I’ve been stationary for the past few weeks – and will remain in Trinidad and Tobago until Carnival has come (yay!) and gone (boo…) – so I decided to use this uninterrupted time at home to ‘Go. See. Explore.’ in my very own front yard.
Best! Decision! Ever!
My sweet T&T has been surprising me with amazing mini-adventures for the past few weeks and I’m loving every minute of it! I have been to places I never even knew existed, seen things I never imagined were just a car ride away, and gained an even deeper sense of pride in the land I feel truly blessed to call ‘home’.
As I roam and discover, I’ve been sharing photos on Instagram and fielding a lot of questions about my twin island state. This led me to realize I had not one single blog post to share with all these curious minds. So I’ve decided to correct that, starting today, by sharing seven of my absolutely favorite things to do in Tobago.
1. Take a Day-Long Coastal Tour
In my humble opinion coastal tours are the best way to see the island. They’re the perfect ‘touristy’ thing to do without getting stuck in a ‘tourist trap’. You’re able to cover a lot of distance, sample a variety of experiences, eat delicious home style cooking, and best of all, avoid the crowds. For an entire day, it’s just you, your crew, a (usually) hilarious boat captain, a trusty skipper, drinks, munchies, views and vibes. There are snorkeling stops at the Buccoo Reef and Arnos Vale Reef. You’re able to spend some time swimming at Cotton Bay, a beach accessible only by boat. And you are treated to a delicious lunch on No Man’s land. After you’ve eaten and rested on this secluded stretch of coastline, you wrap up the day with a rejuvenating dip in the Nylon Pool, a sand bank miles off the coast. Legend has it that the pool carries the following mystical powers:
- It reverses the effects of aging 10 years for women
- It enhances that most favourite part of the male anatomy
- It promises a lifetime of happiness for couples who kiss under the water.
I can’t vouch for any of the above but I do know that my skin always feels as smooth as a baby’s bottom after I’ve covered myself from neck to knee with the coral sand found in this area.
NB: This activity is not ideal for people who suffer from sea sickness. No matter what anyone tells you, staring at the horizon may help (I have no clue) but it’s not fun.
Tour Operator: Waterholics | 688-7669
2. Go on a Round-d-Island Road Trip
If water isn’t your thing, a road trip around the island might be just up your alley. Generally, I’m not a fan of driving but the sites you encounter along this journey make the effort worth it! There are two routes you can take – the Northside Road along the north coast, or the Windward Road along the south coast. Either option allows you to cut across the island via the Roxborough-Parlatuvier Road and head back down on the other side. Both routes would take an hour or less without stops, but with so many attractions to discover along the way, you can easily spend a full day on the road. Personally, I prefer the northern route as you are able to visit several great bathing-beaches, including my favorite, Englishman’s Bay. Other notable stops are Castara Beach and Waterfall; as well as the Speyside lookout. Best of all, after you’ve worked up an appetite, you get to grab a tasty lunch at the legendary Jemma’s Sea View Kitchen, a ‘treehouse’ restaurant in Speyside.
Restaurant: Jemma’s Sea View Kitchen | 660-4066
3. Take an ATV Tour
Climbing mountains with an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Tobago, but it’s one of the most exciting things to do on the island. If you love being outdoors, don’t mind getting a little dirty, and have no fear of heights then you’d love this experience. Never driven an ATV before? No problem, the guys at NJM Fun Park will give you a thorough tutorial and a practice run around a track before you take off on this off-road adventure. The trail is relatively easy to navigate with a few intimidating spots along the way, but if I can do it, anyone can! The tour takes a little over an hour to complete and it delivers some pretty amazing views you’re unlikely to encounter anywhere else.
Tour Operator: NJM Fun Park | 310-1862
4. Do a Self-Guided Tour of the Forts
I love old structures and great views, and Tobago’s forts guarantee both. The island is small but it comes with a big history lesson. Tobago changed hands at least 33 times between 1498 to 1814 and if the walls of its forts could talk, they would have A LOT to say. The British, the French, the Spanish, and the Dutch are among the European powers that claimed possession of the island at one point or another. It’s no wonder then that, after approximately 300 years of wars, invasions and pirate sieges, the island’s 300km² has no less than eight forts. Whether you’re a history buff, just enjoy great vistas, or you’re looking for a dramatic backdrop to take those mandatory selfies, Tobago’s forts provide a scenic escape from the crowds. If you’re not opposed to roaming on your own, grab a map and conduct a self-guided tour of all these ruins, from the famous Fort King George to lesser known, but equally attractive locations like Fort Milford.
Car Rental: Tobago United Auto Rentals | 639-9973
5. Explore the Underwater World
I started diving when I was working and living in Tobago four years ago and I am eternally grateful to have this hobby in my life. Scuba diving is a relaxing exercise and Tobago’s gorgeous and varied dive sites make the escape beneath the waves that much sweeter! Whether you love exploring reefs or wrecks, you’ll thoroughly enjoy descending a few dozen feet below the ocean’s surface to take in these rare sites. Hawksbill turtles, stingrays, moray eels, nurse sharks and giant lobsters are among the larger creatures often spotted in the island’s waters. Even if you’ve never been diving before, the island has many dive shops that offer the Discover Dive experience for those interested in testing the waters, pun intended. Go brave and try diving at least one. Think of how special it will feel to be among the lucky few to explore Tobago’s underwater landscape!
Dive Shop: Undersea Tobago | 631-2626
6. Go Hiking in the Rainforest
The massive Main Ridge Forest Reserves is on record as the oldest legally protected forest reserve in the Western Hemisphere. The rainforest occupies 3,958 hectares of Tobago’s 316 km2 and it offers Tobagonians and visitors alike a vast amount of untamed real estate to explore. I don’t pretend to be a hiking fanatic but it is fun to slip into some boots, sling on a backpack and venture off-road for an invigorating trek every once in a while. The rainforest is home to hundreds of species of birds, making Tobago a very popular destination for avid birdwatchers. If you’re not into birding however, I still find the escape into the bushes therapeutic in its own special way. I thoroughly enjoyed navigating the winding trails, learning about the varied flora and fauna, and of course, ungracefully swinging from a vine to cross a puddle of mud! Naturally, it’s not the most comfortable excursion, but I promise it will be one you won’t soon forget.
Tour Operator: Harris Jungle Tours | 759-0170 or 639-0513
7. Spend a Day on Pigeon Point Beach
If you’re visiting Tobago, I forbid you to leave the island without your feet touching the powder soft sand of Pigeon Point Heritage Park. Without a doubt the most popular beach on the island, Pigeon Point has everything you need for a relaxing day of sun, sea and sand. The facility has two restaurants and bars, beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent, and spacious cabanas for those who arrive early enough to secure these prime spots. If you’re looking for some action, Radical Sports offers various water sports, including kite surfing and Stand Up Paddle. For those in the mood for a short tour, you can catch a glass bottom boat from the world famous Pigeon Point jetty to the Buccoo Reef and the Nylon Pool. It’s rare to find this beach without a crowd, but even on its busiest day you can’t help but appreciate the natural beauty of this stretch of coastline.
There you have it – my favorite things to do in my beauitful Tobago. Stay tuned for more on T&T, including a local’s guide for both islands AND more Carnival 2017 coverage than you can handle!