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Tobago Cays - An air of Polynesia...

This piece is mainly intended for sailors who are new to ocean cruising, and those who have not yet had the privilege of anchoring their multihull in a Polynesian lagoon. As someone who has had this opportunity, I wondered to myself whether it is possible to compare the incomparable. Is there an archipelago that can hold its own against the magic of the French Polynesian Leeward Islands? Well, yes is the answer. I have to admit that the Tobago Cays, a real pearl of the Lesser Antilles, deserve a stopover.
I admit that at the beginning, I landed here without much enthusiasm However, by the time I left I was nevertheless pleasantly surprised by the “jewel of the Grenadines”, as it is described by tourist offices. If we ignore the few negative aspects and focus solely on the positives, then this mini-archipelago composed of 5 uninhabited islands (Petit Rameau, Petit Bateau, Baradel, Jamesby and Petit Tabac) left me with very fond memories.
This huge natural reserve is a paradise for multihulls, which can anchor in front of a small coral reef (supposedly the most beautiful in the West Indies) in just 6 feet/2 m of water and only white sand. Add 86°F/30°C crystal clear water and coconut palms and it is understandable why some people would want to hang around for a while!
This nature reserve is equipped with a large number of mooring buoys - for a fee. It is also possible to anchor for free, but there is a daily tax of EC$ 15 per person. It is rumored that the rangers who pass by every day charge an additional EC$ 60 per boat... the price of success! Generally speaking, the Baradel anchorage is the most frequented and the chop can be a problem when a strong north-east trade wind is blowing. The spots nearer Petit Rameau and Jamesby are better sheltered.
Depending on the wind, the direction of the swell or the number of boats, there are many different mooring locations in the Tobago Cays; the crosses on the map indicate the principal anchorages around the Cays.
It is in fact possible to anchor in front of the whole coral reef, as long as you ensure that you put your anchor in the sand to avoid damaging the protected sea grass beds.

The weather in the Tobago Cays is typical of the Caribbean area. Eastern trade winds blow almost all year round, generally alternating between NE and SE. The best time to enjoy the archipelago is when the wind is calm: you might find it a bit warm at anchor, but the water will be absolutely clear. Hurricane season is from August to October.
What to see / What to do
My favorite activity in the Cays is swimming with the turtles, which are not shy at all. They are perhaps most numerous near the shore of Baradel, in the eastern part of the lagoon. I can spend hours with a single turtle, without disturbing it.
Snorkeling also allows you to discover rays and groupers. Reef sharks have been observed in this zone: they are usually curious and harmless, but if they appear to be agitated or stressed, this could be a sign of an imminent attack.
On the islands, you can walk in the forest and admire iguanas, discover beautiful orchids or have a barbecue, organized by locals, with lobsters and plantains on the menu of course.
Watersports enthusiasts will be thrilled: a large flat-water area in the lagoon is right next to some good reef wave areas.
With a good dinghy, you can go to Petit Tabac, located east of the Tobago Cays. This is an adventure-filled expedition: some scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean were shot on the island.
It’s meal time for this magnificent turtle!
It’s meal time for this magnificent turtle!
A trip in the dinghy to Petit Tabac takes you into Pirates of the Caribbean territory...
A trip in the dinghy to Petit Tabac takes you into Pirates of the Caribbean territory...
Calm days are ideal for enjoying the archipelago.
Calm days are ideal for enjoying the archipelago.

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