Our favourite eco escapes & adventures, by land & by sea
One of Tobago’s best-known nature activities is watching the ancient nesting ritual of the sea turtles (March–September) on Tobago’s beaches. The most common are the giant (and endangered) leatherback, hawksbill and green; all (and their eggs) are legally protected. Leatherbacks come ashore primarily on the southwestern coast. For further information and free guided tours contact SOS Tobago (Save Our Sea-turtles Tobago), or a reputable tour guide. Many resorts on nesting beaches can arrange for guides, or notify you when nesting leatherbacks or clutches of baby turtle hatchlings have been sighted.
Turtle watching essentials
- Do not touch or disturb nesting turtles or hatchlings. Try to be quiet and unobtrusive, and do not use flashlights or flash photography
- Lights, noise and activity tend to disorient both turtles and hatchlings
- Do not drive on nesting beaches; the weight of the vehicle can crush eggs buried in the sand.
Did you know?
Female leatherback hatchlings that make it to the sea will roam the oceans until they reach sexual maturity before returning to the same nesting areas to produce their own offspring. Males spend the rest of their lives at sea.
If the idea of literally riding into the sunset on a Tobago beach thrills you, then you’ll want to check out Being With Horses or Friendship Riding Stables. Enjoy a range of activities, from swim-ride sessions, trail rides and picnic rides, to horse-back weddings and therapeutic riding. being-with-horses.com
Enjoy kite-surfing, kayaking, stand-up-paddling, surfing and more at spots like Pigeon Point, Mount Irvine, Charlotteville and Speyside. For traditional surf-boarding, Mount Irvine and Grange Bay are exceptional; the wind is just right for kite-surfing at Little Rockly Bay. Click here for more on Tobago sports.
The central rainforest is a must-see for bird-watchers and hikers alike, as is Little Tobago. Wherever you go bird-watching, look out for blue-backed manikins, boobies, snow-white and red-billed tropicbirds (which nest in Little Tobago December–July), rare all-white hummingbirds, red-crowned woodpeckers, frigate-birds, pelicans, rufous-tailed jacamars, bananaquits, kiskidees, blue-crowned motmot, blue and olive tanagers, and the noisy cocrico or chacalaca.
Diving is one of the top reasons to visit Tobago, and one of the things you should put on your bucket list if you’ve never been on a dive before. The island benefits from the convergence of nutrient-rich outflows from the Orinoco River, the Guyana current, the Southern Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea, creating a magical underwater experience for divers of all levels. Hook up with one of the PADI-certified Association of Tobago Dive Operators (ATDO) vendors, and whether you’re just learning to dive or ready to hit the most expert dive sites, you’ll be on your way (tobagoscubadiving.com).
Did you know?
The largest live brain coral (about 3m/10ft by 5m/16ft) has been has been recorded off Speyside in Tobago.
What you’ll see: Tobago’s marine world
Coexisting with the 300-odd species of coral documented in Tobago’s plankton-rich waters — fire coral, star coral, plate coral, sea fans, sea whips, and the largest living brain coral in the world — you’ll find 700-odd species of reef fish, including parrot fish and angel fish. But that’s not all. You can see stingrays of different varieties (southern, rough-tail, lesser electric ray, spotted eagle ray and the breath-taking giant manta rays); moray eels; invertebrates (crabs, shrimp and octopus); sharks (tiger, bull, nurse, reef, black-tip, hammerhead and lemon sharks) and their favourite prey like jacks, barracuda, wahoo, tarpon and tuna. And, if you’re lucky, you can spot whale sharks between December and May in the Speyside region.
Location location location: the best dives
Intermediate and advanced divers tend to head to the north (Speyside and Charlotteville), where the water is clearer (and deeper), and the marine landscape richest. Popular dives include Keleston Drain (where you can see the world’s largest big brain coral), Japanese Gardens, London Bridge, Bookends, the Sisters rocks, St Giles Island, and — popular with beginners — Black Jack Hole and King’s Bay.
In the south, though not as clear, the waters and currents are much gentler, making these conditions ideal for novice divers, but also appealing to intermediate and advanced ones as well. Most beginners do their first dive in Store Bay on a small reef about 100 feet from the shore. Popular dives include Flying Reef, Mount Irvine Wall, Arnos Vale, Englishman’s Bay, Diver’s Dream and Diver’s Thirst, and — for experts — the Maverick wreck (sunk in 1997) off Mount Irvine. Drift diving the Columbus Passage in the south is also a phenomenal experience.
- Average water temperature: 24–29°C/75–84°F
- Average visibility: 50–120ft/15–37m
- Best visibility: April–August
- Depth: 30ft–110ft/9–34m (deeper dives are not recommended)
- Season: year round, with best visibility May to July
- Beware stinging plankton and poisonous sponges, Portuguese Man-o’-War, other jellyfish and puffer fish, fire coral, bristle worms, stingrays, sharks, moray eels, sea urchins, scorpion fish and barracudas. The best way to deal with any injury is to wash the wound with saltwater (not fresh water); apply vinegar and cortisone cream
- Use a professional, certified dive operator
- Take care in these delicate ecosystems, especially with fragile coral. Be mindful of damaging the coral, and certainly do not remove any.