Dreaming of a Caribbean escape? Who could blame you? Tobago, the smaller island making up the nation of Trinidad and Tobago, is a great option for a seaside getaway. And it just so happens that Nadine Sykora, one of our favorite world travelers, knows quite a bit about this little paradise.
We recently caught up with Nadine and asked for her travel recommendations, all in the hopes of helping you plan the perfect trip to Tobago.
You have to see — or better yet, splash around in — the Nylon Pool to understand just how beautiful it is. Although it’s a natural feature located a couple thousand feet offshore, its crystal-clear water is only waist-deep, turning it into the Caribbean’s very own swimming pool. Formed between a sandbar and a lagoon, the Nylon Pool features a white-sand bottom and is only accessible by boat. During this excursion, you’ll feel like you’re swimming in the middle of the ocean!
Nylon Pool is located near Pigeon Point, not far from the southwestern tip of Tobago. You can catch a glass-bottomed boat to the pool from the jetty at Pigeon Point.
No Man’s Land
This small spit of white-coral sand juts into Bon Accord Lagoon, and it’s an extremely popular, scenic location for a barbecue or picnic. Surrounded by wetlands that are thick with mangrove trees, the Bon Accord Lagoon is home to a huge population of birds. On the beach at No Man’s Land, you’ll find stunning views of the wetlands, the lagoon, and of course, the Caribbean itself.
No Man’s Land is located on the eastern side of Bon Accord Lagoon, which you can find on the southwestern tip of the island. Although No Man’s Land is technically accessible by car, the road cuts through private property — so, unless you have the landowner’s permission, it’s better to travel to this little strip of land by boat.
Main Ridge Forest Reserve
Encompassing almost 10,000 acres of land, the Main Ridge Forest Reserve is on Tobago’s tentative list of submissions for UNESCO World Heritage consideration. Although plenty of animals live there, the forest reserve’s 210 species of birds are its most famous residents. Remember to keep a sharp eye out for the white-tailed sabrewing hummingbird while you’re there, as this jewel-colored beauty is native to Tobago.
Established in 1776, the forest reserve is the oldest in the western hemisphere, and its Main Ridge forms the hilly spine of the entire island. At about 1,900 feet (580 meters), the forest reserve is also home to the island’s highest point, so you can’t ascend any higher than this — at least, not during this trip.
The Main Ridge Forest Reserve is located on the northeastern side of the island.
Pigeon Point Heritage Park
Possibly the most recognizable, tourist-friendly place on the island, Pigeon Point is rightfully on Nadine’s list of recommendations. At this 125-acre nature reserve (complete with three distinct, yet equally stunning, beaches), you just might spot coral reefs, mangrove forests, turtles, and a whole lot of tropical fish!
Whether you’re traveling as a friend group, a couple, a family, or even if you’re on your own, Pigeon Point is an excellent place to spend a warm, sunny day.
While you’re visiting, Nadine recommends trying your hand at a few different water sports as well — after all, the options include kitesurfing, windsurfing, paddle boarding, and scuba diving.
Pigeon Point is located on the southwestern tip of Tobago.
This small village has garnered quite a reputation as an eco-friendly travel destination. So, if you’ve ever wanted to sleep in an open-air treehouse on a beautiful Caribbean island, we have just the place for you!
Castara’s small 16-room resort is located in the hills of Tobago. Completely surrounded by rainforest, but with the beach just a five-minute walk away, the resort truly combines the best of both worlds. Don’t forget to hike to the Castara Waterfall before you leave.
We should also mention that Castara Beach is one of the most beautiful natural beaches on Tobago — so, if you needed one last reason to persuade you to stay in Castara, we just gave it to you.
Castara is located in central Tobago, on the northern side of the island.
There are plenty of dive sites around the island, but Nadine suggests testing the waters at Kariwak or Speyside.
The sea is relatively shallow at Kariwak Reef — no more than 46 feet (14 meters) deep — but the diving is prime. It’s an excellent location for beginners, and divers are sure to spot both stingrays and tropical fish.
Speyside, on the other hand, is a small city where you’ll find a scattering of dive shops. From the city’s jetty, you’re only a short boat ride away from about 20 great options for divers, including incredible inshore reefs. At one of them (Kelleston Drain), you’ll even get up close and personal with one of the largest brain coral colonies in the Caribbean.
Depending on the time of year, strong currents might be passing near Speyside, so it’s better for experienced divers to tackle these dive sites.
Kariwak Reef is located near the southwestern tip of Tobago, while Speyside is on the northeastern half of the island.
If you haven’t ever seen anyone SUP-ing, you’ve probably lived a very landlocked life for the past several years. It’s not difficult to learn how to paddleboard, so you don’t have to be a natural athlete to get the hang of it — all you really need is a sense of balance.
Although you can paddleboard in Tobago’s rivers or near its beaches, Nadine recommends setting out for a bioluminescent experience in Bon Accord Lagoon. As you paddle through the water, small plankton organisms will emit light, completely surrounding you with little glowing orbs. Needless to say, it’s an unforgettable way to try a new water sport!
You can paddleboard all around Tobago — on the rivers, off the beaches, in the lagoon. You name it.
When most people think of the beach, horses don’t exactly come to mind, but one of Tobago’s nonprofit organizations just might change your perception. The Healing with Horses Foundation began when its founder introduced a rescue horse to a group of young children with varying levels of physical ability, and ever since then, the foundation has tried to help them through equine therapy.
For those looking to meet and ride the horses, you’ll want to head to Being with Horses, an offset of Healing with Horses that offers trail rides and ocean swims with some of the therapy animals. The group even practices natural horsemanship by using bitless bridles and bareback pads, giving riders get a real chance to connect with their horses.
Going to Sunday School
No, not the Sunday School you’re thinking of. This giant party, which takes place every weekend in the streets of Buccoo, is a sight to behold. Here, you’ll spot people of all ages eating, drinking, dancing, and playing music — what better way to get to know the locals?
You can go to Sunday School every Sunday night near the harbor in Buccoo (a city near the southwestern tip of the island, just a few miles north of Pigeon Point).
Carib Great Race
This event pits the nation’s boaters against each other in a speedboat race from Trinidad to Scarborough Harbor in Tobago. The event celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018, so the Carib Great Race has officially become a deeply rooted tradition.
Although travelers can’t participate in the race, they’re more than welcome to watch from the shore. Just be sure to arrive early and stake out your spot on the beach!
In 2018, the race took place on August 18. Stay tuned for the 2019 dates.
Tobago Heritage Festival
If you’re visiting the island in midsummer, you’ll want to check out the Tobago Heritage Festival — an exciting annual celebration of the island’s unique culture.
All across the island, locals and visitors come together to participate in events that showcase Tobago’s unique offerings — including huge buffet cookouts and a showcase of traditional outfits that the locals have worked on for months. There are afternoon street parties, parades, and organized music showcases and concerts, plus local activities scattered around the island. In short, there’s no better way to learn all about what Tobago has stood for throughout the centuries than by attending this annual event.
Every year, the Tobago Heritage Festival takes place from mid-July to early August in villages across the island.
Did we miss anything? Comment below to share your favorite things to do in Tobago.
All photos by Nadine Sykora