Pristine, untouched and truly wild: Tobago’s vast natural spaces are the perfect places to let off some steam and have an adventure like no other…
Dip your head beneath the surface of Tobago’s water and a rainbow world of pastel-hued coral and multi-coloured fish shifts into view. Off the coast of Speyside, the aptly-named Japanese Gardens delights divers with its orange and yellow sponges which schools of fish dart in and out of.
Cardinal rocks is a perfect dive for beginners, where you’ll likely see anglefish, eels and hawksbill turtles gliding by. Another great option for novices is Booby Island which is home to reef sharks.
Advanced divers should swim under the arch of London Bride in Charlotteville and look between the boulders to find porcupines and lobsters. You may even be joined by a turtle or two.
2. Bioluminescence tour
Looking for an unforgettable experience? Head to Tobago’s beaches after dark to see the island’s famous cobalt waters turn black before witnessing an electric blue lighting up the surface like a lightening bolt. Although looking up may trick you into thinking the water is a reflection of the starry night sky, this mesmerising sight is actually the result of the glowing plankton that lives in the water.
At Bon Accord Lagoon, you can experience this natural phenomenon from a stand-up paddle board or kayak. Push yourself across the water’s surface at night while admiring the swirling glow below. This is a peaceful way to spend a night in Tobago, with the only sound your paddle in the water.
For a hike that’s big on wildlife, hire a guide and explore the Gilpin Trace – a famous trail deep in the Main Ridge Forest Reserve. Your guide will tell you about the local flora and fauna and will stop to show you some of the forest inhabitants such as armadillos, snakes and lizards. Also within the Main Ridge Forest Reserve is the challenging yet rewarding walk to Pigeon Peak. Largely unmarked and excitingly overgrown, this steep trail will lead you through the thick rainforest to the summit where you can rest and enjoy the views.
Wildlife enthusiasts will also enjoy a walk through the Corbin Local Wildlife Park. You’ll be led through the forest on a trail that passes caiman, opossums and armadillos.
4. Mountain biking
The Main Ridge Forest Reserve isn’t just for walkers – there’s plenty of space for pedallers, too. Don a helmet and whizz around the mountainous forest tracks to enjoy steep downward slopes and nature-filled views.
Another track for the experts can be found in the village of Moriah. Located on a hill, this bike ride offers thrilling and fast descents through forests and rocky terrain to the secluded white sands of Big Bay.
If you want something more relaxing, swap the hilly routes of Main Ridge and Moriah for the flatter surface of the Bon Accord Lagoon, where a guide will take you on a gentle pedal through mangrove forests and past coastal views.
Horseriding in Tobago is not just about the riding but about the personality of the animals and creating a connection with the horse. The Healing with Horses Foundation is a fantastic place to experience the island on horseback. At the paddock, you’ll learn the stories of the individual personalities of the herd before being partnered with a horse and riding down to Bucoo Bay. The most memorable part of the day? When your horse leads you to the water and takes you for a swim.
6. Glass-bottom kayaking
So clear is the water in the Buccoo Reef Mangrove Lagoon that you can spot marine life without having to get so much as a toe wet – and hiring a glass-bottom kayak allows you to do just that. You can look down as you paddle to see bright sponges, colourful coral and tropical fish underneath you. During the trip, you’ll paddle to the waist-deep Nylon Pool where you can stop for a swim, glide past a mangrove forest alive with the calls of birds, and can jump off the kayak for a closer look at the Coral Garden and its inhabitants.
6. Waterfall swimming
What better way to cool off after a day of adventure than in nature’s own swimming pools? Thankfully, Tobago is home to many natural swimming spots, found under the fall of waterfalls. The most popular and Tobago’s highest can be found on the outskirts of the Main Ridge Forest Reserve. Follow a trail and the gurgle of the water to find yourself at the 45m Argyle which spits out a turquoise stream over three tiers, creating perfect jungle-surrounded pools.
Over at Palatuvier, you’ll find a rugged beach splashed by crashing waves, but on closer inspection, a more relaxing swimming experience can be found. Locate the tin-roofed shack of Top River Falls to be led by a local along the river to a tiered waterfall.