Waterfall swims, stand-up paddles at sunset and mangrove bike rides await...
The Caribbean island of Tobago may only be small (it’s possible to drive from one tip of the isle – which has a total area of just 116 square miles – to the other in under two hours), but it certainly offers plenty of opportunities to get off the beaten track and go adventuring.
With crystal-clear waters, miles of unspoilt (and, crucially, protected) rainforest and a wealth of tropical wildlife, there’s no doubting the jaw-dropping natural beauty the island offers intrepid travellers.
Here, we’ve selected five of the most exhilarating experiences you must try when you’re in Tobago…
1. Take a waterfall hike at Roxborough
Standing at 175 feet and gushing over three levels, you’ll hear the impressive Argyle Waterfall before you see it.
Located just inland of Roxborough, a town on the south-east coast, it takes around 20 minutes to hike to the waterfall along a clearly-marked track. Just be sure to pay your entry fee at the Roxborough Estate Visitor Service Co-op office before setting off.
Once you arrive, you can take a dip in the plunge pool located at the bottom of the waterfall.
Then, if you’re feeling sprightly, you can scramble up the rocks to discover the pools on the upper levels.
The top-most of these pools is the deepest, where you can dive in – or even try your best Tarzan impression by swinging on one of the nearby vines!
2. Dive into the blue at Speyside￼
Those who love to explore the magic of the underwater world are in for a treat in Tobago.
Located on the island’s Atlantic coast, the little village Speyside offers access to some stunning dive sites, including what is thought to be the world’s largest single brain coral colony (main picture), measuring 10ft high by 16ft across, at Kelleston Drain.
Another key spot is Japanese Gardens, where the Bicolor Damselfish flitting in and out of the ocean sponges are said to resemble butterflies of a Japanese garden – hence the name.
With the Atlantic currents typically stronger than those of the Caribbean Sea, the dive sites off the coast of Speyside are generally better suited to more experienced divers. But helpfully, Tobago offers plenty of beginner-friendly dive spots too, such as those to be found around Crown Point in the southwest of the island.
Wherever you decide to dive, be sure to book with a company that’s registered with ATDO, the Association of Tobago Dive Operators – its website offers a full list of members.
3. Spot rare birds at Main Ridge Forest Reserve
Situated in the north of the island, this 3,958 hectare area has been proposed for UNESCO World Heritage status – and it’s easy to see why.
The lush rainforest which covers the area – protected by law since 1776 – is a nature-lover’s dream, being home to more than 160 tree species, over 200 species of birds, 16 species of mammals, and 16 lizard species.
It’s also one of only two locations in the world where you can see the white-tailed sabrewing – a type of hummingbird (pictured above) – in the wild.
The reserve has various walking trails, and a guide (who will not only lead the way through the lush undergrowth, but also be able to point out the various creatures you may come across) – is recommended.
4. SUP under the stars at Pigeon Point
SUP is short for stand-up paddle-boarding, a water-base activity that involves standing on a board similar to those used in surfing and using a paddle to propel yourself forward. It’s one of the activities Jennifer Aniston credits her incredible body with – and if it’s good enough for Jen…
There are plenty of SUP tours to choose from on the island, but perhaps the most memorable is the Bioluminescence Tour at Pigeon Point offered by local company Stand Up Paddle Tobago.
This unique tour takes place in the early evening, when the stars being to light up the sky above – and scores of glowing plankton light up the waters below!
Some experience is recommended for this tour, although non-SUPers can join in on kayaks. Alternatively, opt for a SUP session at Petit Trou Lagoon. Bordered by mangrove and rugged coastline, this sea-water lagoon is the perfect place to spend an hour paddling, with the calm waters making it an ideal spot for beginners.
It’s also a great place to tick more wildlife off your must-see list, being home to beautiful creatures such as hawksbill and green turtles, pelicans, osprey, mullets and tarpons.
5. Go mountain biking through a mangrove forest
If you prefer your adventures on two wheels rather than two feet, Tobago Mountain Bike Tours offer a variety of options to discover the beauty of the island.
Their Mangrove Trail is ideal for less experienced riders, and takes in the area around the Bon Accord Lagoon on Tobago’s Caribbean coast.
Meanwhile over on the Atlantic coast, the Kilgwyn trail network takes in old coconut estates and some of the last undisturbed mangrove forest in Tobago. One of the island’s oldest settlements, this area also features a couple of sugar mills from the colonial era.