On a search to try someplace new. Some place that we had never been to and, for that matter, have never heard really of people visiting. We scanned Google flights until an attractive priced flight to Trinidad and Tobago popped up. With a little research I had found that once you fly into TAB airport, with a little over an hour drive, you are at the complete opposite side of the island. Locals referred to it as "the country" and we soon found out why. This amazing part of the island is very remote - just how I like it. With a very low population and minimal tourists, this place was a dream. The shores are lined with mountainous terrain that our rental car struggled navigating but the payoff in the end was well worth the extra effort. Beaches that you would see in movies or commercials, uncrowded waterways and dive sites, and local food vendors serving up local cuisine are just a few aspects that made this a trip to remember. Not to mention some amazing people we met.
Pulling into the town we we in awe with the endless views the coastline boasted, and we were pleasantly surprised with the lack of infrastructure, giving this gorgeous locale that true remote feeling.
As I mentioned before the roads in Tobago, at least on the Speyside side, are quite treacherous. Sharp turns, missing portions of the road, and steep fall off are the majority of your concerns. If you are not used to driving on the left side of the road this may be an additional factor. But if you are attentive and use common sense the journey is safe and a great 'island experience'.
I would recommend a Jeep or SUV style vehicle although I found this island quite expensive for car rentals. We rented from the Enterprise at the airport and could not have been happier with their service.
Mainly I spent my time SCUBA diving (which I will get into later) but there are plenty things on the island to entertain you no matter what type of vacationer you are. Leaving speyside, headed NorthEast towards Charlotteville there are many lookouts and private beaches that are a must see when travelling to Tobago. Additionally, there were no charges to enter any of these locations and the parking was safe and convenient.
For our accommodations we chose to stay at Blue Waters Inn. A full service dive shop is located on site with all state of the art equipment, boats, and training facility. Breakfast was included every day and they have a full bar and restaurant on site that is open all day until night. A private beach with kayaks, SUPS, and chairs are all included with your stay. Additionally, there is a company on site that runs dailys glass bottom boat tours - to purchase. I went on a few dives with them here and was blown away with the health of the reef. I had no idea that I would be descending on what is the most healthiest reef system I have seen thus far. A short ten minute boat ride and were going on amazing drift dives full of coral, turtles, and manta rays. A truly epic way to spend the morning, with enough time to make it back to the hotel for a late breakfast with my wife. Once I have eaten, digested for a few, its back on the boat while my non-diving spouse gets ready for our daily adventure we had planned from the night before.
With two dives in, breakfast served, and our rental car on-site, we would head out to either a rainforest tour, private beach, birdwatching guided tour, or many other activities to choose from, for a day packed with experiences.
While travelling the island I met a dive shop, very close by, that was more my speed. A local dive shop with a passionate-about-diving owner that is doing some amazing work within his community. Partnered with his wife and some friends, they are conquering two major issues they face. The lionfish invasion and stray dogs. Two things I feel VERY passionate about. I had to learn more. I signed up , with them for the remainder of my dives and could not have made a better decision. I am still thanking myself for putting in the extra effort to discover something I would never forget.
The Lionfish Invasion
It is theorized that the invasion began back in the 1980s. Lionfish are native to the South Pacific and Indian Ocean (Indo-Pacific) and have quickly become an increasing dilemma for the the waters of the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. These invaders have been found in extremely deep waters but can also linger around the shorelines causing destruction to reef systems. Not only do these fish cause great harm to our marine species but they also can cause economic hardship on commercial fishing companies. The gorgeous fish is easy to spot. Usually a brown or orangish color with white stripes and long beautiful, venomous, fins that corner and confuse its prey. Mostly nocturnal hunters, these fish typically can be found in crevices and structures with little, if any, fear of divers or other predators. With no natural enemies and a voracious appetite the destruction is endless. They can sit on a reef and while out all the juvenile fish in no time, which can also affect the cleaner species maintaining the reef. The positive side? They are delicious. And since they are venomous, not poisonous, they make a great fish taco or ceviche.
Turning A Problem Into A Solution
Seeing as there are so many lionfish it is imperative to continue to remove them from the sea. The amazing people at Tobago Dive Experience (TDE) have found a way to use this resource to help those truly in need - the island's stray dogs. In addition to collecting lionfish, handing out fillets to locals (which introduces them to how tasty this fish is - thus increasing the demand), they have found a way to make attractive jewelry, that they sell, and use the money for things like collars, tags, immunizations, etc. During my stay here I got to learn a little more about how devoted this family is towards helping their dogs, what efforts go into caring for your pets on the island, and how just a couple people can make such a huge positive impact.
As you know, the people at this specific dive organization do some amazing things. But this is not what they are best known for. It is the world class SCUBA diving tours, training, and EXPERIENCES that set them apart from the crowd. They don't have the biggest boat or uniformed employees walking around their shop asking if you'd like to purchase anything but they do have the most energetic genuine SCUBA divers that will show you the best dive sites on the islands. While I was there they were the only ones going to the infamous 'The Sisters' dive site and were offering many other expeditions that just weren't available at any other shops. I prefer this type of services. I want to experience a true dive experience that is not a choreographed resort style dive that can be replicated with any shop you dive with. The owner of TDW, Sean, made it clear that once they have had the chance to assess my experience we will plan out our dives accordingly. Once quick dive with them and they were comfortable enough to bring me to their advanced sites and hand me a spear to get some lionfish. And that we did.