Christmas in Tobago

Mystic of Holyhead (successor to Lynn Rival)
Rachel and Paul Chandler
Wed 13 Jan 2016 17:29
With Lynda visiting we've had an extended Christmas and New Year holiday sight-seeing while Lynn Rival sits in the boatyard.  We started with Tobago, a small island, now dependent on tourism, but still very laid back, especially away from the tourist hot spots in the southwest.  We managed to see most of the island.  The rugged and less developed coastline in the north is especially beautiful, while much of the central mountain area is protected rain forest.

Charlotteville, the main town in the north, nestles in Man-of-war Bay (on the Caribbean, ie leeward, side of the island)

A little further north is Pirates Bay

A well-fed group of tourists at Speyside, on the east coast . . .

 . . . we had just sampled the local lobster . . .

 . . . then we took in the Atlantic views

We had booked accommodation in two different places.  The first five days were meant to be spent in a spacious apartment set in the forested hills above Scarborough, the small town on the Atlantic coast that is the capital of the island.  On our second day the water ran out and we were having to flush the loos using water from the swimming pool.  We put up with that for a day and then de-camped to a forest retreat on the north coast near the resort of Castara.  The house was amazing, like a two storey cabin, open to the elements, and with it's own infinity pool. 

Xanadu, our retreat for two days, high in the rain forest, with plenty of water!

The sea views were glorious and the rainforest was all around.  Hummingbirds hovered on the flowers outside the kitchen window, the cocricos squawked like mad, the wrens nesting inside the house chattered at dawn, the mosquitos were ravenous and an opossum (looking suspiciously like a rat) came to visit.  Trevor who owned the property was a delightful man, full of stories and insights like "God made me an atheist".

This cocrico is the local 24/7 noise generator, home in the nearest tree

The afternoon view over the Caribbean

The nearby beach of Castara, from the restaurant we chose for Christmas lunch

On Boxing Day we were expecting to move to a luxury apartment overlooking the sea at Stonehaven beach but we discovered in the morning that we'd been double-booked!  A mad panic of phone calls and emails ensued and eventually we managed to find a nice apartment not far away.  The owner and his wife cut short their holiday to get it ready for us.

The south west is geared up to boat trips, and the pelicans take advantage!

We took a trip in a glass-bottomed boat, to see the famous reef at Buccoo.  Interesting, but not really in the same league as the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. 

A brain coral on Buccoo reef

Many tourists come for the beaches and the diving but others come for the birds.  Our favourite trip was to the Main Ridge Forest Reserve where we hired a local expert, Newton George, to help us find and identify different birds.  He knows the best spots and used his iphone to play bird song to attract the birds, then he'd set up his telescope so we could view them close up.  It was a fascinating way to spend a morning even though we had to get up at 5am!

The start of one of the rain forest trails, and Newton, our guide

And this is what we saw (or rather, what we managed to record, more or less in focus!):

Just to show we were paying attention, they are (from top left):
Rufous tailed jacamars, blue backed manakin (with red cap);
green throated carib, white tailed sabrewing, blue crowned motmot;
rufous tailed jacamar;
grey king bird, common potoo (sleeps all day), tropical king bird;
bananaquit, scorpion spider.