Tobago is something of a hidden gem in the Caribbean. Located off the Venezuelan coast right on the eastern flank of the archipelago in the Lesser Antilles, together with its partner island, Trinidad, it remains comfortably off the radar of many a visitor to the Caribbean.
While much of the Caribbean has been given over to mass tourism and faceless resort hotels, Tobago has largely managed to hold onto its roots. That is not to say that the island doesn’t boast its fair share of high quality accommodation, but it is far from necessary to book an all-inclusive stay in order to get the best of what it has to offer. In fact while certain Caribbean islands are best enjoyed from within the confines of the hotel boundaries, it is still entirely possible to head for Tobago with no accommodation arrangements in place before you travel.
These days there are several direct flights to Tobago from major European and North American airports, but it is also well served by ferryboats from nearby Trinidad, Grenada, Barbados or even the Venezuelan mainland, making it perfect for D.I.Y. travellers and traditional holidaymakers alike.
The island is dotted with hotels, guesthouses, apartments, cottages and holiday villas nestled in the lush greenery that characterises the interior or perched at the edge of the golden sands that fringe the coastline. Take your pick of the bunch and you are unlikely to be disappointed.
Life on Tobago has maintained its laid-back charm despite the island’s growing popularity. Days here are largely spent exploring the many wide beaches and secluded coves and relaxing over a beer and a shark ‘n’ bake burger at a beach hut to the accompaniment of the local reggae-inspired sounds.
A bus service circles the island so it is possible to explore without your own transport, but it is well worth hiring a bike, scooter or buggy to give you the chance to get off the beaten track. Depending on where you are staying, Pigeon Point and Store Bay make a good place to start your explorations. This is the most developed area of the island, close to the airport, and is the best place to find out what’s on and where to go. Several companies offer day trips from here and it is well worth joining a few to get the best out of the island. Tobago is surrounded by shallow waters and protected by a coral reef. Damage to the reef some time back has reduced its attractions in its own right but there is still some lovely snorkelling to be done and some exciting dives from boat and shore.
Tobago is not the destination of choice for raucous nightlife lovers but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t know how to have fun. Nightlife is largely centred around local bars, where residents and tourists mix together in a way that is hugely refreshing for visitors who have spent time on less hospitable Caribbean islands. To find out what it’s really all about, head to the famous Sunday School party at Crown Point where locals and visitors gather together to shake their booty until dawn.