Unfairly overshadowed by its sister island, Trinidad, the Caribbean island of Tobago has lots to offer anyone who is considering a holiday there, even on a shore excursion during a cruise.
When it comes to Culture, where can you discover the colonial history of forts while enjoying spectacular views? Find friendly locals who want you to love their paradise island as much as they do? Eat, drink and dance with the locals and have a go at playing the steelpan?
When it comes to Activities, where can you enjoy a whole host of activities both in the water and on land? Have an action-packed holiday on an unspoilt Caribbean island? Or take in naturally beautiful scenery, rare wildlife and a relaxed Caribbean way of life?
With so much to do in Tobago, it’s easy to forget that vacations are also a time for relaxing and recharging. Tobago isn't a mass market destination, so getting an empty beach or taking a quiet walk on a forest trail always leads to 'Peace of Mind' and relief from the stresses of home. And it is in the midst of the colors and cultures of this multi-ethnic tropical paradise that you can find your wellness adventure. Choices range from lush, tropical havens; luxuriant rainforests; bird watching; hiking and of course, spa experiences which are local in 'flavor' and world class in technique.
Tobago is the smaller of the two Caribbean islands comprising the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is located northeast of the mainland of Trinidad and southeast of Grenada, about 100 miles (160 km) off the coast of northeast Venezuela.
Tobago is undoubtedly one of the most scenic Caribbean islands. A central ridge of mini-mountains, thickly smothered with rainforest, tumbles down to meet the ocean, creating exotic seascapes. The island has several spectacular beaches, a smattering of colonial history and a profusion of nature. With Tobago measuring just 25 miles in length and 6 miles across, nearly all the attractions are accessible to cruise visitors.
This tropical paradise has a population of over 61,000. While Trinidad is multiethnic, Tobago's population is primarily of African descent, although there is a growing proportion of Europeans and Trinidadians of East Indian descent. Tobago has a good reputation as a tourist-friendly place and for being among the safest islands in the Caribbean.
Tobago has everything you’d expect from a Caribbean island, with palm trees, white powdery sand and idyllic beaches aplenty, yet it’s relatively unchanged by the tourist industry. Don’t expect fancy restaurants and glitzy shopping malls. It is an authentic and relatively undeveloped place. But holidays in Tobago aren’t just about relaxing on a beach during the day and winding down with a beer on the warm island nights.
Tobago offers its guests a unique travel experience. You can explore the island's rich culture, historical attractions, and biodiverse tropical rainforest.
Trinidad and Tobago are continental islands that were once geologically connected by direct land bridges to South America. As a result, unlike most of the Caribbean Islands, visitors to Tobago will discover primarily South American flora and fauna and a greater diversity of plant and animal species than on rivel islands in the Antilles. Tobago offers unparalleled bird watching; world-class snorkeling and diving; luxuriant rainforests perfect for hiking, waterfall swimming and cycling; and electric nightlife, with the fabulous Carnival and the Tobago Jazz Festival easily being the biggest and best of the region’s annual blowouts.
If there’s one aspect of the island that is truly unbeatable, it’s the weather in Tobago. The average temperature hovers around 80-86°F (27-30°C) throughout the year. This consistency is due to the island’s southerly location which generally places it outside of the ‘hurricane belt’. Although there are two seasons – dry and rainy – heavy storms are generally uncommon on the island.
Cruisetour Shore Excursion
Tucked inside Rockly Bay is the cruise port of Scarborough, the capital of Tobago. Framed by mountains, this quaint village-like port has a population of over 26,000. Located on the southeastern part of the island, Scarborough is also the region's economic and cultural center, which includes the largest performing art theater in the Caribbean. Scarborough is a flourishing town, brimming with a brisk vibrancy. Devoid of any touristy pretensions, its street corners buzz with liming locals, while pavement stalls are perused by shoppers and the bars spill out onto the streets.
Most cruise ships anchor right at port where you can explore the city or catch tours to other parts of Tobago. Delights await you right outside the cruise terminal, where you'll find local vendors selling homemade dessert items such as sugar cakes (a popular Caribbean baked confection made with coconut, sugar and flavorings) and benne balls (a much beloved brittle candy made from sugar and sesame seeds). Venture to the Milford Road Esplanade Waterfront to find plenty of shopping, restaurants, and entertainment.
A fantastic way to get around for sightseeing and snorkeling are through one of the many catamaran cruises offered in town. Keep an eye out for schools of flying fish as well as frolicking dolphins and whales that visit the coastal seas as you sail around the island to the sounds of calypso music. Or, explore the wonderful the famous Buccoo Reef by glass-bottom boat and gasp at its colorful fish and coral. Visited by Jacques Cousteau, French Oceanographer and Explorer, he rated Tobago's Buccoo Reef as the number three spectacular sight to behold in the world.
A Foodie Paradise
Tobago's cuisine is a unique blend of African, Indian, Chinese, European and Latin American influences, overlaid with those of countries as diverse as Syria, Lebanon and Italy. Replicating the diverse multicultural, multiracial population of Trinidad, this has created a fascinating culinary fusion far more interesting than the typical fare found elsewhere in the Caribbean. To most people, this is one of the highlights of a visit to Tobago.
