Visiting Tobago - What to See and Do
(Tobago Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson International Airport TAB, Tobago)
is the sedate little sister of big noisy Trinidad
. Together these two islands make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, one of the most industrialised nations in the Caribbean. With the oil refineries chugging away on neighbouring Trinidad, Tobago kicks back and enjoys its tranquil environment, postcard beaches and rich natural beauty.
Travellers can fly directly into Tobago at its little airport on the southern end of the island. There are only a couple of towns of note here, backed by a handful of tiny villages, beach resorts and coastal attractions. The western coast is where the most beautiful beaches are found, with superb diving to the north at Pigeon Point's Buccoo Reef. The beaches in the north, like Store Bay and Englishman's Bay, tend to offer a more lively atmosphere.
Most of the development is along the south end of the island, anchored by the de facto capital and main port of Scarborough. Just don't expect too much from the local towns - this island is as sleepy as they come, and that is how the locals like it. Friendliness abounds in the villages, and if you are nature lover, you just might think you've stumbled into Eden.
Ten things you must do in Tobago
- The island's principal town, Scarborough, is really little more than a village with a harbour. There isn't a tremendous amount to do here, but it does make a useful base for day trips and scuba diving outings. Any and all cultural attractions are in Scarborough, along with what little shopping is available on the island.
- Fort King George is Tobago's top historic attraction. It sits atop a bluff overlooking the capital Scarborough and is definitely worth a visit. It was constructed by the English in 1779, changed hands a few times, then was partially damaged by an earthquake. The ruins are fun to explore, while inside the fort's historic barracks is the Tobago Museum, which boasts a decent selection of period artefacts and other relics.
- One of the highlights of Tobago is its healthy underwater scene. The scuba diving and snorkelling here is fantastic, uncrowded and easy to access. At Buccoo Reef, just off Pigeon Point, is a reef so shallow that you can literally wade out to it after a quick boat ride. Just don your mask and stick your head in the water to witness coral gardens and schools of tropical fish.
- Plymouth is the other town of note on Tobago. It sits along the coastal road north of the capital and has just enough life to warrant a morning visit. While the town is friendly enough, there are even less amenities than in Scarborough. The real reason to stop over is to explore the ruins of Fort James, another British fort built in 1768.
- If you are a fan of wildlife, birds in particular, you may want to take a day off and arrange for a boat to take you to Little Tobago, a tiny island that is renowned for its bird life. A system of marked trails will help you explore the hills where some 50 species of endangered birds live. Get a local fisherman in Speyside to take you on the 20-minute crossing and pick you up later.
- The folks on Tobago may be laid back, but that doesn't mean they don't like to have a few drinks in the evening and listen to music. Nearly all the decent entertainment venues are attached to resorts. They offer a great place to meet locals and tourists alike, listen to a real steel drum band and get some dancing in. The Mount Irvine Bay Hotel and the Grafton Beach Resort are two of the best bets.
- There are many beautiful beaches to choose from on Tobago, and Pigeon Point on the northern coast is one of the liveliest. This long public coral beach has a decent array of amenities like changing rooms, food stalls and paddleboat rentals. It is also the jumping off point for a boat trip over to Buccoo Reef and its sublime snorkelling attractions.
- The tiny fishing village of Charlotteville is home to one of the most picturesque natural harbours in the Caribbean. Man-o-War Bay has a long sandy beach with good changing facilities and a very inspiring atmosphere. Check out the pink sand of Lover's Beach, a quick boat ride away, or buy some local seafood from the fishermen as they haul in the day's catch.
- The Tobago Golf Club at Mount Irvine is one of those courses that is almost too distracting to actually enjoy the golfing. Its 18 holes are fun but gentle enough for novice golfers to enjoy. The Tobago Plantations Golf and Country Club is the other 18-hole course on the island, and both are open to non-guests.
- The aptly named Turtle Beach is a nesting ground for sea turtles between February and August. You can witness their fight for life during the season, though the beach is a stunner all year round. King's Bay is another huge draw and arguably the best swimming spot on the island, while Back Bay has very good surfing between July and August.