Rufous-breasted hermit, just one of the species on Tobago (dreamstime_l_38770138)
List Words : Simon Farnsworth | 17 September

Top 5 guide to Tobago

Tobago might be dwarfed in size by neighbouring Trinidad, but this idyllic Caribbean, eco-friendly island packs a lot in

Combining rich wildlife with adventurous hiking, testing bike trails and world renowned dive sites, Tobago packs a lot in to a small space. And that's without mentioning the pristine sandy beaches! There's a lot more to this little island than first meets the eye.

Get up close and personal to over 200 species of birds

For such a small island, Tobago has an enormous amount of biodiversity. The island's tropical rainforests, lowland forests, mangrove swamps and scrubland, are home to over 200 species of birds making it a paradise for twitchers. 

From the Rufous-breasted hermit to motmots and Cocricos (the national bird of Tobago) to large frigate birds soaring around the coast; you'll be spoilt for choice for what to point your binoculars at. 

Little Tobago, a tiny uninhabited island off the north east coast of Tobago, is unmissable for birdwatchers. Red-billed tropic birds, laughing gulls and bridled terns are all easily spotted from the island's viewing platform or whilst roaming the island.

Best places: Main Ridge Forest Reserve, Hillsborough Reservoir, Buccoo Swamp, Little Tobago Island.

Best time of the year to visit: There's no bad time to go birdwatching in Tobago.  However, visiting in the dry season (January to April) will allow you to see bumper amounts of  birds as migrants from the north descend on the island.

Dive into the Caribbean

Tobago is home to some of the best diving conditions in the Caribbean. No matter your experience there is a scuba or snorkel trip for you. The nutrient rich waters support around 300 types of coral and a diverse array of marine life for divers to explore. You can swim with giant Manta Rays whilst discovering one of the world's largest brain coral structures at Kelleston Drain, Speyside. 

The tiny town of Speyside is home to a number of superb dives including Black Jack Hole and Coral Gardens whilst Buccoo Bay and Nylon Pool, to the south west of the island, are perhaps the island's most popular and easily accessible dive and snorkel sites. 

You can also explore the Maverick Ferry which was purposely sunk in 1997 and lies just off Mount Irvine Bay. The 350ft long vessel has been customised with divers in mind with all doors and windows removed.  

Best places: Speyside, Columbus Passage, St Giles, Mt Irvine Bay, Crown Point, Little Tobago

When to visit: Tobago's waters can be dived all year round although it's best to avoid the rainy season (July to December) as visibility can be reduced.

Hike through the western hemisphere's oldest nature reserve

Tobago is home to the oldest nature reserve in the western hemisphere, Main Ridge. Established as a reserve in 1776, Main Ridge Forest Reserve stretches two-thirds across the spine of the island. The forest's 10,000 acre interior is home to Argyle Falls, a 177 ft waterfall near Roxborough. Here you can  not only marvel at the falls but also unwind in the warm lagoons. 

Gilpin Trace, one of seven marked trails in the reserve, takes you through the heart of Main Ridge Forest Reserve whilst showcasing not only Tobago's ample bird life but also allowing you to explore Tobago's thriving rainforest ecosystem which supports 16 of the Caribbean's ninety mammal species as well as a host of non-venomous snakes and lizards. 

Discover Tobago's colonial past by hiking to the island's remaining forts, such as Fort King George and Fort James, and waterwheels at Arnos Vale and Speyside.

Best places: Main Ridge Forest Reserve, Adventure Nature Reserve, Castara to Englishman's Bay, Tobago's lesser ventured north east coast 

When to visit: Temperatures barely change throughout the year in Tobago although the rainy season  can make some hikes impassible. January to March is the most pleasant time to explore Tobago by foot. 

Discover Tobago by bike

Tobago's rugged terrain is ready made for mountain biking. Trails of varying length and difficulty can be found amongst idyllic scenery with deserted beaches, cascading waterfalls and the remains of Tobago's colonial past all waiting to be explored.

Expert guides can lead you to secluded beaches such as those at Castara as well as taking you along cliff paths with panoramic ocean vistas. Weave through an old plantation in Les Coteaux to reach the Highland Waterfall, which is hidden well in the rainforest, or discover Tobago's mangrove forests by tackling trails near Bon Accord lagoon or Kilgwyn (near the international airport). 

Circumnavigating the island on two wheels is the best way to discover secret beaches and the island's delicious cuisine that infuses the Tobagonian's European, African and Far East ancestry. 

Best places: Main Ridge Forest Reserve, Bon Accord trails, Chocolate Cake route: from the hilly village of Moriah to the beaches of Castara.

When to visit: Again, you can cycle Tobago anytime of the year although the wet season may see some routes, such as those through the mangrove forests, become flooded. The Tobago International Cycling Classic takes place in October and sees top riders from the Caribbean and further afield compete.

Go fish!

Tobago's waters are not just a haven for divers. The island's seas are rich with game fish such as marlin, swordfish, tuna and barracudas. Closer to land, you can cast your rod practically anywhere along the coastline to catch the likes of mackerel and tarpons whilst you can go rock fishing for crabs at Mt Irvine beach.

Alternatively, try your hand at bottom fishing where you scourer the ocean's floor with weighted rods to catch the likes of Groupers and Amberjacks. Fishing trips can be arranged with tour operators or, alternatively, approach the ever friendly local fisherman who for a small fee will take you out to sea.

Best places: Speyside, Charlotteville, Pigeon Point, Mount Irvine Bay, Courland River

When to visit: If you're not fussy about what type of fish you catch; Tobago's waters provide good fishing conditions all year round. November to June is the peak period for game fishing with the Tobago International Game Fishing Tournament in Charlotteville taking place in May. Coastal and reef fishing can be enjoyed throughout the year.