Arima Trinidad is perhaps most famous for being the only city in Trinidad
and Tobago that maintains
an organized indigenous community. The descendants of the Amerindians that were
moved here in the late 1700s may not be pure blood descendants, but they represent
the native culture and traditions well. This helps to give insight into the
history of Trinidad and Tobago,
and it goes to show just how culturally-rich the country is. The Amerindian
plight in Arima Trinidad was largely tied to the cocoa industry, and since the
city of Arima lies in the foothills of the Northern Range, it was long a prime
cocoa producing hub. Many indentured laborers came from around the world to
help sustain the cocoa industry in the Arima Valley, and to this day, Arima’s
population is very much a mix of Amerindian, Spanish, French, South American,
Chinese, African, West and East Indian, and Lebanese descendants.
Arima Trinidad wasn’t officially founded until 1757, when Capuchin Monks arrived
looking to convert natives to Christianity. The Amerindians in the surrounding
area were relocated to Arima when their lands were taken in 1783, and by 1786,
the monks had erected a Mission here. There were other mission villages in the
area, but none developed into major towns of importance like Arima. The capital
of Port of Spain
is just 16 miles to the west of Arima, and Arima’s growth was attributed to
the fact that a transportation hub was needed further inland to coordinate the
movement of goods between the interior to the coast. In 1876, the first railway
line in Trinidad was built to link Arima to Port of Spain.
Though there is virtually no evidence of the Capuchin Monks’ Mission of Arima, those enjoying Arima vacations can still visit the eighteenth-century Santa Rosa Roman Catholic Church. This church was recently put on the international map when its statue of the Virgin Mary became known for crying tears of blood. Whether you believe that this is a miracle or a hoax of some kind, the statue is one of the top attractions in Arima and deserves a look. Curious onlookers come from near and far to gaze at the statue, many hoping that they too will see the magical tears that the statue reportedly sheds. The Santa Rosa Roman Catholic Church is a centerpiece for the feast of Santa Rosa de Lima, which takes place on the last Sunday in August. This festival often mixes with the Santa Rosa Carib Community’s annual event and the city’s Borough Day celebrations, so if you are visiting Arima at the end of August, it’s a good to idea to book a room in advance at one of the Arima hotels. As is true all over the country, Arima also celebrates Carnival, which takes place during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday. The lively J’ouvert bands and the Calypso competition are among the highlights of Arima’s Carnival, as is the colorful Tuesday parade. Other top places to celebrate Carnival in Trinidad are Port of Spain, Chaguanas, and San Fernando.
In addition to festive events and an intriguing Catholic church, the main attractions in Arima also include a landmark clock and the Santa Rosa Carib Centre. The clock, which is known as the Arima Dial, may be modest in size, but it is no less a beacon for residents. Found in the Broadway area of town, the Arima Dial was dedicated to the city in 1898 by former mayor John Wallen. Having suffered some misfortunes over time, the clock is in fine working order today, much to the happiness of the locals. As for the Santa Rosa Carib Centre, it is a prime place to learn about the city’s native history. Visiting the Carib Centre is one of the top things to do in Arima, and after you view the items on display, you can shop for some native products to take home with you.
To learn more about the Amerindians, the Cleaver Woods Recreation Park should also make your list of things to do in Arima. Found off of Cleaver Road and Eastern Main Road, this recreation area boasts a thatched hut that is intended to give insight into how past Amerindians lived. In addition to checking out the native items on display at Cleaver Woods, you can also enjoy the park’s walking trails and benches. Those traveling with kids will find that the Cleaver Woods Recreation Park is one of the best attractions in Arima for them.
Enjoying area day trips is also popular with those looking for things to do in Arima, and the nearby Asa Wright Nature Centre is a top day trip destination. You can do some hiking at the reserve and even stay at the lodge there if you please. When it comes to birdwatching in the Caribbean, few spots can rival the Asa Wright Nature Centre, which has recorded 159 bird species on its grounds. In addition to birding and walking the trails at the reserve, you can also enjoy a refreshing dip in its freshwater pond. Refreshing swims can also be enjoyed on the beaches that are found on Trinidad’s northern coast. It’s a relatively short drive or bus ride from Arima to some of the island’s top beaches, such as Maracas Bay and Blanchisseuse.