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Top 10 beaches in Tobago
For that just-landed-on-a-desert-island feeling, Tobago is the glittering Caribbean gem that’s all fabulous dive sites, characterful fishing villages and plenty of British charm. And there’s no shortage of stunning beaches here either. We check out 10 of the island’s best swathes of sun-kissed sands; from the sugary-white shores of the Caribbean Coast, to the dark volcanic wonders of the Atlantic.
The setting: On the Lower Atlantic Coast in Western Tobago.
The scene: Named by the English for the Indian pirogue fleets that moored here, this slice of seaside chic delights sun-seeking heavyweights with clean white sands, coconut-thatched pavilions, and plenty of grassy areas. Perfect for families with small children, this is one of the island’s shallowest and safest bathing beaches, most lauded for its calm and dip-worthy crystalline waters. Open daily from 9am and 5pm, there is a small admission charge - but it’s free for the under-fours. Facilities include picnic tables, loos, showers, and a small bar serving drinks, sandwiches, burgers and snacks.
Beach treats: For laid-back living just 10-minutes from this beachy jewel, Coco Reef raises the bar for four-star stays with luxe accommodation, floodlit tennis courts, state-of-the-art gym, heavenly spa for feel-good fixers, and well-sized outdoor pool. Factor in two superb restaurants and two bars - one of which specialises in champagne cocktails - and you won’t ever want to leave.
More information and to book: Coco Reef Resort
Store Bay, Crown Point
The setting: A two-minute walk from ANR Robinson International Airport in southwest Tobago.
The scene: Possibly the island’s most adored public beach, this 200-metre-long stretch of glistening golden sand is both the departure point for the glass-bottom boat tours to Buccoo Reef and the setting for the Great Race - the world’s longest-running powerboat competition. Complete with crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimmers, this sun-soaked gem has it all: loos, changing rooms, showers, sunlounger and umbrella rental, snack kiosks, and street food vendors aplenty selling pelau, bake ‘n’ shark, and crab ‘n’ dumpling. It’s also free-to-enter and one of the few Tobago beaches patrolled by lifeguards.
Beach treats: Store Bay’s 35-booth Craft Market is a collection of small huts selling all sorts of locally-made handicrafts. Most worth bringing home are the hand-carved coconut carvings, printed sarongs, leather bags and sandals, customised beaded jewellery, mini steel pan drums, Rasta-style hats, artisan chocolates, and wooden sculptures.
The setting: On the Lower Atlantic Coast in Western Tobago, near to Scarborough.
The scene: It’s all Hollywood-style fabulousness at this secluded crescent-shaped bay used as the setting for Walt Disney's Swiss Family Robinson in 1960. Overlooked by the Blue Haven Hotel - a one-time haunt of Rita Hayworth, Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon - it tempts with a 150-metre-long stretch of soft sand surrounded by coconut palms and almond trees and backed by rolling waves to thrill body-boarders. Facilities include a beach bar on the headland at the southern end of the beach, showers, loos, and kids’ play area.
Beach treats: For boutique bliss, Bacolet Beach Club is an upscale four-star sleep owned by former fashion model Gloria Jones-Knapp. There’s a sizable outdoor pool, high-design rooms with private balconies or terraces for great sea views, and two great dining spots: Café Havana for Creole-Cuban-Asian cuisine and The RoK for all-day cocktails.
Tyrrell's Bay, Speyside
The setting: On Tobago’s northern tip, where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean.
The scene: Appealing to those who like their beach backdrops a bit more rough and rugged, the mile-long Tyrell’s Bay runs the entire length of Speyside - the sleepy fishing village that’s a huge draw for divers, snorkellers and birders. And while it's superb for adventurers keen to check out the coral reef systems, what’s truly great about this place are the twice-daily glass-bottom boat tours to Angel Reef, Goat Island and Little Tobago - also known as Bird of Paradise Island. Equally worthy of your attention are the better-than-average dive shops, snorkel equipment rental outfits, laid-back seaside cafés, and reef-studded waters.
Beach treats: Once the site of a cotton plantation, the must-see seabird sanctuary on the tiny mile-long island of Little Tobago is just a 20-minute boat ride from Speyside. There’s thought to be 33 different bird species breeding here, among them red-billed tropicbirds, brown boobies, magnificent frigate birds, shearwater and red-footed boobies.
Mount Irvine Bay
The setting: On Tobago’s Leeward Coast.
The scene: A beach of two halves that forms a double horseshoe, this 800-metre-long sandy stretch backed by a thicket of sea grape and palm trees ticks the paradise box for sun-seekers. But it’s just as fabulous for sporty types too with a great choice of surfing, water-skiing, wakeboarding, kite-surfing, snorkelling, tennis and volleyball. Bag a sunlounger in one of two shaded sections; the first maintained by Mount Irvine Hotel, the other by the local authority. Both sides have restaurant and bar facilities as well as loos, changing rooms, and showers.
