Of all the places Peter and I have visited, the Tobago Cays are my favorite.
The water is warm, clear and the most spectacular shades of blue. The islands are scattered far enough away from all civilization so it really feels like you’ve traveled to a secret paradise. Turtles, rays and fish are everywhere.
Our first time to the Tobago Cays was in September. There were no crowds, no other boats, no one to bother us. Just us and our buddy boat, Brett Ashley. Patty and Luis had been there countless times before. They led us in, weaving between the islands as I sat on the bow with my camera and a tried to take it all in.
The little white boat with orange trim belongs to the Rangers that come around to collect the nightly park fees. When there are only one or two boats visiting, the Rangers may not even bother to come collect the fees. They came to visit us the first two nights, but didn’t bother coming by again for the last three nights we stayed. If they do collect, it costs 10 EC per person, per night.
We anchored near the main beach and watched the waves breaking along the reef.
Luis was excited to go kiteboarding. With no crowds, launching from the beach was easy and he had the entire anchorage to himself.
During our stay we saw a good number of squalls come through. The holding was excellent and the reefs provided a good amount of protection. It felt much safer than most of the anchorages we’ve stayed in, despite the high winds.
It rained and rained.
We had lots of visitors…
We snorkeled and swam with the turtles. The sting rays scoured the anchorage for food scraps like puppies.
On the inside of the reef in very shallow water, the four of us went out snorkeling one afternoon. We were all exploring on our own, but stayed fairly close together. I took a routine glance around to check our perimeter when I spotted a very large 300-400 lb Caribbean Reef Shark checking us out. I looked behind me and disappointingly realized I was the only one that had seen the shark. My initial reaction was to swim backwards as quickly and calmly as I could to alert the others, but it was harder than I thought it would be to control my heartbeat. Peter immediately knew something was wrong just by the way I was swimming toward him. A familiar feeling came over me as I grabbed onto his shoulders and swung myself behind him kicking as fast as my fins would take me.
As a Southern California native, Peter has been in the water with more sharks than I care to count. He felt that the shark was swimming in an aggressive nature and motioned for us all to make our way back to the dinghy as quickly as possible. We kept our eyes on the big grey beast, got out of the water and called it a day. Though we probably were not in any danger, this fearful moment underwater was as equally terrifying as our Bull Shark encounter in the Bahamas.
After the adrenaline rush dissipated, we explored the beaches and hiking trails.
Dogs aren’t allowed to go to shore here, but Betsy and Gunner were happy doing their daily patrols on deck. In such a remote place, it was very reassuring to have guard dogs on watch. We had heard of several recent boardings in the area so we were on high alert.
The view of Petit Tabac was picture perfect.
At night, the golden sun would set over the horizon and darkness fell. The stars would fill the black sky and I would gaze up from our cockpit with amazement. It was the most incredible place I had ever seen. If it didn’t cost anything to be there, I would stay forever.
We are currently in the USVIs while Peter completes the courses needed for his USCG 100 ton Near Coastal Masters Captain’s license.