Secret Spot: Scuba Diving in Tobago

While sister island Trinidad is known for a yearly raucous Carnival celebration, quieter Tobago is favored for sandy beaches and phenomenal diving.

While sister island Trinidad is known for a yearly raucous Carnival celebration, quieter Tobago is favored for sandy beaches and phenomenal diving. Scuba diving in Tobago is offers some of the best in the Caribbean.

About Tobago

While Trinidad has a reputation for a lively nightlife and is world-famous for its raucous Carnival, its sister island, Tobago, is known for a laidback vibe, lush rainforests, white-sand beaches and phenomenal diving. The island sits in the middle of the Guyana Current, which flows up from South America and brings with it nutrients from the Orinoco River in Venezuela. And all those nutrients attract lots of life, meaning scuba diving in Tobago is some of the best in the Caribbean.

Scuba Diving in Tobago

Diving in Tobago means waters studded with healthy coral reefs and fascinating shipwrecks. Because of the current, many of Tobago’s dives are drifts. You’ll want to make sure your buoyancy is good and bring your SMB — if you don’t have one, most shops can provide you with one. Make sure to listen closely to briefings and always follow your divemaster. Water temps in Tobago range from highs of around 82 F (28 C) to lows of 75 F (24 C) January and February, so most divers should be good with a 3mm to 5 mm wetsuit. The wet season is from July to September, when the outflow from the Orinoco can severely hamper visibility.

There are three distinctive dive areas in Tobago. Crown Point sits near the more-populated southern end of the island while Charlotteville and Speyside are on the less-populated northern end.

At the southern end of the island you’ll drift along Flying Reef past gigantic plate corals. Pelagics often frequent ledges and hide under overhangs, so keep your eyes peeled. Also on the southern end of the island is the wreck of the M/V Maverick, which sits at 100 feet (33 m). Once a passenger ferry between Trinidad and Tobago, the former Scarlet Ibis, was purpose-sunk in 1997 for divers. Watch for schooling snappers, turtles and swarms of baitfish. The top of the wreck sits at 60 feet (18 m), making it suitable for less-experienced divers.

A Charlotteville-area favorite is Boulder Valley at the mouth of Man O War Bay. Divers can zig-zag among huge sponge and coral-encrusted boulders, strewn about on the seafloor like marbles. And finally, Tobago can claim the Western Hemisphere’s largest brain coral at Speyside’s Kelleston Drain, where the massive coral is 10 feet high by 16 feet wide (3 m by 5.3 m).

How to Get Here

Although there are flights into Tobago, nearly all international flights fly in and out of Trinidad. From there, the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago offers express ferries daily. As a quicker option, Caribbean Airlines offers a 20-minute flight that takes off each hour to and from each island.

When to Visit

Sitting just north of the Equator, Tobago offers warm temperatures year-round. As mentioned above, the rainy season that takes place from June or July to November. The dry season begins in December and lasts until May, with the best visibility from November through July.  

Tobago Topside

When it’s time to surface, there’s plenty to do in Tobago topside as well. The yearly Jazz Festival draws international talent to the island. There’s also a full complement of other Caribbean staples: a great golf course, spas, horseback riding, sugar-sand beaches and plenty of rum cocktails to be had at local beach bars. Bird watching on the island is also acclaimed if you’d like to add to your naturalist sightings.

By guest author Tara Bradley Connell