Imagine a warm breeze on the skin, a symphony of bird songs and a setting of swaying palm trees and brilliant bougainvillea, as the bride and groom say “I do” on a tropical island. Tobago’s lush surroundings make the island a romantic place for a wedding, and packages offered by local hotels make weddings and honeymoons easy on the couple-to-be.
Couples planning on getting married in the summer shouldn’t fret about the weather either. During the rainy season (June through November), there are sudden downpours, more often at night, but rarely do they last, and the sun typically breaks through again during the day.
At the Palms Villa Resort, a collection of five deluxe three-bedroom/three-bath villas, with wrap-around verandas and private swimming pools, set on a 10-acre garden estate, clients can book the Wedded Bliss package. Couples can virtually hand over their wedding planning to the villa staff, who take care of obtaining the license, ordering the wedding cake, booking the photographer and arranging flowers in the villa and around the wedding gazebo. Staff can even provide witnesses, if needed.
Thoughtful touches include a photo album with 24 wedding images, welcome cocktails and a wedding breakfast for the couple the next day. And there’s none of the stress that traditionally accompanies the lead-up to the big day.
“We had a lovely wedding out by the garden just last week,” said manager David Byrne during our recent visit in May.
Indeed, The Palms is a good choice for a small wedding party of 30 (six to a villa) to share a few days together.
Then there’s the charming 150-room Coco Reef Resort ideal for a honeymoon. Romanesque in design, its lobby features terra-cotta tile floors, fountains and statues in wall grottos. Rooms are soothing, offering a pastel peach-and-green decor and cane furniture. Best of all, Coco Reef fronts a private cove with a white-sand beach and the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea.
Tobago itself is the quintessential Caribbean island, small and quaint, with secluded beaches and lush rainforest. The island’s colorful reefs are some of the best in the Caribbean, and couples will want to go snorkeling or scuba diving no doubt hand-in-hand to see manta rays gliding over the sea floor, the world’s largest brain coral, rainbow-striped parrot fish and cheeky eels poking out from their rocky homes.
On land, Tobago’s jungle-topped spine, which has been a protected reserve since 1776, offers beautiful rainforest walks. Waterfalls set in towering bamboo forests splash down in cool pools where lovers can float in each other’s arms. In the forest, they’ll spot iridescent butterflies, the blooms of hibiscus and fragrant orchids, and hummingbirds, brown boobies and other winged creatures.
Between March and June, couples can arrange to see the ancient egg-laying ritual of the endangered giant leatherback turtle. Weighing as much as 1,000 pounds each, these female turtles heave themselves out of the water to dig a hole in the sand in which to deposit their precious eggs. They secrete tears to keep their eyes moist when out of the water, and few forget the sight of a leatherback “crying” as she lays her eggs.
Eating for Two
Tobago is also blessed with many romantic restaurants. A favorite for fine dining is the Seahorse Inn Restaurant & Bar in the Grafton Beach area. Diners sit outside on a stone patio with the sound of the surf crashing on the beach as background music. Little lights on palm trees add to the romance of alfresco candlelight dining. The restaurant is also the site for intimate weddings.
For local cuisine and some down-home lovin’ the Blue Crab in Scarborough Town is the place to go. Delicious callaloo (like creamed spinach, only milder tasting), grilled kingfish with fruit salsa and homemade coconut ice cream are featured on the set menu. Owner Allison Sardinha greets all her customers with an infectious smile and kisses everybody goodbye on the cheek.
Tobago’s cozy restaurants, lush scenery and fairy-tale atmosphere have inspired many couples to visit the island on a honeymoon, for a wedding or to simply share a romantic getaway.
The Palms Villa Resort: The Wedded Bliss package costs $1,175. A deluxe package adds additional treats like a bottle of champagne, massage for two and deluxe photo album and costs $1,650. Rates per villa start at $450 a night.
Coco Reef Resort: Honeymoon packages include an oceanview room, daily breakfast, jeep for one day, private candlelight dinner on the couple’s patio and transportation to and from the airport. The cost is $1,110 per person for four nights (available through Dec. 20).