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Tobago - Facts

Trinidad and Tobago is the most southern of the Caribbean Islands. Located just seven miles off the eastern coast of Venezuela, Trinidad is situated just at the mouth of the Orinoco River and is separated by the Gulf of Paria. This twin-island, English speaking Republic offers contrast in lifestyle, activities and natural resources. Tobago is just to the northeastern tip of Trinidad and is only about twenty miles from its nearest point at Toco. Trinidad is the larger island with an area of 1,864 square miles. Tobago is much smaller, with an area of 116 square miles.

The islands differ from the rest of the Caribbean Antilles since they were once part of South America and attached to Venezuela. Massive flooding by the Orinoco thousands of years ago separated the islands from the mainland. This is why the flora, fauna and natural resources, especially petroleum, are similar to the Venezuelan mainland and there is more varied wildlife than the rest of the West Indies.

The problem of silting from the Orinoco River does not affect Tobago as adversely as it does Trinidad, given the distance between the two islands. Tobago's visibility is much better than Trinidad but there can be turbid conditions in the dry season as the water temperature rises and the plankton proliferates. This is a positive however, as larger, pelagic fish prey on plankton and smaller fish. The Guyana Current brings nutrient-rich water constantly bathing the reefs, while the Atlantic Current brings clear, blue water.

Generally, the conditions of Tobago's marine environment are more favourable to sustained coral reef development as salinity, turbidity and water temperature do not fluctuate as in Trinidad.

The main areas of diving in Tobago are Columbus Passage, North Coast, Man O' War Bay, St. Giles Islands and Speyside.

All diving in the Columbus Passage area is done as a drift due to the strong Atlantic currents. The water is almost always clean and blue with a proliferation of marine life and healthy coral.

Because of the strong currents all dive masters carry an SMB that the dive boat follows. It is imperative to use the line attached to the SMB when ascending since it is easy to be swept away from the dive site.

Fringing reefs make up most of the dive sites in the North Coast area starting from Store Bay in the southwestern end to as far as Sisters Rocks at the northeastern side.

The most noticeable aspect of this region is the lack of current, which favours photographers and inexperienced divers. Most of the dive sites are close to land and can be accessed from the shore or from a dive boat.

There are numerous white, sandy beaches and reefs close to the shore that are ideal for snorkelling. Large pelagics are the highlight of this region.

Man O' War Bay at the northern tip of Tobago is sheltered from the northeast trade winds providing dive sites that are free from currents and large waves.

The fishing village of Charlotteville is located here. All the dive sites are just minutes from the dive centre and are excellent for beginner divers.

St. Giles Islands' dive sites are done around a group of rocks located less than a mile off the northeastern tip of Tobago. Here, the Atlantic Ocean collides with the Caribbean Sea bringing strong currents and plankton-rich water that attracts some of the largest pelagics in Tobago. Dive sites are accessed by a short boat ride from Charlotteville.

Located on the East coast of Tobago, Speyside is regarded as one of the best dive regions in the Caribbean. The reefs are in pristine condition and are home to literally thousands of fish and other marine life.

All diving is done as a drift and most are located around Little Tobago and Goat Island, only minutes from the dock.



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