Jewel of the Caribbean

By: Katy Young

PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer

Dive Centre: Store Bay Marine Services, Tabago

Scuba diving has to be one of the best reasons to visit Tobago. It is one of the finest diving locations in the Caribbean, with sloping gentle reefs, rock formations, shear walls, level plains, canyons and plankton rich waters which attract a host of species. These include larger pelagic species like hammerhead, nurse and reef sharks, barracuda, mantas, stingray, three species of turtle as well as shoals of colourful reef fish.

Whatever your level of experience, the waters around Tobago offer fantastic diving opportunities.  The majority of diving on the island is drift diving, ranging from gentle drifts to thrill seeking rides in the current.  All Divemasters and instructors should carry marker buoys so the boat captain can follow the divers in the drift. It is recommended that you dive with a member of the Association of Tobago Dive Operators (ATDO) as all their guides abide by this safety procedure. ATDO advises that you don't dive on your own but go with a guide, no matter what your experience level. They are experienced in these waters and know where currents change and also have the local knowledge, so you get the best out of your dive.

The majority of Tobago's reefs are healthy, boasting more than three hundred species of coral, including star coral, fire coral, plate coral, sea fans, staghorns, elkhorns and one of the biggest examples of brain coral in the world.

Crown Point, Speyside, Charlotteville and the western north coast offer the best diving spots on the island.

Dives in the south include Flying Reef, Diver's Dream, Diver's Thirst, Cove and the Maverick wreck. There is a chance to catch a glimpse of hawksbill turtles, nurse sharks, southern stingrays, green moray eels and octopus. Here you will get a chance to dive both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

The Maverick wreck is the former car ferry between Trinidad and Tobago and was bought by the dive association around fifteen years ago. Sunk at Mount Irvine, it is now covered in sea fans and has become a breeding ground for many of Tobago's fish species.

Speyside is home to one of the biggest examples of brain coral in the world. The strong currents here have created amazing underwater topography. It also attracts larger pelagic like manta and hammerhead shark. Sites include Runway, Japanese Gardens, Kelleston Drain and Black Jack Hole. Most of the diving is done around Little Tobago and Goat Island.

All ATDO members offer PADI courses, ranging from try dives for absolute beginners to Divemaster and above. Many shops also offer courses with BSAC, NAUI and SSI

Tobago has its own hyperbaric facility at Roxborough. The facility is there if you need it, but please pay attention to your bottom time and maximum depths when diving and you should avoid having to use this well equipped chamber.

Come to Tobago and discover the beauty of our underwater kingdom.