Rotis are a national favorite. Rotis originated in East India, but, like all West Indian dishes, in Tobago they have taken on a local flavor of their own and are quite different from their East Indian variants. Tobago rotis are basically a thin flat unleavened bread that's quite similar a tortilla. Generally known as a roti wrap, it is traditionally wrapped around a meat and potato curry. Other popular fillings are curried chicken, goat, shrimp or conch with potato chunks and chickpeas. Vegetable roti is popular with vegetarians. A more expensive variant is the paratha roti which has a crisp crust but is light and fluffy but soft on the inside. They're all rather messy to eat, but don't be afraid to use a knife and fork. Totally delicious and finger-licking good! Must be tried!
Another national favorite are curry dishes which can be found at both inexpensive and upscale restaurants. Popular dishes include curried chicken, duck, goat, beef, shrimp, vegetables, and "aloo" (potato), along with wild meats.
Seafood is also highly popular and readily available on Tobago with fishing being the nearest thing to an industry you'll find there. You won't get fresher fish anywhere else. Away from the 'international restaurants' of the more populated tourist areas of the island, you'll find local restaurants that all serve variations of the same basic spicy Creole cooking.
Vegetarians are well catered to. There are two major groups of vegetarians on Tobago – devout Hindus and Rastafarians – so every restaurant will have options.
Overlooking the city are the 18th-century ruins of Fort King George. The old fortification is home to the Tobago Historical Museum, where you can browse an impressive collection of historic maps, relics of the indigenous Arawak people, and Carib people, ancient pottery pieces, colonial artifacts, local art and more. Once used as a military prison, the museum is not only informative but offers beautiful views from its commanding hillside location.
A Nature Lover's Paradise
If you're looking for a stroll while being immersed by nature, visit the Scarborough Botanical Garden a bit up the hill from the Fort King George. The 17 acres of plants and various trees provide a shady oasis from the sun. Or take a walk through the island's tropical rain forest among birdsong and see the breathtaking cascading Gold and Silver Falls. At 175 feet high, the lovely Argyle Waterfall is Tobago's highest waterfall. There's a bit of a climb to reach the top, but well worth it – a dip in the pool below will cool you down perfectly.
If you just want to relax, Pigeon Point, a peninsula of soft powdery white sand jutting into a pale turquoise sea, is Tobago’s main beach attraction. Protected by the Buccoo Reef, Pigeon Point Beach is ideal for families and children. Set on a private coconut estate, the beach is lined with coconut palms, palapas, and a great beach bar restaurant. Pigeon Point's claim to fame is a thatched-roof jetty that has come to be an informal logo of Tobago. Pigeon Point also offers water-sports, cafes, changing rooms, ample shade and souvenir shops to keep everyone entertained.
Nylon Pool is an in-sea shallow white ground coral pool that is located off Pigeon Point, and is accessible by boat. Its name is derived from its resemblance to a swimming pool. It is close to the Buccoo Reef, a protected area full of coral reefs. It was named by Princess Margaret in 1962. It is also one of Tobago's most visited attractions. Folklore has it that a visit to the Nylon pool will make you feel 10 years younger.
Pigeon Point is about 6 miles from the port; closer is lovely Stonehaven Bay where giant turtles nest (you’ll rarely see them during the day), with a couple of good restaurants. Englishman’s Bay is one of the wildest and most beautiful in the Caribbean, but involves a 45-minute taxi ride.
A Wellness Paradise
An island without freeways or high rises, the pace of daily life unfolds with casual ease, and residents are known as the happiest people in the Caribbean. Just being in Tobago gives you a head start on the journey to relaxation and rejuvenation.
Tobago is a true wellness paradise, featuring world-class spas and holistic centers to relieve your stresses, relax the tension and rejuvenate your body, mind and soul. Tobago's best full-service spas are associated with resorts located on the island's southwestern corner, either set against ocean views or tucked into a quiet inland setting. This pairing puts spa visitors within easy range of a number of additional activities and relaxations, from water sports and fitness activities to fine dining and poolside relaxation.
Many of the spa treatments are innovative and new, using cutting-edge methods and ingredients. Throughout Tobago, wellness professionals scour the local markets and farms to find indigenous herbs and other local products that will bring your body and soul to life.
Tobago has many ways to get your body and mind back in balance. Some come from touches administered by skilled hands, others from healing aromas and therapeutic oils, the cleansing properties of sea salts, the ancient oriental modalities of cupping and acupuncture, or the sensation of muscles responding to gentle contact with stones warmed in Caribbean sunshine. You name it, and across the island you can find a spa to attend to your every need. With a number of mobile massage services available on the beach, there are always treatments readily available.
Relax the mind, strengthen the body, and uplift the spirit with a Tobago yoga class. From vinyasa and Kundalini yoga to hot yoga and outdoor retreats, you can find the class that works for you led by professionally trained yogis. Tobago also has T'ai chi, water aerobics, spin classes and gyms available for the more active visitors to the island.
Whatever path to wellness you choose, Tobago is an ideal place to get your body and soul back in balance.
Experiential and Wellness Travel are where it's at. Experiential Wellness Travel is a hybrid of both. But Transformative Travel is the next evolution in travel. Like many land-based resorts, the global cruise industry has kept apace of this current trend with vacations that are fun, authentic, and meaningful by offering travelers on board and on shore fitness and wellness activities, healthy meal options, local cooking classes, culturally immersive shore excursions, participation in the local communities they visit, and a variety of tailor-made experiences that are transformative in a deep and personal way.