Shannon Hutchinson is an award-winning artist, airline pilot, and adventure travel pro. She has traveled the world, summitted Kilimanjaro, trekked to Everest Base Camp, and chatted with sages about cricket and Trinidad in holy temples in Kathmandu. To say this island girl knows a few things about travel is an understatement, here she shares some of her favourite things to do in Trinidad and Tobago.
Photo Credit: Shannon Hutchinson
Shannon Hutchinson at Everest Base Camp / Photo Credit: Shannon Hutchinson
Photo Credit: Jane Decle
What’s your favourite place to eat in Trinidad?
SH: I really love stopping by Queen’s Park Savannah in the evenings for food. The sounds and smells and lively hustle and bustle of the many vendors and happy customers (who isn’t happy when they’re getting food?!) is the kind of energy that can make anyone smile, even if they arrive hungry. Here, there is no end of local food options, from pholourie to roti, bake and shark, coconut water and specially blended fruit smoothies.
What’s one ‘hidden gem’ you recommend visiting or experiencing?
SH: This one I consider a ‘hidden gem’ even though it’s well known because many Trinis have never been! — I love the Caroni Bird Sanctuary. I visit at least once a year, taking local family or foreign friends to experience the magic of watching our beautiful scarlet ibis fly in to nest in the evenings in a flurry of red above. If you’re really lucky you get to see our beautiful pink flamingos as well. Each visit is different and always spectacular, which is why it is not only a hidden gem, but one you can return to many times.
At this sanctuary, you will bird along the swamp, on a flat bottom boat, looking for herons, boatbills, kingfishers, egrets, Common Potoo, flamingos, followed by the grand finale – the Scarlet Ibis.
Ice-cold coconut from a local roadside vendor by the Queen's Park Savannah
Caroni from above / Photo Credit: Shannon Hutchinson
Scarlet Ibises in the sky
Best place to capture photos in Trinidad?
SH: Our iconic Maracas Bay is an amazing place to capture photos! On the drive there you Must stop at the lookout for that spectacular view of the coast, make sure to get yourself a local snack or two from the vendors there, I recommend the pineapple chow! Once at the beach the options are endless: there’s a beautiful gazebo at the end of a jetty that always offers a serene, romantic feel; nearby there’s a spot where a river meets the sea that offers unusual photo ops for a photographer with an artistic eye; then double back to the busier parts of the beach for character shots of visitors splashing in the sea, throwing ball and playing cricket; don’t miss getting a photo with the I ❤ Maracas sign, and another shot with the vendor with the many Trinidad and Tobago flags on his cart. Before you leave, grab a bake and shark and take a foodie shot of that too!
What’s one must try bucket list experience in Trinidad?
SH: You cannot come to Trinidad without visiting our sister Island, Tobago. Visiting Tobago is in itself a bucket list item that should be on absolutely everyone’s travel list! Experience the untouched beauty by taking a catamaran tour up the west coast, visit for Easter to get to immerse yourself in the excitement of the Buccoo goat races, have fresh fish with a great view at any number of the many seaside restaurants, travel up north to experience the serenity of the eco-lodges, waterfalls, and isolated beaches.
Maracas Bay / Photo Credit: Nadia Sanowar
What’s your favourite location in Trinidad to explore?
SH: Have you ever opened a jewel box filled with beautiful pieces? This next stop on my list is a small space with a huge offering.
Trinidad is overflowing with amazing creative talent, from world-renowned musicians, Carnival creatives, and artists. One place to see a wide variety of talent and perhaps find a piece of original local art to take home with you is at Horizon’s Art Gallery. Horizon’s is not only home to works by many of the well-known, well-established local and regional fine artists, but they also house a collection of works by emerging artists as well. I’ve been visiting the gallery since I was a child, and I am now one of their artists who exhibits work there regularly, look out for my show “Dreamscapes”, which opens on the 17th of August and runs until the 28th!
Manzanilla Drive oil on canvas painting by Shannon Hutchinson
Golden Hour oil on canvas painting of the Caroni Bird Sanctuary by Shannon Hutchinson
Secret Swim oil on canvas painting of a sunset in Tobago by Shannon Hutchinson
What’s your favourite thing to do while in Trinidad?
SH: Lime!! “Lime” is the local slang for “hang out” and we Trinidadians know how to do it well. Our people are warm and friendly and keen to get together for any occasion, usually with a drink in hand and over a hot local dish. Whether it’s at the beach, or getting a group together for a ‘river lime’, ‘together’ is how we like to do things here! “River limes” are especially fun, as you go on a short hike with friends, take some drinks and food and spend the day in nature. We have many rivers and waterfalls to choose from, whether it’s Rincon situated close to Maracas Bay, Blue Basin, Avocat, Paria, or Castara falls in Tobago, the options are endless when it comes to finding a new spot every weekend to take in our natural beauty and have some fun with friends. All we ever ask is that you take with you everything that you brought.
If you could recommend one eco-attraction, what would it be?
SH: Our birdwatching is other-worldly and people fly in from all over the world to see the many different birds we have here. There is so much to see in Trinidad, but to be able to get the most out of your experience I highly recommend one of our tour operators to show you around so that you don’t miss the anteater behind the brush, special species of hummingbird over your shoulder, or the red howler monkey and her baby in the tree overhead.
White-Necked Jacobin Hummingbird / Photo Credit: Nadia Sanowar
Photo Credit: Shannon Hutchinson
Shannon Hutchinson Unveils ‘Dreamscapes’ at Horizons
Award-winning artist Shannon Hutchinson will be revealing her latest eagerly awaited collection of oil paintings entitled ‘Dreamscapes’ at Horizons Art Gallery. Shannon is a true polymath. This Renaissance woman has successful careers in art and aviation. She also has a legitimate claim to the titles entrepreneur, philanthropist, travel pro, holistic health, wellness and beauty guru, and Carnival icon.
Shannon’s passions for Art and Aviation developed simultaneously. As a pilot’s daughter, she developed a love for flying, and as she traveled and experienced new cultures her talent in the arts was discovered and nurtured. By the time she was 20 years old, she was already a fully certified commercial pilot. With no flying jobs available, Shannon went to Canada where she studied Fine Art at OCAD University. She went on to earn her BFA in Florence Italy, specializing in drawing and painting. Her appreciation of classical approaches to painting was cultivated in Italy. She followed that with a Masters Painting course from internationally renowned modern master, Peter Doig, and considers the experience a fulfilling turning point in her artistic career.
Shannon has a preference for oils and loves to experiment with her painting technique, often making her own paints from raw pigments and incorporating fine copper dust or aviation maps into her work. She is known for her glossy seascapes that are heavily influenced by her career as a pilot.
Recognized from practically the start of her career, Shannon’s work has won multiple awards, including twice receiving the Canadian National “Millennium Excellence Award” for innovation in her field. She has shown in over fifty group exhibitions, held solo shows in Trinidad, Canada and Italy, and has work in private and corporate collections throughout the world.
Shannon Hutchinson’s exhibition ‘Dreamscapes’ will be hosted at Horizons Art Gallery. There will be a virtual opening which can be viewed online via Facebook on Tuesday 17th August 2021 at 6:30pm. This will be a live interactive event and viewers are encouraged to participate via message with questions and comments. The artist will be on hand to discuss her works and respond to viewers. You can make an engagement on the Horizon’s Art Gallery Facebook page.
Shannon’s exhibition can also be viewed in safe, comfortable surroundings at Horizons Art Gallery until August 28th. The Gallery is located at #37 Mucurapo Road, St. James. Opening hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, and 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Please call 868-628-9769 for further details.