Road trips on small islands are great because you get to cover a lot of ground within a short space of time and you’re treated to flawless views along the way! Tobago is no different. As tiny as it looks on a map, the island offers a lot of diversions, from historical sites to panoramic vistas. I indulge in these little escapes to the country as often as I can so by now, I’ve begun to repeat stops. But I don’t mind, because I’m still finding new ways to appreciate each experience. However, for those of you who don’t have the luxury of time to make multiple treks to the east of the island, here are my recommendations for the ideal Windward Road Tobago Road Trip itinerary.
NB: If you begin at 9 am and proceed at a leisurely pace, you should be all wrapped up and back in the west by 5:30 pm.
1. Take in some History at Fort King George Heritage Park
The first stop on every easterly Tobago road trip along the Windward Road should always be Fort King George Heritage Park. Built in the 18th century and named after King George III, Fort King George is the largest fort on the island. It is also the most well-preserved with several of its original buildings having been carefully restored. A self-guided tour of the grounds will take you to various beautiful stone buildings that once served as the Officer’s Barracks, the Gun Powder Magazine, the Prison Cells and the Bell Tank. This popular heritage site includes a museum full of thoughtfully curated artifacts, an out-of-commission lighthouse, several cannons and multiple vantage points for some of the best views of the capital of Scarborough.
Drive Time: Approximately 20 minutes
Cost: Access to the grounds is Free but admission to the museum is TT$10 | US $2 (adults), TT$5 | US $1 (teens), TT$2 (children)
Estimated Time at Location: 30 minutes
2. Rum & Chocolate Tasting at Tobago Cocoa Estate
The Tobago Cocoa Estate offers a great experience, if you’re lucky enough to secure a tour. The Estate is the source of several award winning chocolates, including the delicious Laura Chocolate Bar, which won GOLD at the 2017 International Chocolate Awards. Tours aren’t offered year round, and require a 10 person group minimum, however if you’re on the island between December and April, I highly recommend it. During the tour you learn about the history of cocoa in Tobago and have the opportunity to participate in the drying and fermenting process. The experience wraps up with a rum and chocolate tasting that you will thoroughly enjoy. Truth be told, Tobago Cocoa chocolates can be purchased in stores around the world, including Europe, however its way more satisfying to sample them right here in Tobago! Note that outside of the regular season, there is still a chance to take the tour, so I strongly recommend contacting them in advance to make arrangements.
Drive Time: Approximately 30 mins
Cost: To be discussed when making arrangements
3. Drinks & Views at Speyside Overlooking
Almost as soon as you enter Speyside, you’ll arrive at a sharp bend that delivers the most spectacular view of the coastline. The only uninterrupted vantage point for this view however, resides within the Speyside Overlooking Restaurant and Bar. The red, yellow, and green wooden facade visible from the street is small and unassuming, but as soon as you enter the establishment you’ll understand why its a mandatory stop on your Tobago road trip. The focal point of the space is the panel of windows that occupy the entire back wall, granting you an unencumbered view of sapphire waters and emerald green vegetation. The owner, Toney, is a friendly guy who won’t pressure you to purchase anything, but its only polite to get at least one beverage if you’re going to soak up his prized view. NB: I also recommend having a light snack as their might be a little bit of a wait at the lunch spot.
Drive Time: Approximately 25 minutes
Cost: Depends on your drink preference
Estimated Time at Location: 30 minutes
4. Souvenir Shopping
Finding truly unique, handmade souvenirs isn’t the easiest thing, so as long as your Tobago road trip takes you east, you need to capitalize on the opportunity to patronize local craftsman. Seeing that you’re already at Speyside Overlooking, you might as well hop across the street and do some shopping at this roadside stall. On sale you’ll find bamboo bird feeders, wooden carvings, calabash purses and a range of other items crafted by the owner himself. Don’t pass up this opportunity to purchase genuine Tobago items for yourself or friends and family!
