Walk on water in Tobago
1. Pigeon Point: the most photographed jetty in the world
Thousands of people have stood on the jetty at Pigeon Point, gazing into the turquoise waters beneath their feet. At sunset, locals come with bamboo rods and fish for their dinner from the jetty.
The view is incredible from almost every spot on this well-maintained private estate, especially at the tip, where you can see the Caribbean Sea shoreline stretching all the way to Mt. Irvine. Millions of shells wash up on the shoreline, along with seaweed. The water is warm, quite shallow in some parts, and as calm as a swimming pool.
It is ideal for families, couples, groups of friends and those travelling solo. Kids will love watching the crabs on the rocks. Teens will want to try out the water sports – kayaking, windsurfing, jet skis. You can also take a glass-bottom boat from the jetty.
Sheltered tables are perfect for picnics – and when it rains, to make friends with fellow huddlers. You can also sample local cuisine like crab and dumpling at the restaurant. The main bar has a pool table and can be quite lively. You can explore the trails on the other side of the beach, and check out the birds and insects among the trees and shrubs. Quite a few shops selling beachwear, inflatables, drinks, souvenirs, craft and clothing. Admission: TT$20.
2. The Caribbean coast
From Pigeon Point make your way north via Black Rock, where a magnificent outcrop of boulders and rocks point a jagged figure to the sky, and millions of tiny stones wash up with each powerful wave. Take the Northside Road and explore the unique beauty of each beach along the Caribbean or Leeward coast – the mangroves and bamboo at Englishman’s Bay, the waterwheel in Speyside, the reef just off Castara, the jetty at Parlatuvier.
You will soon understand why Tobago has been a prize catch for centuries – for Amerindian tribes who came from the south, and later, European colonial powers from the north.
But the descendants of African slaves brought here to work the sugar cane plantations have survived them all. Left to their own devices by the central government in Trinidad since independence in 1962, Tobagonians continued their traditions, living simple, healthy lives, at one with the sea and the land. Their wake-up call is the cocrico, their rambunctious national bird. Their day starts with a cup of coffee among hummingbirds, before they go to their family plot of land to farm, or to fish off the coast.
Tobago remains an untamed piece of Paradise, where you can still find yourself alone at sunset on a jetty, with 23 unnervingly quiet boobies, watching the sun set over the hills of Little Tobago and Goat Island.
3. Light up your life: bioluminescence in Bon Accord
In Bon Accord Lagoon, a glowing blue-green light at night in the water may look spooky. The amazing phenomenon is caused by millions of phytoplankton. They emit flashes of light to startle predators. If a stingray or tarpon passes through, they are lit up. Jump in and watch your starry outline light up the water. This magical display can be seen on a tour by Radical Sports, which is based at Pigeon Point. Starts 6pm, ends 9pm. Come at 5.15pm if you are going to stand up paddle for the first time. Spaces are limited so book in advance. www.standuppaddletobago.com
4. The Nylon Pool: the most famous sandbank in the world
The Nylon Pool’s warm, shallow waters have become the stuff of legend. Some say it has the power to heal, to rejuvenate and to keep love strong. What if there is indeed a fountain of youth? Not a bath full of Oil of Olay, as women might imagine, but a natural pool with waters that have magically rejuvenating properties?
It has the most remarkable effect on everyone who wallows in its warm waters. Even the oldest, dourest, crabbiest visitor is overcome by the sensuous pleasure of floating in this natural, shallow swimming pool in the middle of the sea. It is a hit with children, couples, families, pensioners – everyone experiences this natural wonder on a personal level. Over the years, the tour guides have become more inventive with their spiels. They will tell you tales about the power of the waters to keep couples in love forever, to help you find your soul mate, to heal the sick. It may all be true, though, since everyone leaves feeling rather joyful and bubbly.
This elevated coral ground off the southwest coast of Tobago was christened by England’s Princess Margaret on her honeymoon visit because – depending on the version you read – the waters reminded her of her stockings, fishing line or the actual textile. When their feet touch the tiny pieces of coral on the bottom of the pool, women usually grab handfuls and scrub their arms and feet – a free exfoliation and foot scrub. Half an hour in the Nylon Pool is like a day at the spa, with the ocean on one side and palm-fringed beaches on the other.
Most glass-bottom boat tours take you to the Buccoo Reef first and then stop at the Nylon Pool for a 45-minute swim. Once rated by French oceanographer and explorer Jacques Cousteau as the third most spectacular reef in the world, Buccoo Reef is accessible and perfect for first-time snorkellers.