The experts have spoken. In a ranking of “action-packed Caribbean islands” by National Geographic, the original travel influencer, tropical Tobago proudly takes the top spot. It’s an amazing recognition to bestow on a pleasantly under-the-radar island in the far reaches of the Caribbean, just off the tip of Latin America. Although small, stretching 40km in one direction and only 10km in the other, Tobago has a lot to offer.
Visitors are lured here by its jaw-dropping natural splendour. If you haven’t been, imagine a lush green rainforest ringed with beautiful, untouched beaches. Now, you start to get a picture of what Tobago truly is.
The magazine hails the island as “quiet and welcoming.” And it is! But don’t mistake that for boring. Locals and tourists have been known to get a little loud, particularly at Sunday School, a vibrant street party hosted weekly in the tranquil village of Buccoo. The weekly event is filled with live DJ and steel pan music to dance the night away, led by the 20+ proud members of the Buccooneers Steel Orchestra; it is a soul-fulfilling tradition with roots dating back to 1967. Leaning deeper into the island’s history is the nearly 100-year-old Crab & Goat Race Festival, a spirited annual event synonymous with Easter tradition here.
For its part, National Geographic chose to highlight the abundant bird-watching opportunities the island is renowned for. Tobago is often described as a birder’s paradise with more than 260 species residing on the island. For a birding masterclass, make your way to what Nat Geo calls “the island’s star attraction” the Main Ridge Forest Reserve. The Reserve is the oldest legally protected forest reserve in the western hemisphere, dating back to 1776. Not only is the rainforest home to many species of birds, it provides the perfect opportunity to reconnect and recharge with nature in a supremely serene and safe space. Go with a guide to learn more about the region’s diverse flora and fauna or follow the well-marked paths to choose your own adventure.
Under the sea, the action continues. The magazine singles out the nighttime bioluminescence tour. It’s a natural phenomenon you will not soon forget.
“On nights with little moonlight, Radical Sports Tobago offers bioluminescence safaris where you can kayak or paddleboard through waters illuminated by microscopic organisms that emit a blue glow when disturbed. Dip your hand in and watch it glitter as though you were a radiant ghost dripping with jewels.”
For a more high-octane level of adventure the article suggests:
“Hit the waves. The island’s many dive sites include The Sisters, where hammerhead sharks hang out at the wreck of MV Maverick, a ferry that was scuttled in 1997 and now swarms with marine life.
The biodiverse island is a diver’s dream. The dive sites here are truly world-class, and rival anywhere in the region for species diversity. The dive facilities are also on par with any other Caribbean destination. This means even more opportunities are opening for visitors to experience Tobago’s magical underwater world.
A short boat trip from picture-perfect Pigeon Point, considered one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, is another natural attraction that tops every travel list, the Nylon Pool. This in-sea shallow white ground coral pool got its name from Princess Margaret, who during a visit in 1962 proclaimed the tranquil waters as being “as clear as her nylon stockings.” Legend has it, a swim here will leave you looking 10 years younger. The water is so soothing, you can’t help but think it might be true.
Also restorative are the cool spring waters that await at one of the island’s accessible waterfalls. There are several awe-inspiring falls just a short hike from well-traveled roads. But unlike other, more heavily tourist destinations, there’s no long lines to get a glimpse here. It’s not unusual to find that you have it all to yourself to enjoy.
If you’re thinking about your next action-packed adventure, one where there’s as little or as much for you to do, take a page from National Geographic. Consider a trip to tiny, tropical Tobago for an eco-adventure like no other.
This 3-minute video will have you reaching for your passport.
To get here: There are regular, direct flights to Port of Spain, Trinidad from Toronto via Air Canada, WestJet, and Caribbean Airlines. From there, it’s just a short 20-minute connection to Tobago on Caribbean Airlines. They operate numerous flights between the islands throughout the day. Prices start at $620CAD round-trip from Toronto
Where to stay and what to do: Discover more of what Tobago has to offer here.
By Tim Gallant