Tobago travel advice

Tobago travel advice


Tips from our friends in Tobago

Tips on where
to go in Tobago


Jason Radix is the general manager of Blue Waters Inn. He shares his Tobago travel advice:
“Come to Speyside! It’s one of the best kept secrets as most people go to the southwest side of the island, near the airport. Not as many people venture to the northeast, but It’s a place where most of the natural history of the island is concentrated. You have the Main Ridge Forest Reserve, the Argyle Waterfall, several natural forested areas with a high diversity of flora and fauna. And of course, there are the marine sites, which are ideal for snorkelling and diving as well. Most of our healthiest reefs are here. We also have two islands – Little Tobago and Goat Island – which have a lot of history.”
Duane
Jason Radix, general manager, Blue Waters Inn
Jason speaks about the surrounding area of Speyside. [01:41]

Mia Persad-Douglas, from Footprints Eco Resort and Spa shares her top Tobago travel advice for foodies:
“The crab and dumpling is a specialty. It is quite a lot of work – so if you’re not into fighting for your food, then I recommend trying the conch instead – that is excellent. But we get all kinds of wonderful seafood. The fish is almost always fresh, there’s lobster, shrimp... As for fruits – just try all the fruits that are exotic to you at home, they taste so much more wonderful when they are picked off the trees. The sugars have had time to develop, and it’s a different experience. Even the bananas are amazing!”
Kaye is one of the owners of Native Abode, a family run guesthouse in Crown Point. She shares her Tobago travel advice:
“One of the things I would recommend is not just having a beach vacation but having a community experience. Interact more with locals and think “If I were a Tobagonian – what would I do, what would I see, what would eat? How would I live? Where would I live?” So I would encourage visitors to live with us in small community guesthouses and bed and breakfasts. I would encourage them to come and eat like us. Eat what we eat! Taste our crab and dumpling, taste our coconut bake, our soursop punches. I would also encourage them to come and see how our ancestors used to live: see the dance of the cocoa. Watch the fishermen pulling seine. And of course – they need to lime like us! Go on a river lime, try out Sunday School. Try the waterfalls. And at the end of the experience where you have lived like us – we will say you have become one of us!“
Tanya Clovis, from SOS Tobago, an NGO dedicated to the protection of sea turtles on Tobago, shares her Tobago travel advice for having the best – and most responsible – turtle watching experience:
“We recommend not bringing a camera – but just enjoying the experience. If a flash goes off it can really throw things off for the turtle and the rest of the turtle viewing crowd. Maintain a respectful distance from the turtle. When she is laying, if we have a manageable crowd, we take people closer to see the eggs actually dropping then leave her to cover and disguise her nest in peace. You want to wear comfortable clothes. The beach is uneven as there are nests all over the place. Darker coloured clothes are a good idea, light clothes pick up a lot of ambient light from the beach.”

Health & safety in Tobago


Travel safely in Tobago

Health


  • There is no malaria in Tobago, although other mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue fever, still exist. Use insect repellent, and wear long sleeves and trousers when possible, particularly in forested areas and after dusk. Near-invisible sand flies can also cause great annoyance – wearing citronella oil often works well as a chemical-free repellent.
  • Visit your GP or travel clinic at least six weeks before departure to ensure you are up to date with all necessary vaccinations. Ensure your travel insurance covers emergency repatriation and evacuation as hospital facilities on Tobago are limited, although excellent care is available in Trinidad. Your policy should also include any activities which you intend to participate in, including diving.
  • Manchineel trees are one of the most toxic in the world. Every part of this plant is dangerous; the poisonous sap will blister the skin on contact the skin. The trees can be found around the island, including several beaches; avoid standing under or near them – especially when raining – as the sap can drip. The fruit resembles a small green apple; the shiny leaves are similar to bay leaves. If you are on a guided tour your guide should point the trees out to you.
  • Tap water is safe to drink in Tobago, although some may be put off by the chemical taste. Some places provide filters for the tap water – this is a better alternative than plastic bottles.
  • Take note of the emergency numbers: 990 for an ambulance or fire brigade and 999 for the police.
  • The seemingly endless, winding roads can cause queasiness even in those who don’t usually experience car sickness. Bring medication if prone; ginger is a good natural remedy.

