Having just spent 10 days in Tobago, it seems a shame to not share what I have learned about the basics of what to do and where to eat in Crown Point, my home base. This by no means is an exhaustive guide. I did not explore nearly as much as one would need to in order to write such a summary. I was quite a bum, and I spent my days diving, sleeping on the beach, and driving around the island. But, I did pick up a decent amount of information. And, considering that I did not find a lot of blog or forum posts on Tobago during my research, I thought I’d contribute by sharing the information that I’ve gathered while here.
What to do:
- Beach time at Store Bay, a nice, easily accessible stretch of sand in Crown Point with gentle waves and turquoise waters. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas from Dimples for the day for a very affordable rate and come and go as you please. There is a small bar, as well as the well-known crab and dumpling shops.
- An easy walk along the beach to Pigeon Point, a great swimming beach that is a 20-30 minute walk from town. Here, you’ll find a few small souvenir shops, a bar, a few shelters with picnic tables, and 2 swimming beaches. This is probably the best beach in or around Crown Point, but is a bit of a walk making it less appealing to those without a rental car.
- Buccoo Reef & Nylon Pool trips – One of the first things anyone around here will recommend is to go out on one of the boat trips to Buccoo Reef and Nylon Pool. These spots are supposedly great for snorkeling, and the Nylon Pool is likened to the “Fountain of Youth.” You can get out there a few different ways. Most commonly, people will catch a ride on one of the glass bottom boats out of Store Bay, which cost approx TT65. On my last day in Tobago, I met a group at Coco Reef, who had chartered the Coco Loco through the activities representative at the resort. The Coco Loco was a nice large modern speedboat, and the group appeared to have a good time. I did neither of these trips to endorse them, but they came with strong recommendations.
- Booze Cruises – If you want to spend all day on a boat, there are the full day “booze cruises” up the coast towards Castara with multiple snorkeling and beach stops, including BBQ lunch and all-you-can-drink rum punch. Any of the tour guides with whom your resort or guest house connect you can arrange a trip. However, the Island Girl Sail Charter Catamaran Trips came with strong recommendation from several people I spoke with. I tried to set up a trip with them. During low season, they only run trips a few days per week, and there were not enough people signed up during my stay to make a trip happen.
- Island Tours – Many guides offer island tours that take you to the northern end of the island for the day to different beaches, waterfalls, or wherever you are interested in going. Other guides offer a day trip up to Speyside for snorkeling the area around Little Tobago and lunch at Jemma’s.
- Scuba diving – I strongly recommend Undersea Tobago, as they were extremely professional and enjoyable.
- Horse back riding
- Yoga – The only information I came across about yoga classes in Crown Point was from a pamphlet found at the internet café, ironically at a time that I was thinking to myself, “Where the hell are the yoga classes?” B. Falco offers classes Saturday and Tuesday mornings at Kariwak Village Hotel (868 631 0013; firstname.lastname@example.org).
Where to eat? There are plenty of places to get an acceptable meal in Crown Point. Recommendations from several locals led me to these places:
- Skewers, an Arabic fast food joint just at the junction of the Milford Road and Pigeon Point Access Road. The food is affordable and delicious.
- La Cantina, a pizza place, directly next to RBC Bank on Milford Road. It offers good food and drinks and nice indoor and outdoor seating areas. The pizzas are large though, which always made for leftovers to store for a later snack. I ate here twice. Both times I had had a few drinks…and I did not think to take a photo.
- The Food Stalls at Store Bay, which are known for their local fare, most notably their crab and dumplings. However, I have been hard pressed to find a local that eats down there anymore; most have said that the food is less tasty than it used to be since the elder women have died. I did manage to get 2 recommendations out of one local, the stalls of Miss Jean and Miss Esmie. I ate conch & dumplings from Miss Esmie’s food stall and found it very good. The dumplings (flat cakes of cornmeal) are super dense though, and I could only eat 1 of the 3 given to me. The sauce was rich and tasty, and the conch was very tender in consistency. I’m glad I ate here, but I’m not sure it was good enough to become a ritual. Another plus to this option is the view. You order up your food for take out and then sit down to eat in the covered seating area that looks out over the small park and then the ocean in its background.
- Yow’s Caribbean Café and Roti Shop next to RBC Bank on Milford Road came on recommendation several times for the town’s best roti and local food. The locals I spoke to all recommended this place, and their food was tasty and affordable. They weren’t the friendliest though, which deterred me a bit. I got take out a few times, which made for a good meal at the beach. They don’t like to make change, so bring small bills.
- Jenny’s Caribbean Café, located directly across from RBC Bank.. I felt it served tasty, affordable food and had a welcoming atmosphere with friendly staff and a patio with a nice ambience. I would stop for breakfast, usually a fry bake stuffed with eggplant or sole and a cup of coffee.
- Rituals Coffee, directly across the road from the airport, was recommended for coffee and basic baked goods and deli style foods, etc. It’s essentially like the TT version of Starbucks. I never ate there, but the coffee is good.
