Why Tobago for a dive trip? Because it's an island that doesn't require an either/or decision. It is a place that offers something for every diver from novices and vacation divers to photographers, critter spotters and thrill seekers. It's a place of thriving reefs, diverse marine life and uncrowded dive sites. Adding to these natural attractions are a well-developed diving infrastructure that focuses on personalized experiences and small groups.
Tobago's vibrant reefs nurture a rewarding assortment of reef fish, invertebrates and macro life that will please underwater photographers and critter watchers. These waters are also home to a number of bigger things. Sea turtles, nurse sharks and eagle rays are ubiquitous companions at many sites, and silver-scaled tarpon often pass on patrol. A number of sites also offer the possibility of reef sharks, manta rays and seasonal sightings of scalloped and golden hammerhead sharks.
On the relaxation side of the equation, Tobago delivers an ideal mix of vacation indulgences, cultural experiences and eco-themed adventures. Opt for a resort set on white-sand beaches on calm Caribbean shores, or choose an iconic dive lodge overlooking some of the Caribbean's most storied dive sites. Spend a day exploring the oldest nature preserve in the Americas, take a sea kayak to a deserted beach, or visit a local fishing village, then freshen up for a lively night out on the town as you dance to the infective rhythms of Calypso and Soca music.
ONE ISLAND, TWO OCEANS
Sitting at the junction of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Tobago offers a rich and varied mix of underwater experiences and landscapes, and is known as the Caribbean's most exciting drift diving destination. On Atlantic coastlines, reefs washed by the nutrient-rich waters of the Guyana Current nurture some of the healthiest and most diverse marine ecosystems in the eastern hemisphere.
On the island's northeastern corner, the Speyside region offers more than 30 dive sites washed by mild to strong currents. Many sites are just minutes from the dock, and local dive operators take advantage of the prevailing currents to place divers on reefs where the currents do the work. Experienced dive guides accompany each drift, and routes end in predictable places to ensure easy pickups.
Among the signature sites associated with Speyside is Kelleston Drain. Which carries divers across a colorful reef with overgrown dense multi-colored sponge growth. After being whisked through a narrow cut in the reef known as “the drain” divers then pass over the Caribbean's largest brain coral formation, which stands 10 feet above the reef and measures 16 feet across.
Another exhilarating drift is a trip past the bookends, a pair of monolithic rocks form a natural amphitheater where tarpon, sharks and large shoals of jacks and snapper gather in current eddies. Milder currents prevail in Japanese Gardens, where a slope covered in multi-colored tube, rope and vase sponges that resemble a miniature oriental garden. A favorite with photographers is Angel Reef's moderate depths, where lighter currents and a rich variety of marine life make for excellent second dives or night dives.
When conditions are favorable, Speyside dive operators also range farther afield to sites on the island's northern coast, which is flanked by offshore islands and rock formations. At London Bridge twin volcanic spires form a natural arch that creates a huge swim-through tunnel decorated in massive boulders and overhangs covered in black coral. During winter months the St. Giles Islands are a collection of pinnacles and sea mounds at the confluence of Atlantic and Caribbean waters that provide advanced divers with big animal sightings. Nearby Man 'O War Bay is home to sheltered sites known for a variety of unique marine life.
SOUTH SHORE DIVING
At the opposite end of the island, the Crown Point resort area is the place for relaxing but no less rewarding underwater experiences in Caribbean waters. Here, calm seas and superior water clarity are the norm, and divers can explore a variety of topographies ranging from shallow reefs to mini walls and pinnacles. Snorkelers are just a short boat ride away from the expansive coral shallows found within the Bucco Reef system. Novice and casual divers have a variety of sites to explore, and photographers and marine life enthusiasts are kept busy with an abundance of macro life on mid-depth reefs.
Typical of the southwest coast is Mount Irvine, which is a scenic reef where a shallow walls lead to deeper outcroppings and labyrinth-like canyons. This area is a favorite for the scenic quality of the reefs and a variety of marine life that includes large groupers, snapper, hawksbill turtles and spotted eagle rays.
Crown Point is also the starting point for trips to the M.V. Maverick. This 350-foot former passenger ferry is Tobago's premier wreck dive. The ship sits upright at a depth of 100 feet, with decks rising to within 50 feet of the surface. The entire superstructure is now covered in a rich coating of corals and sponges.
Another favorite that lies a bit farther to the north is The Sisters. This site is made up of five rock spires that rise from 140 feet to the surface, attracting turtles and schooling fish, plus seasonal sightings of hammerhead sharks. Nearby boulder fields hide a wealth of macro life.
Divers staying in the Crown Point area can also get their share of drift diving thrills by venturing around the island's southern tip into Atlantic waters. Flying Reef, which is just minutes from Crown Point, offers typically mild currents that provide an ideal introduction to drift diving. This site is known for dense populations of schooling fish, and sightings of nurse and blacktip sharks, stingrays and barracuda.
A bit farther out is the Cove, which is a steep slope on the island's western edge where strong currents promote riotous growths of corals and sea fans, and an abundance of fish life. Best for advanced divers. Two of Tobago's most famous dives. Diver’s Dream and Diver's Thirst are adjoining reefs that lie two miles off the island's shore in open Atlantic waters. When conditions are favorable, they deliver the island's most thrilling drift dives.
THE ISLAND AT A GLANCE
Tobago is below the Caribbean's Hurricane Belt and sees very few storms. It is a politically stable democracy, English is the official language, and US currency and bank cards are widely accepted. The eastern half of the island is covered in mountains and rainforests, while the western end encompasses rolling hills, scenic beaches and relaxing resorts. The weather is idyllic, with a year-round climate featuring nights in the high 60s and days in the mid-80s.
Traditions, cultures and cuisines from the Old World and the New meld on Tobago. This is the culture that gave the world Soca and Calypso music, grows the world's spiciest peppers and provided the inspiration for the novels Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe. Tobago is the island of Blue Foods, which are savory organic dishes made from taro root, sweet potato, cassava and yam, with soups and stews rich in curry and local seafood.
THE BIRTHPLACE OF CONSERVATION
Established in 1763, the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve is the oldest legally protected forest reserve in the Western Hemisphere. Stretching 18 miles across the northern half of the island, the reserve has been described as "the first act in the modern environmental movement". Now a part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves, the forest reserve attracts hikers, birders and nature lovers while providing critical habitat for a number of endemic species.
The island of Tobago boasts one of the world's higher densities of bird species, providing a haven for resident endemics and numerous migratory species from both South and North America. More than 220 resident and migratory varieties can be found in forests, fields and coastal wetlands. December through April is considered prime birding season, and the Grafton Bird Sanctuary is a favorite site for spotting hummingbirds, motmots, bananaquits and more.
So why Tobago? Because it is a destination that combines rich and authentic traditions with some of the Caribbean's most rewarding diving. For these reasons and more, Tobago should be at the top of your must-go list, and Caradonna can take you there. Get in touch with our experienced agents to start planning your Tobago dive vacation.