While Trinidad booms with industry and parties all night, tiny Tobago (just 42km across) slouches in a deck chair with a beer in hand watching its crystalline waters shimmer in the sun. Though Tobago is proud of its rainforests, fantastic dive sites, stunning aquamarine bays and nature reserves, it’s OK with not being mentioned in a Beach Boys song. It accepts its tourists without vigor, but rather with languor, and allows them to choose between plush oceanside hotels or tiny guesthouses in villages where you walk straight to the open-air bar with sandy bare feet, and laugh with the locals drinking rum.
When Hurricane Flora ripped by in 1963, she blew away the agro-based plantation economy, and the government turned its rebuilding efforts to tourism. Though there’s enough infrastructure to make navigating Tobago easy, it’s not overrun…yet. Don’t dally in visiting because times are changing. Sleepy Tobago is increasingly being woken by a jostling tourism industry that loves its great value, beauty and genuinely friendly culture.
Most of the white-sand beaches and tourist development are centered on the southwestern side of Tobago, starting at Crown Point and running along a string of bays up to Arnos Vale. The lowlands that predominate in the southwest extend to Tobago’s only large town, Scarborough. The coast beyond is dotted with small fishing villages and the interior is ruggedly mountainous, with thick rainforest. Divers and snorkelers, and those seeking mellow days, visit the easternmost villages of Speyside and Charlotteville. The nearby uninhabited islets of Little Tobago, Goat Island and St Giles Island are nature reserves abundant in both bird and marine life.
Tobago destination guides
Buccoo Reef has been named one of the spectacular sights to behold in the world, so what better reason to visit? This 2 1/2 hour journey from Scarborough will take you to this natural wonder, where even non-swimmers will delight in the underwater world with a glass bottom boat ride.
Tobago Island Explorer
Drive through Tobago's capital, Scarborough and visit Fort King George before embarking on the unique Windward Road to enjoy spectacular mountain scenery, sprawling beaches and small coastal villages. Then, visit to a 10th century sugar plantation house and the fishing village of Charlottesville, with Pigeon Peak, Tobago's highest mountain, rising just behind it.