Trinidad & Tobago Travel Guide:
Tobago's North Coast
Speyside is the part of the island that is mostly frequented by divers and birdwatchers, but is also suits very well people who prefer to get away from the more developed south.
The pace of life here remains deeply and attractively s-l-o-w. There is little to do in the evenings, except perhaps to walk along the road that follows the broad sweep of the bay – on a moonlit night the view across the water is magical–or lime with local fishermen at one of their rum bars. After a few days everyone in the village will recognise you, know where you are staying, and, seemingly, all there is to know about you!
You don’t have to be a diver, or even a snorkeller, to enjoy the colours of the fish on the network of reefs which cross the bay. Local boatmen offer trips in glass-bottomed boats to Little Tobago Island (see panel opposite) and the coral reefs. Even from the boat the underwater spectacle is mesmerising, including a huge brain coral , thought to be the largest in the world (3.6m high and 5m across). In August manta rays can even be seen from the jetty in the village.
Set aside time for a leisurely lunch at Jemma’s Tree House restaurant. Incongruously positioned in a seafront almond tree this place is a local institution.
Charlotteville lies just 4 miles beyond Speyside, over a ridge thick with foliage. Steep cliffs tumbling down to the deep blue of Pirate’s Bay and Man O’War Bay make this one of the most picturesque villages on the island. Though the town has an isolated feel, cruise ships have begun to arrive so the tourist dollar is starting to have a presence in this relaxed and friendly community.
300 years ago Pirate’s Bay was used by marauding buccaneers as a base for attacks on Spanish galleons laden with gold from South America. Rumours say there’s still buried treasure in these ‘ere parts! It has one of the island’s nicest beaches–a horseshoe of calm emerald green water, fine yellow sand, with a backdrop of lush vegetation, reached by a long flight of concrete steps.
Most accommodation is self-catering, but there are only a few very basic grocery shops, plus a post office and gas station. And there are just a couple of very simple beach type restaurants. So there’s little to do but relax and enjoy the sea view as frigatebirds swoop over the calm Caribbean waters. Man O’War Bay is one of the most sheltered on Tobago.
The cross-country trail between Speyside and Charlotteville makes a good day walk. Orchids and bromeliads grow everywhere they can find a hold in the humid conditions.
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