Family Vacations to Tobago

Family Overview - Tobago
FUCHSIA-COLORED PERFECTION: A Tobago sunset (Corbis)

Tobago Family Travel Tips

  • Snorkel and dive reefs teeming with colorful fish and see the Caribbean's largest brain coral.
  • Swim and sun on postcard pretty Pigeon Point Beach.
  • Hike lush rainforest trails.
  • Look for laughing gulls, red-billed topic birds, and other colorful avian species on Little Tobago Island.
  • Splash in a multi-tiered waterfall.

Diving, snorkeling, birding, and hiking are prime activities on Tobago, a laid-back island famous for its coral reefs, rainforest, and mountains. Located 22 miles from sister island Trinidad, Tobago's better beaches and low-key ambiance draw vacationers interested in a relaxing getaway.

A great destination for underwater enthusiasts, Tobago's Buccoo Reef is the island's best-known snorkel spot. Because of its relatively shallow water, the site is a good bet for children and those new to masks and fins. Most outfitters couple time at Buccoo with a swim in Nylon Pool, a sandy-bottomed spot about a mile off-shore. Experienced divers and snorkelers head to the Speyside area for boat excursions to the reefs near Saint Giles, Little Tobago, and Goat Islands, places noted for manta rays, especially in January and February. Whale sharks, the sea's biggest fish, can sometimes be seen in June and July. At London Bridge, look for tarpon, turtles, and even octopus and at Kelleston Drain, ogle what's reputed to be the Caribbean's—maybe the world's—largest brain coral, an intricate mass more than 16 feet in diameter.

You've probably seen Pigeon Point on postcards. With good swimming and 5,000 feet of sand, it's Tobago's signature beach and it has changing rooms and a restaurant. Other good choices include scenic King's Bay surrounded by hills, Englishman's Bay with its often calm waters, and Great Courland Bay's Turtle Beach where leatherback turtles nest between April and June (sometimes the surf can be rough). For more island scenery, visit Argyle Falls, a three-tier cascade of waterfalls and swimming holes. Remember to wear a bathing suit.

Established in the 1765, the Main Ridge Forest Reserve, a prime place for bird watching and hiking, claims to be the oldest reserve in the western hemisphere. A popular hour-long hike on the Gilpin Trail takes you to the first waterfall. From here you can turn back or continue on the Gilpin Trail, about three hours in its entirety. Along the way, look for blue-crowned mot-mots, streaked flycatchers, and various hummingbirds. In the 200-acre Grafton Caledonia Bird Sanctuary, search for red-rumped woodpeckers and yellow-breasted flycatchers. On Little Tobago Island, take a 20-minute often rough boat ride from Speyside and view such seabirds as the colorful red-billed tropic bird, brown boobies, and laughing gulls.

Fort King George, built in the 1770s, offers a lesson in Tobago's history. The island changed political allegiance many times, passing between the English and the French. Along with ruins, see the officer's mess and artifacts in the small museum in the old barracks. Best of all: enjoy the panoramic view.

Tip: Turtle Beach by Rex Resorts fronts the sands where the leatherback turtles nest, making it convenient for a guided turtle walk.


Away.com's resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from Amazon.com.

Published: 26 Nov 2007 | Last Updated: 7 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Tobago

$184
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Half Moon Blue Hotel
$163
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Le Grand Courlan Spa Resort - Adults Only
$205
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Turtle Beach by REX Resorts - All Inclusive
$125-$163
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Grafton Beach Resort

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