Swimming with turtles? Tick. Trekking in the oldest protected forest reserve? Tick? Dancing at a festival? Tick. Tobago is full of bucket list adventures - so which will you add to your travel wish list?
With over 260 different species of bird calling Tobago home – one of the highest densities in the world – birdwatchers are in for a real treat. Spy the island’s national bird, the rufous-vented chachalaca, motmots, jacamars and manakins among the canopies of Main Ridge Forest Reserve or head to the Corbin Local Wildlife Park or Adventure Farm and Nature Reserve to see busy-bodied hummingbirds fluttering by.
Established by the British in 1776, Main Ridge Forest Reserve was the first reserve to be given protected status in the western hemisphere. A number of walking routes give you prime access to this wilderness, with the most well-known being the two-hour Gilpin Trace trail. You’ll cut right through the reserve’s thick rainforest, spotting armadillos, agoutis and snakes along the way. Main Ridge is also one of only two places in the world where you can spot the elusive white-tailed sabrewing.
Once you glide past the rocky outcrops of Mount Irvine Bay you’ll reach what’s known as the Extension, a hot spots for turtles, whose calm nature means you’re afforded the rare opportunity to swim alongside them for epic up-close encounters.
For a truly special encounter, wait until the turtles surface on land. Between March and August each year, female green, hawksbill and leatherback turtles haul themselves up Tobago’s golden sands to nest before their hatchlings make a mad survival dash to the ocean. The aptly named Turtle Beach is the best place to witness this natural phenomenon, but Stonehaven and Grafton beaches are also great choices to see them.
Want to know what really goes into producing chocolate? Then have a tour of Tobago Cocoa Estate. All of the beans which make the island’s chocolate treats come from here, so where better to explore Tobago’s rich cocoa history? Tours are immersive, taking a deep dive into the island’s cocoa past, as well as getting you involved in different parts of the cocoa bean preparation process, from fermentation to the drying stage. Round off the tour with a taste of the finished chocolate and a shot of rum.
Hop atop a horse in the south-western village of Buccoo to ride through Tobago’s mesmeric landscapes towards the coast. Now, here comes the really fun bit: plod along golden Buccoo Beach before your horse wades into the gin-clear waters up to its neck for a gentle swim around Buccoo Bay – a feat that not only keeps their coats lustrous but helps forge a unique friendship between the pair of you.
Fishermen in coastal villages like Charlotteville, Castara and Parlatuvier cast their nets (known as seine) offshore early in the morning, before locals head to the beach to help haul in the fish-heavy nets – a communal practice that dates back 150 years. The more hands the merrier, so it’s well worth lending your muscle to this Tobagonian tradition. You’ll usually come away with a fish or two for your trouble, too.
Kelleston Drain serves up quite the once-in-a-lifetime sight: a 16ft-wide brain coral that has been growing for centuries. You'll also see ocean triggerfish, stingrays, nurse and reef sharks, and loads of different species of parrotfish will be swimming around you during your visit to the coral.
This incredible festival held every April is a lively celebration of jazz music from all over the world. Whether you visit in the day or in the night, we bet you won't be able to stop your feet from tapping along with the music. It's not just about the show: you can indulge in tasty food, enjoy a beach side location and soak up incredible sea views – all of your senses will be happy.
One of Tobago's biggest mysteries is at the 18th-century tombstone of Betty Stiven, where the confusing inscription – it speaks of her as a mother without knowing it and a wife without letting her husband know it – has had baffled visitors to the site guessing her fate for nearly 250 years. Will you be able to crack the riddle?
Found a mile off the coast of Pigeon Point and reached by glass-bottomed boat, Nylon Pool is one of nature’s oddities. Despite being so far away from land, you’re never more than thigh-deep in water at this coral pool in the middle of the ocean. Legend has it, a swim in Nylon Pool will shave 10 years off your age.
From glossy cannons to old sugar mills that have been reclaimed by nature, Tobago's history can be read in the relics that still stand to tell the tale. Fort King George is the most well-preserved, built in the 18th century by the British and named in honour of King George III. Its colonial-era barracks, officers’ mess and cannons are some of the highlights of a walk around the grounds, while its high perch grants fine views over the capital, Scarborough, and beyond. Fort Bennett in Black Rock boasts crumbling battery remains and well-manicured gardens, while the oldest, Fort James in Plymouth, offers misty views across Great Courland Bay.
It's not all about a peaceful snorkel in bath-still waters you know? Head to the west of the island and you'll find waves whipped up by the wind. It's here where you can embark on a thrill of a lifetime. Hire an expert local guide to teach you how to safely control the kite and before you know it you'll be whizzing across the water by the power of wind.
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