- The Pasta Gallery, a cute little restaurant with a trendy, stylish vibe on Pigeon Point Road just before you get to Café Coco and the bar at Swallows Beach. They have great salads, basic but tasty pastas, and a good drink list. This is not a cheap option, but the food is very tasty and, I think, a good value…especially since it is super cute, and they make a great caipirinha. Uff! Both times I came here I ran there in the rain…without my phone…thus no photos. But, this place is adorable!
- The Toucan Inn has a cute atmosphere, a nicely priced (100 TT) set menu (as well as a full menu), and a little bar with a great ambience, which felt very tiki-esque. A German woman I met while diving introduced me to this place. You can find it on Old Store Bay Road.
- The Backyard Gourmet Café – a place that no local seemed to mention. I was drawn in out of curiosity one evening on my way to Skewers. The atmosphere is nice and warm, and the food is good. However, it is on the pricier end. If you are looking for a sit-down place with decent food, a covered patio and a warm atmosphere, it’s worth the few extra bucks though.
Where to drink?
- My favorite place to have a drink was on the beach, but you can find plenty of places around Crown Point to have a drink. The hottest spot seemed to be Jade, the bar at the casino, which has something going on every night of the week and a great patio as well. Although, Illusions on Pigeon Point Road seemed to be quite busy at times as well.
- Every one will tell you that you must spend your Sunday night at Sunday School in Buccoo Bay, a large street party where people gather to party and listen to music until the wee hours of the morning. The party starts with large groups of steel drummers and is followed by either bands or DJs, and the party can go into the wee hours. Any of the tour guides around will organize a ride for you, often with drinks included. I will admit that I did not go, as I was diving the next morning out of Charlottesville, which was over an hour’s drive, and I was too lazy or exhausted from a day of exploring to make the effort. It is certainly on the docket for next time.
Where I stayed?
Kia’s Guesthouse is a nice little guesthouse on Milford Road, directly across from RBC Bank behind Jenny’s Caribbean Café. Reviews on TripAdvisor are mixed, but I found that this place was a great value for the rate. Disclaimer is that I was upgraded from a guest room to a studio due to my length of stay and it being low season. However, it was clean and simple. The room was very comfortable, and I was never concerned about bugs. I did use the mosquito net to prevent any bites at night, but never found insects to be a problem. The shower had great water pressure, and I always had warm water. There was a ceiling fan and a functional and quiet A/C. The studios have small kitchens, but there is a shared kitchen for the guest rooms. I used mine for drinks, leftovers, and the intermittent ramen noodles or oatmeal.
Two points to take note of – the wifi never worked for me and I was told by other guests that it was very spotty for them as well; and the guesthouse is right on the main road very close everything you might need (restaurants, minimarts, ATM, Coco Reef and Undersea Tobago, Store Bay) and to the Casino Bar, which makes it a great location for the daytime but a less appealing option for light sleepers. I used the internet café across the street (Laundernet Café) and turned my A/C on at night to drown the noise (which worked on all nights but Karaoke night!)…and I did just fine…for USD 40 per night. Certainly a good value. I would surely stay here again.
Banking – Crown Point has several banks and ATMs, especially along Milford Road. You can’t miss them unless you never leave your hotel.
Internet – I was told that there were 2 internet cafes, but I only used Laundronet Café, next to La Cantina and RBC Bank on Milford Road. Computers were fast and plentiful. Internet use costs TT20 per hour. The café also offers laundry and dry-cleaning services.
Crown Point is the main tourist hub of the island, where you have easy access to anything you might need, ATMs, acceptable food options, mini-marts, diving, beaches, bars. I based here, because as a single female, I thought it would be easier and less isolating. This is probably true, but I’ve found myself quite lazy and have not been very interested in going out at night. Being a single female traveler, avoiding trouble in the Caribbean (as well as many other places) can be exhausting, because you get a lot of attention…and I haven’t seemed to find the energy or will to go out into the world at night and brave the bars here. Regardless, it was likely a good option for me to base here. With it being low season, it’s been slow, and there haven’t been a lot of people around. Even though the outlying villages are beautiful and calm, they may have been too quiet for me. And, I appreciated having a bit more variety in places and types of food to eat. If I had been traveling with others, I might have preferred staying in the northern part of the island (ie Castara, Speyside, Charlottesville, etc) for at least part of my stay in Tobago. And, even traveling solo, I feel that I would have felt safe staying in these villages. The Tobagan people (minus the airport personnel) are very friendly, and the men, while eager to share their appreciation for your beauty, are not aggressive or persistent and are easily dismissed with a “Thank you. Have a nice day!” or a “No, thank you.” If your goal is to dive all day, every day and you are not concerned about any type of bar scene, staying in Charlottesville or Speyside is your best bet, even if you are travelling solo. The diving is much better at that end of the island, and if you aren’t going to be doing a lot else, then the benefits of Crown Point are irrelevant. If you are staying outside of Crown Point and you have any intention of leaving your home base village, you will need a car. It’s not easy to get around up-island without one.
I hope this post is helpful for anyone planning a trip to Tobago. Please feel free to add any helpful information in the comments or send me any feedback!