Where To Snorkel in Tobago
Where To Snorkel in Tobago
From colourful reef fish and the mighty manta ray to beautiful corals and curious crustaceans, Tobago has a rich variety of marine life which is just waiting to be discovered. It is no surprise then that the island has been named as the second best place in the Caribbean for snorkelling by USA Today. The best snorkelling sites are along Tobago's Caribbean Sea coastline. If you want any advice, visit any member of the Association of Tobago Dive Operators. Details can be found at www.tobagoscubadiving.com.
Store Bay: Kariwak Reef starts straight off the beach on the left hand-side. The easy access and the general lack of current here makes it an easy place to snorkel, especially if you are a beginner. The gently sloping reef, which gets deeper the further out you swim, offers an array of hard and soft corals and marine life. Here you can expect to see reef fish, such as parrotfish, damselfish, butterflyfish, creole wrasse and goatfish feeding on the sand. Banded coral shrimp and small Caribbean spiny lobster can also be seen; the occasional southern stingray or spotted eagle ray may also fly by.
Buccoo Reef: This reef is only accessible by glass bottom boat, and there are plenty of operators who regularly make the trip from Store Bay throughout the day. Many of them also supply snorkelling equipment. This trip gives snorkellers and non-snorkellers alike the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Tobago's underwater world. There is a chance to spot an array of Caribbean fish including French angelfish, bigeyes, sergeant majors, trunkfish and queen angelfish.
Mount Irvine: The best spot to snorkel here is around the rocks on the edge of the Mt. Irvine Bay Hotel beach. The site is accessible straight off the beach. Here there are gobies, blue tang, bluehead wrasse and harlequin bass. Smaller southern stingray can occasionally be spotted, as well as manta rays.
For those who are competent swimmers and snorkellers, Dutchman's Reef in the middle of the bay offers the opportunity to see some of Tobago's maritime history; the remains of century canons are believed to be part of the Dutch East India Company fleet which 17th are thought to have run aground here.
Arnos Vale: Made up of boulders covered in hard and soft coral, the best way to visit the site is via boat. You can expect to see a myriad of marine life here including spotlight parrotfish, bluestripped grunts, trunkfish, sanddivers, filefish and the mesmerising juvenile spotted drum. Larger pelagics, such as barracuda, are also seen here. Look in the hard coral, especially the brain coral for glimpses of secretary blennies, which burrow into it to make their home. You may even get the chance to glimpse a hawksbill turtle or a spotted eagle ray.
Cotton Bay: This site is only accessible by boat and there are many operators who offer trips, including Island Girl (www.sailtobago.com). Most of them also provide snorkelling equipment. Once you don your mask and snorkel, you can start your adventure. Look out for blue and brown chromis, sharknose gobies, fairy basslets and cardinalfish. Occasionally, pods of dolphins can be spotted breaching the waves; while snorkelling you may hear the clicks and whistle-like sounds they use to communicate. Turtles can also be seen here, as well as rays.
Castara: Head to Little Bay where the reef starts just a short distance from the beach. Among the soft and hard corals you can spot grunts, doctorfish, cowfish, graysbys, sharpnose puffers, highhats, sanddivers, trunkfish and filefish. Green and black and white spotted moray eels can also be seen in the crevices or beneath barrel sponges. Small hawksbill turtles can often be found sitting on the reef munching on sponges – their favourite food. Look in the sand for yellowhead jawfish, which sway vertically in the gentle current.
Englishman's Bay: The reef here is located on the right of the bay, and is excellent for snorkelling. Gently slopping and made up of coral heads and large boulders, it has plenty of overhangs and holes where you can spot Caribbean spiny lobsters, arrowhead crabs, cleaner shrimp, moray eels and even the occasional octopus. Large shoals of grunts, creole wrasse and snapper often school here in search of food. On the sandy bottom of the reef look out for southern stingrays.
Lover's Bay, Charlotteville: Access to the site is only by boat (which you can hire from the village) or by stand-up paddle board, which gives you the chance to take in the stunning scenery. For details, contact Stand-Up Paddle Tobago at Radical Sports at Pigeon Point or visit www.standuppaddletobago.com. This secluded bay is ideal for beginner snorkellers, and attracts a rich variety of marine life. Yellow and blue coloured queen angelfish, jeuvenille spotlight parrotfish, barred hamlets and foureye butterfly fish can be spotted among the coral. You may be lucky enough to glimpse a small hawksbill turtle.
Angel Reef: Located at Speyside, Angel Reef is located just below Ian Fleming's former holiday home at Goat Island. The site boasts healthy sponges and corals and attracts large shoals of creole wrasse, grunts, snappers and chromis. The reef has many cleaning stations along it. Look for sharpnose gobies and the scarlet cleaning shrimps as they tend to Tobago's fishlife. While snorkelling, look out into the blue, where there is a chance to spot larger pelagics like barracuda, groupers and nurse sharks. The graceful manta ray can also be glimpsed here, flying through the water. The reef can be accessed by glass bottom boat from the Blue Waters Inn. Trips are usually twice a day.