Luxury Charter Yacht Caribbean Vacation Destinations

A Caribbean Vacation in Tobago

Unspoiled Tobago opens its heart to its visitors. While tourists from the UK and South America have long known Tobago's charm, Cruise on your luxury charter yacht to visit one of the most ecologically attractive islands in the Caribbean. Tobago is known for its coral reefs, sport fishing and calming waterfalls. The island actually features the oldest preserved rain forest in the Western hemisphere. There is even a bird sanctuary on the island.

Tobago General Information

The country consists of two islands: Trinidad and Tobago. Lying just north of the Orinoco River delta in Venezuela. Tobago, just NE of Trinidad, is the exposed top of a mountain ridge (maximum height 2,000 ft/610 m) that is densely forested with large reserves of hardwoods. The climate of both islands is warm and humid, and rainfall (from June to Dec.) is abundant, particularly where the trade winds sweep in over the eastern coasts. The population is about evenly divided between those of African and Asian Indian descent. English is the official language, but a French patois is widely spoken. The main religions are Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, and Anglicanism.

They are the most exciting, underexplored and un-contrived of the Caribbean islands, rich in indigenous culture. A cultural pacemaker best known as the home and heart of West Indian Carnival, the nation can also boast having the most diverse and absorbing society in the region.

Trinidad and Tobago is the birthplace of calypso and steel band and the Trinidad Carnival is an experience not to be missed. Locals describe it as the Greatest Show on Earth! and they're not far wrong. Hot on the heels of the world's largest, glitziest Rio Carnival, and the weirdest, most mind-blowing New Orleans Mardi Gras, the two-day Trinidad Carnival is by far the biggest carnival in the Caribbean and has become a national obsession involving the entire population. There are numerous associated events leading up to the actual Carnival.

Tobago has its own Carnival, but this is much smaller and more community-based affair than the main event in Port-of-Spain. It takes place in Scarborough and as the town becomes extremely crowded and is closed to road traffic, it is essential to get there very early if you want a good view. The two days of carnival (Monday and Tuesday) are not officially public holidays, but effectively treated as such with all banks and many shops and businesses closed for business.

Tobago History

Trinidad was visited by Christopher Columbus in 1498 but was not colonized because of the lack of precious metals. It was raided by the Dutch (1640) and the French (1677, 1690) and by British sailors. Britain captured it in 1797 and received formal title in 1802. Tobago had been settled by the English in 1616, but the settlers were driven out by the indigenous Caribs. The island was held by the Dutch and the French before being acquired by the British in 1803. The islands were joined politically in 1888.

Without the highly profitable sugar production, Britain had no further use for Tobago and in 1889 the island was made a ward of Trinidad. Without sugar, the islanders had to grow other crops, planting acres of limes, coconuts and cocoa and exporting their produce to Trinidad. In 1963, Hurricane Flora ravaged Tobago, destroying the villages and crops. A restructuring program followed and attempts were made to diversify the economy. The development of a tourist industry began.

Tobago Shopping

In Tobago's capital, Scarborough, you can visit the local market Monday to Saturday mornings. Scarborough's stores have a limited range of merchandise, more to tempt the browser than the serious shopper.

Farro's, Wilson Road (no phone), across from the marketplace, offers the tastiest condiments on the island, packed into little straw baskets for you to carry back home. Sample the delectable lime marmalade, any of the hot sauces, the guava jelly, and most definitely the homemade tamarind chutney.

If you're seeking handicrafts, especially straw baskets, head for the Shaadijas Souvenir and Gift Shop, Port Mall, also in Scarborough. Cotton House Fashion Studio, Old Windward Road, in Bacolet, is the island's best choice for "hands-on" appreciation of the fine art of batik. In the Indonesian tradition, melted wax is brushed onto fabric, resisting dyes and creating unusual colors and designs. This outlet contains the largest collection of batik clothing and wall hangings on Tobago. Dying techniques are demonstrated to visitors, who can then try their skills.

The Art Gallery, Hibiscus Drive, Lowlands features the works of at least 10 artists. On permanent exhibit upstairs is a collection of island watercolors by Rachel Superville and her husband, Martin. Sculptures and a number of handicrafts are also sold here.

Tobago Restaurants

Restaurant prices are for a main course at dinner and do not include the customary 10% service charge.

