Tobago is not like the other Caribbean islands. Far from being a destination popular with spring breakers and hordes of tourist sunbathing on sun loungers, Tobago is laid-back and full of charm. Tourism hasn`t made its mark on Tobago and the all-inclusive resorts take up only the fraction of the island. Forget fancy restaurants and glitzy shopping malls, sleepy Tobago is more authentic. Beyond, unspoilt beauty awaits: picture-perfect towns, idyllic beaches, unspoilt rainforest with diverse birdlife and roadside stalls piled with exotic fruits. With the friendly locals who do not treat you as walking dollar but as a human being, this is the place to go for the quiet escape in the Caribbean.
Situated off the northeast coast of Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago is a country formed by two islands. The most southerly of the Caribbean islands; Trinidad and Tobago lie outside of the “Hurricane Belt”. The much smaller Tobago is about 40 km long (26 miles) and more than 11 km (7 miles) across at its widest point.
WHY TO VISIT TOBAGO:
Don`t let Tobago`s small size fool you. The island has a big personality and offers a unique travel experience. Tobago`s soft sands are hard to resist, however there are plenty of attractions on offer too. The island with dramatic landscape is known for excellent snorkelling and diving spots. A honeymooner`s paradise is also a haven for the turtle and bird-watchers.
UNMISSABLE THINGS TO DO IN TOBAGO:
Visit Pigeon Point Heritage Park
If you are looking for a beach with a buzz, Pigeon Point is a place to go. An internationally recognised symbol of the island with soft white sand beach and the swaying coconut trees looks as pretty as a postcard. As well as being romantic, Pigeon Point is just steps away from the action. Pump up your adrenaline and enjoy some waters sports, such as kite-surfing, jet skiing or stand-up paddle boarding.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The beach is a part of the Pigeon Point Heritage Park; therefore expect to pay a daily admission charge of $20TT (about $3 USD) per person. The entry fee will give you access to the lifeguard-protected beach with bars, restaurants, bathrooms and the other amenities.
Pigeon point with the famous thatched roof jetty and the sparkling aquamarine water is somewhere every traveller in Tobago should visit.
Unsurprisingly, many holidaymakers head to Pigeon Point and for that reason the beach can get crowded in high season. The most famous beach in Tobago is located on the southwestern tip of the island, surrounded by a gorgeous lagoon and bordered by a coral reef. With its scenic views and relatively flat turquoise waters, it is easy to see why Pigeon Point is one of the best beaches in Tobago. A magical place like this can be easily accessible from the capital of Scarborough, making it an unforgettable day trip for those arriving on a cruise ship. Pigeon Point is also situated only a few minutes’ drive from the airport.
TIP: If you are not planning to leave without souvenirs, consider buying most of the gifts here. Pigeon Point is the main place where you can get fridge magnets and other souvenirs.
Although Pigeon Point`s beach is everything you need for a relaxing day, don`t forget to explore nearby Buccoo Reef. Take a glass bottom boat to the island`s largest reef departing regularly from the Pigeon Point Jetty or Store Bay. A protected marine park located offshore of Pigeon Point is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tobago. The more adventurous travellers can get personal with reef marine life in the warm Caribbean waters. It is well worth booking a tour.
GOOD TO KNOW:
It should be noted that Buccoo Reef has suffered a lot of damage from storms and human action. Despite the damage, there is still plenty to see at Buccoo reef.
No trip to Tobago would be complete without a visit to the world-famous Nylon Pool. A metre-deep offshore sandbar in the middle of the turquoise waters is a natural phenomenon. Jump of the boat in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and swim in a pool with waist-deep waters. The Nylon Pool located south of Buccoo Reef is one of the most popular attractions in Tobago. A natural swimming pool with palm-fringed Pigeon Point in the background is only accessible by boat. With such jaw-droopingly views, you will never want to leave this stunning lagoon!
The pretty crystal clear lagoon that stuns tourists and locals alike was named by Princess Margaret who said the water was as clear as her nylon stockings. Some believe the waters of the lagoon have rejuvenating powers. One thing everyone can agree on is that the Nylon Pool is definitely magical.
The Nylon Pool, an offshore sandbar that formed in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, is one of the best things to see in Tobago.
TIP: Make sure you keep an eye out for the local marine life too. If you are lucky, you can spot stingrays.
No Man`s Land
For more secluded experience, visit a unique place called No Man`s Land. A secluded beach located near the Bon Accord Lagoon is an unspoiled location for a barbecue or picnic. The scenic No Man`s Land surrounded by the mangroves is only accessible from the sea. Those who would like to visit it need to take a boat tour that includes a stop here.
