Gaspar Grande is found just off the coast of Chaguaramas, west of the city of Port of Spain. Locals and foreigners alike frequent the island to visit the famous Gasparee Caves but here are some facts that may not be commonly known about it.
It is small
The island measures a total area of 1.29 km² and stands at 397 feet at the highest point. It is a mile and a half long and a half a mile wide.
The island is named after its first owner Gaspar de Percin Roque
It was granted to him by governor José Maria Chacón in 1973.
The terrain on the island is predominantly limestone. The caves were formed when water deposits of carbon dioxide dissolved the limestone into crystals of calcium carbonate. Over time, the accumulations of crystals create stalagmites, which extend downwards from the roof of the caves, and stalagmites which extend upwards from the ground. Those that stem all the way from the ceiling to the ground are called pillars. There’s a natural blue pond inside the cave formed by an underground source, it is about 10-20 feet deep.
Point Baleine is situated on the northwestern end of Gasper Grande. ‘Baleine’ is the French word for whale, hence the name Point Baleine or Whale Point. The whales were captured beyond the first ‘bocas’, brought back to the island and were used in a variety of ways. The flesh was used for eating, the bones were used to make corsets for women and the blubber was melted down to make oil. The oil is slow burning, which made it ideal for lighting the lamps on the lampposts along the streets of Trinidad.
At the end of World War II, the military occupied the island to be used as a strategic point in defending Trinidad against the threat of U Boats. Old 7-inch guns transferred from Nelson Island were installed on the ridge above Point Baleine known today as The Battery. They were later updated but never fired a single shot in combat. Today, they can be seen at the military museum in Chaguaramas.