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Tobago. The Less Known Dive Vacation Island

Discussion in 'ScubaBoard Articles' started by Maduro Dive, Aug 28, 2017.

  1. Dan

    Dan Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lake Jackson, Texas
    5,540
    3,084
    113
    Tobago top side is meh IMHO. You’ll be disappointed. There are plenty of better places in Caribbean other than Tobago.
     
  2. Scuba_tacoma

    Scuba_tacoma Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: South Eastern U.S.
    31
    10
    8
    Correct, leatherback turtles not loggerhead.

    I saw them nesting as well. Our hotel was next to a nesting place and Tobago's version of a marine biologists. The biologists would build a fire on the beach and wait for the turtles lay eggs. The biologists would tell the security guard and he would tell guests making his rounds. Pretty much every night of our stay would involve watching them nest. The turtles almost looked like dinosaurs and were huge!
     
  3. Scuba_tacoma

    Scuba_tacoma Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: South Eastern U.S.
    31
    10
    8
    I am trying to be careful here because I am not sure what other people would have issue with and I like Tobago. However, you have to look at it more as an adventure into another culture than a luxury trip.

    I would not recommend Tobago to people that are expecting immaculate buildings, rooms, and impeccable service at every turn.

    I would think these not-well-traveled Americans would complain about hotel being not as nice as they would like. The room/hotel may need paint on exterior or interior walls. All inconclusive resorts may have some weird rules, like at dinner you must wear collared shirts, slacks, and closed toed shoes. In a dinning hall that may not have A.C. Tobago held on to some traditional English ideas. Some of the formality stayed in Tobago. Dress codes is one of the British leftovers.

    Prices can be a little expensive to very expensive. Goat and curry is served with many meals, especially at a buffet or all-inclusive. Beer selection can be limited. However, Rum is really good, especially a brand called 1919 made locally.

    They drive on the left side of the road, narrow roads that wind up and down the country side. It is easy to get car sick.

    People may not be over friendly with their greetings and may speak at a low volume. Not sure what the low talking is all about. Someone could easily get mad but I just brush it off.

    Anything specific you would like to know?
     
    islandboysrule and drrich2 like this.
  4. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    7,854
    5,031
    113
    Thanks, that’s helpful. The old saying ‘forewarned is forearmed’ has a lot of truth to it. Calibrating one’s expectations to the destination can avoid trouble.

    Richard.
     
    Erwin Poliakoff likes this.
  5. tbriggsnh

    tbriggsnh Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: New Hampshire, USA
    13
    3
    3
    Trip Report – Tobago Nov, 2017

    2017 saw widespread destruction from hurricanes Irma & Maria. In November, many islands were still shut down. Turned out to be a perfect time to go to the Caribbean’s southernmost dive destination—Tobago. And I’m glad I did. Here’s a report…

    Logistics – Airfare to Tobago from the northeast was $1,700. Instead, based on the excellent suggestions on ScubaBoard,I flew to Trinidad and connected to Caribbean Airlines. This dropped the round-trip airfare to $416 (JetBlue) plus $48 (Caribbean Air) for a total airfare of $464. Flight time on my departure leg (JFK) was 5 hours + 75 min. (layover) + 30 minutes for a little over 6 ½ hours. Return to Boston required a connection so was 9 ½ hours.

    Logistically speaking, the only mistake I made was misjudging the transfer time in Port of Spain (Trinidad). Trinidad is seriously on the lookout for illicit stuff coming into their country so their incoming security inspection is an unbelievable time sink. I had a 75-minute connect time and I needed 2 hours. After checking with the other travelers in the inspection line, this is totally normal for Trinidad but, in my experience, completely out of character with any other destination in the Caribbean.

    Also, the number of folks from Trinidad who fly to Tobago for the weekend is nothing short of incredible-- especially since they stopped running the ferry. The impact is that, if you miss your connection, you might wait a long time to get an open seat. Even though Caribbean Air has hourly departures, I had to wait six hours to get on another flight for the 30-minute hop from Trinidad to Tobago.

    Lesson learned - if you’re traveling on a weekend (I was traveling on a Friday), make sure to take the incoming immigration & customs lines into account and plan enough time so you don’t miss your connection.

