Tobago island guide
On the southern tip of the Caribbean and less than 18 miles North of Venezuela - Tobago is
a slice of paradise where the sun caresses green hills that
tumble into turquoise seas. It might be Trinidad’s little sister
(just 21 miles separate the two islands) but it’s definitely the pretty
one of the family.
The pace of life is slow, like really slow. Limin (hanging around) is
extremely popular and the charming locals urge visitors to adopt
this attitude for maximum
enjoyment. And with palm fringed
beaches, warm waters, good food and drink this is easy to do.
Allegedly, Tobago was the inspiration for Daniel Defoe's famous novel
Robinson Crusoe, but as the island changed hands 29 times there’s
plenty of real history too. Tobago surprises visitors with unspoiled
beaches, crystal clear waterfalls, ancient rainforests full of exotic birds
(that attract twitchers from around the world) and some of the best
SCUBA diving anywhere. Couples, families and honeymooners who
appreciate the simple, unpretentious charm and beauty of the unspoilt
Caribbean will love Tobago.
Getting to Tobago
From the UK, there is a regular scheduled flights service at least 3
days a week. As with most Caribbean flights you touch down either
inbound or outbound so journey times are between 8.5 to 11 hours
depending. The airport has been upgraded and is quite comfortable.
The Duty Free selection is not huge but prices are keen.
Fill in the Customs Forms correctly on arrival as local officials can be
officious! If you need to arrange a taxi, check official taxi prices on the notice board, outside the arrivals hall.
On departure at the airport there is a departure tax to pay in local currency, however, the departure tax is included
in your flight ticket on longhaul UK - Tobago flights. A departure tax of TT$100 per passenger must be paid if
you fly on inter-island flights, but there is no departure tax between Trinidad and Tobago.
Out and about
In Tobago hiring a car is easy but don’t underestimate the time it takes to get
around narrow twisty mountain roads and old cars hindering your progress. At least driving is on the left!
The speed limit is officially 30mph/50kph wearing seats belts is compulsory, there is a fine for not using a seat.
There are limited petrol stations, so fill up before you decide to do a complete round trip of the island.
The bus service is a bit hit-and-miss and you need to buy a ticket before getting onboard (drivers
can't accept money). Fixed route taxis are quite good but it may take sometime to establish where they are going too.
Taxis hang around most hotels
and although not the
cheapest transport they are quick and easy (look for the letter H at the start of the number plate).
Tobagonians love showing off their island so don’t be afraid to ask for things to see or do.
Hire a guide and take a rainforest walk - pack a costume as the cold inland pools provide a
change from the clammy forest. Along with an array of boat excursions a fast powerboat outing is
great fun with snorkelling, lunch and drinks included. Hire a car and see the island on a
full day sightseeing trip - Fort King James, Roxborough, Bloody Bay, Speyside (lunch at Jemma's
kitchen is a must) and the Argyll Waterfalls.
Tobago beaches and activities
Every postcard seems to include Pigeon Point Beach and with reason. Soft white sand and gently swaying palms meet
turquoise blue waters here and famous buccoo reef is only a glass-bottomed boat-ride away.
The beach (small daily admission fee applies) is well equipped with toilets, showers, restaurants, bar, shop etc.
No nude sun bathing here please but walk around the to the opposite side for a really quiet spot.
Most Tobago hotels
front a beach (all beaches are public) and offer
watersports equipment such as Sunfish sailing, windsurfers, kayaks etc. The best dive sites are over at
Speyside (including the worlds largest brain coral), where the small beachfront resort Blue Waters Inn
can be found.
Store Bay Beach is also very good with a lifeguard on duty. Facilities are good although the weekends can be
loud and busy with locals chilling out. Most beaches have golden sands although a few in the north have dark volcanic sand.
If you can tear yourself away from the beach or swimming pool, there are two 18-hole
championship golf courses on the island. Tennis courts are standard with most hotels (check before
booking) and so too are fitness rooms. The fitness studio at Le Grand Courlan
is first class
with aerobics classes and good weights. Or how about Yoga and relaxation at Kariwak Village
Trinidad & Tobago Dollars; US$1=TT$6.20 (rate varies)
Independent nation; Republic the British Commonwealth
Banks open Mon to Thurs 8am-2pm; Fri 9am-12noon and 3-5pm.
Shops open Mon to Fri 8am-4.30pm and Sat 8am-12noon.
Credit cards widely accepted.
110 volts AC 60 cycles with 220 volts in some areas.
-4 GMT - Tobago Time does not operate UK Daylight-Saving Time.
Trinidad and Tobago Dollars: TT$100 (approx £10).
This is included in your long haul UK flight ticket: Tobago Airpot, A.N.R. Robinson International Airport
Three days residence before applying for a License and ceremony can be conducted 3 working days after arrival.
Conducted Mon-Fri excluding Public Holidays.
18 or over
- Birth Certificate
- Valid 10 year Passport.
- Full names, addresses, occupations and religions
- If divorced, you need the Decree Absolute
- If widowed, you need the Death Certificate of former spouse and previous Marriage Certificate.
- If you name has been changed by Deed Poll, you need legal proof.
- You must take originals (not copies) of all required documents with you
Tobago resorts and hotels
Although there are fewer hotels
than on other larger islands,
there is quite a wide variety. All-inclusive hotels
are becoming more
numerous and tend to offer good value. The Crown Point and Store Bay area is the only really discernible resort area
(close to the airport) with several hotels a good beach, some small local shops, bars and a few restaurants.
Most other hotels
are strung out between bays with relatively
few amenities close by - often just a village shop and bar. Speyside on the north west coast is a great base for
divers and twitchers, but hotel
choices are limited and the area is less busy but a great choice to get away from it all.
Eating and drinking
Diverse and excellent on both fronts. Spanish, French, West African, Chinese and Indian cultures
have influenced local cuisine. Try a spicy roti, coconut flavour ice cream and wash down with an ice
cold Carib or Stag beer. Sample the local favourites like curried crab and dumplings, callaloo soup
and pilau. Exotic lobster, grilled fresh fish, chicken fixed a hundred different ways. The rum is
good and Angostura bitters (made in Trinidad) is added to many soft and alcoholic drinks.
No malls, no glitzy boutiques. Just local souvenir shops selling handmade batiks, wraps,
carvings, jewellery, T-shirts etc. Bigger hotels
may have a couple of shops selling more upmarket
goods so the credit card could still come in useful. Duty Free alcohol at the airport is very
reasonable. ATM machines available.
Weather in Tobago
Tobago has fairly consistent temperatures and fewer autumn storms than many of the more northern islands. Cooling Trade Winds blow consistently, with a sunny climate all year round and average daytime temperatures varies between 29°C to 31°C. The water temperature is only a few degrees lower. The Dry Season, January to April are dry and sunny months. The Rainy Season is from June to November. However, it is quite possible to get rain in May and December. Rain generally falls in short sharp bursts.
Hurricane season is from June to November and affects Florida, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Although the odds are pretty small that a hurricane will hit a particular Caribbean island while you're on holiday, they are higher in hurricane season than for stays from December to May.