Treat Yourself on Terrific Tobago
Just 70 miles off the coast of Venezuela; Tobago is a smart choice for first-time visitors to the Caribbean with a gentle, no-hurry vibe that means relaxation is guaranteed. It’s only 25 miles long and most hotels lie in the flat, south-west corner of the island – close to the airport and wide, sandy beaches that are a key attraction. Here the elegant Coco Reef Resort & Spa sits beside idyllic white sands and includes a child-friendly lagoon, while the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort features three pools and an 18-hole PGA-designed course.
To see the best of the island you’ll need to head east along the slow and winding roads to explore its tropical rainforest. Established in 1776, the Main Ridge Forest Reserve is a triumph of conservation that runs along Tobago’s mountainous spine with towering trees and glossy green vegetation.
The island was once joined to South America and 31 per cent of the birds that nest here are endemic. You don’t have to be an avid twitcher to appreciate the beauty of its hummingbirds or the very dapper blue-backed manakin – but if you are you’ll love Little Tobago, an island sanctuary off the north-east coast that is home to gulls, boobies and frigate birds.
Another popular attraction is Argyle Falls, Tobago’s tallest waterfall with a 175ft drop, and there’s plenty more for nature-lovers to admire including the chance to kayak or paddleboard at night through waters glittering with biolumines-cent organisms.
Under the water, Buccoo Reef off the popular Pigeoen Point is a protected marine park with excellent shallow snorkelling. Divers can book trips to see massive brain corals and a variety of wrecks including The Maverick, a car ferry deliberately sunk in 1997. If that’s your thing, consider staying at Blue Waters Inn in Speyside which has an on-site PADI diving facility.
Tobago also has an extraordinary history reflected in its numerous coastal forts – it changed hands 31 times in an epic squabble between English and French forces that finally ended in 1814 (we won). On a hill over-looking the capital, Scarborough, Fort King George is the best-preserved example, bristling with cannons and home to the Tobago Museum where you can consider the claim that the island was the setting for Daniel Defoe’s famous novel of 1719, Robinson Crusoe. Although that’s unlikely, this is undoubtedly a fine place for you to play castaway for a week or two.
If all this activity makes you hungry, Tobago has good street food with roti, curried crab, hearty stews and vegetarian snacks all worth trying, along with tropical fruits and fresh coconut water. Hot sauce is a popular souvenir to take home along with premium chocolate from the Tobago Cocoa Estate in Roxborough which won gold at the International Chocolate Awards – tours are available from December to April.
Such accolades are just what you’d except from this small and engaging island blessed with a generous helping of sun, sand and natural beauty.