Surf, sounds and street food: six of the best things to do in Tobago

Tobago is one the best places to get a taste of the friendly and authentic Caribbean, and being just 27 miles long, it's easily explored in a week.

A blue-chinned sapphire hummingbird, part of a rollcall of more than 230 bird species in Tobago.

Photograph by Roger Neckles
By Nigel Tisdall
Published 28 Jan 2023, 10:00 GMT

Resting at the southern end of the Windward Islands, Tobago lies 22 miles north-east of its big sister, Trinidad. A gentle charmer with a hilly, forested backbone and a coastline defined by wide, sandy beaches, the island has remained relatively undiscovered compared to other Caribbean destinations. We round up six of the best ways to discover it. 

1.  Find your perfect beach

From the party scene at Pigeon Point to the castaway sands of Englishman's Bay, Tobago has beaches for all moods. Between March and September, leatherback turtles lay their eggs at night on stretches of coast such as Stonehaven Bay and Great Courland Bay, with hotel staff waking guests to see this sight. Surfers can catch some waves at Mount Irvine Bay, one of three beaches that recently achieved Blue Flag pilot status, while families with young children will appreciate the shallow and sheltered waters at Canoe Bay. Two popular swimming spots near Buccoo Reef, only accessible by boat, are No Man's Land, a slender spit of white coral sand, and Nylon Pool, a mid-sea bathing area with thigh-high water and a sandy floor.

2. Discover the rainforest

Tobago’s UNESCO MaB-listed Main Ridge Forest Reserve has been protected since 1776. It’s the island's crowning glory, preserving just under 10,000 acres of tropical rainforest that has no admission fee and is a delight for both walkers and birdwatchers. A chief attraction here is the endemic white-tailed sabrewing hummingbird, part of a rollcall of more than 260 birds. A further 15 birdwatching sites around the island offer the chance to spy avian stars from flycatchers and jacamars to boobies and frigatebirds. The reserve has nine hiking trails, while the nearby Argyle Falls, which plunge 175ft over three levels, is a favourite spot to cool off in natural rock pools.

Left: Top:

The World Heritage-listed Main Ridge Forest Reserve has been protected since 1776.

Photograph by Alexa Fernando
Right: Bottom:

The reserve preserves just under 10,000 acres of tropical rainforest.

Photograph by Alexa Fernando

3. Explore the ocean

For a memorable adventure, book a guided night safari by kayak or standup paddleboard across the bioluminescent waters of Bon Accord Lagoon, gliding through thousands of microscopic organisms that emit a blue-green glow. Under the waves, meanwhile, Tobago has in excess of 50 dive sites including Kelleston Drain, home to a 16ft-wide brain coral, and London Bridge, a huge natural arch to swim through. Beginners can book a half-day scuba discovery trip, while Angel Reef, with a depth of 15-60ft, is a favourite with underwater photographers. Snorkellers should seek out the coral at Arnos Vale and Little Bay, where tropical fish are guaranteed — and there’s a good chance of spotting a turtle, too.

4. Spice things up with local street food

Tobago's cuisine makes the most of the island's fertile soil and bountiful sea, guaranteeing fresh tropical fruit, organic vegetables and first class sea food. Try roti filled with curried goat, curried crab and dumplings; callaloo, a dish made with dasheen leaves, okra and coconut milk; and ice cream homemade using avocado or pumpkin. The Tobago Cocoa Estate in Roxborough runs tours that reveal the story of the country’s organic cocoa, used for award-winning chocolate, or, for an informal bite, head for the road-side kiosks at Store Bay and Castara Bay. A beer here costs just £1.50, while a plate piled high with freshly grilled snapper, fries and macaroni pie (hot sauce optional) is around a fiver.

London Bridge, a natural rock arch off the northeast coast of Tobago is a popular scuba ...

London Bridge, a natural rock arch off the northeast coast of Tobago and a popular scuba diving site.

Photograph by Jad Davenport

5. Get partying

Two events worth catching are the Tobago Jazz Experience in April and the Heritage Festival from mid-July, featuring village feasts, calypso competitions, costumed parades and an 'ole time' wedding, where guests can learn the 'brush back' and 'reel and jig' dances. There's more music and dancing to be had at the Thursday night Bonfire Party on the beach at Castara or let rip at Sunday School, the typically witty name given to a weekly late night street party in Buccoo with live steel pan music followed by a DJ blasting out tunes.

6. And relax...

A sense of wellbeing comes naturally on Tobago, thanks to its small size, scenic splendour, welcoming islanders and easy-going pace. Some resorts offer yoga, sporting activities and spa treatments, while other venues are dedicated to improving mental and physical health. Non-profit Healing with Horses offers therapies and beach rides with a rescued herd, while at Castara Retreats, experts in yoga, meditation, health and nutrition run weeks devoted to wellness and creativity. In the north-east of the island, a new Art Trail runs through Tobago's UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve — an initiative that seeks to revitalise bonds between people and nature while boosting the preservation of this corner of the Caribbean.

The Tobago Heritage Festival, an annual event to preserve the cultural traditions of Tobago.

The Tobago Heritage Festival, an annual event to preserve the cultural traditions of Tobago.

Photograph by Tobago Festival Commission

Plan your trip

British Airways operates a biweekly service from Gatwick to Tobago, which takes around 10h 35m. There are taxi services across the island, and several car hire companies offer a range of vehicles starting at around £30 a day. For more information, visit

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