Beach treats: It’s not just about the greens at Mount Irvine Bay Hotel & Golf Club, but the piece de resistance at this three-star charmer is the championship 18hole course carved from an old sugar and coconut estate. Expect classic décor in the guest rooms and garden cottages, two floodlit tennis courts, and a freshwater swimming pool with swimup bar.
Pirates Bay, Charlotteville
The setting: In Tobago’s north, between the Leeward and Windward Coasts.
The scene: Back-to-basics glamour defines the very beach used by Spanish director Luis Buñuel to film Robinson Crusoe in 1952. Once only accessible by sea, the striking and brilliantly-named Pirate’s Bay is now a lot easier to get to from the nearby fishing village of Charlotteville - but you need to be dedicated enough to tackle the 157-step descent to the unspoilt golden sands. There are some basic changing facilities but little else, so it’s worth packing drinks, snacks and possibly a football for a kickabout.
Beach treat: Follow the savvy locals just past the pier towards the Pirate Bay track for what’s considered to the best - and cheapest - Creole cooking in Charlotteville. While it may not be fancy, Gail’s serves up freshly-caught fish dishes and chicken platters, all flavoured with home-grown ingredients. The restaurant opens daily (except Sundays) for dinner from 7pm until late.
The setting: On Tobago’s Leeward Coast.
The scene: Characterised by sweeping white sands backed by calm-as-you-like turquoise Caribbean waters, this mile-long beach is protected by Buccoo Reef - the largest reef in Tobago and one of the most breathtakingly beautiful marine parks on the planet. Post-sunbathing, be sure to stick around for Sunday School - the weekly street party that kicks off every Sunday at 9pm with a set from the Buccooneers Steel Band orchestra. The place is packed out with locals who pile in for the craft, food and gambling stalls, cold beer, steel band music, and DJ sound systems pumping out banging beats until around 5am.
Beach treats: For colonial charm with added luxe, Villa Hawksbill is a lovely self-catering property just five minutes from Buccoo Bay’s sugary sands. There’s a uniquely-designed circular pool, fully-equipped kitchen and utility room, three great-looking en-suite bedrooms, sizeable open-plan lounge and dining area, and BBQ facilities.
The setting: On the Leeward Coast in Tobago’s northeast.
The scene: Beachlife for tanners and bodyboarders doesn’t get much better than this long white-sand hotspot framed by gentle Caribbean waters. Days can be spent helping local fishermen pull in their nets, wandering up to Little Bay for reef snorkelling, buying barbecued fish grills for dinner, and chatting to the friendly locals,. Although there’s a lifeguard, the beach has no proper facilities so it’s best to stock up with refreshments before you go - or stop for a seafood lunch or dinner in the tiny fishing village of Castara.
Beach treat: Run by local women, the Castara Heritage Bakers next to the village school sells a delicious variety of fresh breads, buns, tarts and cakes - all baked in a traditional working clay oven. Just roll up between 11am and 4pm on Thursdays and Saturdays to place your order for pumpkin bread, coconut bread, coconut cakes, and other sweet treats.
The setting: On the Leeward Coast, off Northside Road.
The scene: Raising the bar for beach bliss, this off-the-beaten track bay is set in a crescent shape against an emerald-green forested backdrop. Framed by deep aquamarine waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkelling, the beauty of this place is that there’s little more to do than spread your towel on the palm-fringed sands, doze off to the sound of wild parrots, explore the marine life of the rocky headland, and enjoy freshly-cook fish dishes at Eula's restaurant. Best of all, the beach is always near-secluded, making it one of the most magical spots in Tobago for those seeking peace and quiet away from the masses.
Beach treat: Tobago's buzzy capital Scarborough is worth a visit before climbing the hill to Fort King George - the island’s best-preserved historic site that clings to a cliff high above the Atlantic Ocean. Built in the 1780s, this former hub of military action is now home to restored colonial-era buildings, including the small but interesting Tobago Museum.
The setting: On Tobago’s southwestern coast.
The scene: The scene at the island’s most talked-about beach is as ravishing as you’d imagine: sugar-white sands, bathtub-warm waters, swaying coconut palms, cute fishing huts, and a rather wonderful thatched-roof wooden jetty that makes it into most Tobagan travel brochures. A popular weekend spot for locals, there is a small entrance charge - £2 for adults, £1 for kids aged six to 12, and free for the under sixes. But the payoff is the great facilities, including lifeguards, loos, showers, beach-lounger and umbrella rentals, fast food outlets, craft stalls, and watersports aplenty.
Beach treat: Just a three-minute drive from Pigeon Point, Chic: The Boutique Hotel is a 35-room crash pad for style-savvy guests. Chilled-out days can be spent lazing by the outdoor pool, kicking back with cocktails by the cool-looking bar, and enjoying top-to-toe pampering in the spa.