Located at the Southern end of the Caribbean archipelago, Tobago is one of the best-kept secrets of the diving world. Offering year-round diving, an incredible range of marine species, great visibility and some of the best drift diving, Tobago should be on every divers wish list. As more and more people take up diving as a recreational sport we look at the health benefits to be had from spending time enjoying yourself underwater in Tobago.
Tobago has retained its original charm and beauty by avoiding mass tourism with its inevitable destruction of the natural beauty of an area. Tourism on Tobago is carefully monitored and the island has won several prestigious eco awards including the World Travel Awards ’Best Eco Destination in the World’, and the Caribbean Travel Awards Committee ‘Number one eco-destination in the Caribbean’. By adopting such a vigilant approach to the implementation of tourism Tobago has managed to protect its beautiful surrounding waters from the pollution damage experienced by many of its over-developed neighbouring islands.
The pristine waters surrounding Tobago are home to beautiful reefs with 300 species of South Atlantic coral and more than 600 species of fish. The island’s Atlantic coast is exposed to the Guyana current, which mixes with the Gulf Stream, to provide some of the most thrilling drift diving in the world. This current attracts an impressive array of species including rays, sharks, turtles, jackfish, tarpon and even the occasional whale shark.
Meanwhile Tobago’s more sheltered Caribbean coast is rich in nutrients from the Orinoco River. This coast is home to hard and soft corals, colorful sponges and a huge range of fish. The gentle waters make it suitable for divers of all abilities.
The health benefits
Divers are attracted to Tobago throughout the year due to the high-quality diving available and its beautifully clean and clear water. However, the benefits don’t stop at simply taking in the great underwater sights. Research shows that diving can have great health benefits as well as being a highly enjoyable activity.
Divers are constantly being reminded of the dangers linked with the sport, and without a doubt it is a sport with risks, but the health benefits of diving are often overlooked. One of the easiest benefits to notice is the emotional and mental therapy that being surrounded by the tranquility of the underwater world provides. The feeling of weightlessness is a soothing and calming experience that often decreases stress levels. Diving is also mentally stimulating. In our everyday lives many of us are sat at the same desk each day, surrounded by over-familiar sights and people. When we enter the underwater world we are surrounded by new and unfamiliar creatures in unusual shapes and colors. This triggers a sense of excitement and curiosity which are few and far between in today’s technology focused lifestyles. Diving also encourages people to get into good physical condition. You have to be able to physically support your gear and be able to save your dive buddy if needed, so people exercise in order to be able to dive. The act of diving itself is also a great cardiovascular and muscular workout as you move against the natural pressure of the water, with no wear or tear on your joints. As part of diving training we learn to use oxygen more efficiently, taking in long, deep and slow breaths to conserve air. This trains our bodies to absorb more of the oxygen that we breathe in. This can be very beneficial to people suffering from forms of lung disease or asthma. Being in deep water also helps people to heal faster. Our bodies use oxygen to repair cuts and tears in the various tissues of the body. The more oxygen that gets to the injured area, the faster it will heal. As the air in the divers’ cylinder becomes compressed at depth, the consumed air has a more concentrated dose of oxygen. With larger doses of oxygen over prolonged periods of time the body starts to heal faster.
In fact there is a growing trend in people visiting Tobago on health vacations. The island has a huge range of activities to offer those wanting to have a healthy holiday, including hiking, kayaking, sailing, tennis, and of course diving.
The top three
So, where should you go to see the underwater sights of Tobago while boosting your health? Here are our top three sites.
Located just south of Little Tobago, Kelleston Drain is one of Tobago’s most famous dive sites. At a depth of 9-20 meters it is home to the world’s largest brain coral colony, which is a sight you don’t want to miss. It is a challenging dive that starts in a sheltered bay on a shallow plateau until the current takes you out into deeper water. The area constantly homes Creole wrasse and jackfish, and is frequently visited by moray eels and nurse sharks.
At a depth of 15-30 meters, and fully exposed to the wind and open sea, The Sisters is a site that can only be dived in good weather conditions. The Sisters consists of 5 pinnacles rising up from a depth of 40 meters. It is an incredible dive with overhangs and caves that home lobsters, stingrays and nurse sharks. If you time your visit right you might also see the school of hammerhead sharks that visit the site.
Mount Irvine Wall is only 15 meters deep and is located in the protected Bay of Mt. Irvine, making it an easy but very interesting dive. The steep cliffs are home to a huge range of wildlife, including large groups of schooling fish, such as surgeonfish and triggerfirsh. If you look carefully you might even spot a seahorse or short nose batfish. If not, you can’t fail to see the angel fish and parrotfish as there are hundreds of them.
Time to get booking!
With so much to offer in terms of natural beauty and stunning dive sites it is hardly surprising that so many people want to keep Tobago the best kept secret in diving. If you are looking for a fantastic diving holiday, as well as the chance to boost your health then you should consider booking a trip to Tobago soon. But shhhhh, don’t tell anyone! Although when you get back home looking healthy and bursting with tales of the brilliant dives you might find it hard not to let it slip.