Trinidad Tobagos Wild Side

Getting the most out of your Tobago adventure involves getting to know the lay of the land. Here's a quick primer to help you jump in.

ST. GILES ISLANDS

In the waters around these rocky islands off Tobago's northeastern tip, the Atlantic and the Caribbean converge, and nutrient-rich currents pack a double dose of adrenaline.

Tarpon hunt in breakwaters at the edges of rocky islets. Mantas frequent these waters. The barracuda are huge. And on the bottom, you'll find brain corals that are practically a reef unto themselves and barrel sponges that look as if they could hold a few hundred gallons of seawater.

Getting a fish-filled picture isn't an issue here. Groupers and snappers snack on silversides while angelfish patrol in pairs and trumpetfish as thick as your arm try in vain to hide among the gorgonians.

SPEYSIDE

Just outside this northeastern harbor town, you'll find a Who's Who of top Caribbean dive sites. Goat Island once owned by Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, has coral-rich waters popular with divers and snorkelers alike.

1. A four-eye butterflyfish cruises a St. Giles reef.

2. A secretary blenny answers the door. 3. Diving a black-coral forest off Speyside.

Nearby, Black Jack Hole has a current that sweeps you over undulating gorgo-nians and sponges twisted into underwater bonsai by the relentless flow. This is a great place to see morays, stingrays and thick clouds of chromis.

Near the end of Black Jack Hole, Kel-liston Drain is home to the world's largest brain coral, a corrugated behemoth that could dwarf a Volkswagen.

CROWN POINT

Here on Tobago's southwest coast, the Caribbean kisses the island — with a vengeance. At Flying Reef (just half a mile off the international airport's runway), the current pushes you over colorful clouds of schooling fish. Creole

1. A four-eye butterflyfish cruises a St. Giles reef.

2. A secretary blenny answers the door. 3. Diving a black-coral forest off Speyside.

wrasse are often present on this site in such numbers that you cannot see the nether ends of the crowds.

That doesn't mean that every Tobago dive site is high-speed. (At Englishman's Bay, for instance, current is minimal.) But if you want to see every species that the Caribbean has to offer, in conditions that make diving virtually effortless, then Tobago should move right to the top of your "must-dive" list.

Contact Information: Tel: 868-6757034/5/6/7; fax: 868-675-7722; website: visittnt.com; e-mail: [email protected]

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