Snorkeling is my favourite to-do activity when I go on vacation and our sister isle Tobago has so many snorkeling sites that you can explore from just off the shore even if you are not a strong swimmer. I’ve included this post in the money section because all these snorkeling sites are free and you don’t have to pay a boat or guide to take you to the reefs which can be very expensive.
Snorkeling is a look into different world as you can observe and appreciate the marine life going about their daily business. You have the opportunity to see the amazing rock and coral formations, plants and an abundance of fishes. If you don’t have snorkel gear there are cheap sets you can buy in the department store for around TT$80. It’s cheaper than renting gear on the beach. Also, you may feel better knowing that it is yours in case you lose or damage it. The cheap sets work well for beginners to practice breathing in the water and I find that the masks and snorkel fit well. Pay attention to the size of the fins when buying as they must match your shoe size. When you have your gear you can go over to Tobago and try out these really accessible snorkeling sites.
The cliffs at the edge of the Johnstone Apartments hotel grounds are in fairly sheltered water. Close to and in between the rocks you can see so many beautiful fishes swimming in and out of the trenches. If you are nervous in deep waters stick to the areas along the cliffs as there is a lot of fish there and it’s very shallow. If you are a stronger swimmer you can swim out and explore the coral in that area. The area is just outside of the yellow and red flags so look out for jet skis and other boat traffic if you go further out into the ocean. Do not attempt if the sea is rough as the waves can hurl you against the cliffs and you can injure yourself.
The water in Store Bay is so clear that you can see fishes from the hotel grounds above the cliffs.
2. Mt. Irvine Hotel Beach & Mt. Irvine Bay
I like the facilities on this beach as there are cute little cabanas that you can put your belongings in while you swim. The water is teeming with plankton and marine life but I found visibility a bit poorer on Mt. Irvine Bay than the beach next door, Mt. Irvine Hotel Beach. You can walk over to the next beach which can be recognized by the green hotel chairs and snorkel off the shore there as well due to reefs running both ends of the bay. Unfortunately, the Mt. Irvin Bay was rocky when I entered the water and the rocks hurt my feet when I was not wearing my fins.
Looking across to Mt. Irvin Bay from the Hotel Beach
If you want to go from Mt. Irvin Bay to Mt. Irvin Hotel Beach you can walk across the rocks that separate them but they are quite slippery so be careful. Experts agree that the current is a bit strong when you go out further from the bay but if you are a strong swimmer you can swim across to the next beach.
The Mt. Irvin Hotel beach water is really clear
3. Arnos Vale
This site is one of the best snorkeling I did in Tobago and it was in relatively sheltered conditions. The North end had so many fishes right off the shore as soon as you submerge in the water. The spot is a bit lonely as there is an old hotel, Arnos Vale Hotel on the beach that makes it even more creepy. However, don’t be put off! As you swim out there are really cool rock and coral formations and marine plants. Be aware of sea urchins though as I spotted a few on the big rocks hidden in the crevices. Also look out for barracudas and eels!
The lonely Arnos Vale Beach
4. Englishman’s Bay
To snorkel on this beautiful beach you can go around midday to late afternoon. There is a huge rock shelf in the water with so much fish that I was shocked when I looked under the water. You can see from the photo below that the water is fairly clear. The beach is not crowded so it is great for snorkeling. The beach gets deep quickly so be careful if you are nervous in deep waters. I found the swimming easy but I’ve read that it can be rough and wavy sometimes so observe the sea conditions before snorkeling as there is no lifeguard on the beach.
5. Batteaux Bay
To get to this snorkeling site you have to enter through the Blue Waters Inn gate and enter the hotel’s compound. The beach has a wooden pier and you can see Goat Island and Little Tobago. There were a lot of fishes on the left side of the pier just a few steps away from the shore. We hired a boat to take us to Angel Reef right at the hotel but the waters are deep and a bit choppy so if you are a beginner you may not enjoy that experience.
Batteaux Bay from Blue Waters Inn
6. Pigeon Point
This beach is so calm, shallow and crystal-clear. It is the perfect place to practice swimming and snorkeling. There is a small entrance fee to access the beach and facilities. The best place to snorkel is where the rocks are as marked by the circle in the photo below as there is a lot of fish in that area. I actually almost kissed a sting ray there while I was snorkeling once. Don’t worry if you see one they are more scared of you than you are of them.
Stingray in Tobago
7. Castara Bay
I’ve been to Castara Bay but I’ve never swam in the sea. However, I hear that there is decent snorkeling off the shore at the far right side of the bay which is called Heavenly Bay. It was a long afternoon drive to Castara and the hill to go down to the beach was very steep and sharp. We did not have time to check out the site but next time I visit Tobago I’ll check it out and update this blog post.
Looking across from Heavenly Bay
I’ve snorkled in the southern end of Great Courland Bay in Black Rock because I’ve stayed in one of the villas close by and saw fish near the rocks. It can be accessed using any of the side streets in the village which will take you down to the southern end of Great Courland Bay’s beaches. There is a shelf of black rocks close to the shore that has marine life and the water is very shallow. I’ve never swam upshore to Turtle Beach so I’m not sure if there is snorkeling there but I won’t be suprised if there is as almost everywhere in Tobago I see fish. When I explore the entire Great Courland Bay I will include it in the list but if you want to check it out the beach in Black Rock is really calm as seen in the photo below.
Leave a comment below if you know an easy, cheap, accessible snorkeling site in Tobago that is not on this list.