Bioluminescence in Bon Accord Lagoon
After the sun sets and the first stars bright up the sky, set out for a bioluminescent experience. Millions of glowing microorganisms put on a light show in the glowing water in the nearby Bon Accord Lagoon – don`t miss that! An unforgettable phenomenon can be experienced on the motor boat. Alternatively, kayak or stand-up paddle board to Bon Accord Lagoon.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The mangrove fringed lagoon is the best experienced when the sky is dark (not during a full moon). Besides, the bioluminescence is harder to see after several days of rain. Keep that in mind when booking your tour.
Fort King George and the Tobago Museum
Travellers who you would like to learn more about Tobago`s past should not miss exploring Fort King George. Recently refurbished Fort King George is the twin island`s best preserved fort. Built during the turbulent period when the island changed hands many times, the fort offers great views of Scarborough Bay. King George with the location to keep an eye on the invaders, who fought over Tobago, provides nowadays a scenic escape from the crowds.
Military fort with restored colonial-era buildings, a prison and several cannons is a great place to watch the sun set. The officer`s quarters is now home to the Tobago museum were you will find a collections of antique maps, paintings, and other artefacts.
FUN FACT: Over the years, The English, French and Dutch did fight over the island. Tobago changed hands 30 times, but eventually the island ended up in the British hands.
Responsible Turtle watching
Searching for a unique experience in Tobago? If yes was your answer, don`t miss out turtle watching. The twin island`s shores are some of the world`s most important nesting grounds for the largest turtles on earth. Turtles can be seen by snorkelers and divers all year around the islands. Turtle nestling seasons runs from March to September though. When you are planning a getaway to Tobago during this time, make sure you witness this once-in-a-lifetime-experience.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The nestling turtles in Tobago are much easier to get to than in Trinidad. Hundreds of giant leatherbacks nest can be find on Turtle beach, Mr Irvine and Grafton beach. Many resorts on nesting beaches can notify you when the nesting turtles have been sighted, or when baby turtles are ready for release.
Things to remember:
- do not drive on nesting beaches as the weight of the vehicle can crush eggs buried in the sand
- do not touch or disturb nestling turtles or hatchlings
- keep a distance from the laying turtle
- try to be quiet at nesting beaches, do not use flashlight or flash photography as it can disorient both turtles and hatchlings
The leatherback turtle can travel 10,000 miles (16,000 km) or more each year in search of jellyfish
Wondering what to do on a Sunday night in Tobago? Each Sunday night the locals and visitors flock to Buccoo village for the legendary street party. Sunday school – an outdoor street party with steel drum music and delicious food, is a must-have experience in Tobago. An evening with the famous steel drum music and DJ who takes over later in the evening is an ideal way to sample Tobagonian social life.
Looking for more adventurous activity? Step beyond ordinary and take a stroll through the magical mangrove forest of Petit Trou Lagoon. Mangrove Boardwalk is one of the Tobago`s best kept secrets- an unspoiled and undiscovered by many people. A quiet place with towering roots and winding paths will lead you to different locations. With plenty of birds and marine life, cracking branches add mystery to the Mangrove Boardwalk. Look for signs of life and spot crabs popping in and out of holes. And the best of all? Enjoy this unforgettable light show without a need to pay for an admission.
The Tobago Plantations boardwalk in Lowlands is one of Tobago`s treasures
Next along the coast is picturesque Castara Bay. A small fishing village located up north on the west side of the island is an ideal place to spend some time relaxing. An unspoiled bay with numerous coconut palm trees, fishing boats and calm waters with a reef quite close to the shore has a laid-back feel. Castara bay with low-key guest houses and Castara Retreat is a popular stop on the island`s tour. Make sure you don`t miss that.
TIP: Castara waterfall in the nearby rainforest is only an easy walk from the bay.
Englishman`s Bay Tobago
If you looking to get well off the beaten track, there are few places more undiscovered that touristy Pigeon Point. Tucked away between the sleepy fishing village of Castara and Parlatuvier, Englishman`s Bay is one of Tobago`s true jewels. A beautiful horseshoe of yellow sand that lies on the edge of the untouched rainforest, Englishman`s Bay is not well known to many tourists. With its green-blue water and lots of coconut and palm trees, it`s no wonder Englishman`s Bay offers extraordinary views all year around.
A secluded beach on the northern coast of the island is easily accessible from the south of the island.
GOOD TO KNOW: Unfortunately public toilets cannot be found here.
Further north, another beautiful bay can be found. Like many other Tobago`s bays, Parlatuvier Bay with its golden sand and clear waters is partly sheltered. Located at the north-western part of the island, Parlatuvier Bay is blend of natural beauty and tranquillity.
The best way to see the bay if from the above. Stop at the Glasgow Bar on the hill above the village for unforgettable views. If lucky, you might even spot the parrots flying.
