photographs taken by John James of jj99 for the website  "" photographs are in albums grouped under "French Touring Holidays""European Touring Holidays""Self drive tour of California""Short breaks with Tonbridge and Malling Ramblers Association""HRH Prince Charles""Chelsea Flower Shows""Alternative Fashion Show,London""KATS walking group trwinning with Actif Hainalt Marche, Valenciennes"



Tobago is the smaller of the two main islands that make up the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago . It is located in the southern Caribbean, 20 miles northeast of the island of Trinidad and 93 miles southeast of Grenada. Trinidad is only 7 miles from the coast of Venezuala. Tobago is approximately 30 miles long and 10 miles across. The national bird of Tobago is the Cocrico, otherwise known as the Rufous-vented Chachalaca (Ortalis ruficauda) . The climate is tropical with two seasons annually: the dry season for the first six months of the year, and the rainy season in the second half of the year. Winds are predominantly from the northeast and are dominated by the north east trade winds. Unlike most of the other Caribbean islands, both Trinidad and Tobago have frequently escaped the wrath of major devastating hurricanes. Monarch Airlines fly direct flight to Tobago from Gatwick but British Airways stops en route at Antigua and Virgin Airlines stops en route at St Lucia

In 2014 we chose to fly with British Airways but if we were to go again we would probably try Monarch to avoid the inconvenience of a stopover and benefit from the shorter flight. Having said that, I enjoyed the flight from Antigua flying over various caribean islands. In January 2015 we did return and flew Monarch. The flights were only one third full and we were able to occupy multiple seats and stretch out. This was particularly useful on the overnight flight home. I heard that Monarch will not be operating on the Tobago route after April 2015 but Virgin may be starting to fly direct then.

Further updates and photos will be made to cover our January 2015 holiday shortly

The Turtle Bay Resort website describes Tobago as " This is Robinson Crusoe's desert island (Tobago was the inspiration for the book) - an enchanted land of swaying palms, deserted beaches and secluded half-moon bays sheltered by coral reefs resplendent with underwater gardens. Scattered fishing villages, pastel hued houses, small and special hotels and easy-going people, all contribute to a feeling of total peace and quiet. Surprisingly, Tobago has a torrid past, having been the most fought over island in the Caribbean. Nowadays, however, you'll find an innocence and a naturalness that is unique. Visit the famous Bucco Reef and Nylon pool - one of the wonders of the world! "


View from plane looking back across Antigua -from bottom to top - Half Moon Bay - Smith Island, York Island and Green Island


Landing at ANR Robinson International Airport Tobago


Flight BA2157 at Tobago Airport


Entrance to the Turtle Beach Hotel


Our room on arrival with the bed decorated with folded towels and bougainvillea flowers

All rooms are arranged in 2 or 3 story blocks all overlooking the beach and sea. We stayed in the first floor room central left in this picture

Turtle Beach Hotel by Rex, Tobago

Set on its own beach at Great Courland Bay on Tobago's north west coast, the Turtle Beach is a family orientated resort, offering the Caribbean experience at excellent value for money. Great Courland Bay is a sweeping curve of golden sands south of the town of Plymouth and next door to Stone Haven Bay.
Turtle Beach Hotel has a good sized swimming pool with its swim up bar and Jacuzzi, or a wide range of watersports including sailing, windsurfing and snorkelling. Comfortably furnished, the rooms all have open sea views and a balcony or patio.
With its idyllic location and large beach.The hotel is aptly named as Leatherback turtles use the beach to lay their eggs in clusters of about a 100 or more. They take about 60 days to hatch. All meals were buffet with the occassional addition of a BBQ. Fish and meat are often cooked on a hot plate. The Kiskadee restaurant and Lounge Bar were not open during our stay in 2014 but was open in 2015. Most breakfasts and lunches were served in the beachside retaurant.

The website : - gives the following description of the hotel :-------"the All-Inclusive 2* Turtle Beach hotel, owned by Rex Resorts, is relatively unsophisticated, but can represent good value for money if you don't mind staying in buildings reminiscent of a World War II prisoner-of-war camp and wearing garish plastic armbands to show your accommodation status."

