Memorable Journeys in Ancient Forests
Take a walking trip into a woodland realm that has never seen a bulldozer, and probably never will. The same year the United Sates declared its independence, the island of Tobago established the western hemisphere's first forest preserve, giving permanent protection to the ancient rainforests that cover the island's mountainous terrain. Today, hikers can reap the benefits of this historic precedent, and enjoy one of the last untouched natural habitats in the Caribbean. Whether following a mellow, shaded path to a waterfall, or trekking through virgin rainforest to an island highpoint, a walk in the woods of Tobago is a step back in time.
- Best for: Everyone, great for birdwatching and adventure
- Best season to visit: Year round
- Weather: Tobago sits below the Caribbean hurricane belt, with average air temperatures ranging from 80 in winter to 88 in summer. During the rainy season from July to November there may be short, vigorous showers at night
Things to Do
- Spa and Wellness
Hiking in Tobago
While the more settled western end of Tobago is a land of low hills and settlements, the central and eastern areas are mountainous and forested. Much of the island's interior lies within the Main Forest Ridge. Many hikes follow paths through valleys and streams that lead up from the coast into the reserve, while others skirt central ridge lines or lead along the coast to remote bays beyond the reach of roads.
Hiking in Tobago Tips
When hiking in Tobago's Forest Reserve, take the time to look and listen. This area is home to more than 450 species of birds, including numerous types of a hummingbird. There are few places on earth where so many different species of birds can be seen in such a small area.
Best Places for Hiking in Tobago
Guided trips into the Main Ridge Forest Reserve reveal an array of flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else in the Caribbean. A walking tour of the Tobago Coco Estate ends with a refreshing dip in the waters of Argyle Waterfall. The Gilpin Trace follows a jungle stream to a series of small cascades. Coastal trails circle the island from Castara to Englishman’s Bay and the beaches of Charlotteville.
What to Pack for Hiking in Tobago
Long pants and walking shoes are best for forest trails. Pack a light waterproof jacket, because temperatures can drop in the mountains, and rain showers may pass by at any time. Add a small backpack for snacks and water, with a waterproof pouch inside for cameras and personal items. Don't forget the mosquito repellent.
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Passport and/or Visa Requirements
Entry/Exit Requirements: A valid passport is required for all U.S. Citizens. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your date of entry and must have at least 1 blank page for entry stamp. No visas are required for stays shorter than 90 days. All persons leaving Trinidad and Tobago for an international flight pay a departure tax of 100 TTD.
Vaccinations are not required for entry into Trinidad or Tobago. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at cdc.gov.
Culture and Customs
To see what the Caribbean was like before direct flights and cruise ships, take the winding coastal road north from Tobago's capital of Scarborough. At villages like Delaford, Castara and Canaan, the old ways still prevail in tight-knit communities where cooks always add a bit extra to the pot in anticipation of welcoming the unexpected guest. Away from the beachside resorts on the south coast, daily life revolves around farming and fishing rather than service industries. English is spoken everywhere, but traces of France, China, England, Spain, India and numerous parts of Africa can still be found in the cultural mix. Savory examples of this blending are manifest in favorite street foods such as roti, which is a Caribbean take on Asian curry, wrapped in an Indian-inspired flat bread known as Dhal Puri. Islanders identify their settlements as being on the windward or leeward side, as the mountainous and unsettled center of the island is home to one of the Caribbean's first conservation zones. Established in 1776, the Main Ridge Forest Reserve was created with the understanding that its rainforest-covered slopes were vital to harvesting rain showers from the trade winds. Today, it covers more than 14,000 acres and stretches two-thirds of the island's length. These forests become a playground for true eco-tourism, which involves hiking, birding and mountain biking rather than zip lines and four-wheelers.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electricity in Tobago is 110 volts, 60 cycles, so no adapter will be needed for US visitors. The country/area code for Tobago is 868. Check with your local service provider for data plans available while travelling or roaming charges will apply. Wifi is available at most hotels.
Drinking bottled water is recommended throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
Language & Currency
English is the official language. The local currency is the Trinidad and Tobago Dollar (TT); see the current exchange rate here.
Tobago is on Atlantic Standard Time (AST) and does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Tobago is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT).
Location, Size and Population
Tobago is an island located in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Tobago, often called Trinidad’s sleepy sister is northeast of Trinidad and southeast of Grenada. It is located outside of the hurricane belt. Tobago is roughly 116 square miles, 6.2 miles wide and 25 miles long.
The population of Trinidad and Tobago combined is approximately 1.36 million people with a little over 60,000 of the total living on the island of Tobago.