Safety


The country’s high crime rate is actually focused on Trinidad – visitors to Tobago should not experience problems, and violent crime is virtually unheard of. The usual precautions are advised, particularly at night. Most hotels and guesthouses provide safes for valuables; be aware of pickpockets, particularly at busy events and festivals.

More popular beaches have lifeguards, but do be careful when swimming a long way out from the shore, and be especially vigilant if travelling in Tobago with kids. Remoter beaches are unguarded. Look out for flags – white and yellow for safe swimming, red for danger. 

Watch out for fire coral when snorkelling or swimming. Brushing against it causes an intense stinging or burning pain that can last for several days. Your guide or boat driver should warn you if fire coral is present; it generally resembles red, light brown or orange seaweed with white tips. Washing with seawater (not freshwater) or vinegar may ease the pain.

Barracudas, moray eels and stingrays are also present in the waters around Tobago. They are extremely unlikely to attack, but if you do see any of these species remember to keep clear and avoid provoking them.

There are several species of snake on Tobago; none of them are venomous.

If you are spending time in Trinidad en route, pre-booked taxis are advised, avoid the downtown and port areas – particularly at night – and take extra care during carnival.

The speed limit may be slow (50kph/31mph) but the Tobagonian drivers move fast. This is especially hazardous as the steep hillsides mean there are many narrow, winding roads with blind corners. If driving, keep to the speed limit (even if you have a tail of local drivers), use your horn on blind corners and be especially careful during the rainy season when landslides can further narrow roads. Remember – driving is on the left!

Tobago lies south of the hurricane belt; only two major cyclones have occurred since the 1960s but annual storms can still cause flash floods and landslides, which may result in some more rural roads becoming impassable. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and check your route if visiting from June to November.

Going nude or topless on beaches is illegal in Tobago. As well as causing offence to locals, it could get you into trouble with the police.

Tobago tips from our travellers


Recommendations from those who have been there

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Tobago travel advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
Take double the mosquito repellent you think you need. - Dominique Baal

We found the people courteous and charming. There were a few attempts to hustle us, but they were the exception. - Rosemary Brooke

When snorkelling, give turtles plenty of space to come up to take air, otherwise they can suffocate. - Mike Edwards

The high point was snorkelling with our guide – swimming with jellyfish and giant angelfish, coral reefs, hidden mysterious beaches. TIP – bring a little "GoPro" underwater camera to take astonishing undersea footage. - Judith Doyle

Within Castara village there is the opportunity to buy in the local stores, fish market etc. There is no real need to hire a car. If we went north or south we used the local bus. - Donald Dunlop

Take earplugs to make sure you get some sleep and don't get too disturbed by the cockerels and chacalacas because they wake up early! Don't go if you need constant activity/entertainment because there are not loads of things to do. Do go if you need a relaxing holiday, away from it all, in a village atmosphere. - Monique Smith

This isn't an exciting place to go! The beauty of the place is its wonderful tranquillity and lack of urgency. Most memorable moments included learning to play steel pan on the beach then being invited to hear how the professionals do it later that day. Other than that, the abiding memory is of relaxing in comfy chairs and watching the view - much better than telly! - Christine Mohamed
• Read more about where to go and things to see and do in Tobago
Responsible Travel would like to thank Visit Tobago for their sponsorship of this guide

Photo credits: [Speyside: Tobago Tourist Board] [Dance of the cocoa: Vicki Brown] [Review 1 - Turtle eggs: Dave Lonsdale] [Review 2 - Paper money: Antoshka3032] [25 cents: Mark Morgan] [5 cents: Mark Morgan]
Written by Vicki Brown
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