ISLAND OF THE WEEK: TOBAGO
At the southernmost end of the Caribbean archipelago lies the twin-island state of Trinidad and Tobago. Tobago, the smaller of the two islands is known for its picturesque, sandy beaches, historical sites and biodiverse tropical rainforest. It is also a hub for island getaways and destination weddings.
What To Do In Tobago
Visit Buccoo Reef and Nylon Pool.
The Buccoo Reef is one of the most accessible coral reefs in the Caribbean. It is a protected marine park located a short distance from Buccoo Beach, Pigeon Point and Store Bay. There are daily glass bottom boat tours from all of these locations which allow you to see the reef from inside the boats. While on your excursion be sure to stop and take a swim in the Nylon Pool. This is a shallow white sand area just behind the Buccoo Reef. The Nylon Pool got its name from Princess Margaret on her visit there in 1962 where she likened the water to the feeling of her nylon leggings. The waters of the Nylon Pool are rumored to have the ability to rejuvenate anyone lucky enough to swim in them.
Visit the Main Ridge Forest Reserve
The Main Ridge Forest Reserve is the oldest forest reserve in the western hemisphere, having been set aside in 1776. It is home to a number of flora and fauna. It is estimated that the rainforest provides habitats for twelve to sixteen species of mammals out of the nearly ninety mammal species in the Caribbean region, twenty-four non-poisonous snakes, sixteen lizards and two hundred and ten species of birds, the most outstanding being the bird species Campylopterus ensipennis – the White-tailed Sabrewing Hummingbird – that is both rare and endemic to Tobago. There is a maximum altitude of 549m near the midpoint of the ridge. The Main Ridge comprises forested ridges from the north coast to, gentler slopes with deep valleys which run down to a narrow fertile coastal plain in the south.
Take an Island Tour
Measuring just 300 square kilometres, Tobago offers many island tours. While exploring the island you can stop at many historical sites including forts such as Fort King George and Fort Bennett, The Mystery Tombstone and The Courland Water Wheel just to name a few. Tobago also has many beautiful beaches all around the island including Pigeon Point, Store Bay, Mt. Irvine Beach and Englishman’s Bay. Tobago also has a rich history due to colonization. The original Carib population was forced to defend the island against other Amerindian tribes. Then, during the late 1500’s and early 1600’s, they were faced with European colonists. Over the years, the Dutch, English and French transformed Tobago into a battle zone and the island changed hands 31 times before it was finally ceded to the British in 1814 under the Treaty of Paris. Each of these along with its rich West African heritage have contributed to the unique history of the island.
Tobago is known for its sumptuous local cuisine. While visiting Store Bay you can try our world famous crab and dumpling from vendors such as Ms. Jean or Ms. Trim. You can even try out this sumptuous Curry Crab and Dumpling Recipe on your own. Tobago is also known for its ‘blue food’ and celebrates the Blue Food Festival every October whereby you can sample all sorts of creations made from the blue dasheen such as dasheen buss-up-shut, dasheen lasagna, dasheen ice-cream, and dasheen punches. Dasheen is a starchy root tuber which can be utilized in many recipes. You can also also purchase local sweets such as sugar cakes, bene ball, toolum, preserved mangoes, nutcakes or fudge from local vendors at the airport, ferry port or at Store Bay.
Tobago Heritage Festival
If you’re visiting Tobago be sure to book your flights for mid-July. The Tobago Heritage Festival runs from mid-July to August and showcases traditions of various villages throughout the island. The Festival is an annual event created to preserve the unique cultural traditions of Tobago. It is by far the main event on the Tobago cultural calendar and it is considered and accepted that the Heritage Festival is to Tobago, what Carnival is to Trinidad. During the entire Festival, visitors and returning Tobagonians are able to visit the many quaint and friendly villages and experience their way of life, language and varied oral traditions, culture, dances, music, environment and, of course, their culinary delights.
Goat and Crab Races
The Easter weekend is more than a Christian celebration in Tobago. It marks the annual Goat and Crab Races at the villages of Mt. Pleasant and Buccoo on Easter Monday and Tueaday respectively. On these days the recreational grounds in both these villages become alive with a buzz of activity for the entire family such as novelty games and lots of activity for the kids. The highlight is the goat and crab races where jockeys race these unlikely track stars for prizes and of course bragging rights.