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WHAT ARE THE 10 BEST DIVE SITES IN TOBAGO?

scuba diver

WHAT ARE THE 10 BEST DIVE SITES IN TOBAGO?

The tropical paradise called Tobago, famous for its rich biodiversity covering it from the highest point of 1800ft to the sea level also boasts of the best underwater view which is home to a wide variety of marine life forms. Wait till you take that plunge into the warm deep blue ocean that surrounds the island, the riotous hues of Tobago that will greet you will shame any color palette you know of. It’s a completely different world out there and between the hearsay and the actual view, you can only stare and gasp at the rich marine diversity which is unimaginable until you see it.

Tobago’s impeccable location, which includes the outflow from the Orinoco River of Venezuela, the Atlantic on its windward side and the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea on the other side of the island explains the rich, unparallel species diversity from macro species to pelagic giants, every kind of species thrives here. Tobago is fed year round by the nutrient-rich Guyana Current which sustains and attracts the exuberant number of life forms which is unparalleled to anywhere else in this hemisphere.

The huge abundance of stunning underwater diving sites are a sharp contrast to the island’s small size and the unrivalled singular beauty of the diverse life will stun you like nothing else. The dive facilities have way improved in recent years and can proudly stand at par with any other Caribbean diving points. From the ace divers to the novice, even snorkelers,

Tobago underwater has enough to satisfy the taste buds of all levels of experience. With more than 50 established spots, an imposing number for such a small island, Tobago is the place to be for your next vacation to have the most unforgettable experience of your lifetime.

What Are The 10 Best Dive Sites In Tobago?

From beginner to world-class diver the dive sites of Tobago are worth every bubble. The 10 best locations are 1) Speyside, 2) Kellston Drain, 3) Japanese Garden, 4) Bookends, 5) Mr. Irvine Wall, 6) M.V. Maverick, 7) Cove Crack, 8) The Flying Reef, 9) The Sisters and 10) Kariwak Reef.

1. SPEYSIDE AREA

Batteaux bay looking towards shore at Blue Water Inn, Speyside Tobago
Batteaux bay looking towards shore at Blue Water Inn, Speyside Tobago

To experience Tobago’s famous drift diving, head over to the Speyside area on the island’s northeastern edge. Here the buffeting action of the Atlantic will thrust you effortlessly along the sloping reefs rich in diverse forms that encompasses the area’s offshore islands. Known for its wild and extravagantly beautiful reefs, Speyside offers the best visibility and the most remarkable sightings which go on to attract the most experienced divers.

Of the 20 diving sites, it provides the Kelleston Drain, the London Bridge area and the Japanese Garden provides the most spectacular reef exhibit you don’t want to miss. From the elusive Manta rays to spotting hawksbill turtles and nurse sharks, it’s home to some of the most astounding corals of the world.

2. KELLESTON DRAIN

Kelleston Drain sometimes called Kelleston Deep or Little Tobago Drift is a long plain of lush coral drops from 30′ to 60′ then slopes off steeply – home of the world’s biggest brain coral!
Kelleston Deep or Little Tobago Drift, Home of the Largest Brain Coral

Situated off Little Tobago towards the drift dive site, this place is famed to house the world’s largest brain coral which measures around 15 ft in diameter. Do take out a few minutes and explore the humongous. Along with morays, nurse sharks that cruise around the area, you may also have a close encounter with gorgonians, swaying sea fans, sea whips, small feather black coral and a huge collection of hard and soft corals along with multicolored sponges. The luckiest few might also come up close and personal with the majestic manta rays. So be on your guard and enjoy the phenomenal views.

3 JAPANESE GARDEN

At the end of Goat Island, Japanese Garden reef is abuzz with a plethora of fish, coral and sponges
Japanese Garden sits at the end of oat Island with its stunning coral, fish and sponges

Located around the southern tip of Goat Island, this fascinating dive site has the most magnificent range of corals and is suitable for all levels of divers. Resembling a miniature Japanese Garden, this underwater haven is much more than its namesake. Swimming among a plethora of varied fish species and sponges layered upon sponges, with hundreds of gorgonians in between, bright yellow, orange, red, olive tube sponges, red sea rods, barrel sponges in different hues you will finally reach the famous Kamikaze tunnel, lined by cup corals and on the other side of which is the famous serene Japanese Garden.

The Atlantic currents are quite strong around this area so it is best suggested to get inside the tunnel and enjoy the scenic delights at a slower pace before you reach the ultimate showstopper. You will catch glimpses of sea whip corals that resemble bonsai plants as damselfish and angelfish dart past by among the brightly hued corals, colorful sea fans gently swaying horizontally in the Atlantic drift, banded coral shrimps playing hide-and-seek among the gigantic barrel sponges; all in all this site is like a riot of sparkling colors that guarantees to leave a lasting taste on the visitors who dare to take the plunge.

Travel advice: Do carry a reef hook to secure yourself to a rock (nor corals or sponges for that matter!!) if you plan to take these dives. It is a perfect tool to slow down in the huge current while enjoying the beauty without destroying the reef.

4. BOOKENDS

Barrel, elephant ear and tube sponges galore, in Bookends when you dive Tobago
A spectacle of Barrel, Elephant ear and Tube Sponges

South of the main Speyside area, this spectacular diving spot is unique in its appearance as it is a twinned set of huge vertical slabs of rocks that stick out from the water and form a breathtaking structure that looks like a natural amphitheater. Descending can be a bit difficult at times due to the turbulent water currents, so it is recommended for intermediates and skilled divers. You will encounter voracious gigantic tarpons whizz past in the surf zone, mammoth-sized morays swim past nonchalantly and microscopic-sized fishes teeming all around amidst the richly hued elkhorn-corals, barrel sponges and sea whip thus reflecting the benefit that the nutrient-rich currents of Tobago have on its marine diversity.

