We left Mayreau early as we weren’t sure what to expect in the Cays. Although it is late in the season the Tobago Cays is an extremely popular anchorage with every person we have met telling us it’s an absolute must. With all the hype around it, we were super excited to see what the fuss was about and get some good snorkelling done on the vast reefs that surround the Cays.
Although there are a lot of reefs and shoals to watch out for, we found navigation fairly straight forward. We use a mixture of Navionics as well as a free app called ‘Ovital Maps’ which gives you satellite images with your location laid over the top. We find this better than the Navionics charts at points, especially when navigating in such clear water. If you are sailing the Pacific, this app is an absolute must, but still fun to play around with in the Caribbean.
After motoring through the reef systems and into the Cays (we weren’t brave enough to sail and tack up the narrow channel!) we found a nice spot to anchor just south of the mooring buoys off Petit Bateau in around 7 meters over sand. As soon as we were confident our hook had grabbed we jumped straight into the crystal-clear waters to begin exploring and were immediately met by turtles cruising the lagoon. Unfortunately, our outboard is still a non-starter which meant the only way we were going to properly explore the Cays was by swimming… at least it’s good exercise I guess!
We ended up snorkelling for around 3 hours, swimming between the islands and along the reefs. The underwater world here is amazing with rays, sharks, loads of turtles, and a huge variety of fish. We couldn’t get enough of it. The next couple of days consisted of much of the same.
This morning we decided we’d move around to the northern part of the reef complex where there looked to be some nice drop offs down to 20 meters in hope to score some good freediving. The anchorage here is not anywhere near as sheltered as the main anchorage and after swimming for about 10 minutes without moving due to the strong current we decided that maybe it wasn’t the best idea and retreated back to the safety of the boat.
We’re now sat having a beer about to lift anchor and head to some more sheltered waters in Union Island, Chatham Bay, just a short sail south.
Tobago Cays Summary
This is a very scenic anchorage and a must if you’re into snorkelling. There are lots of different options to anchor here in 5 – 10 meters over sand and even pick up a buoy if you can afford the 65ec a night fee. If you choose to anchor there is a very reasonable 10ec per person per night cost that goes towards protecting the nature reserve (you pay this if you are on the buoys too). This is collected by the wardens who will provide you with a receipt. Although the anchorage is well sheltered by the reefs, at high tide there can be a bit of a chop in the main anchorage.
As you are in a group of deserted islands a couple miles off Mayreau provisioning is extremely limited. There are however boat boys that come over from the islands offering fish, fruit and veg – although prices are fairly high. While we were anchored we even saw an engineer come over on his boat to do some work on an outboard. Again, I imagine there is a fairly steep price for these exclusive services!
We had an amazing time at the Tobago Cays and highly recommend it. It’s one of the most popular anchorage in the Caribbean, so if you’re looking for a bit more solitude it can be good to visit either early or late in the season when there’s not so many boats around. Use good eyeball navigation when entering and leaving along with your charts and the Ovital App if you have it, however we found this all fairly straight forward with a bit of common sense and caution.