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Islands in the Sun

The cliched description 'tropical paradise' doesn't do justice to the sensational Caribbean islands of Trinidad an Tobago, reports a captivated Clive Nicholls.

JUST A mile out from Pigeon Point, the sea shallows rapidly. The boat skipper hauls the big outboard out of the water before the propeller hits the bottom and we glide over the seabed just two feet below.

Crystal-clear water covers a bed of bright coral sand, all tinted with a touch of turquoise, as the sun wins the battle with the passing clouds. Passengers jump into the sea; it’s knee-deep, as warm as bathwater and is said to have therapeutic properties. Magnificent frigate birds ride the thermals above us, wondrous fish dart about in the shallow waters below. This is Nylon Pool, the sea is the Caribbean and we are just off the shore of Tobago.

It’s an amazing scene as other boats join us and dozens of holidaymakers and locals alike enjoy these wonderful waters.

Nylon Pool was given its name by Princess Margaret and it’s said that in the right tidal conditions, and if you know the way, you could walk on the seabed to Tobago’s beach without having to swim. No one has been crazy enough to try it in recent years and we are all happy with the boat…

Just half an hour earlier and a few hundred yards away, we were snorkeling over Buccoo Reef. The sea is shallow and, as the sun streams through the waters, the reef comes alive. Parrotfish zip among the corals, angelfish flash their brilliant colours and the grasses waft in the current. If you don’t fancy snorkeling, the boat has a glass bottom. Take a cool beer and watch the undersea world pass you by as you relax in the shade of the lower deck.

On the way back in, the boat passes off Pigeon Point. The beach looks just magnificent and I promise myself a few hours there before I leave Tobago.

We arrive at Store Bay, the boat backs up to the beach and the passengers wade ashore. This is not the sort of boat trip that you dress up for. It’s brilliant but basic.

At Store Bay, there’s a busy beach, a permanent market and takeaway food outlets. After a few hours at sea, the grilled chicken and rice with a side of potato salad goes down a treat.

I’m staying on the north-east of the island at the Blue Waters Inn overlooking Batteaux Bay. The minibus ride is a bit bumpy, a bit twisty, but in 20 miles I cover the length of the island, passing through villages, idyllic coves and thick forests, giving a taste of Tobago.

My room is on the waterfront, my door barely 20ft from the lapping waves. Across the bay is Goat Island and I can see the former home of James Bond creator Ian Fleming.

They say money can’t buy happiness but it certainly bought him a home in a very special location, and it’s hard to see how you could be unhappy there. As I wonder about Fleming’s lifestyle, I reflect on my holiday so far.

I have the same view he had, I’m sipping a rum punch as he probably did, the sea is hardly stirring the soft, sandy beach and, at 9pm, the temperature on my veranda is in the eighties. Life is good.

Tobago, and neighbouring Trinidad, which I’ll visit later, is not just about warm seas and fabulous beaches. There’s heritage, tradition, tropical forests and – oh yes, carnival time.

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Have you ever been to Trinidad and Tobago? What did you think to it?

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