If you like your sun hot and your chicken wings hotter then maybe it’s time to visit a part of the Caribbean that often gets overlooked. It may be a small island, but where it lacks in square metres, it makes up for in personality and charm 10 times over. The second I stepped foot off of the plane the tropical vibe hit me like a Rum punch to the face. Everyone smiling and welcoming, the humid air warming up those lungs and the reggae music getting those feet tapping. Tobago is alive with character and it’s infectious. If you want a holiday with a difference this year then here’s the Sian Guide to Tobago, in order of importance.
The food in Tobago is amazing. Big portions, fantastic flavours and more cheesecake than you can shake a steel drumstick at! Oh yes, the Tobagonians love their food! There is always so much choice and it’s easy to get carried away, but be smart, at Café Havana and La Tartaruga the portions are huge. My advice is to share a starter (the calamari is amazing) so you can save yourself for dessert! A place you must visit is the Blue crab, run by an incredible couple, this is home cooking at its finest. Miss Sardinha will knock your socks and sandals off with her lively personality and sharp wit, I would eat there again just to see her, but wow, her husband is a genius in the kitchen and the traditional food was delicious. Try something new like fried plantain or cassava and wash it all down with her famous rum punch. Guaranteed to leave there giggling this is an experience you’ll never forget!
While in Tobago I learnt to dive. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and after a year of learning new things, from skiing to track cycling, this was a great way to end 2014 on a high…and it was a lot bloody warmer than diving in England! I learnt the basics with Oyster Diving in a pool in central London and then had to put my knowledge to the test in the gorgeous blue waters of Tobago. Oh yeah, and do 12 hours of online theory, but we’ll bypass that part, pretend it never happened, get the laptop screen fixed and skip straight to the good bit.
Diving in Tobago was breathtaking. It was like flying underwater when a current picked you up. The visibility was perfectly clear, I was so excited to see all the colourful fish, let alone when I spotted nurse sharks sleeping and moray eels peeking out of the reef! One of our group even saw a leatherback turtle, but I was too busy trying to have a wee underwater and I missed it. By the way I didn’t wee. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I can’t end this bit on that note, so I’ll just say that if whether you’re thinking of learning to dive or a seasoned pro, you’ll love diving in Tobago and if you don’t fancy diving, go to pigeon point and get in a glass bottomed boat. That way you’ll be able to see all the coral and fish with non of that getting wet bit. The other bonus is that you can get off at ‘nylon pool’ and stand in the middle of the sea! It’s totally surreal and local legend claims the salt water is anti ageing, almost like a fountain of youth! I saw a lot of people suddenly dive in when we found that little fact out!
(credit Steve Millard)
Another must-do trip in Tobago is the trek around the rainforest with Hans! I know you haven’t met him yet, but he deserves and exclamation mark. As you explore the wettest part of the island you’ll encounter the driest sense of humour on the island. For every true fact he’ll throw in a few curve balls to keep you on your toes, however sometimes it’s hard to tell when he’s pulling your leg. He told me that termites tasted of carrots and I should try one. Naturally I thought this time he was joking, but when the guilty smile never came, I decided I had to find out for myself. After sticking my finger into the buzzing nest and pulling it out with about 20 of the little buggers wriggling about on it, it was now or never. ‘I’m a celebrity’ without the cameras. Or pay cheque. Yes it was ridiculous, but I ate them. And yes, for the record, they do taste of carrots. If eating bugs isn’t your bag then you’ll love the waterfall lagoon. Just a short drive from the rainforest and a leisurely walk down a babbling brook and you reach a little piece of paradise. Float around in the clear warm water or if you’re brave enough, jump from the top of the waterfall and get a new profile picture! From swinging on the vines, to watching parrots and snakes go about their day, the rainforest and waterfall trip is a highlight of your holiday.
I discovered a lot of new things on this incredible trip, the last one to share with you is the real reason why the chicken crossed the road. It was to get on the first plane to Tobago and get to the other tide.