There’s a lot to be said about Tobago’s beaches, but I’ll keep it brief: They’re awesome.
More awesome than a quarter of the beaches in the Caribbean. Just as awesome as half the stretches of coastline throughout the archipelago. And admittedly less awesome than the remaining quarter of truly idyllic real estate, where crystal clear waters meet startlingly white, powder-soft sand to create those postcard perfect views that can be captioned with one hashtag: #paradise
To put it gently, Tobago’s beaches (as beautiful as they are) aren’t the island’s main selling point. And if that’s all you’ve seen and done while on this 330 sq km gem, you need to polish up your ‘touristing’ skills
But, if you’re ready to step outside of your comfort zone and venture beyond the beaches, here are 5 incredibly fun alternatives that will allow you to relish in Tobago’s serenity and natural beauty, far away from the crowded, clamorous tourist traps.
1. ATV-ing in Black Rock
Heavy machinery and rugged terrain aren’t necessarily the first things that come to mind when you think about Tobago, but that doesn’t mean they’re not available for those who like the great outdoors and aren’t afraid to get dirty. ATV-ing up a mountain isn’t conventional #islandliving but the 1 hr-plus drive promises you some amazing views that are well worth the few minor heart attacks you might suffer along the way! Just pray hard, don’t panic and walk with a camera to capture some of the most epic vistas you’ll encounter on this side of the island.
Details: NJM Fun Park | 716-2339 | $35-$240.00 TT (depending on the course)
2. Coastal Tour on the Caribbean Sea
If you’re looking to cool down, remember beaches aren’t your only option. During the peak season, when popular spots are overrun with people, you need to get creative. There are lots of bodies of water for you to take the proverbial dip in the ocean – you just can’t drive to them. So, book a coastal boat tour and spend the day on the water. There’s snorkeling at the coral reef in Arnos Vale; fishing on the way to Cotton Bay; and a delicious, homestyle lunch on No Man’s Land. The tour wraps up with a dip in the Nylon Pool and, if you’re there at the right time, you might have the unique pleasure of visiting the sand bank that makes an appearance only a few weeks each year.
Details: Waterholics | 688-7669 | TT $480
3. Road Trip to the East
On some days, nothing beats a good, old fashioned drive to the countryside – Speyside is my favourite destination. I’m partial to the more scenic route along the Northern Road but the Windward Road will get you there faster. Once you exit the Claude Noel Highway, there are tons of stops to make along the way. If you follow my path along the Northern Road you can make pit stops at several look-out points with spectacular views; take a break in Castara for fish broth and dirt oven bread; slip into Englishman’s Bay for a relaxing sea bath at one of Tobago’s not-so-best-kept secret beaches; and work up an appetite for a hearty, tasty lunch at the legendary Jemma’s Sea View Kitchen Tree House Restaurant. It’ll make for an unforgettable, day-long adventure, away from the tourist traps in the west.
Details: Jemma’s Sea View Kitchen Tree House Restaurant | 660-4066 | TT $80-$120 TT (family-style) | TT $50-$75 (lunch special)
4. Hike Through the Main Ridge Forest Reserve
I’d be lying if I said I love hiking (or walking for that matter), but every now and then I like to challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone and get down and dirty (literally). The day of my hike through the Main Ridge Forest Reserve was stormy, so there was mud everywhere with very little wildlife to observe, but I still enjoyed it. I won’t be going back in a hurry, but I will recommend it as something to experience that’s off the beaten path. On a dry day there are hundreds of birds flying overhead and dozens of animals that will cross your path, so don’t knock it till you try it.
Details: Harris Jungle Tours | 759-0170 or 639-0513
5. Tour the Bon Accord Mangrove
There are several ways to tour The Mangrove in Bon Accord. I did it by boat during an interesting (slightly unconventional) night tour so we only inspected the periphery, but I hope to explore it on foot, or by paddle boat at some point soon. If you’re not interested in getting up close and personal with nature though, the boat tour is just what you need. My friends and I had a hilarious time with the crew from Frankie Tours so I’d say this operation is a safe bet, but there are many others that provide this service. I’m not sure who made the sandwiches, but they were absolutely delicious, and the Skipper knows how to mix a good drink!
Details: Frankie Tours | 394-4553 or 681-3717
There’s a whole lot to see and do in Tobago but these five things are my favourite when I’m in the mood for only a little bit of people and a whole lot of fresh air. Have you ever been to Tobago? I know I haven’t touched on everything worth mentioning, so what are your favourite things to do on the island besides the traditional beach excursion?