In the colonial area, especially between 1750 and 1850, sugar cane was huge, and fabulously rich Spanish families raised gorgeous mansions around Trinidad's main square off the back of their sugar mills in the valley. Now their descendants rent rooms out to hordes of visiting foreigners. Mountain and sea collide around the Topes de Collantes, producing rich soil for crops.
As produce is bountiful, so the home-cooked food has always been superior, even in bad economic times. As the state restaurants in this town are below par, the better option are the private restaurants – paladares – as are the meals offered by your own casa particular. Bell towers intersperse the picture-book houses, offering winning views to mountains and the hazy coast. It's a short drive from Trinidad to Playa Ancon, one of the loveliest beaches on the island, and if you can cope with all-inclusive hotels, it's possible to stay there too, though day trips are the better alternative.