Like many of us, at the tail end of 2023 my family and I were hankering after some hot summer weather and began looking around for an ideal New Year holiday destination.
We settled on Tobago, the smaller of the two islands making up the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago and often living in the shade of its more populated and well-known neighbour.
Tobago is also a great pick for nature lovers, in particular bird-watchers, with the island’s inner rainforest the oldest legally protected forest reserve in the world.
Whether you’re looking for a wildlife adventure, a beach getaway or just a chance to explore somewhere new, here’s why Tobago should be top of your travel bucket list.
Flying from London to Tobago takes around 11 hours, and generally includes a short stop-over in St Lucia or Antigua, yet just a 40-minute flight away from these tourist hotspots lies this unassuming gem.
Tobago is considerably smaller than Trinidad both in terms of area and population, at 116 square miles and with just over 60,000 citizens calling it home.
The islands lie not far off the coast of Venezuela, yet as a former British colony English is the official language and most places will accept American dollars as currency as well as the local Trinidadian dollars, making it less of an adjustment for British tourists.
While tourism is a big industry the country gets most of its wealth from its large reserves and exploitation of oil and gas and is recognised as a high-income economy by the World Bank.
One of the greatest attractions in Tobago is its beaches, with the island bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and experiencing year-round sunshine and temperatures of around 30 degress Celsius.
In fact British wintertime is one of the best times to visit as it is when Tobago experiences its lowest rainfall, and famous beaches such as Pigeon Point, Castara Bay and Englishman’s Bay are perfect places for swimming and lazing around in the sun.
For those looking to get back to nature a trip walking through the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve cannot be beaten, although rest assured that these hikes are perfectly manageable for those less suited to jungle treks.
A guide will take you through the rainforest to take in the spectacular scenery, with waterfalls and gorgeous green mountainsides as well as the opportunity to see rare tropical birds.
Some of the beautiful species you might be lucky enough to see include the tropical nightbird, the green kingfisher, the crested oripendilla and the copper rumped hummingbird, whose wings you can actually hear humming if it gets close enough to you.
The island of Little Tobago is another opportunity to take in some bird life, as the small area of land is a reserve and important breeding-site for many Caribbean seabirds that you can sometimes observe sitting close by on their nests.
Little Tobago is accessible with a boat and guide, with those keen get back into the azure waters able to go snorkelling and watch tropical fish through the glass-bottomed boat. Giant leatherback turtles also come ashore to lay their eggs in Tobago each year.
Whether you’re looking for a week of activities in nature or just a blissful sun-soaked disconnect from reality, Tobago is a Caribbean jewel waiting to be discovered.