TOBAGO TRIP REVIEW
WORDS AND PICTURES BY MEL MONCRIEFF
Tobago & Trinidad: Great Diving and Birding!
I recently returned from a great trip to the island of Tobago, off the coast of Venezuela. I went with my nephew Andre, who is a brand new diver and currently getting his PhD in Biology at LSU, with an emphasis in ornithology. We wanted to pick a location that would have good diving and lots of great birds, so he could show me the birds, and I could show him the diving. Speyside, Tobago was just the ticket.
When I first started researching places to stay, I immediately went to my friend Tim Yeo, who works at Bluewater Dive Travel. He has always gotten me superior deals and steered me in the right direction. As it turns out, Tobago is a new destination for Bluewater Dive Travel, so I wanted to write up an article so others would know exactly what to expect.
For our lodging and diving, we chose the Speyside Inn, managed by a lovely Dutch couple, Roberto and Debbie, who looked after our every need. The diving was done by Extra Divers Worldwide, and they were on site for easy and convenient service.
The lodge itself is right on the ocean, overlooking the smaller Goat Island, and Little Tobago, which is a large bird sanctuary. The diving around those two islands is reputed to be the best Trinidad and Tobago have to offer, and we were very pleased with what we saw (more on the diving in a minute). The lodge has around 20 rooms, nearly all of which have a beautiful ocean view. In fact, we could hear the waves crashing on the beach every night as we went to sleep. We did our trip in mid-June, which is right on the edge of the rainy season, so this was actually their slow season, and the lodge was fairly empty. However, the rain was never a problem in terms of our enjoyment. It would come and go quickly, and usually at night. There is a beautiful dining area, also looking over the ocean, and the meals were delicious. The package that we bought included free, complete breakfasts, and we often also ate our lunches and dinners there, sometimes alternating with a quick walk into town. The chef wen out of her way to accommodate my nephew’s vegetarian diet, and the food prices seemed reasonable for the area at about fifteen USD for lunch and 25 for dinner. There were also several good choices within a 10 minute walk in town.
Immediately behind the main row of rooms, and going up on a hill were more luxurious accommodations, and also bigger rooms that could accommodate families, complete with kitchenettes. There were also beautiful gardens and a pool with a fantastic view of the whole area, and rain forest right behind the property. We saw many beautiful tropical birds right on site.
The diving experience was very intimate, with only me and my nephew, a boat man and a dive master on each trip, which worked out perfectly, since my nephew was a new diver. The sites are close, usually less than 10 minutes from the resort, and the reefs were very healthy. The waters around Tobago are not as clear as in some other parts of the Caribbean, because the Orinoco river empties into the ocean from nearby Venezuela, but we found vis to still be quite good at 50-80 feet, and the coral life was unbelievably dense, due to the nutrient-rich waters. In fact, the largest know Brain Coral is there, which we had the opportunity to see. There were all the usual Caribbean creatures one would expect, including Green and Spotted Morays, Turtles, Nurse Sharks (also Blacktips), an Eagle Ray, Parrot and Trigger fish, Trumpet fish, Trunkfish, Jawfish, etc. We saw turtles on over half the dives, and free-swimming morays were a particular treat. There weren’t as many bigger fish and groupers as I have seen in places like the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, but we were also limited in our choices of dive sites, due to my nephew Andre’s newness to the sport. Since this was his first chance to dive in the ocean, he was absolutely thrilled with the number of creatures he was able to see, and was excitedly pointing out Nurse sharks and eels by the end of our week.
The birding was even better than the diving. Andre did a careful study in advance of all the birds we were likely to see, and he was able to locate nearly all of them. He downloaded audio files of their calls, and played them while we were out in the rainforest to lure the birds in so we could see and photograph them. We would typically get up early, do a little birding around the resort, then do our two dives, and then out for more birding in the afternoons and evenings. We spent 3 hours on Little Tobago Island, enjoying multiple nesting Gulls, Frigates, Boobies, and Tropic Birds, among others, and also went to a hummingbird sanctuary on a hill above town where we were able to see and photograph all 6 of the local hummingbirds.
We also did a 5 hour hike through the rainforest and notched quite a few more great birds, but then ended up seeing a lot of the same ones, like the Trinidad Motmot right on the grounds of the resort.
All in all, we had a great experience. The prices were very reasonable—it is around 1000 per person per week, which includes 10 dives, an ocean view room, and full breakfast. If you are someone who is looking for great and interesting diving, and a great topside nature experience as well, this is definitely the place.
HOW TO BOOK A TRIP TO TOBAGO
Bluewater Travel can book you at a resort in Tobago for the same cost or less than booking any other way. We know the diving, resorts, rooms and when to go better than anyone else!
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