Despite its diminutive size, it isn’t difficult to find a beach to yourself on Tobago because this is still an unspoilt island with fewer tourist visitors than the more commercial Caribbean destinations.
You probably won’t get to see all of Tobago’s beaches in a fortnight’s holiday – and the majority of them are untouched, with no facilities. We’re showing you some of the best and most popular in Tobago. Popular doesn’t mean they’re all busy. On a lot of days, it could just be you and a few parrots…..
Amongst the best have to be Englishman’s Bay and Mount Irvine.
Englishman’s Bay lies on the edge of the rain forest. A small wooden signpost off a small tarmac road in the rain forest will point you down a sun splashed tunnel of bamboo – and there it is.
You’ll wonder what’s wrong with it. Why has no one built a big hotel here? There is nothing there but peace and photo opportunities. And just a very small snack trolley selling delicious local pies and soft drinks.
So if you go for the day, take your picnic bag with you, and your camera, because the likelihood is, you’ll have this beach to yourself or share it with only half a dozen people. The bay is long and sweeps into a picture book curve.
The sand is clean and white, the water deep and clear, with palm trees fringing the whole bay.
There’s a good breeze wafting in from the Caribbean Sea and you can sunbathe to the fabulous sounds of wild parrots shouting from the rain forest. Snorkelling here is fantastic. A Sunday Times report rated it one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.
Englishmans’ Bay is one of Tobago’s jewels. But if you like your gin and tonics large and ice cold while you sit under your beach parasol, and want to snap your fingers to request lunch on a silver tray – go to Mount Irvine Beach.
The beach and its bar officially serve the Mount Irvine Bay Hotel but it’s all open to the public. You don’t have to pay to get onto the beach but the facilities of loos and showers are officially for the residents and can be used for a small fee. The gins are large and cheap, and the food is reasonably priced.
The beach is small and pretty – and the water is bliss. Just a few yards in and the snorkelling is as good as anywhere on the island.
You can see bright coloured parrot fish as big as your pet dog, shoals of baby squid, barracuda, orange tube sponges, lobster, fan coral and brain coral, and angel fish just yards from your beach towel.
There are one or two beach vendors at Mount Irvine, but they probably won’t even approach you. They lay out their wares and wait for your trade.
Tobagonians are polite in respecting tourists’ peace, and if you don’t want to buy one of the local crafts on the beach, you won’t be pestered.
Mount Irvine also has a rather good watersports shack.
Another favourite but quiet and unspoilt beach is Castara.
Like many of Tobago’s beaches – this is a place where the locals live and work – and if they weren’t so kind and pleased to see you – you might feel like you were intruding in their back yard – which you are really!
Enjoy it with respect.
The approach road to Castara is another one for the photo album. You travel to it on the only road – a coast road, high above the sea, and there it is.
There’s a place on the beach to get cold beers, and you can sit within spitting distance of some of the local elders enjoying their mid-day rum and cards, or watch the younger ones bringing in the day’s catch.
If you could paint a picture of a perfect Caribbean beach it would be Pigeon Point.
Still, turquoise water lapping onto a white beach, scattered with grass roof huts, a wooden jetty with a grass roof hut on the end of it, and swaying palms leaning over almost touching the water. That is Pigeon Point.
And you’ve probably seen it many times – on the front pages of many Caribbean holiday brochures.
You have to pay a fee per person to get to the beach and use the facilities (TT$20 which is about GBP £2) which are extensive and well maintained. Sadly, there have been a lot of changes to Pigeon Point in recent times and it is becoming very commercial.
There are several trinket shops and fast food bars at the main end of the beach.
The far end is dedicated to watersports – windsurfing and jet skis, so swimming isn’t so tranquil.
Tobago is keen on accommodating cruise ships, and when in port, busloads of cruisers head for Pigeon Point and you literally can’t see the sand for people. Fortunately it’s not a frequent occurrance, but best to find out in advance if there’s a ship in and avoid PP for that day.
It’s still a gorgeous place to visit and you should go – but Pigeon Point no longer typifies Tobago – Club Pigeon Point could be anywhere in the Caribbean.
Other beaches in Tobago like Englishmans Bay, Pirates Bay and Mount Irvine are more typically Tobago. You’ll love them. The other main beaches are all at the largest hotels on the island.
The beaches at the Grafton Resort, Courland Bay and Turtle Beach are large by Tobago standards, and have crashing waves, even though they’re on the Caribbean side. The sand is clean and white and there’s plenty of watersport facilities. Between March and July, these beaches are the nesting areas for the giant turtles, and staff at the hotel will, if requested, wake residents to see turtles laying eggs, or to watch the hatchlings run to the sea.
This stunning beach near to Crown Point Airport, is usually listed as a favourite Tobago beach.
If you’re staying in Crown Point, then it’s a great beach to jump in when you’ve thrown your suitcase down and are hot and sweaty and just dying to get in the water.
It’s a popular beach for the locals, especially at weekends, and there is a range of facilities like loos, showers and bars.
There’s also a small range of huts selling locally made crafts.
This area has been ‘developed’ by Tobago standards – it’s clean and tourist friendly and as a result, has lost a little of the character it used to have, but the best reason for going here is the local food ‘bars’, where you can get a slap up meal for less than £3 per person. More info in the food section of this website.
One of the things we love most about Tobago is that even after 20 years of visiting it, we still feel like explorers when we go.
There’s so much to discover and come across that is beautiful and unspoilt.
If you head to to north of the island and across to the pretty but very quiet and non-touristy village of Charlotteville, you will see hand painted signs to Pirates Bay.
The name is self-explanatory, but if you want to know more, ask a local and make a friend.
Pirates Bay is only accessible by foot or by boat. Needless to say, if you make the short walk to the beach, you may well find it to yourself or at least be amongst one or two visitors there – and it is gorgeous.
Take plenty of fluids – and a picnic with you, and enjoy the quiet.