Diving in Tobago
Tobago you will get swept away. Literally. The nutrient packed Guyana Current rushes past Tobago making almost every dive a drift. Drifts come as leisurely doodles over seascape to a full on wild rush. And all this moving water has created a sculpture garden on the reefs. The constant press of water has both force-fed sponges into giants, and molded them into twisted shapes that resemble frozen undulating curtains. The seascape off Tobago is jam-packed with critters and marine growth, some of the most robust reefs in the Caribbean, including the world’s largest brain coral, which looks like a family sized igloo. The visibility fluctuates between 30 and 100+ feet depending upon the outflow of the Orinoco River, which is carried past Tobago by the Guyana Current. The water can go from blue to green overnight, but the incredible and active reefscape doesn’t change. With such a plentiful food source, every niche in the reefs are crowded and you’ll find everything from seahorses and frogfish to mantas and, seasonally, even hammerheads.
Most experienced divers head straight for Speyside or Charlotteville. Off Speyside, which is a true diver’s town, most dive sites are around Little Tobago and Goat Island. Places such as Bookends are renowned for the thick forests of sponges on the current side, and the tarpon, which hunt in the whitewash at the surface. Kamikaze Cut exemplifies the experience here as the current is funneled into a coral slot and you shoot through as if fired from a cannon. Orange, green purple, yellow and red corals overload the reefs with color. Black Jack Hole, 007, Japanese Gardens, Kelliston Drain and the TD Express are favorite dives.
Also accessible from Speyside are the St. Giles islands, which include London Bridge and the newly christened Marble Wall. This is where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic and the diving is both wild and woolly, and exhilarating.
Better accessed from Charlotville are the five uninhabited rocks that comprise the Sisters. This site of deep walls, drop-offs and coral canyons is famed for the black coral that proliferates here, as well as the chance when the water’s cooler, to see hammerheads. Even without the hammerheads, the Sisters are world-class.
Most of the Caribbean side of Tobago is perfect for macro diving at places such as Scotch Rocks and Bloody Bay. And closer to Crown Point on the opposite end of the island from Speyside, you’ll find the MV Maverick, a virtual fish magnet. Read more about diving in Tobago here.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
All U.S. citizens are required to present a passport, and do not need to obtain a visa. All persons leaving the Tobago pay a Government Departure Tax, which is usually included in your airline ticket price.
Vaccinations are not required for entry into Tobago. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at
Culture and Customs
An interesting mix of French, English, African and Indian cultures weave through the fabric of Tobago life. The month long, Heritage Festival Days features celebrations all over the island from July 16 to August 1, which culminate in an Ole Time Carnival Parade through Plymouth. During this celebration the music, food, folk tales, superstitions, and dance that make this unique island come to life. In addition to the Carnival, the most popular events are the Festival of Dance in Patience Hill, the Golden Lane history of courting, and a re-enactment of an Ole Time Wedding at Moriah Village. Tobago also has a strong natural heritage. The annual Goat Races are probably the biggest event on Tobago, with teams training all year for the coveted title. The Indian influence is most prominent in the foot, with Roti stalls in every town and village. The steelband Calypso beat was invented here. Soca and Chutney music reflect a mix of African and Indian beats. The Western Hemisphere’s oldest National Park, the Forest Reserve, which was established in 1776, is a birders paradise, with more than 350 species, including myriad hummingbird species.
Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
Electricity in Mexico is 110 volts, 60 cycles, so no adapter will be needed for US visitors. The
country code for the Tobago is 868 and direct dial service is fast and clear. Check with your service provider for long distance/roaming information and costs.
Internet service is available sporadically at some hotels and infrequent internet cafes.
Bottled water is recommended throughout the country.
Language & Currency
English is the official language.
The local currency is the Trinidad and Tobago Dollar (TT); see the current exchange rate
History, Art, and Culture
Carib Indians were the first humans to occupy Tobago, but after it was first sighted by Columbus in 1498, the Dutch, Spanish, English and French turned this bucolic island into a battleground, and Tobago changed hands 31 times until finally being ceded to the British in the Treaty of Paris in 1814. During that period the rum, cotton and sugar economy prospered under a period of British rule, which ended when the French invaded in 1781 and destroyed the plantations. Forts of all sizes are found around the island. Independence came in 1976 and since tourism has flourished. The island has several, almost perfect strips of golden sand beaches — Bloody Bay, Pidgeon Point, among others, great hiking, food, an incredible music scene, and a welcoming local population.