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'Galapagos of the West Indies'

December 11, 2008 By:
Gordon Steven, JE Feature
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 Tobago is often known only as the little sister of Trinidad -- as in Trinidad and Tobago -- and this doesn't, in any way, do it justice. A Tobago vacation is a vacation on an unusual Caribbean Island, still relatively unspoiled by mass tourism. It lies some 20 miles northeast of Venezuela and around 150 miles south of Barbados.

What this means is an island that has white sand beaches; perfect little bays; clear, turquoise, unpolluted seas. Tobago has colorful, undamaged coral reefs teeming with fish and a luxuriant tropical rainforest.

Its modest size means that it isn't too big to get lost, nor too small to be bored. The sun shines year-round, with an average temperature of 80 degrees during the day, falling to 73 at night, with the rainy season from June until November.

Persistent rain happens only rarely; normally, what happens is a brief burst of heavy rain followed by sunshine. The dry season is December to April, which, unsurprisingly, is also high season for tourism, with correspondingly higher prices.

You might need some good reasons to take a Tobago vacation, and a very good one is the fact that Tobago is south of the hurricane belt.

Another outstanding feature of Tobago -- and this isn't something you will see often, if at all, in your Caribbean travels -- empty beaches and no skyscraper, tower-style hotels in sight.

There are many things to do on your Tobago vacation, including fabulous snorkeling and scuba diving, with lovely coral reefs and multicolored fish -- but no dangerous sharks -- and great fishing in the seas around Tobago.

Time to Get Teed Off!
There is championship golf available -- and you don't have to worry about there being any poisonous snakes on the course (but you may well get a glimpse of some of the large number of bird species).

To see some of the abundance of wildlife, you can visit the oldest protected rainforest in the Western hemisphere, containing such amazing species that it has been called the Galapagos of the West Indies.

The people you will meet on a Tobago vacation will be a major part of your enjoyment. The locals are very friendly and have a certain unusual dignity to them.

As for the Jewish population, it can be measured in the handfuls, but does have a history dating back to the late 1700s with immigrants also arriving the next century from Portugal and Curaçao. The famous "Calypso Jews" arrived, having fled Nazi Germany in the late 1930s, settling mainly in Trinidad.

In terms of the food, there is a lot to choose from at extremely reasonable prices. But first, you need to track down some local cuisine, such as callaloo, a coconut-and-spinach soup; or roti, a thick chickpea and potato curry, with either beef or chicken, wrapped in a kind of flour tortilla.

Any tropical island -- any Caribbean island -- must have great beaches, and on your Tobago vacation, you are going to find some beaches you will love. Among Tobago's best are Englishmen's Bay, right on the edge of the rainforest: no hotels, no crowds -- you get the picture.

There's Mount Irvine beach, small and pretty with great snorkeling; Castara is another unspoiled beach; and then there is Pigeon Point, the classical tropical-island beach with white sand, turquoise water, a wooden jetty and thatched-roof huts.

Also worth a visit are Canoe Bay, Charlotteville and Man O War Bay.

For more information, go to: www.caribbean-vacationspots.com.

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