Trips for Divers
Oakland, CA 94602
510-638-3448 / 800-345-7159
|Home Destinations Specials and Trips Before the Trip During the Trip Links|
Liveabords and Resorts
Peter Hughes ‘Wind Dancer' June 1-July 31, Dec 9-30
Blue Waters Inn & Aqua Marine ✩
Manta Lodge ◊
Legends: ☺kids friendly (kids program or kids rates available); ✩ wheelchair accessible; ◊ internet access (◊◊ free)
There are some 30 dive sites in the Speyside area alone, with the bulk of diving on Tobago being drift diving. For this reason, the Association of Tobago Dive Operators requires all divers to wear a safety sausage.
The cycles of the moon have a dramatic effect on the currents along the coast of Tobago. Typically a few days prior to a full moon divers can anticipate stronger currents, which can make for very exciting high energy drift dives.
The waters of Tobago teem with colorful reef fish and healthy corals, but it is the encounters with the "Giants of the Drift" that truly set this island apart from all other Caribbean dive destinations.
In addition to Southern Stingrays, Morays and Nurse Sharks, Tobago's "Giants" include a variety or Turtles, Tarpon, Whale Shark sightings from May to August as they migrate past Trinidad & Tobago, and for the lucky few, a chance encounter with Mola Mola (Ocean Sunfish) in the open waters off the northern coast, where they come to feed on jellyfish and other soft-bodied organisms. Mola Mola drift at the surface while lying on their side, or swim upright and so close to the surface that their dorsal fin projects above the water. Encounters with them are rare and unpredictable, but totally unforgettable!
Another Giant of the Drift quite commonly seen is Manta Ray. They are frequently seen in the waters off Speyside anywhere from December to June, with April and May being especially exciting as Mantas begin to mate - a season that many refer to as "manta madness". Mantas can also be spotted during the annual period of Coral Spawning. For 2009, the this would be the week of September 5-12, with less active spawning occurring four or so days after the full moons in August and October.
Leatherback Turtles and Greater Hammerheads - the largest of the hammerhead sharks, are more often seen at a site on the central portion of the north coastline known as The Sisters. The Sisters are actually a series of five pinnacles that tower over the open ocean. Between the pinnacles are a maze of canyons and rugged terrain that harbour all manner of marine life.
Speyside is at the far end of the island, so be ready to schedule a day or two near the airport if your flight arrives late or leaves early.
Geography and Nature
Tobago has a land area of 300km² (116miles²), and is approximately 42km (26 miles) long and 11km (7 miles) wide. The population is about 50,000, approximately 17,000 of which live in the capital, Scarborough. The climate is tropical, and the islands lie just south of the Atlantic hurricane belt. The Tobago forest reserve claims to be the oldest protected forest in the western world. It was designated as a protected crown reserve on April 17 1776 following representations by Soame Jenyns, a UK MP, who was responsible for development in Tobago. It has remained a protected reserve ever since.
This forested area has a great biodiversity including many species of birds, mammals, frog and (non-poisonous) snakes. It is also one of the most approachable areas of rain-forest since it is relatively small and there are government appointed guides at various locations, who charge very reasonable rates.
The southern area of the island, from Scarborough southwards, is an area called the lowlands. This is a more commercial area of Tobago, and is more dedicated to housing and tourist related activities. This land is particularly flat, although the areas around Buccoo and Bon Accord are in close proximity to the lagoon and swamp land, and are so more affected by high water levels and mosquitoes.
Tobago has the oldest protected rain forest in the northern hemisphere. We have 210 bird species, 123 species of butterflies,16 types of lizards,14 different frogs, 17 bats and 24 snakes all non-poisonous, plus a dozen different mammals.
Located just 11° north of the equator, safely outside the main hurricane belt, Tobago enjoys a tropical climate and is sunny all year round. The average daytime temperature is 83°F (29°C). Trade Winds blow consistently, cooling the island so effectively that air-conditioning is the exception rather than the rule. Tobago has two seasons: the Dry Season between December and May, and the Wet Season between June and November. Although rain fall is at its heaviest during the Rainy Season, it is quite possible to get it at any other time as well, and generally in short, sharp bursts that thankfully often fall around dawn.
Everyone, including children of any age entering Trinidad and Tobago must have a valid passport and a return or ongoing ticket. The Passport must be valid for at least three months after the end of your proposed visit. No visas are required for US or Canadian citizens. For other nationalities, it is your responsibility to ensure your own visa requirements, and no refunds will be awarded for customers denied access for lack of a proper visa.
There is a departure tax of TT$100 (US$16) per person, payable at the airport in Tobago for all passengers' under 60 years. Vacationers who have attained the age of 60 are exempt from the tax.
The tax is paid at the Tobago airport if you are departing directly for North America, or at the airport in Trinidad if you have a connecting flight. Departure tax price subject to change without notice.
How to get there
Caribbean Airlines offers direct flights from JFK every Sunday.
Most of the other North American airlines that service Trinidad & Tobago arrive and depart from Trinidad but there are several domestic shuttle flights per day between the two islands via BWIA, Tobago Express, L.I.A.T. or Caribbean Star.
There is also a daily ferry service between the two islands. Recently this service was upgraded for the "high season" with the addition of a 900 passenger catamaran which operates daily from December to May, making the one-way trip in approximately 2½ hours.
110 and 220 volts, 60 cycles.
The local currency is the Trinidad and Tobago Dollar, which is the most commonly accepted form of currency. Most Hotels, Restaurants and Shops will accept foreign currency as a form of payment, but usually this is at a poor rate of conversion. It is highly recommended that you change your money to the official currency, the TT dollar, on arrival. You can reconvert any currency before your departure. Most ATMs will give advances on credit cards in TT dollars and banks will convert your cash.
Value Added Tax (VAT) of 15% is added to most consumer goods. A hotel tax of 10% is added to the nightly rates, and a service charge of 15% is added at most restaurants.
Malaria risk is low in Tobago. Visit CDC for more information.