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Five reasons why Tobago should be your next Caribbean holiday

Clive Wedderburn May 3, 2017

Shimmering see-through water, unforgettable wildlife encounters, breathtaking scenery and vibrant island culture all on a strip of land barely eight miles wide – here are five reasons why Tobago should top your Caribbean travel wish-list.  

1.    Unspoilt beaches and snorkelling spots            

If it’s the epitome of a Caribbean holiday you’re after then Tobago is hard to beat with its wide choice of calm and secluded beaches.  Englishmen’s Bay, for example, is never far off the top spot of ‘best beach in the world’ lists. It’s a glorious curve of pure white sand, bookended by forest-clad headlands and features spectacular coral gardens off shore. 

Bloody Bay on the north-west side of the island (so-called because it was the site of a fabled 17th century sea battle) is another sandy strip of breathtaking beauty, plus it’s also the place to dive among ancient wrecks to spy fish darting in and out of the surrounding reefs.  

Nylon Pool, located a mile offshore, is a magical spot well known to the islanders. Here a crystal clear lagoon combines with the blue ocean on one side and a white sand beach on the other to create an amazing marine oasis that’s only a metre deep; a serene spot for amazing wildlife encounters. 

Culloden Bay and reef of the same name is home to sea whips and fans, plus butterfly and parrot fish, promising a kaleidoscopic adventure for any underwater explorer. If you aspire to a life aquatic, then Tobago is the island for you.

2.    Tobago is a botanic wonderland

Once you’ve dragged yourself away from the ocean and dried off from your marine adventures, explore the wealth of nature that exists in the green heart of the island, including the Main Ridge Forest Reserve where you’ll find a diverse ecosystem where forest reserves tumble down to sandy coves. 

Gentle treks through the rainforests yield spectacular rewards especially when you discover Tobago’s picturesque waterfalls. The most popular of these is Argyle Waterfall, but we’d also recommend wading through clear streams with a local guide until you reach Greenhill Waterfall with its beautiful pool – like a Garden of Eden scene. 

Budding zoologists will love Tobago, with its rugged canyons and waterfalls and scenic nature trails. The trapdoor spider is found here, plus armadillos and other exciting fauna and flora. If you plan to visit between April – May you might just see turtle hatchlings emerge from their sandy nests to paddle to the safety of the ocean. 

3.    Birds of paradise 

Tobago is a birdwatcher’s dream holiday boasting some of the best birdwatching opportunities in the region. You won’t have to venture far into the rainforest to experience our feathered friends either; there will be a host of colourful exotica right off your balcony; the cheeky bananaquit, for example, is always on the lookout for a tasty snack. 

The highlight for ornithologists will be a visit to Tobago Main Ridge Forest. Hundreds of species are found here including the Red-crowned Woodpecker and the Chachalaca, the national bird of Tobago. For a closer look at the wildlife of Tobago we suggest you visit the Grafton Caledonia Bird Sanctuary around 4pm and you may even see the dazzling Blue Crowned Motmot being fed by hand.

Hummingbirds can also be glimpsed here, sometimes at close quarters too. So keep your camera handy. The most common is the Copper-rumped hummingbird, with its dashing green plumage and its distinctive thrumming wing beats. The bird calls you hear every day in Tobago will be music to your ears.

4.    Celebrations and festivals

True to the spirit of the Caribbean, Tobago loves to let its hair down. In February the Tobago Carnival Regatta gets under sail for four days of yacht racing from Store Bay. The island’s biggest festival, Carnival, begins not long after with much of the action including Calypso and Soca music and a host of steel bands and dancers in costumes, taking place in Scarborough, the island’s capital. 

The Tobago Jazz Experience is a highlight of April and is both a celebration of jazz and the indigenous music of the island. Another popular event is the Buccoo Goat Race Festival, held annually here since 1925 on Easter Monday where goats and their ‘jockeys’ make a dash to the line. 

A celebration of African culture happens during July – August at the Tobago Heritage Festival. Villages from different island communities celebrate their origins with dancing and traditional costumes, culinary traditions, folk lore and singing. 

5.    Tobago’s delicious cuisine 

Tucking into the tasty cuisine of Tobago will definitely be a highlight of your stay – it’s a real foodie’s adventure that effortlessly blends African, Indian, Chinese, South American and European flavours. 

Look out for local favourites ‘brown-down’ stew, curry and roti, or crab and dumplings. Vegetarians will discover they are well catered for, with many meat-free dishes originating from Rastafarian and Hindu recipes. Curried channa made from split peas is also popular, as are paratha and dhaipuri roti. Wash down with a chilled bottle of locally brewed Carib or Stag beer. 

Where once the main produce of the island was sugar, now artisanal products are becoming increasingly popular. Among these experiencing a rise in popularity is Tobago chocolate, whose independent producers are satisfying a growing demand. A tour of the island’s cocoa estates will introduce you to of some of the finest chocolate in the Caribbean; a delicious souvenir to remind you of the islands charms for when you return home.

Where to stay

If you’re visiting the island during Carnival you’ll want to be within easy reach of the capital Scarborough – a tropical plantation such as the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort will offer plenty of activities. Play a few rounds on the nearby 18 hole golf course, or you can also take that PADI Dive course you’ve always dreamt of. 

There are so many reasons why Tobago should top your list of Caribbean islands for your next holiday. If you’d like to be inspired, then visit our Tobago pages to discover what else this paradise island has to offer you.