My family and I spent the last week at the Sandy Point Beach Club in Tobago. In case you don’t know, Trinidad and Tobago are located at the end of the Caribbean Islands right before Venezuela. They are one country but two islands. We fly into Trinidad and then take a 20 minute flight to the island of Tobago. Tobago has about 55,000 people and is relatively undeveloped and un-touristy. It suffers from none of the crime that Trinidad experiences. It’s completely safe and the people are truly lovely. That is why we love it! We’ve been vacationing there for the past three years.
Warning: if you are looking for nightlife, award-winning restaurants and many of the amenities we Americans have come to expect, Tobago is not the place for you. If you are looking for beautiful beaches, complete simplicity and a step back in time, Tobago may indeed be your paradise too.
Okay, now back to the purpose of the blog, 30 minutes of active outdoor time a day. Well, the sprained ankle really changed my version of active. But, what better way to do it than in paradise? As my husband, Rob, said, “I think some good came out of this sprained ankle. It forced you to slow down.” I really appreciated the time with my husband and kids. My kids are almost 8 and 6 and just a ton of fun to be with. I think as a relatively older mother, I appreciate how fleeting these years really are.
I did, however, get more than 30 minutes of outdoor active time a day. The activities varied from lots of intensive sand castle building, to wave riding, to swimming, to walking on the beach and even to some tennis on the last day.
Thanks to some good old-fashioned Tobagan advice (roll the bottom of your foot on a beer bottle for about an hour at a time and push the swelling down the top of your foot) combined with some reflexology, I was off the crutches in 48 hours. My foot was bruised and swollen all week, but I was able to walk without even a limp!
In honor of an amazing, actively relaxing week, here are my top 10 highlights of Tobago.
- Sandy Point Beach Club– great place to stay! It’s walking distance from the airport. It’s right on the beach. There is a pool and three hot tubs.
The rooms are all apartment style, with a full kitchen. They are also very basic but exceedingly clean. The folks are amazing there. Elvira, the activities coordinator, sums up the sentiment perfectly, “I love my country. After 911, I realized there was no where else I’d rather live.”
- Crab and dumpling at Store Bay – Curried crab and dumpling is the signature local dish. Go to Miss Trim’s in one of the food shacks at Store Bay Beach. Miss Trim still cooks up her own crab and dumpling. The sauce will knock your socks off!
- Sammy the shoemaker – At one of the bungalow shops at Store Bay, there is a man named Sammy who makes custom sandals. He literally measures your foot and constructs them from scratch! Three days and only $50 later, you have a pair of custom sandals that will last a lifetime!
- Pigeon Point beach – You must pay a nominal amount to get in but it’s well worth it. Make sure you walk around the point. As you do, you’ll feel the wind kick up dramatically. It’s fun to watch the kite surfers there.
- Doubles at the entrance to Pigeon Point – A double is two pieces of fried bread with a slightly sweet chickpea mixture inside. As the road forks on the entrance to Pigeon Point, there is a man selling them out of a cooler. They are amazing!
- Shark and bake at Pigeon Point – A bake is a sandwich. There is a food shack in the middle of the beach (not the main restaurants) that serves the best shark and bake aka fish sandwich. It’s the only free-standing food shack at Pigeon Point. It’s hidden behind the trees so be on the look out. Make sure you put the tamarind chutney or the green sauce on your bake. I had one all three days that we went to Pigeon Point!
- Castara – We rented a car and took a ride to Castara. Be mindful of the typically crazy Caribbean roads. You drive on the left in Tobago. Castara is breathless. There are two beaches. Ask for directions for the far beach (you can see it from town but the rock outcroppings require you to drive around). There’s a bar and restaurant down there and the snorkeling is amazing!
- Watching the fisherman at Castara– At the near beach, the townsfolk still net fish. Help them pull in the nets and they’ll give you a fish!
There is a bread baking coop on the grounds of the primary school. The women bake bread on Wednesdays and Sundays. There was a funeral in the village the day we were there so they weren’t baking bread. I was disappointed but that’s island life, right?
- Massage by Nathaniel – Make sure you get a massage by Nathaniel right at Sandy Point Beach Club. He sets his table up on a bluff overlooking the water. You hear the birds, the water and the planes taking off and landing from the airport. Heavenly!
- Don’t look for other things to do! It took us three years to believe it, but you are not missing anything if you while away the days at the beach. There is very little else to see or do in Tobago. So, relax, turn up the Socca music, grab a cold Carib for $2 and enjoy the view of the amazing turquoise water.
Until next year, Tobago! Your memories will sustain us through the winter (or at least through my walk in cold Connecticut today)!