Tobago Feb 2018

From Antigua, we continue our Caribbean holiday to Trinidad and Tobago.  Trinidad and Tobago is a twin island country off the north-eastern coast of South America not far from Venezuela. The island of Trinidad was a Spanish Colony from 1498 until the British arrived in 1797, while the island of Tobago changed from Spanish to British to French to Dutch to Courlander rule.  Trinidad and Tobago were separate until they were ceded to the British in 1802.  The country didn’t obtain independence until 1962 becoming a republic in 1976.  Trinidad and Tobago is one of the richest countries in the Americas because of its large reserves of oil and natural gas, coming in third only after the United States and Canada.  What surprised me was given that it is one of the richest countries in the Americas, it is quite underdeveloped, poor, unsafe and the people seem quite miserable.  I didn’t enjoy my time here at all especially Tobago and couldn’t wait to leave.  I have never been to a place where the service industry people at the hotels or restaurants or shops make you feel you are inconveniencing them by asking them for anything.  No smiles, no you are welcome, no nothing.  I have to say after travelling to 78 countries, this is my least favorite one.

We first flew into Tobago and stayed at the Tropikist Beach Hotel for our short 2-night visit.  The problem we faced regarding hotels was the nicer resorts all had minimum stay requirements (usually of 7 days) and most were on an all-inclusive basis.  We like to be able to explore and not have to eat every meal at the resort.  Plus we wanted to stay as close to Crown Point as possible so that we had easy access to the Nylon Pool and the Buccoo Reef at the Pigeon Point Heritage Park.  Most of the other tourists we saw were from the UK on these Thomas Cook type holiday packages.  The Tropikist Beach Hotel  where we stayed was horrendous like a rundown Motel 6.  No internet, no telephone, and no electric plugs (other than the one that the TV is plugged into) in the room.  Sheets were this very thin polyester fabric and towels were old and grey.  We wanted to leave as soon as we arrived.  I had to stand in the lobby to access the wifi in order to search for another place to stay.  Unfortunately, most hotels were full or had 7 days minimum stays and weren’t that nice anyways.  I also tried to find a flight to leave the next morning but all flights were full because the ferry wasn’t running due to rough seas.  We were officially stuck!  Too top it all off, the weather was overcast and rainy the whole time.  We tried to make the best of it but it was definitely a miserable few days and I cheered and clapped like an idiot when my flight from Tobago took off!
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Pier at Pigeon Point Heritage Park
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Pigeon Point Beach

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Buccoo Reef is said to be the third most spectacular reef in the world.  This protected marine park is about 7 km² consisting of brain coral, star coral, elkhorn coral, seagrass communities etc.  Unfortunately, with recent years of climate change, most of the coral are bleached.  The current is quite strong and you are advised not to swim here.  We visited Buccoo Reef by glass-bottom boats departing from Pigeon Point or Store Bay normally with a stop afterwards at Nylon Pool where you can go into the water for a dip.  Nylon Pool is an idyllic natural swimming pool just behind the Buccoo Reef with a sandy bottom in the middle of the Caribbean Sea created by an offshore sandbar and a still lagoon.  The locals believe taking a dip in this coral pool has rejuvenating effects.  I waded around in the water and is an interesting feeling to be standing up in knee-deep water in the middle of the ocean.  We were told that in the evenings around the new moon, you can go for a Bioluminescense Tour at Buccoo Reef either by stand-up paddle board or kayak.  The bioluminescence is caused by dinoflagellates which is a marine plankton that emits a blueish light when agitated to keep predators away.  It has often been compared to the Northern Lights being transferred down onto the surface of the water.  It is a pity we were there around full moon time and on top of that the weather was very rainy.  The beach inside the Pigeon Point Reserve is ok.  There are only two bars serving some simple food and drinks, no beach clubs and not much else.  There are supposed to be some beautiful beaches towards the north of the island about an hour or so away.  Because of the rainy weather, we didn’t venture north.
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On board one of the many glass bottom boats going to Buccoo Reef
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There are “windows” on the bottom of these boats for you to see the passing reef and fish.
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Locals frolicking in the shallow waters of Nylon Pool
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Locals at Nylon Pool

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View from Waves Beach Bar at Black Rock
What a relief to leave Tobago.  Next stop is Trinidad.

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