5 reasons Tobago should be your next foodie adventure
This unspoiled Caribbean island is a heavenly blend of breathtaking landscapes, a rich, convivial culture and exquisitely varied food
Take a glance at your social media feed and it might not be long before you come across somebody on an idyllic Caribbean holiday. The reasons for the region’s popularity amongst tourists are obvious, but how many of them actually get under the skin of the place and experience sights, sounds and tastes that they simply wouldn’t anywhere else on earth?
There are countless well-trodden destinations scattered across the Caribbean for a soothing getaway. But if you want the trappings of an island paradise without being hemmed in by sterile identikit resorts, where you’re able to explore everything the local cultural tapestry has to offer, Tobago is just the ticket. It has been careful to resist over-development, and retains all the traditional characteristics that add up to a truly joyful escape.
Everything you could want from a deep dive into the Caribbean is here – a warm welcome from friendly locals who delight in showcasing the best of the place, secluded and unspoilt white sand beaches lazily lapped by sky blue oceans, the distant sound of music drifting on the warm tropical breeze, breathtaking natural beauty and striking wildlife.
Then there’s the fresh, vibrant natural ingredients concocted with true passion and love into utterly irresistible dishes that’ll have your tastebuds pining for years to come. If your ideal holiday is the ultimate foodie adventure, take a look at just some of the reasons why you need a taste of Tobago.
Where there is sea, there are fish, and no one curries a crab quite like Tobagonians. The shores teem with blue crabs, which are cooked whole in an intoxicating blend of spices and served with unctuous dumplings for the most moreish – and messy – meal imaginable. Some of the best restaurants on the island to sample curry crab are Blue Crab and the Fish Pot, but wherever you go, you’ll be gnawing and slurping for every last piece of succulent crab meat and drop of gravy. In addition, seafood lovers can look forward to impossibly large lobsters, butterflied and grilled over fire, or luminous red snapper either pan-fried or baked in a dry rub.
A British estimation of Caribbean cuisine can often amount to a carnivore’s paradise, but there’s plenty more to it than jerk chicken and curry goat. Some of Tobago’s finest dishes are delicate, simple showcases of the wonderful fruit and vegetables that grow on the island, none more so than the national dish callaloo. Made primarily from the plentiful dasheen bush, often called taro leaves, as well as plenty of okra, this thick, coconut-rich stew can be enjoyed as a side or a soup on its own.
Typically, as with most dishes, it’s garnished with a sprinkling of chadon beni – a heartier native version of coriander. In addition, virtually every restaurant you go to will offer fresh twists on Caribbean favourites like plantain and cassava. Between all this and tempting street food like Indian-inspired doubles – a kind of flatbread often topped with chickpea curry – it’s a delightful place to be vegetarian.
A permanent party
People in Tobago are at their best when they come together, whether that’s just ‘liming’ – the concept of simply enjoying good food, good company and good conversation – or their joyous communal events throughout the year. The aforementioned dasheen plant actually inspires the famous Blue Food festival every October in Bloody Bay, due to its tendency to turn blue when boiled. Chefs from across the island come together with innovative ways to showcase the ingredient, including dasheen ice cream.
Another way to immerse yourself in the island’s culture is the annual Tobago Heritage Festival, running from mid-July to August, full of music, dance, performances of folk tales and, of course, plenty to eat and drink. And for an even more unbridled atmosphere, sample the sights and sounds of Sunday School in Buccoo – a wild street party bathed in the exhilarating rhythms of dancehall music played by a steel band.
For a small island relative to neighbouring Trinidad, Tobago punches well above its weight when it comes to stunning white sand beaches. Pretty much any beach you choose will be an instant hit, but among the standouts is the popular Pigeon Point. Its bars, restaurants and water sports facilities make for a perfect day out, as does the gently lapping water which often shines several shades of blue at once. For somewhere more secluded but no less picturesque, try the sumptuous Englishman’s Bay, while the pristine Pirate’s Bay can be accessed via a boat trip.
Your appetite sated, eye-opening adventures are in order. When it comes to wildlife, Tobago enjoys some of the most vibrant species in the whole of the Caribbean. The north east of the island was even recently designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Bird watchers flock to the island for sightings of the white-tailed sabrewing hummingbird or the rufous-vented chachalaca AKA cocrico – Tobago’s national bird. And those are just two of the island’s 260 bird species. Elsewhere you can enjoy peeking at the technicolour marine life as you scuba dive, or swim in the lagoon at the bottom of the spectacular Argyle Falls.