5. MOUNT IRVINE WALL

A French Angelfish. A common sight when you dive Tobago
A French Angelfish

The Caribbean coast of Tobago offers the best diving site for novices as well as certified ones, as per their suitability. For a perfect introduction to marine diversity, this area provides some of the best relaxing dive points for first-timers. The not-to-be-missed renowned Mount Irvine Wall being one of them with its rocky outcrop that divides Mount Irvine and Stone Haven Bay.

The great “wall” is encased with innumerous corals and its hallmark are the crevices and ledges that are home to a plethora of sponges, crabs, moray eels, fireclams, sea horses, queen angelfish and other fascinating reef fishes. Following the outcropping rocks, is a larger coral reef area known as the Extension, which is the deeper diving part of Mount Irvine and it harbours larger species like the tarpons, hawksbill turtles and the spotted eagle ray which are common sightings here.

6. MV MAVERICK

A Trumperfish swimming within the MV Maverick, located off Buccoo, Tobago
The MV Maverick sitting at a depth of 100 feet off Buccoo, Tobago

Once a passenger sailing between the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago, the wreck of MV Maverick lies at a depth of 100ft is at present a dramatic dive site. In 1997, the tourism department recognizing the tourism and fishery benefit created an artificial reef by intentionally sinking this ship, then called the Scarlet Ibis, after weeks of effort. 34 years down the line, it has transformed into a flourishing ecosystem brimming to the core with marine life. It is now the residence of choice for darting bonito fish, swirling schools of rainbow runners, clams, lobsters and varied hues of corals and Sometimes you might catch the great Barracuda making a regal appearance or moray eels sneaking among the remnants.

7. COVE CRACK

Blue Parrotfish swimming over the seabed with coral
Parrotfish swimming over the coral sea floor

For the advanced level divers, Cove Crack is the ideal dive site because of its steep gradient and presence of pretty strong currents. Situated south of Columbus Point, it’s like a nursery for baby fish as well as the abode of larger pelagic species. Teeming over the sea fans and corals, you can easily catch sight of rays, Parrotfish, purple creole wrasse or a silver Bermuda chub wading by.

This diver’s paradise boasts of an impressive array of exquisite sea fans, sea rods, brain corals and fire corals along with groupers, parrotfish, moray eels, stingrays and sometimes the hawksbill turtle too. Not only do you get to explore the astounding underwater topography but also get the privilege to admire the diverse forms of marine life thriving among the crevices and ledges.

8. FLYING REEF

Scuba diver and anchor underwater in tropical sea. Scuba diving reef underwater scenery. Remains of old ship underwater with scuba diver explorer. Adventure scuba diving on the reef with ship wreck.
Flying Reef

A short boat ride from the Crown Point/ Pigeon Point beaches will take you to this exquisite and popular dive spot. Especially recommended for beginners in drift diving, Flying Reefs offer the perfect start to all freshers willing to explore the underseas. The current is usually slow and gentle but it’s better to be alert round the clock as sometimes higher speed drift dive along the reef. From striking plate corals, parrotfish, porcupine fish to the rare cornetfish, bigeye to glasseye snapper, the fish variety and density will leave you spellbound. Be on the lookout for barracudas, blacktip sharks and stingrays too as they might surprise you once a while.

9. THE SISTERS

The Sisters reef Tobago
The Sisters Reef

Centered around a unique collection of underwater rock formations, the islands of the Sisters are located further up towards the northern coast of Tobago. Situated 1.5miles away from the shore, It offers several excellent dive points extending to a depth of 140 ft thus providing excellent opportunities to seasoned divers to swim along with some larger pelagic species. During the winter months when the water is comparatively cooler, this becomes the site where large schools of hammerhead sharks assemble. Off Englishman’s Bay, the huge rock pinnacles rooted underwater on the ocean floor and the gigantic boulders provide the best habitat for turtles, lobsters, moray eels, manta rays and a variety of tropical fish.

10. KARIWAK REEF

When you dive Tobago at Store Bay you are likely to come across a Moray Eel
A Moray Eel poking its head out from the coral seafloor

Situated 120 feet off Store Bay, Kariwak Reef is out of the ordinary as it is best suited for night diving because of its navigability. Easy accessible as a shore dive or from the boat, it is an excellent dive site for novice divers as well as children. The water being comparatively shallow and due to the near absence of underwater current, it is also a haven for underwater photographers who wish to capture the brilliantly hued marine life. Catch a glimpse of a moray eel, octopus, electric rays, scorpion fish, barracudas, parrotfish, angelfish, or southern stingray swimming past. If you are lucky, you might also see a flying gurnard walking around on its finger-like spines.

Travel advice:

  • t is advisable not to walk on the reefs or touch the coral formations. Enjoy the beauty in the lap of nature without disturbing it.
  • Be extra vigilant about the boat traffic.
  • You must be a certified diver if you want to rent diving equipment. Additionally, you can also take instructional courses at local dive centres.
  • You can opt for the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) courses which is the most coveted and sought after diving course worldwide which is internationally recognized. They will make the best course suited for you and your vacation plans. You can choose from beginners course of scuba diving to open water diving courses and also advanced courses to increase your confidence and skills
  • Visibility might be hindered during the rainy seasons due to the run-off from the Orinoco River.

Final Words

Tobago has long been recognized as the Caribbean’s finest and popular diving destination. Because of its fringing reef system, many of the best snorkeling spots are accessible from shore. The wide display of marine life that you will encounter through diving and snorkeling will be worth the dive and at the end of the vacation, you will sit back and marvel at being the audience to nature’s greatest spectacles.

If you got time after you scuba to check out some of the key events in Tobgo read our top Tobago Festivals picks.

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