Today was by far one of the best days of this entire month in Trinidad and Tobago, and it was an excursion that many of us looked forward to from the very beginning: Little Tobago. Little Tobago is a very small island off of the Caribbean coast of Tobago. Originally it had been owned by a man named William Ingram who lived there with his brood of chickens, enjoying his private, secluded sanctuary with the native birds. He lived there until he died in 1924 and upon his death he established the place as a bird sanctuary, granting the sanctuary to the government.
The drive from Scarborough to Speyside, where we would depart from, was about an hour, and along the way we stopped at Breb’s Bakery for a quick bite to eat for breakfast. Once again, the best pastries I’ve had on the island, super cheap, there’s not a thing that I didn’t enjoy trying though I enjoyed the meat pies best.
In Speyside we chartered a glass bottom boat to deliver us to the sanctuary entrance with our guide, Darlington Chance. This is the same guide who took us to the rainforest and this is a purposeful choice, Darlington is kind, knowledgeable, and a truly fascinating person to be around.
Little Tobago has one hiking trail going through it and a research building at the top of the first peak. It is the nesting area for dozens of species of birds because predators are so few and far between. However, there is no natural water source currently so water is brought in by the forest services and deposited in long plastic water feeders positioned all along the hiking trail. Because so few people visit and it is illegal to hunt the birds are more plentiful and more eager than in other areas we had been, even more so than the rainforest. At the top of the hike was a viewing platform that looked out over a cliff that served as the nesting ground for Red-billed Tropicbird. The birds would swoop a few feet in front of us, exposing their snowy white bellies before diving for the sea in search of fish. If they happened to find fish though the Magnificent Frigate might attempt to take it. These birds are known as the pirates of the sea, and they are faster and more dexterous in the air as they tag team the poor Red-billed Tropicbird’s. Their one fatal flaw? They eat fish but they can’t swim. When it’s not nesting season and all of the Red-billed Tropicbird are gone the Magnificent Frigate’s attract fish by pooping on the surface and waiting for the fish to eat the poop allowing them to reach in and grab the fish without getting their own feathers wet. We also saw the Naked Indian, Banana Crit nests, and the Tropical Mockingbird among others whose names I can’t recall.
When we left Little Tobago the glass bottom boat took us ‘dry snorkeling,’ which was their way of saying looking at the reef through the bottom of the boat. If we had known to bring our swimsuits or snorkeling gear we might have also gone snorkeling. As it was the guides were more than happy to name the many species of fish and coral on Manta Reef, off the coast of Little Tobago, that we spotted, but much more interesting was a sea turtle and an eagle ray that we passed over. Manta Reef was in far better shape than the parts of Buccoo that we had seen, but was also significantly smaller.
By the time we returned to shore it was about two in the afternoon, which is a strange time to try and find food in Tobago. Food is something that is sold as long as supplies last, and when the food has run out it’s better luck next time. Even so, we were able to find both a roti and a doubles place and were also able to grab some Soursop ice cream. The roti lasted me three meals, and I enjoyed the doubles immensely as something to eat cold. I would also highly recommend you try Soursop ice cream at least once during your stay.