Walking Time: 1 minute
Cost: There are items for any low to mid range budget
Estimated Time at Location: 15 minutes
5. Lunch at The Suckhole
After all of that driving, shopping and rum tasting (for everyone but the designated driver) you’re definitely ready for lunch. The only question is, is the lunch spot ready for you? While there are other good dining options in this neck of the woods, I strongly recommend The Suckhole a seaside restaurant in Charlotteville. It’s one of the most popular restaurants in the east and it would be a shame to make it that far and not sample its menu. However, the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, it is always packed, and the average wait time is about an hour. Seriously. But it’s worth it. I promise. When you arrive the small dining area will undoubtedly be crowded, but just let the owner/server know you’re next in line and eventually you’ll be seated. Lunch comes with fries, a rich fresh salad and your choice of meat – whether you do the shrimp, the chicken or the fish, they’re all filling, mouth wateringly delicious!
Drive Time: Approximately 20 minutes
Cost: Estimate TT $200 | US $30 per person for meal and drinks
Estimated Time at Location: 2.5 hours
6. Make a Quick Stop at Fort Campbelton
A brief stop, but a mandatory one all the same. Fort Campbelton is one of those places you visit exclusively for the view, not the experience. With just a couple cannons and not much space to roam, this tiny fort is sometimes forgotten historical landmark. It’s easy to miss as it’s accessed by walking along a narrow lane lined by private residences. In fact, it almost feels like you’re walking through people’s front yards but the residents are accustomed so there’s no need to feel uncomfortable. There’s a small gazebo if you feel inclined to sit, but I generally don’t recommend this spot for an extended stay. Take your time to enjoy the great birds eyes view of the village below but if you linger another group is sure to arise and make the space feel crowded.
Drive Time: Approximately 5 minutes
Cost: Free (although there’s a family with restroom facilities that you can access for a small fee)
Estimated Time at Location: 10 minutes
7. Enjoy The Best view of Charlotteville from Flagstaff Hill
The highest point in Charlotteville, Flagstaff Hill also has the best view of the village. There is no better vantage point to soak up the sight of the heart shaped coastline and the sprinkling of boats that dot the surface of the ocean. The panoramic vista includes uninterrupted views of Man O’ War Bay, St. Giles Island, as well as Cambelton Hermitage. The site features a sprawling green lawn, a gazebo, tables and benches, making it a great spot for a picnic if you’re so inclined.
Drive Time: Approximately 8 minutes
Estimated Time at Location: 20 minutes (however if you prefer to forego lunch at Suckhole and picnic here instead, I highly recommend it)
8. Photo Ops at Speyside Estate Ruins
Road trips are great opportunities for photo ops, and the Speyside Estate Ruins provide the ideal setting. The stone and red brick structure that once housed the sugar factory is fully accessible, as is the waterwheel just behind it. Take the time to explore the space and discover the best spots for your shots. The windows and doorways make great ‘natural’ frames for photos, while the green lawn carpeting offers a beautiful contrast that pops in all your pics. For some strange reason, despite the amount of traffic in the area, this site is always empty, so you’ll most likely have free reign for the time that you’re there.
Drive Time: Approximately 10 minutes
Estimate Time at Location: 20 minutes
9. Take in the View from Batteaux Bay
After your photo op at the base of Blue Waters Inn Road, go to the top of the hill for one last epic view. Batteaux Bay is one of those beaches that seems to always be full-100 when it comes to startlingly blue water. And the lush vegetation that surrounds it emphasizes just how vibrant the water is. From this vantage point you’ll be able to see Goat Island, as well as Little Tobago. It’s a small space at the top of the hill, before you enter the hotel’s property, so its not ideal for a long stay, but I like to linger up there all the same. Can you blame me? It’s so hard to pull myself away from this view! Bonus: The beach below is perfect for swimming and, while its on the hotel’s property, it is open to the public. So, if you have time, and you’re up for a little dip, head on down!
Drive Time: 3 minutes
Estimated Time at Location: 15 minutes (unless you’re jumping in the water for a swim!)
Not everyone loves packed road trip itineraries (including me) so if you’re planning your own Tobago road trip, feel free to pick and choose from this list. Once you’re on the island though, I strongly recommend renting a car for at least a couple of days. The Windward Road has some great stops that, as you can see, requires an entire day. However, the Northside Road also serves as an ideal route with beaches and bars you won’t want to miss!
Have you ever road tripped in Tobago? What’s your favorite route, and what are some of your favorite stops?