REVIEW BY: S Antonis-Hooijdonk, Belfast - July 2004
My husband and I first went to the Toucan Inn in Tobago for our honeymoon and have found ourselves returning every year for the next two years. That tells you pretty much all you need to know. It is paradise.
Tobago is a sleepy little island off the coast of S America with great beaches, great food, great music and very friendly people. We go in November because it is the cheapest time of year, but it is also perfect weather for us because it is just at the end of the rainy season when it is not too hot and everything is green and luscious.
There is so much to do there even though the island is tiny - reef snorkelling, rainforest walks, waterfalls, different restaurants and beaches to try, art galleries, the market, local talent shows, steel drum concerts, dancing to calypso, soca and perang, bird sanctuaries, museums and forts, but most of all just chilling out or 'liming'.
Compared to many of the frankly garish luxury hotels on the island the Toucan Inn is quite modest but I found that a plus. It is clean and the staff give good, personal, friendly service. The decor is mostly wood and there is a garden which gives a natural, open-air feel. The restaurant attracts a strong local crowd to lunch and especially dinner - which is always a good sign that that it is doing something right. The food is wonderful but can be a bit pricey for a 'budget' hotel - expect to pay £8 for a main course (£4 for lunch) and £2 for a large bottle of water. A few nights a week there is entertainment - stay in for the 'Pleasure Pirates' calypso band.
The two downsides of holidaying in Tobago are the money and the travel time. If you wait until last minute there are lots of half price offers on the Tropical Places website - not so good for people like us who have to book our holidays in advance though. Kuoni also fly to the Toucan Inn.
The travel time is considerable. We travel from Belfast so it is a 2 day journey each way with an overnight in London on the way out for us. It shows you how much we love Tobago!
However, we saw lots of parents with children making the journey every time we flew, including several with small infants. Airports are hellish, but once you are actually on the plane it is not so bad. The thing to remember with these long haul flights is to bring your own packed luches. The spacing of meals can be knocked for six with the time differences - suddenly it is 6 hours since lunch and all they can give you is peanuts because it is 2pm their time!
Don't wait to get married like we did - go to Tobago this year! (Belfast)