The pool and octagonal roofed bar

Turtle Beach viewed from Fort James at Plymouth

Turtle Beach looking north

Turtle Beach looking south

Another view towards our balcony on the first floor


Fisherman hauling in their nets at Turtle Beach

The Watersport Centre - use of the non powered craft is included in the inclusive hotel rate

Fresh Beef?? an unexpected visitor to the hotel

Small reef and pool just a few hundred yards south of Turtle Beach. Various waders and sea birds found rich pickings on the 'reef' and it was an ideal place to photograph them

Whimbrel ( A small member of the Curlew family)

for more photographs of Whimbrel see my picasa album:-

Little blue heron

Semi Palmated Plover



Some of the birds seen on the little 'reef' - for more photographs of these birds click on the link to one of my google albums:-


Hummingbirds :-

Huumingbird 2010 at Discovery Bay :-


Little Blue Heron 2015 :-

Little Blue Heron 2014 :-

Semi Palmated Plovers :-

Turnstones :-

Southern Plovers:-

Cattle Egret :-

Brown Pelicans :-


Little Egret :-

Misc birds:-


Bananaquit -Barbados 2015 :-






Yellow Crowned Night Heron


Little blue heron

In our little rock pool we met Jemma Moses and her grandson Schechiem - she lived nearby with her son . She invited me to see her garden and Neville took me there on my last day.

We booked our holiday to Tobago in January 2015 and Barbados in February 2015 with Tropical Sky e mail :-

Tel 08436364236 who offered an efficient and competively price package.


Jemma & Shechiem

A fine array of tropical plants in the garden growing from an assortment of pots and cans - they were mostly grown for foliage but some were flowering

Shechiem in his Sunday best

Jemma & Shechiem

Jemma and her grandson Schechiem

Neville my taxi service - His cars were rather old but he was always reliable and friendly. The official taxis were newer and a lot more expensive. He can be contacted by telephone on 396 8258





Walking south along the beach - past Fort Bennet ( where you have to go inland for a short distance ) you come to where the Le Grande Courlan and Grafton Beach hotels are situated. It's takes less than an hour depending how much time you spend stopping, dipping in the sea, talking and admiring the surroundings

Fort Bennett


Jean with Joseph in shelter at Fort Bennett

'Island Girl' sailing past  Fort Bennett

Island Girl is a 43 foot catamaran

for more details see website :-

Le Grande Courlan Hotel (Pink building ) from Fort Bennett
( we stayed there 7 years ago )


Le Grande Courlon Hotel at Black Rock, Stonehaven Bay


View from Le Grande Courlon Hotel


Beach vender at Stonehaven Bay

Small scale fisherman throwing his net

After the catch- Stonehaven Bay

Impressive fan shaped palm

'Island Girl' sailing past rock pool at end of Stonehaven Bay


Beach at Le Grande Courlan / Stonehaven Bay

Eleanor Alefounder's Wildlife Sanctuary/ Grafton Caledonian Bird & Wildlife Sanctuary

I first visited this bird sanctuary in 2007 and was amazed by the vast number or colourful tropical birds there. Sadly it has been neglected and although James still feeds the birds at 8am and 4pm it is in a sorry state and I was very disappointed with my visit. I didn't return. I have included photos taken on my previous visit at the end of this album . I returned in January 2015 and work had recently started to clear the area around the bird feeders. The Cocrico, otherwise known as the Rufous-vented Chachalaca (Ortalis ruficauda) was present in large numbers. Motmot's were there but were fed inside the building so gave little photo opportunities.

The pergola overlooking the bird feeding station- taken in 2007 - sadly it is now overgrown and in a sad state of repair

Rufous vented Chachalaca at Grafton Bird Sanctuary


Rufous vented Chachalaca at Grafton Bird Sanctuary - there were dozens of these at the sanctuary

Bananaquit at Grafton Bird Sanctuary - there were plenty of these.

