During a recent one-week trip to Trinidad for its world renowned Carnival, we took a one-day break and flew over to Tobago for some sun, sand and a peek at the other half of the dual island nation familiarly known as T&T -- Trinidad and Tobago. To save time we chose to fly over on Caribbean Airlines (about a 20-minute flight), but there's also a ferry from Port of Spain, a two-hour voyage. The ferry is the cheaper way to go, and departs right from the T&T Ferry Terminal adjacent to the sleek Hyatt Regency Trinidad.
Tobago, which is 21 miles to the northeast of Trinidad, has a nice, laidback island vibe that was a relaxing counterpoint to the mid-Carnival atmosphere gripping Port of Spain, Trinidad's capital and party hub. In fact, many Trinidad residents head to Tobago after the week-long Carnival festivities are over to relax and recuperate.
Our first stop was for brunch at Kariwak Village, which bills itself as a "Holistic Haven and Hotel." The brunch featured a selection of fresh fruit, homemade bread, and a choice of entrees. We heartily recommend the flying fish. A stroll through the "village" was soothing and serene, and would have been even more so if we'd had time for a massage or a yoga class to iron out some of the Carnival party kinks sustained back on Trinidad.
Fortified, we rejoined Hans Phillips -- a licensed tour guide (email) -- who showed us around Tobago in a 13-seat "maxi-taxi" -- an excellent way to see and hear about this lush home to approximately 55,000 Tobagans.
The island is 26 miles long and 7 miles wide, with coastlines on the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea ... beaches down below, mountains in the middle.
We headed up the island's northeast side along the Atlantic Ocean coastline and through the island's capital, Scarborough (home to a lively local market that's fun to stroll through, especially on Saturdays).
We were mesmerized by the unfolding scenery on our way to the Tobago Cocoa Estate, which grows the tasty beans that help satisfy chocoholics worldwide. The estate is up in the mountains and is a veritable botanic garden, featuring all sorts of plants in addition to the trees that produce the cocoa beans.
A large hawk is also on hand (a keepers hand) to scare away any other birds that might try to swoop in for a chocolaty treat. And, of course, there is a gift shop where one can purchase (and sample) goodies made from these luscious beans, produced from trees grown on the gorgeous estate grounds near the town of Roxborough. Tantalized with tasty chocolate samples, Hans’s maxi taxi delivered us for a buffet lunch at the Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (THTI) in Mt. St. George. THTI produces talented graduates who staff T&T's hotels and restaurants. They are very hospitable. Check out their website to see if they will be hosting events open to the public during your visit.
After that feast, it was time for a little R&R at one of Tobago's most spectacular beaches -- Pigeon Point. Goggle it and you'll see that writers quickly run out of superlatives trying to describe the place.
A short drive from the airport and just up Tobago's Caribbean coast, this is the place to simply kick back, have a couple of beers (Stag is advertised as a "man’s beer" all over T&T), and let the surf tickle your toes as you watch kite surfers and visitors from all over the world enjoy what has been described as one of the top ten beaches on Earth.