Traveling in Tobago with kids

Traveling in Tobago with kids

What does Responsible Travel recommend?

Driving distances are short and beaches abundant, as are the swimming pools, fresh, child-friendly food (hot sauce optional!) and well-equipped accommodation, with many self-catering options. But safe doesn’t equate dull: Tobago’s activities are as vibrant as its reefs, with kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and snorkelling delighting water babies, and cycling, horse riding and zip lining providing some land-based adventure.

The island is also more wallet-friendly than elsewhere in the Caribbean – drink to that by treating yourself and your kids to another cheeky virgin piña colada.

Activities for families in Tobago

What to do with little ones

If windsurfing, kite surfing and scuba diving all sound a bit too adventurous; stand up paddle boarding may be just the thing for older kids to get a feel for the water all on their own. The warm, calm waters are ideal for beginners, and experienced instructors ensure little (and not so little) learners have plenty of fun as well as picking up the paddling technique.
The excellent Being with Horses has no age limit on their excellent horseback riding tours. Many riders have never been on a horse before, and the guides offer full instruction before each ride. Riding through Buccoo village, past the mangroves and along the beach, tours culminate with a thrilling immersion in the sea. Definitely one for the family album!
Kids will get their beach fill on Tobago – from the busy beaches of the southwest with restaurants, bars, picnic tables and huts to shelter from the sun, to the secluded bays further north and west. It’s not all about building sandcastles; they can snorkel close to the shoreline, search for washed up coral and shells and meet the local fishermen.

Health & safety in Tobago

Travel safely in Tobago with kids


  • There is no malaria in Tobago, although other mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue fever, still exist. Use insect repellent, and wear long sleeves and trousers when possible, particularly in forested areas and after dusk. Near-invisible sand flies can also cause great annoyance – wearing citronella oil often works well as a chemical-free repellent.
  • Visit your GP or travel clinic at least six weeks before departure to ensure you are up to date with all necessary vaccinations. Ensure your travel insurance covers emergency repatriation and evacuation as hospital facilities on Tobago are limited, although excellent care is available in Trinidad. Your policy should also include any activities which you intend to participate in, including diving.
  • Manchineel trees are one of the most toxic in the world. Every part of this plant is dangerous; the poisonous sap will blister the skin on contact the skin. The trees can be found around the island, including several beaches; avoid standing under or near them – especially when raining – as the sap can drip. The fruit resembles a small green apple; the shiny leaves are similar to bay leaves. If you are on a guided tour your guide should point the trees out to you.
  • Tap water is safe to drink in Tobago, although some may be put off by the chemical taste. Some places provide filters for the tap water – this is a better alternative than plastic bottles.
  • Take note of the emergency numbers: 990 for an ambulance or fire brigade and 999 for the police.
  • The seemingly endless, winding roads can cause queasiness even in those who don’t usually experience car sickness. Bring medication if prone; ginger is a good natural remedy.


The country’s high crime rate is actually focused on Trinidad – visitors to Tobago should not experience problems, and violent crime is virtually unheard of. The usual precautions are advised, particularly at night. Most hotels and guesthouses provide safes for valuables; be aware of pickpockets, particularly at busy events and festivals.

More popular beaches have lifeguards, but do be careful when swimming a long way out from the shore, and be especially vigilant if traveling in Tobago with kids. Remoter beaches are unguarded. Look out for flags – white and yellow for safe swimming, red for danger. 

Watch out for fire coral when snorkelling or swimming. Brushing against it causes an intense stinging or burning pain that can last for several days. Your guide or boat driver should warn you if fire coral is present; it generally resembles red, light brown or orange seaweed with white tips. Washing with seawater (not freshwater) or vinegar may ease the pain.

Barracudas, moray eels and stingrays are also present in the waters around Tobago. They are extremely unlikely to attack, but if you do see any of these species remember to keep clear and avoid provoking them.

There are several species of snake on Tobago; none of them are venomous.

If you are spending time in Trinidad en route, pre-booked taxis are advised, avoid the downtown and port areas – particularly at night – and take extra care during carnival.

The speed limit may be slow (50kph/31mph) but the Tobagonian drivers move fast. This is especially hazardous as the steep hillsides mean there are many narrow, winding roads with blind corners. If driving, keep to the speed limit (even if you have a tail of local drivers), use your horn on blind corners and be especially careful during the rainy season when landslides can further narrow roads. Remember – driving is on the left!

Tobago lies south of the hurricane belt; only two major cyclones have occurred since the 1960s but annual storms can still cause flash floods and landslides, which may result in some more rural roads becoming impassable. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and check your route if visiting from June to November.

Going nude or topless on beaches is illegal in Tobago. As well as causing offence to locals, it could get you into trouble with the police.

Traveling in Tobago with kids asks the experts

Mia Persad-Douglas, from Footprints Eco Resort & Spa, shares her advice on traveling in Tobago with kids:
“My kids loved growing up here. It’s a children’s paradise. There are so many things that kids can do. If they’re quite young then the beaches are tremendous fun – but then there’s a company that does zip lining, there’s boat tours in Buccoo, there’s Being with Horses which does horseriding. The horses love interacting with the kids so they can groom them and that kind of thing. That’s a great, kid-friendly activity.”
Tanya Clovis, from SOS Tobago, advises parents who want to take their kids on a sea turtle tour: “You might want to bring children, which is great, but bear in mind that if they are very young, there might not be as much to see on a night with no moon as might be satisfying for them. If we are lucky, there may a turtle nesting early in the morning or early evening, which is a different experience. A few times every season, however, we do have a sunset release of the hatchlings. So if you have children and you are here in late June, July or August, it’s worth putting your name on a call out list so that we can call you.”
Gillian Howe, from our supplier Geodyssey, shares her tips on traveling in Tobago with kids: “Tobago really is excellent for a family vacation with children. There’s a good range of resorts, a reasonable choice of villa properties, and some very nice small hotels here and there. The leeward side of the island has the calmest seas. Look for beaches with lifeguards, and ask their advice before venturing beyond a paddle. And remember to take plenty of high factor suntan cream!”
• Read more about travel advice and places to stay in Tobago
Responsible Travel would like to thank Visit Tobago for their sponsorship of this guide

Photo credits: [Father and child: Dominic Sayers] [Activity 1 - paddle boarding: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater] [Activity 3 - beach time: Dominic Sayers] [Turtle quote: Paul Mannix]
Written by Vicki Brown
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