February 2001

When its cold and wet here in the U.K. I always pine for warmer climates, so after a surf around the web I decided we should visit Tobago in the British West Indies for a well deserved half term break in the tropics! 

Tobago is the place where the Giant Leatherback Turtles come to lay their eggs, but this wasn't until May so we wouldn't see any. Here are some babies hatching out anyway.  These soft shelled turtles are an endangered species and can weigh as much as 2000 pounds. That's about as much as a Citroen 2CV! 

The Tropiko apartments where we stayed were on the 'windy side' of the island which was right opposite Tobago's newest development owned by the Hilton chain.  Very impressive, very spacious but very expensive and not finished yet. Our apartment, on the other hand, which was also very impressive and very spacious was reasonably cheap and very clean! We were looked after by a lovely lady called Sita. The Ocean Point Hotel was just along the street and this is where we usually had breakfast..........until the twins found The Pancake House that is! Jacquetta's Symbol

The view from the apartment was similar to those we have experienced in the Middle East when arriving at 'border patrol' stations, except in this case these were the gates to the new Hilton development which obviously did not want any intruders.

However, we found a very friendly guard called Patrick who let us in to use the restaurant on occasion and then afterwards to use their lovely pool area.They didn't seem to have many tourists on Tobago at all even though this was their peak season so we felt quite at peace here and managed to hire a jeep and book some tours and restaurants with ease.

Although Tobago is still very under-developed the tourist industry is growing  and there is plenty to see and do on a one week break. On Sunday nights it seems that many of the locals visit a place called 'Sunday School' for a spot of 'liming' which is the local word for 'partying until the small hours'.
There you can hear steel bands, sample some of the islands local delicacies, drink beer & 'White Magic' (a lethal local rum) or browse the small shops; but mainly its where people meet and have fun. We went there by taxi with a nice man called George who we used a lot during our stay. He was very informative and good company as well as being extremely friendly as were all the local people we met.

Eating out in Tobago is fine but can be rather expensive depending on where you go. The menu's are not extensive but do offer lots of local seafood dishes as well as chicken and other meat dishes. There did not seem to be any fast food restaurants or 'pizza huts' there, or maybe we did not find them! Robyn would have certainly welcomed one or two as she does not eat fish and only eats chicken in the meat department! It was challenging you might say. Two restaurants that are worth mentioning which were within our family budget were firstly 'The Best of Thymes Restaurant' at the Crown Point Hotel. The whole complex was owned by a lovely man called Jiwan who was very friendly, polite and helpful. The restaurant has been given awards for its cuisine which was very nice. They had a 'managers party' on Thursday night which allowed Dan to buy me some beautiful silver jewellery made by a couple who use natural stones found on the beach to enhance the silver. See how happy that made him..............

Another restaurant which greatly impressed all of us was the Shirvan Watermill. This has a beautiful setting  not seen from the road, great ambiance, a great menu (lobster to die for) and a large fish pond teeming with fish that the twins were allowed to feed after their meal.

The staff there were so polite it made you feel very special. I guess it was a very romantic place to take your other half but as we had the twins as chaperones we were safe from any of that smoochy stuff!

The beaches on both sides of the island are very different. On the leeward side the beaches are windswept with darker sand and high rollers. On the Caribbean side the beaches are fine white sand with gentle waves lapping at your toes. 

Leeward beach

Caribbean beach


As the island is only around 8 miles across it isn't a problem choosing which beach you want to visit. We took a day out to tour around the island going up the east coast towards Roxborough in the North, then through the Rain Forest and back down the western side to look at all the pretty coves and bays. 

One such bay was Parlatuvier where we saw local fisherman bringing in the catch and local school children looking very neat in their uniforms............its then that you remember that Tobago is in the 'British' part of the Caribbean and these poor souls also have to wear a uniform to school!

The most photographed of all the areas in Tobago is Pigeon Point. This is where we all caught the glass bottom boat which takes you out to snorkel and watch the marine life on Buccoo reef. 
You can also swim at Nylon Pool where the water is very warm. A swim in this pool is supposed to take 10 years off you...........I'm still hopeful! 

Pigeon Point is also where Dan caught the scuba dive boat a few days later.

The beach and gardens here are very picturesque and yes.......there is a fast food burger bar! However, we only bought cokes and a few souvenirs. Ben purchased a great Caribbean shirt which was worn on the same evening and I bought a beautiful handmade butterfly wind chime which travelled back to the U.K. without breaking! Dan's scuba certificate was cool too..........this little guys hairstyle looks familiar to the island!

Our trip to the rain forest was made with a really nice man called Hewlett who also happened to own the glass bottom boat on which his son works and who had caught me the previous day when I 'fell' while getting of in the shallows! The rain forest is to the North of the island and so we all lathered up with 'mozzie' repellant before we left the apartment. When we arrived we were also given a guide as it is safer to go into the forest with someone who knows the terrain and who can tell you about the flora & fauna, which sounds pretty sensible to me. There is a waterfall called 'Argyle Falls' which Ben and Dan climbed and waved to us from the summit. Robyn and I preferred to stay down below as she had already taken a tumble on the slippery rocks and my knees being what they are...........frown

For lunch that day Hewlett took us to the Tree Top Restaurant in Speyside which faces Little Tobago. This restaurant is quite famous and the food was good local fare. We were due to go across the Little Tobago to do a spot of bird--watching but Robyn was not really feeling up to it so after lunch we headed back. It had been a nice day although somewhat overcast, just the right weather to go touring. 


Ben awoke the next day to find a rather large mosquito bite on his leg which he called "you beauty" for the rest of the holiday!


The place we spent most of our time when not touring was the Coco Reef Resort down at Crown Point. This is a lovely if somewhat expensive hotel which has a very secluded beach area with a small lagoon which was just right for the twins to swim and snorkel. 

The only problem was that after the storm (yes we had a tropical rainstorm) a great many jellyfish got washed up into this lagoon and then it wasn't so cool to snorkel or swim for that matter which was a great shame as we had had some fun cooling off in this particular spot. The guards on the gates were ok as long as you waved to them and said hello they let you in. We had lunch here a few times and it was very 'European' and very expensive as far as lunch goes, but good nevertheless.

They also have Internet access on Tobago but in the strangest places. The self-service laundry next to the Coco Reef was one such place. Robyn and Dan could be found there most days.

As far as holidays go, Tobago was a nice break, but the weather was stormy at times which we did not expect in February, and some of the hotel complexes regard you as unwelcome intruders unless you are staying there which is probably about right for big hotel complexes in general. The saving grace is that the people are so friendly and once you get over the fact that most of the young guys want to date your daughter (or even yourself if you are not too ancient) then Tobago is a great one-week destination.

Enough for now...............

Come back soon


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