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10 ways to unwind on chill Tobago

Tobago is a popular vacation destination for Trinidadians, who travel by ferry or plane to their sister island for a relaxing getaway. Tobago manages to provide everything you want in a Caribbean vacation – great food, beautiful beaches, and clear turquoise waters – without the crowds or gimmickry of more popular island destinations.

Being in Tobago feels like you’ve discovered a fantastic hidden gem that no one else is aware of. Here are ten ways to experience the island like a local.

Swim and snorkel in the clearest water possible.

It is essential to take a boat out to the Nylon Pool, a swimming pool in the middle of the sea. When Princess Margaret visited in 1962, she compared the crystal-clear water over the white coral sand to nylon sheers, thus the name. The pool can get crowded with party boats at times, but it’s still beautiful and worth seeing. The protected Buccoo Reef is nearby and offers spectacular snorkelling and diving.

Tobago Waterholics organises tours to several prime snorkelling and swimming locations, including No Man’s Land, a mangrove-edged beach where guests can enjoy a barbecue and a rum punch after a “tough” morning of splashing around in the ocean.

In a treehouse, feast on seafood.

Jemma’s Treehouse Kitchen is built into a massive almond tree on Speyside’s beach. As the sea breeze blows through the open windows, you eat family style, digging into massive plates of chicken, shrimp, fish, and lobster. From the gingery cucumber salad to the sweet and sour prawns and tender lobster served with breadfruit pudding, plantain, okra, and a bounty of fresh vegetables, every bite at Jemma’s is incredible.

Tobago, known as the breadbasket of the islands, grows a lot of produce, so there’s never a shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables, which is evident every time you eat at one of the island’s restaurants.

Hike through the rainforest.

The British Parliament designated Tobago’s Main Ridge Forest Reserve as a protected conservation area in 1776, making it the Western Hemisphere’s oldest nature reserve. You’ll see a wide variety of flora and fauna while exploring with experienced guide and birder Newton George. Hiking far enough will lead you to secluded waterfalls and pools ideal for a refreshing dip.

Attend “Sunday School.”

Every Sunday evening in Buccoo, steel drum bands practise in the village square, and the atmosphere quickly transforms into a hip-swaying, booty-shaking street party. Expect to hear classic island music as well as random pop hits, such as Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” as locals and tourists gather to dance. The bands leave after 11 p.m., and DJs spin dancehall and soca tunes until the early morning hours. Buccoo Sunday School starts out mild, but you can get as wild as you want.

Enjoy an LLB.

Outside of the islands, most of us are only familiar with Angostura for their bitters, which are a must-have in any cocktail cabinet. However, the Trinidad and Tobago company also produces fine rums and Lemon, Lime, and Bitters, or “LLB” soda. Pull back the tab to feel revitalised.

Consume curry crab and dumplings.

Meisha Trim serves her mother’s recipe for Tobago’s most popular dish, curry crab and dumplings, from her beachfront restaurant Miss Trim’s in Crown Point. The green curry is extremely spicy, and the dumplings are sweet, perfectly complementing each other.

Cocoa beans straight from the tree

During your tour of the leafy Tobago Cocoa Estate, you will learn about the entire bean-to-bar process before being treated to samples of their incredibly fantastic and award-winning chocolate in liquid and bar form. Taste the fruit of the cocoa beans, which is tart and reminiscent of Sour Patch Kids or Jolly Ranchers depending on how mature the fruit is.

Kayaking in the moonlight
At night, glass-bottomed kayaking in the Buccoo Reef mangrove lagoon is simply magical. You might hear a random birdcall or the splash of a fish in the dead of night, and all you might see is the faint glow of mangrove roots. Then comes the most amazing sight: bioluminescence, which transforms the water beneath your kayak into a galaxy of tiny stars. Your paddles leave glitter trails as they move through the water.

Enjoy the best coconut cheesecake you’ve ever had.

Everything at The Fish Pot in Grafton is delicious, but their coconut cheesecake is legendary. It has an almost flan-like texture that turns to caramel at the edges and is covered in toasted coconut with a cinnamon base. But, while you’re there, start with the silky rum-and-liver pate and finish with the crab cakes.

The Jade Monkey Dance
Put on your dancing shoes and head to Crown Point’s Jade Monkey Bar, where everyone is welcome. (It appeared to be mostly locals, with a few visitors.) DJs spin the hottest soca tunes. However, don’t arrive too early because the venue doesn’t begin to fill up until after midnight. As the night progresses, the fun grows. On Wednesdays, they have karaoke with big prizes.

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