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Tobago is a tiny jewel of an island set in the Caribbean Sea that, even in today’s shrinking world, remains a wonderful holiday spot for anyone seeking romantic settings, secluded beaches or magnificent watersports in equal measure.
Although Tobago lies outside the hurricane belt, it was the effects of a hurricane in 1963, devastating the islands crops, which proved the catalyst for a fledgling tourism industry. Today, it offers a marvellous location for weddings and honeymoons, eco-adventuring, scuba diving and golf as well as plain, unadulterated fun in the sun. Thankfully, the authorities on Tobago continue to be careful in their approach to tourism and offer the visitor one of the last absolutely unspoiled Caribbean destinations.
Tobago is the quintessential Caribbean island with secluded beaches, quaint villages, and charming hotels, earning its label as “clean, green and serene”.
So how did it come to the world’s attention? Lying north east of its larger, better known brother, Trinidad, making up the eponymous joint Republic, Tobago is at the southern end of the arc of famous Caribbean locations – Grenada lies to the north, with South America’s Venezuela the closest continental country.
English adventurers arrived on Tobago in the 1580s and, back in London, England’s King James I “claimed” the island in 1608. Tobago changed hands no less than 22 times between the British, Dutch, French and, bizarrely, what is now part of Latvia. The squabbling is understandable if for no other reason than the wonderful climate! Tobago is 300 square kilometres of tropical paradise, where Disney filmed Swiss Family Robinson back in the 1960s and where the “real” Robinson Crusoe is often said, albeit erroneously, to have been shipwrecked.
It takes a just few hours to get from one end of the island to the other and part of its charm is the lack of infrastructure. The best way to dodge the potholes, whizz around and have a lot of fun is by hiring a jeep.
The most developed areas of Tobago are in the Lowlands - in the southwest – home to Crown Point International Airport, a few smart hotels along the Caribbean coast, Buccoo Reef, the fine white sandy beaches of Pigeon Point and Store Bay and Scarborough – the bustling capital, port and home to 17,000 people.
Tobago is also a popular scuba diving location, particularly for its coral, whereas Trinidad has no significant coral due to its low salinity and high silt content (the effect of being close to the mouth of Venezuela’s River Orinoco). Three wrecks are located around Tobago’s shores, notably the Maverick Ferry. This vessel used to travel between Trinidad and Tobago and was sunk deliberately in 30 metres of water to provide a haven for an abundance of marine life and an amazing experience for the diver.
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