We arrived in the Tobago Cays (pronounced Tobago Keys) on February 27th and have been here 6 days as I am writing. The Tobago Cays are a cluster of 5 small, uninhabited, islands that lie within a protected marine park. People who work in the Tobago Cays typically live on the nearby islands, Union Island and Mayreau.
The Tobago Cays are bordered on the east by World’s End Reef and Horseshoe Reef. These reefs calm the waters between the Cays, providing anchorages for the many yachts and tour boats attracted to the beautiful waters. During our visit, when high tide combined with strong winds, our anchorage was often unsettling.
Snorkeling among the many Green Turtles was, in and of itself, worth our visit. Green turtles are the only herbivorous species of sea turtle. Their diet consists mainly of seagrasses and algae, though they may also forage on sponges, invertebrates, and discarded fish. The density of Green Turtles in this area is due to the wealth of one of these primary food source, the thin blades of seagrass growing on the sandy bottom, along with nearby nesting grounds.
The seagrass beds are sparse in areas and can easily be mistaken for an ideal sandy bottom for anchoring. We made this mistake ourselves, only discovering it when we snorkeled. There are moorings available, but not a fraction of the number needed to meet demand. Anchoring in the grass beds is extremely damaging and the area that is cordoned off covers only a fraction of the grass beds the turtles feed upon. More moorings and a much larger cordoned off area is needed to protect this precious resource.
The waters in the Tobago Cays are crystal clear and reflect impossibly, gorgeous, hues of deep blue through turquoise.
Snorkeling Horseshoe Reef
We were saddened to find Horseshoe reef severely injured. Skeletons of massive, now dead, corals were made colorful with a variety of encrusting corals, sponges, and other invertebrates. There were also many small varieties of fish. It is worth a peak, but do so at a slack tide as the current is strong and swift.
The Island Fauna
Island wildlife (also protected) that we observed included large white and black iguanas and other lizards. Possum and tortoises also inhabit the islands.
Every island has a stretch of meticulously, maintained, white sand beach.
A very well-attended barbecue is offered every mid-day and evening. You will be invited and we would recommend you accept. We enjoyed a massive dinner of lobster, pork ribs, potatoes, rice, plantains and salad. A bar is available but you are welcome to bring your own liquid refreshments.
Our visit was cut short as winds picked up significantly and our anchor snubber broke in the middle of the night waking us with a very large bang as the anchor jerked tight and pulled more chain from the windlass. At first light we made a hasty retreat to a more protected anchorage in Mayreau at first light. Trying to replace the snuffer in winds of 20+ knots and a significant surge was futile.