has an extensive system of taxis, maxi-taxis (vans) and some larger buses. Although the larger inter-city buses are generally safe, the maxi-taxis have been linked to many road accidents and some instances of crime. Fares should be agreed upon in advance. Taxis will often stop at any point along the road to pick up or discharge passengers, often with little or no warning.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of the country’s national tourist office The Ministry of Works and Transport is the national authority responsible for road safety.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government ofTrinidad and Tobagoas being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Trinidad and Tobago’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s website at ... sight/iasa.

MARINE SAFETY AND OVERSIGHT: Visitors arriving in Trinidad and Tobago aboard a private vessel must register any firearms with local customs authorities. Failure to declare firearms or making false customs declarations is a serious offense. U.S. citizens have been jailed and fined for possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, attempting to export ammunition, making false customs declarations and not declaring their firearms.

There is a small community of private boat owners who stay in Trinidad temporarily during the hurricane season. There have been several incidents within the past few months in which vessels were boarded and the occupants were assaulted and robbed. Sailors should report any incidents to the Coast Guard and local police, and are encouraged to check with the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard and yacht facility managers for current information.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Trinidad and Tobago is prone to occasional, moderate earthquakes. . Tobago has suffered extensive damage by only two hurricanes since 1963. In 2004, parts of Tobago were severely affected by flooding and mudslides from Hurricane Ivan and several other major storms that followed soon thereafter. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website. Please see our information on customs regulations.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Trinidad and Tobago’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Trinidad and Tobago are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Suspected offenders may be jailed until the trial date, which can be months or even years after the arrest.

Many of the US citizens incarcerated in Trinidad and Tobago were caught attempting to take suitcases or packages containing drugs out of the country. Even if the package or suitcase is being carried for someone else, the traveler is liable for its contents. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Americans should also be aware that cursing and use of foul language in public is a criminal offense in Trinidad and Tobago, subject to arrest and fines. Several Americans have been arrested recently for this offense. While the penalty for public cursing is usually a fine, it can cause considerable disruption in travel plans due to the realities of an arrest and requirement to appear at hearings, and even incarceration if bail cannot be posted. Travelers are also cautioned against wearing military or camouflage clothing in public, as it is against local laws to do so, unless they are in Trinidad and Tobago on official military business. We have had reports of local immigration and customs officials detaining children wearing camouflage outfits and confiscating the clothing.

Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in Trinidad and Tobago are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Trinidad and Tobago. Americans withoutInternet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located 15 Queen's Park West, telephone 868-622-6371, Consular Section fax 868-822-5555, web site ... tion2.html. Hours of operation are 7:30 AM - 12:00 PM, and 1:00 PM through 4:00 PM Monday - Friday, except U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago national holidays. For additional information please visit our website at or email your inquiries at

* * *

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated September 1, 2006, to update sections on Safety and Security and Crime.

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Post by Steve Pitts » Sat Apr 14, 2007 7:22 am

Hi James

I'm not sure if you are worried by the content of that diatribe from the US consular service, but the references to Trinidad and Tobago do not neccessarily mean literaly that the same situation /advice relates to both islands. Trinidad and Tobago is the geographic identity of the twin nations, but the two islands are very different from a cultural, economic and population perspectives.

There has been much discusion here on the forum over the past couple of years about the security and crime levels of Tobago and how the reputation and crime rate of the sister island of Trinidad is rubbing off on Tobago. If you search the forum posts for any relating to crime and security you will see the same questions keep cropping up from 1st - time visitors worried about media reports of Gov advice to travellers.

Of course, this is only natural - people are worried about such warnings and reports if they don't know the reality, especially when a restful and stress-free holiday is what they are seeking.

All I would suggest is that anyone worried about crime should read a sample of these posts and the conculsions that most of them reach. Many have reply posts from forum members who were worried before going (having heard adverse accounts) and found the reality to be a world away from the media hype. Their post - holiday posts and the posts of experienced Tobagophiles will be the most accurate and up-to-date and reflect the true Tobago.

Having read the posts and taken on board the basic security advice also offered, then go ahead and enjoy your holiday - keeping on mind the basic common sense precautions that apply anywhere.

Take only photos - leave only footprints. I like that concept.

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