On Turtle Beach the Brown Pelican, Black Headed Gulls and Frigate provided constant entertainment

Gull trying to pinch Brown Pelican's catch

Brown Pelican taking off

Brown Pelican about to swoop


Frigate bird on patrol - they are about a metre long with an enormous wingspan on 2 metres

a sky full of Frigate Birds and Brown Puffins

The magnificent Frigate bird (Fregata magnificens) with massive wingspan-is also known as Man O'War or Man of War , reflecting its rakish lines, speed, and aerial piracy of other birds

Pelican drying off

seen near Fort James


Old pier overlooked by Fort James near Plymouth



Adventure Farm and Nature Reserve is at Arnos Vale, Plymouth just a short drive away from Turtle Beach was a superb place to see up to 6 species of Hummingbirds and many others. See their website

Click to viewAdventure Farm Website

Ruby topaz hummingbird


Rufous breasted hermit hummingbird

Black throated Mango hummingbird

Ruby topaz hummingbird


My favourite image from January 2015 - Black Rock is a short walk along the shore from Turtle Beach

Little Blue Heron with Bleany fish (?) taken at Black Rock, Tobago on Canon 5D Mk 2 at 200 ISO with 400mm lens 6.3 1/1000


Whimbrel with Star fish


Eleanor Alefounder's Wildlife Sanctuary/ Grafton Caledonian Bird & Wildlife Sanctuary

I first visited this bird sanctuary in 2007 and was amazed by the vast number or colourful birds there. Sadly it has been neglected and although James still feeds the birds at 8am and 4pm it is in a sorry state and I was very disappointed with my visit. I didn't return.These are a few of the photos I took in 2007. I thought the most spectacular bird was the Rufous Tailed Jacama - I didn't see any of these in 2014. I have recommended this Sanctuary to many people but unless things improve Iwill not be recommending it again. There is a villa for rent in the sanstuary see website :- for details

A wet and bedragled Blue Crowned Mot Mot

taken from our balcony at Le Gande Courlon

Rufous Tailed Jacama


Blue Crowned Mot Mot


Male Barred Antshrike

Female Barred Antshrike

Bare Eyed Thrush

Male Blue Grey Tanager ( Thraupis episcopus)


Female Tanager, Tachyphonus Rufus


Tropical Mocking Bird

 Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) 



also seen in the bird sanctuary


Tobago February 2007

In February 2007 we took a direct flight to Tobago from Gatwick with Virgin Atlantic - we stayed at in a Garden View Room at Le Grande Courlon which was an all inclusive adult only Spa hotel. It is still a Spa hotel but offers alternative terms to all inclusive. It has been upgraded and the trees and shrubs in the garden we overlooked have been cleared. This used to be a haven for many of the colourful birds which were ofter seen on or close to the balcony. It was chosen as it was within walking distance of the Grafton Bird Sanctuary where I spent many happy hours watching and photographing a wide range of colourful tropical birds.

Our flight from Gatwick on a damp February Day 2007

Approaching Tobago

Landing at Tobago

Sunset on the beach on our first night at Le Grande Courlan

Le Grande Courlan

View from Le Grande Courlan

Stonehaven Bay

Stonehaven Bay

Stonehaven Bay

The artist with his decorated Coconut shell

Coconut shell decorated with Mot Mot bird

Mot Mot

Every night at Le Grande Courlan there was entertainment provided by colourful local dancers and musicians

We went on a tour of the North of the Island and into a rain forest

en route village



Bamboo study in B&W

Land Crab emerging from its hole in the forest


en route

Stop for rum cocktail on Island Tour



en route

Cliff top trader

Castara Beach

Castara Beach


Castara Beach

Castara Beach

In a tree next to the beach outside Le Grande Courlan we were fortunate enough to observe a humming bird nest - the tree was dead in 2014

The tiny nest was about the size of an egg cup

These photos were taken of me in a 'kayak' which were available from Le Grande Courlan in 2007 as one of the complementary facilities
Typical Caribbean beaches blue sky, blue sea lined with palm trees

Strange crab emerging from its hole in the sand

Fishermaen at work in Stonehaven Bay by Le Grande Courlan, local Tobagan father and his daughter collecting discarded small fish and gulls scavaging for a meal

Black headed gull and its shadow


pool and its swim up to bar at Le Grande Courlon


Manager's cocktail party at Le Grande Courlan

Dinner at Le Grande Courlan

Pre dinner cocktail


Hen & chicks are often left to wander

seen in the grounds of Le Grande Courlan

Stray dogs are sometimes seen on the beach but are rarely a problem

Little Blue Heron seen on our island tour


Poisonous Manchineel Trees usually have prominent signs by them and are often painted with red bands as a warning. Do not shelter under them if it rains

Seen in the forest



Are those nests in the tree??