    Lodging – I traded a timeshare and stayed at Sandy Point Beach Club. Very nice place, big units, upstairs/downstairs. Rack price is $170/night for 1-bedroom with queen bed + loft area with 2 divan beds + double “Murphy” in living room. One bathroom with shower. Full kitchen. Fits 6 folks but I’d recommend keeping it to 4 divers so everyone can stretch out.

    Car – I didn’t rent a car. Trinidad pumps their own oil so cabs are very reasonable. And my dive operator was within walking distance.

    Dive Operation(s) – I dove with Darren at Undersea Tobago. Darren’s op is headquartered at the Coco Reef Resort (15-minute walk from Sandy Point). Very professional operation. All safety briefings, rental equipment and boat are top notch. For my last dive day, Darren set me up with Motley at Tobago Dive Experience so I could try out Speyside diving.

    Water Temp - averaged 81 degrees. I wore a 3mm shorty and skin for the 5 days and was never cold. We did hit a few thermoclines where the temp dipped into the mid-to-high 70’s but no big deal. My buddies wore short sleeve t-shirts and swimsuits.

    Visibility – Pretty good. Mostly 40-50’ range. Keep in mind that the abundance and size of marine life is a direct result of the nutrient rich Orinoco flow. I’ve heard that you can get better viz if you head 90 miles further north to Grenada. But, as the nutrient flow drops off, I imagine you’ll trade off critters. Also, at the time of my visit, neither Grenada nor Dominica had recovered from the hurricanes.

    Current – No current in 5 days of diving both in the south and in Speyside. Guess I was lucky. All dives were drift dives.

    Weather – We had rain showers but never while we were out diving. Normal Caribbean temperatures (80-82 deg. In the daytime, 75 deg. in the evening). Warm & humid. Tobago is about 700 miles north of the equator so the weather is pretty consistent.

    Sea Life – Very nice. Lots of reef fish and plenty of the bigger stuff. Reefs are totally healthy with no evidence of coral bleaching. Saw my first long-nose bat fish. Look it up, a picture tells a thousand words. Or click on this link for a YouTube video (ogcocephalus corniger). In addition to the usual lobster, there were quite a few white spotted guys-- always a pleasure to see. At a site called “Diver’s Dream”, we pretty much saw it all. Large (6’+) nurse sharks in caves + free swimming nurse sharks, turtles, a pair of eagle rays, a 7’ Caribbean gray reef shark, multiple stingrays, and much more!

    After a day or two, Darren got into the habit of carrying the pole spear to deal with the lionfish. In Speyside, we had a hunter/fisherman who accompanied us to spear them. The lionfish are unfortunately, pretty abundant in Tobago. But they make for really good eating!

    Up at Speyside I made 2 dives. Visibility was as good as down south (and again, no current). Saw lots of neat stuff (green and spotted morays, turtles, more).

    I shot a brief (2 1/2-minute) GoPro video of some highlights and posted it here:

    The next time I go to Tobago, I’ll stay longer and split my time between the south and the north. Since the roads are crowded and narrow, the daily commute from south to north is not a lot of fun.

    How does Tobago compare to other places in the Caribbean? - There are a couple of reasons that Tobago turned out well for me:
    • The diving is very good with lots to see
    • Good accommodations and lots of good restaurants. Relaxing atmosphere.
    • Tobago is 7 degrees above the equator which puts it out of the hurricane belt (I like to dive in the summer when hurricanes can be a real problem)
    • Very affordable

    In comparison to other Caribbean destinations, Tobago doesn’t rank as high as Bonaire (on a good day), Grand Turk (on a good day) or Grand Cayman East End (on a good day) for the following reasons:
    • Visibility – you will get 100’ visibility in the aforementioned if you get lucky with the weather
    • BON, GDT and GCM can be shorter flights
    • BON, GDT and GCM have outstanding accommodations and a great vibe, especially Manta House on Grand Turk!

    If you go, I hope you enjoy your trip to Tobago!
     
    Boiler_81 and drrich2 like this.
  6. Dan

    Dan Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lake Jackson, Texas
    5,540
    3,084
    113
    Just finished watching this Blue Planet II on leatherback turtle. Largest turtle in the world, up to 2000 lbs. and endangered species.

    So, visit Tobago guys, check out these amazing animal nesting. It's once in a life time experience for me.

     

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