My brother, my college roommate and I had been talking about a fun boys’ trip (i.e. no wives or girlfriends allowed) for a couple years. We finally got serious about it and decided on scuba diving as the best combination of sun, relaxation, adventure, exercise and party potential.
The first detail to nail down was duration. We settled on a week bounded by two weekends, which allowed two travel days, as many as six diving days if we wanted them, and one non-diving day before flying (all divers know that rule). We could do all this and still only take five days’ vacation from work. The second big detail was location. Our discussion of the available options centered around two factors:
(1) keeping travel time and effort to a minimum, given the short trip duration, and (2) keeping costs down.
The first factor eliminated exotic and far-away destinations like Thailand, Malaysia, the Red Sea, Australia, Fiji and other places that involved long and/or overnight trips from the U.S. west coast. This left the Caribbean or Hawaii, and we’d all dived in Hawaii before. The second factor precluded locales like Bonaire, Aruba, Martinique and the Caymans, which have fantastic diving but are also very expensive.
We settled on Tobago, the less-developed island of Trinidad & Tobago, just off the coast of Venezuela. Costs are relatively low by Caribbean standards, but the quality of diving is high due to clear waters and a healthy reef fed by nutrients from the Orinoco river delta nearby.
On Tobago, there are two main scuba diving areas: the resort area near the airport, and Speyside, a tiny village on the far northeastern end. We chose Speyside because of its distance from more crowded, touristy and higher-priced activities, combined with close proximity to the healthiest and most interesting reefs.
Speyside has a few recommended hotels and dive shops, and all are probably good. We chose the Manta Lodge for its reputation as a quality dive center with a good, fun hotel attached. We got a great dive package including a 3-person room and four days of diving for each of us.
So how did it turn out? Awesome. Sunshine, great diving, small dive groups with good guides, fun fellow divers at the hotel, and nothing more to do every day than roll out of bed, dive two or three times, lounge around the pool and decimate the local beer supply. Tobago has a national park, rainforest, several fishing villages and even some hiking trails, so we got some land-based exercise and adventure too. Check Tobago out.