The country of Trinidad and Tobago is a dual island nation located off the coast of South America. Each island has its own personality and unique identity. Tobago is considered the laid-back part of the country with a slow pace lifestyle. Tobago is best known for the island’s nature reserve (Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve) and bird watching. Trinidad on the other hand is considered an entertainment capital. Trinidad is home to the world-famous Carnival held on the island each year (most likely you’ve seen numerous photos of this event online). Fun fact, Trinidad and Tobago is also the birthplace of calypso music, limbo, and the steelpan drum.
Our itinerary only took us to the island of Tobago. Interestingly the country is not a typical destination visited by many US based cruise lines. This actually made it hard to figure out our plans. Before our arrival in Tobago, we had nothing planned for our day. I searched online and most of the private tours did not interest us since the focus was on bird watching (not my thing!). The few shore excursions offered by Princess Cruises were overpriced and didn’t offer much either.
We had finally decided to just walk around the town area but luckily found a taxi while walking through the terminal. This turned out to be a good thing since many of the shops were closed because the island was celebrating Boxing Day a day late! There was a stand in the terminal for the official taxi company on Tobago offering set prices for specific tours of the island. The taxi took us around Tobago and the tour lasted around 3 hours.
Interestingly the driver, Chris, was also starting his own tour company on Tobago. I actually just came across his website finally and will include the link for anyone interested in a private tour of Tobago. The tour company is called CP’s Tours and Taxi Service. If you are looking for a private tour, I would highly recommend Chris. We found Chris to be extremely professional and knowledgeable about Tobago.
Our time on the island took us to three historic forts. The first stop of the day took us to Fort King George. Fort King George was built in the 1770s by the British. The fort is actually one of the best preserved colonial era buildings on Tobago. The fort and remaining cannons overlook the impressive coastline. The view is really a must see here! There is a museum on the property which we did not view.
After walking around Fort King George, Chris took us further up the Atlantic coastline to Fort Granby. Not much remains of the former Fort Granby, though the headstone of a former British solider still remains on the grounds. Today the area is covered with benches, gazebos, and a maze of trees. The fort provides a great opportunity to view both Barbados Bay and Pinfold Bay.
From Fort Granby, we next headed towards Fort James. Before stopping at Fort James, we first visited the Mystery Tombstone. The Mystery Tombstone is located in Plymouth and is from 1783. The tomb of Betty Stiven has created much debate over the years due to the odd choice of language inscribed:
“Beneath these walls are deposited the body of Mrs. Betty Stiven and her child. She was the beloved wife of Alex B Stiven. To the end of his days will deplore her death, which happened upon the 25th November 1783 in the 23rd year of her age. What was remarkable of her, she was a mother without knowing it, and a wife without letting her husband know it except by her kind indulgence to him.”
There are many hypothesizes about the tombstone and what may have transpired. The tombstone is an interesting piece of history that will probably always remain a mystery.
From the Mystery Tombstone, it was a short drive to Fort James. Fort James overlooks Great Courland Bay. The fort was established in the 1760s by the British. During the fort’s history, the fort came under attack a few times. The first time was by slaves on the island, another time was by the French who captured and occupied the fort until the British later recaptured the island. Today not much remains at the fort besides four cannons and a small building.
After visiting three of the historical forts on the island, we then were driven around the Tobago more and stopped for a brief time near a popular fishing spot. From here we had a view of a nearby sandbar and a popular beach. Once we took a few photos we then headed back to the ship.
The tour was a great way to become acquainted with the island of Tobago.