Discover Tobago’s magnificent beaches
OK, no matter what else you may have come to Tobago to explore, enjoying its truly stunning beaches is bound to feature high up on your list of things to do! So here are our top five for 2017 — plus many of our other favourites. One quick tip: the further north you go, the quieter the beaches tend to be. And, of course, if you want the low-down on all Tobago’s beaches, make sure to check out the rest of our Beaches section!
Our top five
Along with Store Bay, this is one of Tobago’s most popular (and busiest) beaches. The white coral sand and the calm, warm, and shallow water — protected by Buccoo Reef (several boat tours for the Reef, the Nylon Pool, and No Man’s Land leave from here) — make it great for swimming and snorkelling. What adds to its appeal are the on-site conveniences, including secured parking; thatch huts with picnic tables; eateries that serve yummy food and cold drinks; water-sports businesses (surfing, kite-surfing, wind-surfing, paddle-boarding, kayaking and more); souvenir shops; plus restrooms and changing facilities. And of course, there’s the iconic jetty with its thatched cabana that have graced many a postcard (and a selfie!) Unlike Store Bay, however, there’s a fair amount of real estate and breathing room, as the beach area extends around the headland to Bon Accord Lagoon. Admission $20.
Leeward coast, past Castara
We almost hesitate to write about how wonderful this beach is, lest its distinctive charm, seclusion, and peace be disturbed … Some say it’s one of the island’s best-kept secrets. Largely obscured from the road by vegetation, its crescent-shaped bay features about a half mile of powdery golden sand and calm turquoise waters (great for swimming — but note that it shelves off and becomes deep very quickly). The beach is generally very quiet, but still has craft shopping and an on-site restaurant serving up delicious local food.
This is a beautiful and accessible little bay, a stone’s throw from the airport. Its accessibility, small size, calm and clear waters, and robust range of amenities are among the reasons that it’s so often packed. The bay is great for swimming and snorkelling — especially under the coral cliffs at the southern end. On-site bars and eateries serve up local creole favourites (like crab-and-dumpling), fast-food staples, and something beastly cold with which to wash it all down. There is also secured parking, changing rooms and toilet facilities, and an array of craft stalls (ideal if you’re looking to pick up some hand-crafted, local souvenirs). One of the less appreciated features of Store Bay is that vendors offering beach umbrellas and chairs can be aggressive, but a firm but polite “no thanks” should be all you need to be left alone. If you want to head out to Buccoo Reef and the Nylon Pool, or No Man’s Land, glass-bottom boat tours depart here through the day.
Leeward coast, near Parlatuvier
Don’t be put off by the name, because everything about this near-unspoilt, sheltered, and peaceful bay — from the approach to its golden sand and clear turquoise waters and the lush green forest nearby — is sheer beauty. There’s great swimming, and the convenience of fairly recently constructed amenities (including changing rooms, toilets and showers, a small bar and café, parking) and lifeguards. As for the name, a sign on site gives an explanation, but there are three working theories: a battle circa 1666; a slave uprising 100 years later; and pigment from red dyewood trees …
Speyside and Batteaux Bay
These are two great beaches — within swimming distance of the reef — in Tobago’s dive capital. Unlike other beaches on this Atlantic coast, Speyside and Batteaux bays (accessed via Blue Waters Inn) are both protected by the nearby coral reef systems and islands, so they offer great swimming and snorkelling. Glass-bottom boat tours to Angel Reef, Goat Island, and Little Tobago depart here, usually twice (or more) daily. Speyside has a tourist office, water-sports facilities (many geared to diving, of course), accommodation options, and several good restaurants (including the iconic Jemma’s Seaview Kitchen).
Bonus round: two if by sea…
Some of the most beautiful beaches in Tobago are accessible only by boat.Just about halfway up the Caribbean coast is idyllic Cotton Bay — quiet, private, and secluded. It’s a popular stop for boat tours up the coast. Up north near Charlotteville is the intimate and romantic Lovers’ Bay, with its pink sand. You’ll need a tour guide, or to hire a trustworthy local fisherman, to take you there (with a firm commitment to bring you back too so you’re not stranded).
More of our favourites
- Arnos Vale Bay: perhaps Tobago’s best snorkelling beach — the reef lies immediately off the sand. Located within a hotel compound
- Back Bay: hidden from the road and accessible through the cliff-side trail of a now-abandoned estate, this is a wonderfully secluded small bay with golden sand. There’s even a little pool that nature seemed to make just for two, where water flows in and out with the tide. NB: take extra care due to the isolation of this beach; it’s best to go in a group
- Buccoo: often quiet, this narrow fishing beach is the centre of the action for Goat and Crab Races at Easter time, and the Healing and Being with Horses team do a trail and swim ride many afternoons. There’s a small beach bar on site
- Canoe Bay: arguably Tobago’s calmest and shallowest bathing beach, perfect for young families. Rarely crowded, with excellent facilities including bar and beachfront cabanas. Admission $15
- Castara Bay: a stunning, quiet, and unspoilt beach with calm water and fine golden sand, the centrepiece of a thriving fishing community. Twice a week, enjoy bread baked in old-fashioned dirt ovens. There is a restaurant and craft stalls, with accommodation options and a waterfall nearby
- Grange Beach (“The Wall”): just past the Mt Irvine Golf Course, this beautiful, long, thin beach (slightly obscured from the road by a stone wall) is generally calm and ideal for swimming
- King Peter’s Bay: a quiet, calm bay with dark sand, good for snorkelling and spear fishing
- Man-o’-War Bay: Charlotteville’s main beach, quiet and ideal for swimming, with lots of accommodation and dining options nearby. Its deep natural harbour can also accommodate cruise ships
- Mt Irvine: actually, two beaches divided in the centre by a headland: Old Grange and “Little Irvine”. There are excellent facilities, snorkelling, water-sports, and surfing (November–April), plus a fish market which operates Monday–Friday from about 4pm
- Parlatuvier: a placid, white/pink sand beach (great for snorkelling and swimming) in a seine fishing village, with a few snackettes and a fish market
- Pirate’s Bay: a stunning pink sand beach with crystal-clear water (great for swimming and snorkelling), accessed via dirt track and 150-odd steps from the end of the Charlotteville seafront, or by sea
- Stonehaven Bay: a lovely dark-sand beach with good swimming and snorkelling, dramatic rocky outcrops, and facilities (including several hotel/villa developments) nearby. The long stretch of beach is popular for beach walks or jogs. Turtles nest here in season
- Turtle Beach (Great Courland Bay): near to Stonehaven, it is a long, dark-sand beach, good for swimming and popular for turtle-watching, horse-riding, and water-sports.