Most visitors to the islands stay on Tobago, attracted by good beaches and a small number of resort-type hotels around its southern tip. December to March are the most popular months. A much sleepier option than its sister island, Tobago is an ideal place to flop after a cultural or wildlife tour of Trinidad-or indeed just to flop altogether.
Tobago is much smaller than Trinidad: a fish-shaped island just 26 miles long and 6 miles wide. It lies 20 miles away-a short 20 minute flight. It is mostly a verdant landscape of winding coastal roads that skirt craggy headlands and bays, unspoilt natural beaches, tiny hamlets, exuberant tropical vegetation, and dazzlingly colourful songbirds. The capital city, Scarborough, is little more than a small town. Most families make at least a part, if not all, of their living from farming or fishing-a blast on a conch shell still calls men to pull the fishing nets ashore. The island's key celebrations remain the fishermen's fetes and the year-round harvest festivals held when the whole local community works collectively together to bring in a crop. Even the annual Easter goat and crab races at Buccoo and the traditional folkloric Heritage Festival, which tours the island from mid-July to early August, are genuine local events-not just laid on for visitors.
With coral reefs all around the island, it is a superb spot for divers and snorkellers (see panel p17). There is also plenty of scope for windsurfing, sailing, surfing and kayaking too. At Mount Irvine there is an 18-hole championship golf course, reputed to be one of the Caribbean's best. The cannon at Fort King George and place names such as Englishman's Bay, Bloody Bay, Man O'War Bay, King's Bay, and Pirates Bay hint at the island's tumultuous history of capture and recapture between the Spanish, French and British.
It's easy to explore Tobago by road. All the sights are reachable from anywhere on the island in the course of a day's drive. We can arrange a hire car for you, but for something special you really should take one of our very personable local guides. You will find everyone on Tobago knows them, calling as the car passes, exchanging a few words and a drawled "Aaaaall-right!"-the universal greeting on Tobago.