Tobago offers a great windsurfing vacation, and more.
The small island of Tobago is a paradise of warmth and beauty. Tobago rests northeast of its larger sister-island Trinidad. Together, they rest in the waters above the northeast corner of Venezuela in South America.
I travelled solo to join Jem Hall on his astounding week-two Tobago Clinic from February 14th to 21st, 2017. Yet, even before Jem’s clinic started, the windsurfing, friends, and other activities were easily found. The other attractions and interesting history of Tobago also encourage a family vacation.
Renting windsurfing equipment in Tobago is available at Radical Sports with Brett Kenny and his team, located inside Pigeon Point Heritage Park. English, German, and other languages are spoken there. Radical Sports is outfitted well with over 70 windsurfing boards and 20 SUPs. The windy season is from mid-December to the end of June. February and March are their busiest months. Their equipment includes the ability to get kids as young as 6 or 7 years old, and beginners on the water. Activities they offer, beyond windsurfing, are: SUP, snorkeling, kiting, sailing on the Hobbie Wave, a half-pipe skate board ramp with knee and elbow pads for kids, a ping-pong table if there is no wind, pilates, a “liming” lounge, and an amazing night-time bio-luminescent-tour too. The water is incredibly beautiful and consistently warm with its turquoise shining bright colours. It holds sea turtles, colourful fish by the reef, and stingrays that will show themselves but gently dart away from you. There is nothing in the water to be concerned about. At low tide, the water is shallow. The area where you sail safely inside the reef is large and inviting. There is some chop at high-tide. Waves are limited off the island. Overall, this is a great trip for beginner to advanced intermediate windsurfers. It’s worth taking your own harness, hat, and lots of SPF; the sun is hot!
If you are wise, you will sign-up-for a Jem Hall Clinic in Tobago (or anywhere else for that matter). Jem is direct, fun, and is a focused coach. This was my first clinic with Jem and I am sure I will be going back for more of his enthusiasm. His clinic was filled with a like-minded group of windsurfing-addicts - wonderful company! What fun. During Jem’s clinic, you spend the whole day and most of the evening together. In some ways it is easier to travel solo for Jem’s clinics, as you get to focus on learning and enjoying the group. However, at our clinic, two people brought their significant others and it was a pleasure to have them also in the mix for dinners etc. I learned a lot from Jem in a few days. He utilized video, pictures, and his keen eye for constructive criticism. For instance, I finally understood the benefits of getting my hands closer together on the boom while sailing, I became more balanced in the harness, and improved my fast tacks, gybes and overall stance.
Radical Sports also offers lessons. Further, if you go with your family, and they are not windsurfers, they will be comfortable close around the corner on the same beach where it is (surprisingly!) not windy. There are lots of other activities and everyone can find something fun that suits them. Food, drinks, showers, and bathrooms on the beach are all nearby and are good.
While in Tobago I stayed at Shepherd’s Inn, where the staff were remarkably warm, helpful and accommodating. I looked forward to seeing them! It is a small, pretty hotel that has a pool, a good restaurant and bar, and well-landscaped grounds. The rooms are very comfortable and my stay there was very positive. Unlike some vacations where I have rented an apartment and done my own cooking, due to the availability of groceries, I would recommend picking a good hotel, like Shepherd’s Inn. Having a small fridge to accommodate snacks is enough. Otherwise, eat at restaurants. Two mouth-watering restaurants we went to while there were Dillons with deliciously flavoured fish, and the fancy Café Bistro.
Beyond windsurfing, I had such fantastic other-adventures! Please consider going on the bio tour with Brett or his brother from Radical Sports where you take a night-time SUP or kayak out into the ocean and get to swim in a lagoon where microscopic plankton dinoflagellates delight you with their glow- it is an experience of a life time. Think of the whale scene from the movie Life of Pi, in reference to the glowing water when stimulated…. and the feeling of magic. Also, Being with Horses enchants you with a horseback riding experience like no other. It is a special place where they take a different and very thoughtful approach with the horses. For instance, it is the horse that picks its rider from the group! You also get to ride the horse in the beautiful waters off of Buccoo beach. Further, it is worthwhile to take a tour around the island by a hired driver. Steve was an informative host for me and my friend Arno, telling us of the history of Tobago, letting us climb and swim in the Argyle waterfalls, driving us through the beautiful rainforest reserve, and showing us the stunning trees, fruits, cocoa, animals and sights. Mountain biking, bird watching, and scuba diving are other options. Also, you will not be able to miss the glass-bottom boats for snorkeling by the reef and swimming at Nylon Pool out in the water. Swimming in Nylon Pool apparently takes 10 years off your age…. this hasn’t worked for me yet….. but it was certainly still worth the experience!
You could easily enjoy windsurfing,”liming” and the welcoming atmosphere at Radical Sports for your entire trip. However, there is more available on this beautiful Island, if you have the time and urge to explore.
Here are some key links & info:
Jem Hall: http://jemhall.com/technique.html
Jem’s great coaching tips: https://vimeo.com/channels/top100windsurfingtips
UK’s Windsurf Magazine highlights a video from Jem’s Tobago Clinic on Week One 2017: http://www.windsurf.co.uk/45321-2/
Radical Sport Windsurfing & Bio Luminescence Tour: http://www.radicalsportstobago.com/
Shepherd’s Inn: https://www.shepherdsinntobago.com
Horse back riding: http://www.being-with-horses.com
Steve’s taxi service: 868-680-8631
Restaurant: Dillons with delicious fish: https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowUserReviews-g1026381-d1046679-r54903553-Dillons-Crown_Point_Tobago_Trinidad_and_Tobago.html
Restaurant: fancy Café Bistro: https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g1463488-d9729666-i168734337-Mesoreen_Cafe_Bistro-Bon_Accord_Tobago_Trinidad_and_Tobago.html