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Home > Destinations > Trinidad & Tobago > Trip Reports > Trip Report

Trinidad & Tobago - Trip Reports

Island of Tobago & Diving

Just returned from 10 days in Tobago. This was a second trip, the first was August 1995.

BWIA hauled us from Miami (to Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, Port of Spain Trinidad) to Tobago, and it seems that there is also a direct MIA - POS - TAB route, but we enjoyed the airports of many nations.

Arriving at Crown Point, the Southern end of Tobago late at night, we got an excellent little Samurai from Cordner Auto and began the slow, right hand drive thru almost 2 hours of twisting mountainous roads to the far northern end (50 km) town of Speyside.

The Blue Waters Inn is a lovely property that is well suited to diver and eco-tourist (birder) alike. The staff was friendly, attentive and right on the spot. The rooms were varied, we got what was regarded as a lower grade "standard" that was just perfect.

The dive op, AquaMarine Divers is a passable operation, with better than average attention to in the water safety. Their new boats are an improvement and absolutely the best on this interesting end of Tobago, but they still haven't seen enough weight integrated bc's to offer to rig them onto the tanks before the boat bounces out of the slip. What a mess. It is a hurried operation with tired d/m's, possibly less than motivated due to the European clientelle's tipping practices. Dive briefings were lackluster with no drawings or sketches and due to the Tobago accent, unintelligible to most other than us Yanks. The Germans and Swiss were left dazed. They had a nice docking facility (the only one in Speyside), but it was poorly managed. The little things were lacking. Prices were about $390 for 10 dives. Night dives, although they were asked for and on the "menu", were never provided.

The diving, sorry to say, was less memorable than the previous trip. NO MANTAS. It is the considered opinion of several experienced diver operators, that diver interaction has driven the mantas into seclusion.

Redman of Red M Dive will do his best to find them for you, with the absolute proviso that no touching or pursuit be permitted. Find him at mdive@tstt.net.tt He runs a safe open dory dive op for many years...fve minutes away from the Blue Waters Inn, and 1 minute from the Manta Lodge.

Many Europeans were very interested to see what we regular Caribbean divers take for granted. It was NOT due to the DM's at AquaMarine, but the various Euro-divers saw flamingo tongues, nurse sharks, 4 different colorful slugs, arrow crabs, many nurse sharks, black tips, octopus, lobster, shrimp, blennies, juvenile drums, various eels and the standard Caribbean seafood platter. It was standsard DM practice to grab anything out of its hidey hole to amuse the guests.

The currents were worth the price of admission. This is a great place to "get your ticket punched". It was always .5 to 1 m.p.h., usually 2-2.5 m.p.h., and quite often 3-4.5 m.p.h. Mark Evans, editor of PADI's British Dive Magazine Sport Diver dove a site that included Aquarium and "African Express" reporting I believe 6 mph current. Yowzah.

We opted for the Breakfast only package ($11/day) which was excellent! Eat overlooking the fabulous vistas of Little Tobago Island from the lovely Blue Waters Inn. The little birds swooped to your table and demanded jellies and fruit.

Due to the odd dive timetable, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., there was no time for lunch. Just a 20 minutes on each side sunbathing roast, then back at it. Bring snack bars and Crystal Light. Tobago water is quite safe.

Evening meals, we ate at Blue Waters twice, and it was quite nice... but I would suggest a short ride over the hill into Speyside proper and dine at Jemma's, Frank's (not named that on the sign) Birdwatcher Cafe, or "Redman's Simple". Try all three and be sure to try the mildly garlic flavored Calaloo soup (like Spinach) and be certain to arrange for "Hot Roti" which is the traditional island slave version of a burrito. (lots of chicken "parts" and garbanzos and chickpeas). The local brew, Caribe, is endemic and has the obviously well thought out and inarguable slogan, "A beer is a Caribe". Alrighty then.

Speyside has changed little since 1995. There are now telephones aplenty. The "final" town, over the last ridge also has a cell tower... Charlottesville is pretty much the end of the road, further driving was only possible with 4WD Jeep. Unlike years past, we were only able to drive along the Northern Caribbean side coast, now driving SW, for only 4.5 miles before turning back. The road had washed out to boulders. The remainder of the roads are quite good with the caveat that this is a mountain island with right hand drive. Think, then drive. If you're not absolutely up to the challenge, arrange for ground transfer, which from the airport to Speyside can be quite high. A rental Samurai from Steve Cordner rentals in Crown Point was only $40/ day. Gas was $1.45/ US Gallon.

The Manta Lodge did not offer a docking facility for diving, but it does have a nice pool and is within easy walk of all Speyside. It was quite noisy on several nights with amplified music. Looked like a good party, though. The Speyside Inn is a small but nicely appointed guest house along the same strip of "downtown" Speyside.

We took the long ride back to the 0700 hrs departure flight... a day early, just so we could do it in the daylight and not have to arise at "oh-dark-thirty" for the two hour drive. It was worth the use of our off- gassing day. Lots of scenic vistas on the Atlantic side, then cross over the mountain in Scarborogh to continue North on the Caribbean side.

In Crown Point we stayed at a passable place called Arthurs by the Sea that did involve us having to break in and out of as we returned from our last dinner at 2300 hours and left before 0600 hrs the next day.

In Crown Point we looked at the tiny but well regarded SunSplash Scuba on the strip along the way to Pigeon Point. Look at all the dive ops, talk to the folks, I think you'll find Jon & Caroline to have the more eco friendly operation. It is rec.scuba.locationsnot Soto's of Cayman, but it is safe, small and homey. Find them via LYCOS.

They know the reef well and Caroline just reported an inquisitive Tiger Shark. Find them at www.walax.com/sunsplashscuba.htm

In summation, Tobago is difficult for Americans to get to, but worthwhile. The currents are a great training basis for a trip to the Galapagos. Your best chance to see Manats, if you fulfill the above mentioned requirements, is with RedMan of M dive.

Thanks to Doc for this trip report ...
March 2001

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