The food on Trinidad and Tobago is a delight to the senses and has a distinctively creole touch, but you can also taste Asian, Indian, African, French, and Spanish influences, among others, often in a single meal. Indian-inspired food is a favorite: rotis (ample sandwiches of soft dough with a filling, similar to a burrito) are served as a fast food; a mélange of curried meat or fish and vegetables frequently makes an appearance as do vindaloos (spicy meat, vegetable, and seafood dishes).

Tobago Restaurant Selections

  • Café Coco: Eclectic - $8 to $20. This smart eatery -- though large, with 200 uncomfortable seats -- is broken into multiple levels, so there's still a sense of intimacy. Statuary is strewn about with carefree abandon, and the sound of flowing water permeates the room. Very reasonably priced by Tobago standards, the main courses range from Cuban stewed beef to shrimp tempura. The zingy pimento Mexicano, mozzarella-stuffed jalapeños and shrimp on a bed of greens, is a great appetizer. The restaurant is seldom full, so getting a table is usually not a problem.
  • Kariwak Village Restaurant: Caribbean - $12 to $30. Recorded steel-band music plays gently in the background at this romantic, candlelight spot in the Kariwak Village complex. In a bamboo pavilion that resembles an Amerindian round hut, Cynthia Clovis orchestrates a very original menu. Whatever the dish, it will be full of herbs and vegetables picked from her organic garden. Friday and Saturday buffets, with live jazz or calypso, are a Tobagonian highlight.
  • La Tartaruga: Italian – Over $30. Milanese owner Gabriele de Gaetano has created one of the island's most delightful dining experiences. Sitting on the large patio surrounded by lush foliage with Gabriele rushing from table to table chatting in Italian-laced English is all the entertainment you'll need. The tagliatelli with lobster and capers in wine and cream will give your tastebuds fond memories. And an impressive cellar is stocked solely with Italian wines. Reservations essential. Closed Sun.

Tobago Golf

Despite the small size of the island, golfers will be delighted with the courses available on Tobago. Two championship 18-hole courses are currently in play, and a third 9-hole course planned.

Villas Caribe selected Tobago Golf Courses Tobago is the proud possessor of an 18-hole, 6,800-yard course at Mount Irvine. Called the Tobago Golf Club at the Mount Irvine Estates (tel. 868/639-8871), it covers 60 breeze-swept hectares (148 acres) and was featured in the Wonderful World of Golf TV series. Even beginners agree the course is friendly to duffers.

Tobago Plantations Golf and Country Club, Hampden Road, Lowlands (tel. 868/631-0875), lies on a 303-hectare (748-acre) estate that was previously a sugar-cane plantation. Some holes on this on this par-72, 7,000-yard course follow the coastline. Greens fees, including golf cart, are US$85 for 18 holes, US$60 for 9 holes.

Tobago Fishing and Watersports


Fishing

The Tobago coast features deep seas running up onto the continental shelf with clear warm water and abundant feedstock – ideal conditions for good game fishing. The main offshore fishing season lasts from October to June and during this time anglers will do battle with some of the world's most exiting game fish, including blue marlin, white marlin, swordfish, wahoo, tuna, barracuda, mahi-mahi (the local name for dolphin-fish) and shark. It is a fascinating sight to see large game fish that have migrated south for the winter chasing the vast schools of small flying fish so prolific in the warm Caribbean waters. During the peak season around November, wahoo are so plentiful that anglers will be kept busy from dawn until dusk. Typical catches range between 30 and 65 pounds, but at least half-a-dozen 100-pound wahoo are caught each year.

Snorkelling

Snorkelling and scuba diving are extremely popular; both are best in Tobago, where the water is clear and the coral reef spectacular. The best dive spots are Speyside, Charlotteville and around the Sister's Rocks. The unspoiled reefs off Tobago teem with a great variety of marine life. Divers can swim through rocky canyons 18 to 39m (59-128 ft.) deep, underwater photographers can shoot pictures they won't find anywhere else, and snorkelers can explore the celebrated Buccoo Reef (off Pigeon Point), which teems with gardens of coral and hundreds of fish in the waist-deep water. Even nonswimmers can wade knee-deep in the waters. Remember to protect your head and body from the sun and to guard your feet against the sharp coral. After snorkeling at the reef, go over to Nylon Pool, with its crystal-clear waters. Here in this white-sand-bottom spot, about 2km (1 1/4 mile) offshore, you can enjoy a dip in water only 1m (3 1/4-ft.) deep.