Pirate`s Bay Tobago
Don`t leave Tobago without visiting serene Pirate`s bay, situated on the north of the island. This quiet secluded bay nestled between the thick rainforest and sparkling Caribbean Sea is perhaps Tobago`s prettiest bay. It takes a little bit of effort to get to Pirate`s bay, but if you are looking for unspoilt beach with calm waters and excellent snorkelling, this is your best choice.
To access Pirate`s Bay, take a short hike from slow-paced Charlotteville or ask a local fisherman to take you on a small boat to this stunning bay. Don`t forget to take drinks and snacks with you; the beach is deserted though.
Emerald green Pirates Bay can be seen in the Robinson Crusoe movie from the fifties
Hike from Charlotteville to Pirate`s Bay
from Charlotteville to Pirate`s Bay
Hike from the sleepy Charlotteville to Pirate`s Bay and enjoy a day on a secluded beach. Take a dirt road from the village and follow a 150 step descent to the beach. It takes a little effort to access the bay, but is definitely worth it.
Lovers` Bay Tobago
For even more secluded experience, ask a local fisherman to take you to hidden Lover`s bay. A bay edged by tropical rainforest is located a couple of kilometres to the west of the village of Charlotteville. A small pink beach with crushed-shell sands is a hidden treasure missed by many visitors. Although the untouched bay with romantic name can be reached only by boat, it is definitely worth a visit. Lover`s Bay with a fine coral reef offers a some of the best opportunities for snorkelling. Remote secret beach is full of charm and appeal. Make sure you check this place out!
Lover`s Bay is far from the usual tourist areas in Tobago
Try a local cuisine
After snorkelling in the Caribbean waters, why not to sample the Tobagonian flavours in one of the local restaurants? Don`t miss the opportunity to taste crab and dumpling, or some of the fresh seafood. The Tobagonian cuisine with a fusion of Creole, Indian, African and Caribbean cuisines offers a unique culinary experience. A great place to try a local cuisine is the Suckhole in Charlotteville. The Suckhole restaurant located directly on the beach will definitely make you fall in love with the local food.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The Suckhole is a popular restaurant in Charlotteville; therefore expect to wait for your meal at least for an hour.
Main Ridge Forest Reserve Tobago
Despite the fact Tobago has many reasons to visit; the Main Ridge Forest Reserve should be up there with the best of those reasons.
You may not associate Tobago with lush, green rainforest, but Main Ridge Forest Reserve truly is an oasis compared to the south of the island. What is about the Tobago Forest Reserve which forms the backbone of the island to make is so special? Firstly, the rainforest is protecting many endemic species that originated on mainland South America. What is now Tobago was once attached to South America, but it migrated north over millions of years. Famed for its rich diversity of plant and animal life, this park is also home to the island`s highest point.
Secondly, the Main Ridge Forest Reserve is the oldest legally protected forest in the Western Hemisphere. The mountainous volcanic spine of Tobago with the lower temperatures and winds is peaceful and stuffed with wonderful wildlife. Hike through the evergreen rain forest and lookout for the rare white-tailed sabrewing hummingbird, which is endemic to the island. A network of hiking trails enables you to reach untouched corners of the rainforest on foot. Guided tours provide a great way to experience the Main Ridge Forest reserve with local knowledge at hand.
GOOD TO KNOW:
You can drive through the reserve. A peaceful drive through the reserve is one of the most scenic ways to see the rainforest. It is also s a great alternative to hiking.
TIP: A raincoat is a useful accessory.
Cool off in one of the waterfalls
Tobago`s waterfalls attracts locals and visitors alike. Some of them require hike, while the others need only short walk. The tallest ant the most impressive of them all is the Argyle waterfall which can be found just outside Roxborough. If you have a chance, check out Highland Waterfall or Rainbow waterfall.
Little Tobago Island
Take a glass-bottom tour to Little Tobago located on east side of the island. A remote little island is considered to be one of the Caribbean important seabird sanctuaries. Also known as Bird of Paradise Island, the island with several kilometres of well-marked trails is must-have attraction for birdwatchers. A day excursion can be arranged from Speyside village at the Blue Water Inn.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The island is also one of the most popular diving and snorkelling sites. Here, fine Angel Reef with diverse marine life offers an opportunity to see the largest brain corals in the world.
Watch the seine net fishing
Though visitors can rent a boat and go for fishing, sport fishing is not very common. Instead, see the seine nets being pulled early in the morning in one of the beaches on the island. Witness the traditional net fishing that has remained unchanged for around 150 years. Beaches with seine fishing activity are at Mont Irvine bay, Black Rock, Turtle Beach, Castara or many others.
How to explore Tobago
To make the most of Tobago, go on a round the island tour on a guided tour, or rent a car. Tobago is a small island and it can be easily explored in one day. Visitors who would like to explore the island at a leisurely pace need 2 days to cover most of the sights. Wind down your windows, put on your favourite tunes and get ready for your next adventure.
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