Laying low in Tobago

First off, a bit of a pronunciation lesson, as I got it wrong for most of the trip.  The middle syllable of Tobago rhymes with lay, may and hay.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me say that spending time in Tobago is a great way to play, for a week or even just a day.  It is ridiculously laid back, but also almost completely dependent on the tourism infrastructure so they understand the value of actually dealing with visitors in a reasonable manner.  I didn’t get the same feeling from my stay in Trinidad but that will be a different story for a different day.

Pigeon Point beach in Tobago

I had made arrangements with the guest house I was staying at to be picked up from the airport when I got in late on Saturday night.  The guy came right over and about 20 minutes after landing I made it to my room, dropped off my bags and headed out to see what there was to see on a Saturday night.  Quick aside here: I stayed at a place called Candles…In the wind.  It was fine.  It was cheap, clean and in a decent location.  Not much more one can ask for at $40/night.  Somewhere between a true hotel and a hostel, but nice enough.  Call in direct rather than booking online; I saved ~$20 that way.

Back to the evening in Tobago.  Good times.  I wandered about 5 minutes from the hotel to a bar and had a beer while enjoying the sights and sounds of the island.  There was a good mix of locals and tourists at the bar flowing out into the street, which wasn’t too hard since the bar had a parking lot and small dance floor and then literally was in the street.  There were 30-40 people milling about and generally having a good time.  Music was pumping (dance/techno) and it was an interesting scene.  I wasn’t up for a big party so I called it a night after one beer and headed back to the room and my reasonably comfortable bed.

The next morning I was up early; too early.  For reasons I still do not understand I woke up around 6am.  On the plus side, it wasn’t too hot out yet.  On the down side, it was ridiculously early.  I had planned to spend most of my morning in the water, snorkeling the great reefs of Tobago.  I didn’t get to see the great reefs, but I did have some decent snorkeling opportunities on the beach about 10 minutes walk from the hotel.  It is an open public beach that abuts a ridiculously high priced resort (Coco something or other) so pretty much the same fish at a significantly discounted price.  The snorkeling wasn’t phenomenal, but it was pretty good.  Definitely a good alternative to just sitting on the beach the whole day.

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Some of the fish and coral off of Pigeon Point beach in Tobago
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Bake ‘n’ Fish breakfast at Liz’s

After snorkeling I did sit on the beach for a bit reading and then, around 9am, decided to find some food.  Knowing nothing about where I was I randomly ambled up the road, hopeful that a decent opportunity would present itself.  It did, in the form of Liz’s By D’ Bay, a restaurant i found on the road to Pigeon Point.  I saw the place as I was walking but kept on, just in case there were other options.  Finding none I was headed back to Liz’s when I saw a woman sitting in front of her shop eating breakfast.  She also endorsed Liz’s (and made the 10th offer I heard that morning for a glass bottom boat tour of the reef) so I made my way over for breakfast.  The food was pretty cheap ($3 for fresh Bake ‘n’ Fish) and pretty delicious.  It doesn’t quite meet the technical description for street food since it was a permanent building, but it was pretty close in terms of atmosphere and quality – great on both accounts.

I should note at this point that ordering breakfast made me feel a bit like I was in the movie My Cousin Vinny.  Sadly, it is not because Marisa Tomei was stomping her foot at me.  Still, there was no menu at Liz’s, so ordering mostly consisted of looking around at what others were eating and then casually saying that I wanted “breakfast, like these guys.”  All I can say is that it worked.  The food was great and rather filling, too.

Store Bay Beach

And then my time in Tobago was done.  I waited out a quick tropical rain storm, wandered back to the hotel, gathered my belongings and walked the mile or so back to the airport.  Yeah, I walked to the airport.  I had the time to kill and it let me stop off along the way at Store Bay beach.  Nestled between the two high priced resorts on that section of beach, Store Bay is an impressively nice public beach facility.  The beach isn’t huge, but big enough to accommodate a good crowd.  Beach chairs and umbrellas are for rent at decent prices.  And there are decent changing rooms and other facilities there.  Oh, and basically all of the snorkel/glass-bottom boat tours operate from the beach there, too.  So there is that to deal with, but they were pretty low key in terms of soliciting business, so no big deal.

Finally back at the airport, I hopped back on the DASH8-300 and made the quick jump down to Trinidad.  That was the end of the more relaxing part of the trip.  I could easily see going back and spending a couple days in Tobago.  The diving with the manta rays is supposed to be pretty good, and it is way more accessible than Yap.  Know going in that the facilities are still pretty limited, but that’s not too big a deal, especially considering the prices.

Oh, and add to the previous list of things I forgot for this trip (passport, books) some new entries, like a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.  Those aren’t important, especially when you’re going to the Caribbean.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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