Hailed as one of the best scuba diving destinations in the Caribbean, Tobago has over 60 established dive sites scattered off its shores, and a superb selection of dive shops, experienced instructors and state of the art equipment to making planning a diving vacation easy, safe – and exciting
. Additionally, the water is warm and the visibility around 25-36 metres; January to August have clearer water, with May to July offering the best conditions.
The island is ringed with tropical reefs comprising 300 species of coral. The largest and most popular may be the 10,000 year old Buccoo Reef, but the most pristine dive spots are located off the northeastern tip and around Arnos Vale
. These shelter a fantastic array of fish in vivid hues, as well as manta, eagle sting rays and menacing-looking moray eels and barracudas. The mantas are most abundant near Charlotteville between May and August. Nurse and black tipped reef sharks may provide a thrilling close encounter – but they present no danger. Sea turtles are a gentler marine companion and are often encountered.
Wreck, reef and drift dives are all possible, depending on experience
. The wreck of the MV Maverick lies 30m down on the ocean floor off the west coast – it’s recommended for intermediate divers. The reefs off Castara and Mt Irvine Bay are great options for beginners, with towering pinnacles and neon shoals of fish. Alternatively, Kelliston Drain, near Little Tobago, has the largest known brain coral in the world at over 5m across
. Advanced divers will be wowed by Sisters Rocks – five rock pinnacles known for attracting manta rays (particularly Nov-Feb).
Half or full day resort dives are a great taster session, teaching you all the basics in a hotel pool before heading into the ocean. PADI open water and advanced open water certifications are also available – courses last two to five days. Professional qualifications are also possible. Always look for a fully certified operator – a good place to start is the Association of Tobago Dive Operators
. There is a recompression chamber in Roxborough for divers who get into difficulties.
Tobago’s Underwater Carnival
is not literally a submarine parade – it’s a week-long event each July celebrating underwater activities and biodiversity. There are underwater photography seminars, fish identification, kids activities and introductory dives – this is an awesome experience for anyone – diver or not – to get more involved in the world under the sea.