In July, freelance writer Tyrell Gittens travelled to Tobago for a five-day, four-night getaway. His goal was to traverse the island and explore its attractions, especially those less frequented. Tobago is being promoted to Trinidadians as their vacation spot since the borders remain closed.
Travel in and out of TT for tourism has been brought to a standstill as a result of the covid19 pandemic.
Recent research by National Geographic revealed the pandemic would result in the loss of over 75 million jobs worldwide and the global tourism industry is expected to lose US$2.1 trillion in revenue.
TT’s tourism industry, therefore, is also expected to experience a drop in revenue.
Countries are shifting focus to domestic tourism, with promotions of staycations, as a means of supporting their ailing sectors. And TT is doing the same, with a domestic tourism campaign that is seen as vital to the industry's weathering the economic fallout of covid19.
People who are frequent travellers, or plan an occasional getaway, can find comfort in knowing Tobago provides much to discover without leaving local shores.
While places like Store Bay, Nylon Pool, No Man’s Land and Pigeon Point have rightfully become staples in Tobago’s landscape, the island is packed with other gems, as I discovered.
Day 1: Arriving in Tobago
Feeling the travel blues and itching to relive the moment a plane takes off?
While there may be some understandable hesitance, opting to fly to Tobago gives you that experience and the process is assuring.
Temperature checks are mandatory when entering the Piarco Airport terminal and boarding. Mask -wearing and social-distancing protocols are rigidly enforced.
Arriving in Tobago, the well-known Store Bay is a short walk away from the ANR Robinson International Airport.
But if you are feeling peckish, as I was after my arrival, a strip of eateries including both local and international food options is easily accessible in Crown Point by a short taxi ride or walk, depending on one’s preference.
After eating, it was easy to get a taxi to head to Black Rock and check into Indigo Inn, my home for the duration. Taking no more than 15 minutes to reach from Crown Point, Black Rock is home to Stonehaven Bay and Fort Bennett.
The area is well-equipped with an ATM, fast food establishments, local restaurants, and an ice-cream shop.
Not to be left out are the ocean views from most hotels, resorts, inns, and guest houses overlooking the area's coastline. which makes for stunning sunsets.
Day 2: Kilgwyn Bay
The best adventures are often unplanned and after a visit to Healing with Horses in Buccoo, to learn more about the programme, adventure awaited. Created in 2010, Healing with Horses offers an integrated space which provides therapeutic interactions with horses for differently-abled children and adults.
A visit to Store Bay would have been next. But after a short stop at Fort Milford, and for some fresh coconut water, plans quickly changed to a visit to Kilgwyn Bay. With mangrove draping the road leading to it, Kilgwyn Bay is nestled in southeast Tobago and boasts of warm turquoise blue waters and white sand.
Added bonuses are a view of the outline of Trinidad’s northern coast on a clear day and, thanks to its proximity to the Crown Point airport, you may be treated to the sounds and clear sights of planes overhead.
Day 3: Scarborough, Kilgwyn Bay and dinner party
Do you love Tobago? Well, next time you visit, you may want to stop and take a photo at the newly unveiled I Love Tobago sign. Put up at the Scarborough Esplanade, the newly unveiled sign is sleek in appearance and well-designed to get you that perfect picture from any angle.
While it may be a while before you can take a photo at the signs in Toronto, Cancun or Amsterdam, you can have the same experience in Tobago while helping to promote TT as a tourist destination and having a sense of national pride.
After spending much of the day on a drive around Scarborough, it was back to Kilgwyn Bay to soak in more sun, sea, and sand until sunset.
While a greater part of vacation is adventure, bonding with family and friends is also an added benefit, so why not do that while enjoying some cool Tobago breeze?
To end the day, a dinner party was held with local dishes such as pholourie on the menu.
Day 4: Little Tobago, Pirate’s Bay, and Island Road Trip
Having to reach Speyside at 10.30 am, for a trip to Little Tobago, day four required an early start.
A drive along Tobago’s east coast led there, where boats to Little Tobago dock at the jetty near the luxurious Blue Waters Inn.
The boat ride lasts no more than ten minutes. Visitors are greeted by picturesque views of the vivid blue hues of the surrounding waters, lush green flora and flocks of birds keeping a watchful eye.
On an hour-long tour of the island, one learns it is “dry,” as it receives little rain and running streams are absent. But the island’s thriving biodiversity is a reminder of nature’s resilience. Lining the pathways are an abundance of silver patch palm, the dramatic large leaves of anthuriums and bamboo arches reminiscent of the Bamboo Cathedral in Chaguaramas.
At the island’s summit is a small shed providing a moment of relaxation and views of the animated waves crashing into scattered rock formations in the waters surrounding the island.
Upon departing, after the tour, there is the option for those interested to snorkel for half an hour and explore the Speyside Reef. People not interested in snorkelling can choose to stay on the boat and be given a guided tour of the reef, using the boat’s glass bottom. Whatever the choice, visitors will quickly find themselves witnessing the splendid sights of fish, sea fans and playing “spot the coral,” as the reef is adorned with a variety of corals, including the fascinating brain coral.
Returning to Speyside shortly after midday, a road trip down the island’s west coast is opportune. When travelling it is always important to leave room for spontaneous adventures.
A few minutes’ away, on Tobago’s east coast, is Charlotteville, where you are sure to be greeted by friendly villagers ready to guide you to the secluded Pirate’s Bay. Accessible via a short trek or by a fisherman’s boat, for only a small fee, Pirate’s Bay is a secluded paradise with white sand, gentle waves, and clear water. Relaxing and unwinding at Pirate’s Bay is an ideal way to rest after an action-packed morning at Little Tobago.
After getting your feet wet and if there is time to spare, continuing a drive along Tobago’s west coast provides a mix of fascinating views and stops. Sights include the Parlatuvier Lookout, Englishman’s Bay and the Tobago Main Ridge, which is the world’s oldest protected forest.
Returning to Black Rock, shortly before sunset, a short walk along Stonehaven Bay, followed by ice cream from a local shop, was a welcome ending to the day.
Day 5: Swallows Bay and departure to Trinidad
We were scheduled to leave for Trinidad after lunch, but there was still time to pack adventure into the fifth and final day, which started with a walk along the length of Stonehaven Bay, just a short walk from the inn.
Before long, it was off to Swallows Bay. At the Swallows, as the beach is commonly called, I met Elizabeth, who owns Lizzy’s Bake and Shark. While I am a vegetarian, “Lizzy” as I fondly call her, made sure to prepare something I could eat and though we had never met before, we were quickly engrossed in a conversation about life and all that Tobago has to offer the next time I return.
Whenever you are in Tobago, be sure to check out Lizzy, who embodied the definition of a warm personality.
That it was the end of my Tobago getaway, but I am already planning my next trip.
Up next on my list of attractions to visit are the Argyle and Castara waterfalls and the Mystery Tombstone in Plymouth.