Tobago is an untainted hidden jewel of the Caribbean. There is no hype to its proclamation of being the “Capital of Paradise: clean, green, safe and serene.” Believed to be the Robinson Crusoe island and often called “the Galapagos of the West Indies”, this 21-mile long and seven-mile wide cigar-shaped verdant place derived its name from the Carib word “tavaco”, a y-shaped device used by the natives to inhale smoke from the tobacco leaf.
A 20-minute flight away or a two-and-a-half hour ferry ride from its big and vibrant sister island, Trinidad, the logo of the Tobago tourism department indicates a crimson red sun melded to a yellow sun with a shuteye and a dreamy smile. The red sun is reflective of the high energy of Trinidad and the mellow sun is indicative of Tobago where you can de-stress, unwind and absorb the surrounding peace.
Kariwak Village a quiet lodging place near Crown Point Airport, serves as a great introduction to the island. Hummingbirds flit by in close proximity and hover around the carved out coconuts that hang from the beams. The hippy ambiance of the hotel with its holistic health facilities enhanced the soothing calm of the locale known for its yoga retreats, tai chi, meditation practices, spas and massage treatments.
A Paradise for Migratory Birds
Being 10 miles off the coast of Venezuela, makes both Trinidad and Tobago an ideal stopover point for migratory birds or for birds in transit. Tobago is a birdwatcher’s haven with over 210 species of birds such as the mockingbirds, hummingbirds and woodpeckers. Since Tobago was also once attached to the mainland in ancient times, it has been gifted with a rich rainforest and biodiversity landscape. It has set world records in the area of ecotourism with the Main Ridge Rainforest being the world’s oldest protected rainforest in the Western Hemisphere.
The outflow of the Orinoco River, the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea has created a spectacular range of coral reefs and the magic of an underwater world teeming with iridescent marine life. Tobago is also the second largest nesting area for the endangered giant leatherback turtles that visit the shores to lay their eggs between March and June.
An International Retreat Destination
Today Tobago is slowly emerging as an international holiday destination with its ring of South Atlantic coral reefs, beach, sun, sea and sand. Pigeon Point beach is especially popular among tourists. Snorkeling, scuba diving, water-skiing, game fishing, wind surfing, surf boarding, wind gliding, sailing and boating or just lolling under a colorful umbrella on the sands are some of the relaxing activities. With its abundance or nature and beach settings, it has also become an ideal location for weddings and honeymoons.
Recently plans are underway to expand accommodation facilities with the increasing growth especially in domestic tourism. While Trinidad focuses mainly on attracting the business traveler and investors and shaping itself into an international convention center, Tobago concentrates on soft tourism. For its small size it offers a compact and yet wide range of possibilities to match many interests and needs from water sports to trekking, hiking, bird-watching and retreat holidays.
The island still maintains its small community life of fishing villages and subsistence farmers. But the world of tourism is nudging the shores. Tourism is now one of the biggest industries reportedly accounting for 46 percent of the island’s GDP and a sizable number of the native population work in this industry.
Tobago’s main aim is to protect its unique ecological environs and so no high rise hotel has laid its foundation on this little island wrapped in its palm fringed peace.