Seven days in Tobago | Destination

A mere week could never be enough to savour all the pleasure of Tobago — but Nixon Nelson suggests a seven-day sampler, from beaches to waterfalls to Store Bay’s curried crab

  • The brilliant blue waters of Parlatuvier Bay. Photo by Michaela Arjoon
  • Argyle Falls is the most celebrated of Tobago’s waterfalls. Photo by Nicolas Rinaldo/Shutterstock.com
  • The houses of Scarborough ascend their hill overlooking the harbour. Photo by Robertharding/Alamy Stock Photo
  • Photo by Imagebroker/Alamy Stock Photo
  • Photo by Michaela Arjoon
  • Tobago map

Just twenty-five miles long by six wide, a daub of brilliant green on the map of the blue Caribbean Sea, Tobago may seem like the kind of place you can get to know in just a few days. But there’s more to Trinidad’s littler sister isle than at first meets the eye. These hundred square miles conceal more secret nooks and little-known pleasures than you’d expect, and it can take years — decades — to experience them all. Just ask those visitors who’ve returned here, again and again, unable to get Tobago out of their heads. (Why’d you want to?)

We can’t all give everything up for a life on the beach, and the average Tobago visitor must tear herself away long before she’s ready. Yet there’s no reason you can’t experience the full diversity of this extraordinary island on a week-long trip — without running yourself ragged. Here’s a seven-day itinerary to show you Tobago’s best.

Day one

We know the number one reason you came to Tobago: the glorious beaches. So no dithering: your first day should definitely be spent finding and savouring your ideal stretch of tree-shaded sand and expanse of glimmering water. Head up the Leeward Coast, past Plymouth, and explore the succession of quiet, uncrowded bays — Castara, Englishman’s Bay, Parlatuvier, Bloody Bay, Man o’ War Bay — where on a good day you’ll have the beach almost to yourself, far from the madding crowds around Crown Point.

Day two

Having seen Tobago’s Leeward side, let’s take the Windward Road and investigate the more rugged Atlantic-facing coast. Just before the village of Roxborough, turn inland towards Argyle Falls, the best known and tallest of the numerous waterfalls that rush through Tobago’s forested hills. A short hike brings you to the foot of Argyle’s three levels of cascades, with their small pools perfect for an invigorating plunge.

Day three

Did Argyle give you a hankering to see more of Tobago’s lush interior? The rainforest of the island’s Main Ridge, protected by law since 1776, is home to an estimated one hundred bird species, including six different hummingbirds, plus manakins, trogons, and motmots. Well-maintained trails allow you to plunge into nature, and most hotels or tour companies can introduce you to a knowledgeable guide. Take your hiking boots and binoculars!

Day four

After experiencing some serious nature, let’s take a day to explore Tobago’s human history. Start in Scarborough, the island’s capital, with its colourful houses ranging up the slopes above the harbour. At the top of (aptly named) Fort Street, you’ll find Tobago’s best preserved historical site, Fort King George. Built by the French in 1781 as one of the island’s chief defences, the hilltop fort was later renamed for King George III after the British recaptured the island. Today’s fort-museum includes preserved historic buildings, a collection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century cannon, and amazing views of the bay below.

Now head out of Scarborough towards Plymouth, one of Tobago’s most historically fascinating sites. In the seventeenth century, a group of colonists from what was then called the Duchy of Courland — today’s Latvia — established a settlement here. The unapologetically modernist Courland Monument commemorates this chapter of the island’s history. Nearby Fort James has a commanding view of Courland Bay, and near its entrance you’ll find the curiosity known to locals as the Mystery Tombstone. Here lie Betty Stiven and her infant child, deceased in 1783, and memorialised with a riddle which has entertained passersby for over two centuries.

Day five

All this gallivanting works up an appetite, and it’s also nice to have a day where you just stay put. There are worse places to be lazy than popular Store Bay, a long stone’s throw from the airport at Crown Point and almost always busy. Still, the gently curving beach is just big enough to evade the crowds (except perhaps on weekends), and this is also the place to experience one of Tobago’s essential culinary delicacies, curried crab and dumplings. The simple food huts above the bay — named for their various, but invariably female, proprietors — offer friendly conversation and home-style food. Be warned, there is no prim way to eat curried crab: this is a hands-on, shell-crunching, sauce-dripping dish, at least if you enjoy it the right way.

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Day six

Celebrated for its dive sites, Tobago may not boast the water clarity of some other Caribbean islands to the north. But the outflowing silt from Venezuela’s Orinoco River which can sometimes cloud Tobago’s waters also provides rich nutrients that feed the extraordinary marine diversity of the island’s reefs. The best way to see this for yourself is a diving or snorkelling expedition, which you can arrange through one of Tobago’s highly experienced dive operators. Whether your primary interest is coral, fish species, or shipwreck exploration, there’s a site for every level of scuba experience. Manta rays, sea turtles, and the world’s biggest brain coral all await you below the surface.

Day seven

Sometimes the best plan is to end as you started — with a blissful day at the beach, and after a week in Tobago you’ve probably figured out your personal favourite. But don’t miss a visit to Pigeon Point, even if it’s the island’s ultimate tourism cliché. There’s good reason why this long, palm-fringed, sandy stretch is Tobago’s classic postcard view. And the best time to take it all in just might be sunset, as the sky turns brilliant hues of pink and orange behind the Pigeon Point jetty. The sea laps gently at your feel, the beverage in your hand is still frosty, and probably you’re already dreaming of your next visit — because, no, seven days in Tobago could never be enough.

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Tropikist Hotel
Gently nestled against the warm, calm, turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, Tropikist Beach Resort is beautifully landscaped on five acres of luscious gardens, with its own private beachfront, two pools, and a breathtaking view of the setting sun, making it a perfect choice for your ideal Caribbean vacation, for both local and international guests.

Jade Monkey
Located in Crown Point, Jade Monkey Casino, Bar, and Café is, as the locals say, “de best place to lime” in Tobago. The bar, known for its packed dance floor, is open every day of the week. Next door is the café, which specialises in various succulent seafood dishes. We also have the most popular casino on the island, filled with a wide choice of slot machines and roulette and card games. Each night there are cash giveaways, free drinks, and dinner available. So next time you’re in Tobago, don’t hesitate to stop by.

Flambowl
An Asian-style grill offering delicious hibachi bowls with rice or noodles and your choice of vegetables in several unique Asian sauces with a local splendour, plus gourmet burgers, hot dogs, cheese steak sandwiches, and lots more. Come taste a new way to customise your grill experience.

Skewers
A unique Middle Eastern grill serving Arabic-style cuisine infused with delectable local flavour. We offer all the meats served with traditional tasty Arabic sides, all with an exquisite local flair. Experience the unrivalled taste of Skewers, with over a decade of consistent perfection.

Shaw Park Complex
Home to stunning local art and a stellar event team who ensure an exceptional and tailored experience for every guest, the 5,000-capacity Shaw Park Complex is a modern centre for the arts which features both theatre and conferencing capabilities.

Caribbean Airlines operates numerous daily flights to Tobago’s A.N.R. Robinson International Airport from Trinidad, with connections to other destinations in the Caribbean and North and South America