A Guide to Tobago after dark
Once, Tobago was strictly a place to relax and unwind. Not any more. Tobago’s slogan “clean, green, serene” might suggest a sleepy Caribbean idyll. Given how laid back Tobago’s vibe is, you might be forgiven for thinking that the entire island shuts down after sunset. Not so. The entertainment and nightclub scene is fast expanding and growing ever-more sophisticated. Tobago is attracting international acts and patrons. In fact, there are enough nightspots – bars, restaurants, clubs, casinos and open-air party venues – to keep the most dedicated night-owl entertained. Whatever your pleasure, music or drinking, dancing or gambling, the island can offer something for everyone when the sun goes down. A night on the town in Tobago is now a serious affair. Well… almost.
For an easy, early evening lime, happy hours are a great way to start off the evening. Exotic drinks, live entertainment, delectable food… These all await you at a range of bars, clubs, and restaurants.
You can sip on a cocktail at the open-air, poolside bar of the Chart House/Sundowner’s Bar at Crown Point Hotel (daily 5–7pm) and watch the sun disappear into the Caribbean Sea beyond Store Bay.
Sports bars like the snazzy new Bar Code in Scarborough are an emerging format in Tobago, and great for happy hour and beyond. Here you can enjoy an array of signature drinks and local or international dishes, while taking in a seaside view. You can shoot some pool afterwards, catch one of the sports games on their big-screen TV, or enjoy a live performance. Or try Pino’s in Scarborough, an open-air bar with colonial architecture, which is popular with after-workers.
You can also choose from the Pavilion Restaurant and Seahorse Inn which both offer exquisite views of Stonehaven Bay.
Laid Back Entertainment
There are pool halls, casinos, karaoke nights, and Itsy Bitsy Folk Theatre also presents dinner theatre several Tuesdays during the year. The Golden Star has been closed since 2009, but used to host a variety show or, depending on the time of year, a local talent contest called Scouting for Talent. The talent on offer varied hugely in quality, but generally supplies fun for all, and a DJ-powered party follows the mayhem.
If you’re in for just a quiet movie or a show, the multiplex cinema MovieTowne cinema at Gulf City Lowlands Mall is the island’s only cinema.
If you’re a blackjack buff or a roulette regular, choose from the Crystal Palace Casino (Scarborough waterfront, upstairs of Bar Code), The Royalton at Crown Point Hotel or Sunset Palm Club (Buccoo Junction, Mt Irvine).
Many restaurants, bars and other locations, especially in the Crown Point area, offer a variety of nightly live entertainment. If there are no big festivals or events on, bars, clubs, hotels and restaurants feature local performers and music acts as regular and rotating headliners, with theme nights reserved for hip-hop, jazz, Latin, reggae, R&B, and of course calypso, soca and steelpan music.
Tobago is staging big music concerts these days, often featuring Jamaican dancehall or reggae singers – more choices on the entertainment menu.
Some good options:
- there’s live music 7–9pm, Thursday through Saturday at Chart House/Sundowner’s Bar
- Friday and Saturday sees the Kariwak Players performing at Kariwak Village (Store Bay Local Road, Crown Point)
- Blue Haven Hotel, has live music Thursday (guitarist), Friday (pan) and Sunday (band)
- the Robinson Crusoe Pub (Vanguard Tobago Golf and spa Resort), Wednesday (karaoke), Friday and Saturday (band – TT$30 admission)
- the Pelican Reef Bar and Grill, Tuesday (guitarist), Wednesday–Friday (band).
One of Tobago’s most popular spots is Café Iguana Jazz Bar, where fine food and a relaxed atmosphere is allied to live entertainment:
- Thursday 8.30–10.30pm (live jazz)
- Friday 10pm–midnight (local band)
- Saturday 10–11pm (African Drumming)
- Sunday from 9pm (Latin Dancing).
For chilling out after sunset, there are plenty of bars, clubs, hotels and restaurants that offer good drinks, live performances, tasty food and good company.
It’s technically not a club, though it can function like one, if need be. It’s a sports bar, with two pool tables for those interested in the game, seating for those who like to sit and chat, and open air seating for those who like to sit and chat in the cool (weather permitting) Caribbean air. This stylish new sports bar is located right at the Scarborough port, giving you relaxing views of the ships and ferries coming and going. BarCode has a number of television screens that at any time could be running a sporting highlights or related coverage, scenes from a past BarCode event, or live footage of performances being hosted in the bar. The food is truly varied for a late night spot, and you might even be surprised at how well some of it tastes (including a local staple, fish broth). Make sure to try some of their signature drinks to wash it down. So shoot some pool; watch big sports games on their big-screen TV; or rock to the beat of their live music acts. 639-CODE, www.barcodetobago.com
Perhaps the undisputed champion of nightclubs in Tobago, this club in Bon Accord is the only open air one on the island. Friday and Saturday nights draw huge crowds into its open-air dance floor with carat-thatched bar and trees nestled throughout the compound. The disco lights and fog machines are especially popular with the younger crowd. DJs play soca, dancehall and hip hop, with a sprinkling of alternative, rock and reggae during the night. Relax and take in the moves from the edge, or jump in and get sweaty. The vibe tends to be warm and welcoming – the main business being dancing and having a blast. The crowd tends to be a mix of Tobagonians, Trinis and visitors.
The G-Spot (Crown Point)*
The newest addition to the night scene on the island, the G-Spot in Crown Point offers three levels where patrons can enjoy partying. On the second, entry level, you can buy food and drink, and walk out to the pool area and enjoy the ambience of being near the water. On the upper level, there is a VIP lounge that’s designed almost like a hut, with white voile curtains surrounding, and couches in each section. The bottom level is the main party area, and is where all the action is. [Currently closed until further notice]
Open every night and features Karaoke on Tuesdays. [Currently closed until further notice]
Great Fete Weekend
The annual Great Fete Weekend in late July/early August is a six-night party at Club Pigeon Point, with DJs, sound systems and live entertainment.
Tobago Jazz Experience
April is jazz month, with local, regional and international jazz (and non-jazz) talent and aficionados descending on the island for the annual jazz festival. The Jazz Experience in April presents great live entertainment, and has the whole island buzzing with parties, barbecues and excitement.
Sundays are a no-contest. All roads lead to Buccoo and its famous Sunday School street party. Each weekend in Buccoo the Sunday School Street Party ensures revellers party their way into the new week. It’s is a drama in two acts that every Tobago visitor should experience. The first, 9pm to 11pm, is targeted largely at visitors, with steelpan music from the Buccaneers and dozens of craft, food and even gambling stalls filling the street and environs. From 11pm, the local crowds begin to swell and DJ music continues in the beach facility and neighbouring Hendrix Original Sunday School until the party dies out. Make sure you’ve got plenty of energy, though, because on a good night that can mean 5am.
If you feel for something a little different, the Itsy Bitsy Folk Theatre presents dinner theatre several Tuesdays during the year. The dance and music communities (particularly the drummers) are quite vibrant on the island: many groups meet regularly every week for practice, and guest at various events. These are also the groups who take the stage at the Tobago Heritage Festival in July – not to be missed if you really want to know Tobago.