Sailing

Whatever your level of experience, sailing and all other water-based activities can be fun and exhilarating in Tobago. The classic Caribbean ingredients of warm clear water, secluded bays and fantastic snorkeling, with predictable trade winds, make Tobago a great destination for those who yearn for the sea and like to get salty! During the second week of May each year, Tobago hosts The Angostura Yachting World Tobago Race Week. The event is normally based in the grounds of The Crown Point Beach Hotel overlooking Store Bay. You are guaranteed to have fun in the Regatta Village - day, afternoon and night. A great way want to experience the exhilaration of a sailing on your luxury charter sailing yacht. Or you can take your luxury charter motor for a tour along Tobago's beautiful green coastline.

Tobago Nightlife

Tobago is not the liveliest island after dark, but there's usually some form of nightlife to be found. Whatever you do the rest of the week, don't miss the huge impromptu party, affectionately dubbed "Sunday School," that gears up after midnight on all the street corners of Buccoo and breaks up around dawn. Pick your band, hang out for a while, then move on. In downtown Scarborough on weekend nights you can also find competing sound systems blaring at informal parties that welcome extra guests. In addition, "blockos" (spontaneous block parties) spring up all over the island; look for the hand-painted signs. Tobago also has harvest parties on Sunday throughout the year, when a particular village extends its hospitality and opens its doors to visitors.

Tobago Weddings

Want to escape the stress of a big, white wedding? Like the idea of getting married on a near-deserted beach as the sun sets over the Caribbean Sea? Happy to have a relaxed but really romantic and wonderfully meaningful ceremony which will give you beautiful memories, for life? Hate the thought of a conveyor-belt wedding, the likes of which you've heard about? The villa owners are also able to give invaluable advice on wedding planners, florists, and caterers for a Tobagian wedding. In terms of setting, it is difficult to imagine a more beautiful place to hold a wedding event, as almost everywhere in Tobago offers stunning picture-perfect locations, beautiful sunsets, long sandy beaches, framed by trees and lapped by the warm Caribbean waters.

The best time to get married is late afternoon. It will be getting cooler, you'll have the beautiful sun set to witness (what could be more romantic?) and you can go straight into your wedding breakfast – there will be none of the time taken for all the photos as there is at British weddings.

Tobago Beaches

On Tobago, you can still feel like Robinson Crusoe in a solitary sandy cove -- at least until Saturday, when the Trinidadians fly over for a weekend on the beach.

Tobago Beach Selections

Pigeon Point, on the northwestern shore, is the best-known bathing area, with a long coral beach. It's public, but to reach it you must enter a former coconut estate, which charges a fee of TT$10 (US$1.60). Set against a backdrop of royal palms, this beach is becoming increasingly commercial. Facilities include food kiosks, crafts shops, a diving concession, paddleboat rentals, changing rooms in thatched shelters, and picnic tables. Pigeon Point is also the jumping off point for snorkeling cruises to Buccoo Reef.

  • Back Bay is an 8-minute walk from Mount Irvine Bay. Along the way, you'll pass a coconut plantation and an old cannon emplacement. Snorkeling is generally excellent, even in winter. There are sometimes dangerous currents, but you can always explore Rocky Point Beach and its brilliantly colored parrotfish. In July and August, the surfing is the finest in Tobago; it's also likely to be good in January and April. Stop in Scarborough for picnic fixings, which you can enjoy at the picnic tables here; a snack bar sells cold beer and drinks.
  • Great Courland Bay is known for its calm, gin-clear waters, and is flanked by Turtle Beach, named for the turtles that nest here. Near Fort Bennett and south of Plymouth, Great Courland Bay is one of the longest sandy beaches on the island and the site of several hotels and a marina.
  • Parlatuvier Beach: The locals and the fishing boats make the setting at half-moon-shaped Parlatuvier Beach (on the north side of the island) more bucolic than the swimming. If you can't stand crowds, head for Englishman's Bay, on the north coast just west of Parlatuvier. We don't know why this beach is virtually deserted: It's charming, secluded, and good for swimming.
  • Man-O-War Bay: Near the little fishing village of Charlotteville, Man-O-War Bay is one of the finest natural harbors in the West Indies. It has a long sandy beach and a government-run rest house. Sometimes local fishermen will hawk the day's catch (and clean it for you as well). Nearby Lovers' Beach is accessible only by boat and is famous for its pink sand, formed long ago from crushed sea shells. Negotiate a fee with one of the local boatmen; expect to pay around US$25.
  • King's Bay: The true beach buff will head for King's Bay in the northeast, south of the town of Speyside near Delaford. Against a backdrop of towering green hills, the crescent-shaped grayish-sand beach is one of the best places for swimming.

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