We have returned from a little over a month on the island of Tobago. There are many parts of the island that are just spectacular and we will probably go back and spend another month or two next year. I would also highly recommend it to any cruiser who likes to rock and roll. We were anchored in three different bays; Store Bay, Man of War Bay and Anse Batteaux, and we almost never stopped rolling for 4 weeks. I’m talking about hard to fall asleep, difficult to walk, shit falling off your shelves, crunch the fiberglass on your dinghy (yes I did) type rolling. But we prevailed, and in the end, kind of got used to it. The problem is that Tobago is oriented east-to-west and with the prevailing easterly tradewinds, there are just no good anchorages to hide from the swells.
We did a lot of hiking, exploring, SCUBA diving and cooking, met some great people, both locals and other cruisers.
This place is the polar opposite of
Pigidad Trinidad. Instead of throwing trash everywhere but in a trash can, dumping chemicals and holding tanks in the pristine waters, the people here really care about their island. They actually rake the beaches almost every day, and keep miles and miles of walking trails cleared and cut!
Shopping can be hit or miss, mostly miss. The only really good shopping is near the capital of Scarborough, and that was a 1-1/2 hour drive from our last two anchorages. It’s not a put on the cruise control and sip a Starbucks type of drive either. With what seemed like several hundred switchbacks through the hills, potholes and villages with cars parked in the middle of the street, in the end, you only go 25 miles. Beautiful scenery somewhat makes up for the drive, but you don’t slip into town for a half-gallon of milk before dinner.
If you don’t want to drive, you could take the government bus, but it’s the government bus, and it only runs every three hours. Many times it’s well over an hour late, or just doesn’t come at all. Plus, it hit a slippery patch and went off the side of the mountain one day while we were there, fortunately hanging up on a tree and guardrail before going very far. Ann and I tried the bus once, but after waiting at the Plexiglas aquarium bus stop for well over an hour at 100+ degrees, we finally gave up and hitchhiked.
The people are friendly, generous and almost always with a quick smile. Most of them either fish or work for the government and there is a lot of drinking going on, starting early in the morning. One of our favorites, Andre, hikes into the hills and collects fruit, then sells it to the cruisers as they walk the streets, whether you want it or not and then heads to the liquor store for his morning ration, every day. Whenever the fishermen blow on the conch shell, which you can hear all across the bay, fresh fish is available. We bought fresh caught Black Fin Tuna several times from the local fishermen and it was a real treat.
The SCUBA diving is outstanding. Some of the best sites in the world are in Tobago and the variety of fish and the beauty of the coral reefs is amazing. I did 8 dives and Ann did 5. Her knee gave out and she did a face plant while stepping on the dive boat getting ready for dive #6 so that was the end of SCUBA and hiking for her. We’re hoping surgery won’t be involved when we finally get it checked out.
There is very little flat land so farming and walking are challenging. On one of our typical 6 mile morning hikes, you climb a 500′ hill twice. One morning during our hike, an animal came bolting out of the bushes and almost ran into us twice; I believe it was flustered. It was an Agouti which is native to Tobago and it has the face of a rat, the raised hind legs of a jack rabbit, and the appeal of a cockroach. There are many domestic animals wandering the streets and walking trails including cows, goats chickens and a lot of very sad looking dogs.
On another hike we went to the Hummingbird House where local naturalist Newton George feeds over 400 hummingbirds a day on his front porch. He buys a bushel of sugar every 6 days and feeds them home made syrup which attract hummingbirds from as far as South America for mating season. An incredible sight!
Here are just a few of our pictures from our month on the hook:
Video Clips of our Circumavigation of Tobago