The southern Caribbean island of Tobago is one of the best value destinations in the region and offers a wealth of things to do, especially for the nature loving and aquatically-inclined visitor. Here's a few of our favourite activities...
Scuba Diving at Speyside
According to the PADI Diving Society official magazine Sport Diver, the Speyside area of Tobago is one of the best and least discovered scuba diving destinations in the Caribbean. Experienced divers will love the many and varied dive sites and wrecks around this Leeward coast town, which has some of the best coral reefs on the island.
There are several dive sites suited to the more advanced diver here, including Kelliston Drain, home to one of the world's largest measured brain corals and one of the best places to spot manta rays. Japanese Gardens is a spectacularly landscaped area full of reef fish, coral and sponges resembling Japanese bonsai trees. Angel Reef is suitable for divers of all abilities and popular with snorkellers too. Expect to see plenty of trumpet fish, parrot fish and spotted spiny lobsters peeking out of various grooves and canyons.
Bird watching tours
Trinidad and Tobago are both renowned centres of birding in the Caribbean. Tobago is home to around 220 species including the national bird, the Cocrico, six different species of beautiful iridescent hummingbirds and white-bearded manakins. Although the island is small, it has various different types of habitat including mangrove swamps, tropical rainforest, open countryside and coastal forest strips. Some of the best areas for bird watching include the Tobago Main Ridge Rainforest, the Grafton Caledonia Wildlife Sanctuary, the island of Little Tobago and the area around Charlotteville village.
There are several extremely knowledgeable ornithologists residing on Tobago who offer bird watching tours but the two undisputed expert guides are ex-Forestry Department ranger Newton George and well-known local environmentalist Peter Cox. Both offer tours to the rainforest – the oldest tract of protected forest in the Western Hemisphere – and other locations; Newton George also offers guided birding day trips to Trinidad.
Learn to kite surf at Pigeon Point
Kite surfing is rapidly becoming one of the most popular water sports in the world. Because the sport uses a board combined with the power of a giant controllable kite to propel you across the surface of the water, anyone who has previously tried windsurfing, wakeboarding, surfing, snowboarding or paragliding will have a head start.
Beginners, however, are well looked after, learning to fly by using trainer kites on the beach before progressing to 'body drag' sessions in the water. This refers to the act of being pulled along without assuming a standing position, by lying on your stomach on the water to become familiar with the kite and the traction generated. Your instructor follows behind on a jetski or boat.
The third stage involves a wakeboard lesson if your board skills are minimal, which will ease you into the transition to a kite board. Once up on the board you'll be taught the correct way to stand, how to pilot the kite, working with the wind, how to turn and much more.
For lessons, or just for board and kite rental if you're already an accomplished surfer, contact Radical Sports Tobago who are based alongside the calm waters of Pigeon Point and are the only professional windsurf and kitesurf centre on the island.
Charter a sail boat
Private boat charter is available aboard a range of different vessels in Tobago, whether you want to celebrate a birthday, honeymoon or other special occasion, or are simply looking for a clandestine adventure on the water. Tobago's main charter operators are all based in the southwest of the island and depart from Mt. Irvine Bay or Pigeon Point, offering roughly the same itinerary of snorkelling stops in secluded bays and lunch.
For private day charters aboard the luxury 51' sailing yacht Jade, contact Alizes Charters. Thrill seekers after a more high octane ride might want to opt for the 31' speedboat CocoMotion instead. Island Girl is a 43' catamaran operated by Island Girl Sail Charters and Picante is another luxury catamaran, hosting up to six people and operated by Sand Dollar Sailing.
Off-road jeep safaris
We loved the off road adventure safari in Barbados, and we recommend doing the same in Tobago too as you'll get to see parts of the island that you'd never discover as a normal tourist. You'll go off the beaten path, rattling across dirt tracks through rivers and old plantations in the heart of the island, stopping for stunning coastal views and the chance to swim in the pool at the base of the little-visited Highland Waterfall. The drive is exceptionally scenic, if a little bumpy at times.
The jeeps are small, seating only five plus the driver, which makes for a more personal experience. All the drivers and guides are very professional, and will share their knowledge of the island while pointing out different species of rainforest flora and fauna from bread fruit to banana trees. Visit Tobago Now for more details. Tours last approximately six hours.
Header photo © neiljs
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.