ARE YOU READY FOR A VACATION IN TOBAGO?
BELOW ARE LOADS OF DETAILS THAT YOU'LL WANT TO KNOW IN ORDER TO HELP MAKE FOR A SMOOTH VACATION EXPERIENCE. MAIN TOPICS INCLUDE:
It's always nice to pack light, but there are a few things we don't want you to forget. Due to the possibility of lost luggage we recommend that you carry-on important items whenever possible, we recommend that you carry-on important items whenever possible.
- Current Passport REQUIRED for all guests from the US and Canada (guests from other countries should check with their airline or consulate)
- A printout of your email invoice confirming full payment and this Tips & Facts webpage.
- Harness, long-sleezed lycra, booties, gloves.
- Sunglasses and chums, a visor or hat.
- High SPF (25+) waterproof sunscreen lotion (oil makes board slippery)
- PFD and/or helmet (if desired)
- Slacks for dining out in restaurants (No shorts in some restaurants)
- Extra spending money (see "Currency/credit cards" below)
- Paperback books for flights and evenings (Our staff appreciates current newspapers / magazines - especially windsport related!)
- A couple of pens (helpful for any airport forms, customs declarations, etc.)
- Ear Plugs (a good idea if you are a light sleeper and if you're practicing those forward loops!)
- Aspirin or Ibuprofen for muscle aches
- Medical tape for tired hands.
LocationTobago is one of two islands known as the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and although the smaller of the two this is where the bulk of the overall tourism takes place. Far down the chain of the southern Caribbean, the island lies outside the hurricane belt and is blessed by plenty of strong consistent wind for much of the year. Vela Tobago is located at the northern tip of Pigeon Point Heritage Park, about 5 minutes walk from the nearest hotel, and a 10 minute drive from the furthest hotel.
English is the official language, but you'll find that the main spoken language between locals is one of two creole / English languages. Staff at the center will speak great English plus a combination of Spanish, French, German, and more ... depending on who is on staff each day.!
Warm and tropical! Generally speaking there are two annual seasons, including the "dry season" during the first half of the year, and the "rainy season" starting around mid Summer through late Fall. Unlike most other Caribbean islands the islands are below the normal "hurricane belt" and almost always are missed by these storms.
Crystal clear and blue and warm ... perfect!
The local currency is known as the Trinidad and Tobago Dollar, of TT$ for short. US$ may be accepted at many shops and restaurants, though you can expect to receive change in TT$. Credit cards are widely accepted at larger restaurants and shops as well as for services at both many hotels and the vela Tobago, but you will see some "foreign transaction fees" on your statement when you return home. You can use ATM's to pull local TT$ as well as exchange at the TAB ariport. Don't forget to contact your credit card company and bank to let them know you will be using your cards out of the country: this will help you to avoid the banks from declining a charge or blocking your account due to anti-fraud protection measures.
110 volt, same outlets as US
Email / Phone Services
Most properties have telephones in the rooms and public pay-phones using a calling card are readily available. Internet access is available either complimentary or as an additional service fee. If you have are bringing your computer along it would be suggested to use an online calling program such as Skype.
There are an abundance of restaurants throughout the West side of Tobago where you will be spending the majority of your time, including a handful of bars and smaller restaurants within Pigeon Point Park iteself.
Other Activities available
So much to do, and so little time to do it all! Additional watersports include kayaking, waterskiing / wakeboarding, Hobie Cat sailing, standup paddleboarding, surfing, and more. Plenty to do on land as well including mountain biking, rain-forest hikes and eco-tours, off-road JEEP safaris, tennis, golf, and more.
A service charge will most likely be added to your restaurant bill. This does not go to the waiter and it is normal to leave a tip for the waiter as well. Gratuities of are appreciated for good service by all other service-industry employees, including the team at Vela Tobago!
Should an emergency necessitate an early return home, we will do all we can to get refunds for you. Standard hotel cancellation fees usually exceed any unused balance, but hotels are quite often understanding of emergencies. To assist us in this you must get written verification of check-out date from your hotel front desk and also from the windsurf staff.
You'll fly into Tobago's International Airport (TAB). When you arrive at the airport you will go through immigration and pick up any checked luggage in baggage claim.
Taxis / Transfers
Getting to and from the nearest hotels is simple: there are sidewalks to roll your suitcase for a short walk! Too hot and tropical after your long flight? Inexpensive taxis are available lined up outside the airport, ready to take you wherever you want to go. Tobago is a small island and the drivers will know every hotel. Vela will provide you with an address and simple driving directions for privately owned villas or guse-house suites.
Transportation during your vacation
It all depends which hotel you choose: in some cases you can walk just about everywhere, though renting a bike would expand your range to explore the area. Taxis at a low cost or a rental car may be prefered for some guests. The hotels furthest from Pigeon Point park offer free shuttles on a regular schedule as well.
The normal check-in time is at 3 PM for all properties, although we can request early check-in if available. Vouchers are not required for check-in. Simply arrive at the front desk and give the agent the last name of the person who made the reservation. If there are any questions, please show them the email invoice that you should print and take with you. NOTE: If you are arriving after 9:00 PM, you must call us with your arrival information immediately and no later than one week prior to arrival at 800-223-5443 / 541-387-0431 (unless you have already given us this information). The hotel's front desk may be closed after 9:00 pm unless Vela is able to notify them of your late arrival.
Check out time is 12 noon for all properties. Make certain to go over your final bill carefully. Personal charges such as bar tabs, laundry, telephone calls, and such are your responsibility. DO NOT let the hotel charge you any tax or service fees on accommodations prepaid by Vela. We always prepay tax and service charges for you. Should an emergency necessitate an early return home, we will do all we can to get refunds for you. Standard hotel cancellation fees usually exceed any unused balance, but hotels are quite often understanding of emergencies. To assist us in this you must get written verification of check-out date from your hotel front desk and also from the windsurf staff. Important note: If you have an early flight, make arrangements for a taxi to the airport the day before your departure and leave plenty of time to get to the airport. If you are leaving on a late flight, sometimes there is a courtesy room available for storing luggage and taking a shower.
Getting To Vela Aruba:
The Vela Tobago center at Radical Sports Tobago is located at the northern tip of Pigeon Point Heritage Park. Park entrance is $3 per person per day and must be paid upon entry at the gates.
Checking In To Get Started:
Our staff will be anticipating your arrival and will plan to greet you at our beachfront equipment center. You can find our staff members at the equipment area wearing T-shirts that say "Vela" or "Staff". Give any team member your name and they will set you up with an orientation. A credit card is required for safety deposit and for setting up your account at the center.
There is a full fleet of 2012 and 2013 Fanatic boards plus North Sails and rigs. There is also a small number of 2014 JP-Australia boards and NeilPryde sails and rigs, though over the next couple of seasons there will be a full lineup from JP and NeilPryde ... just as at any Vela center!!! Note that guests are asked to reserve their first choice fo board (model and liter) which is guaranteed during your trip. Use of other boards on the racks is subject to availability each day, though it is generally not a problem to gain access to anything you wish to try out.
Getting On The Water:
Equipment is available for check out beginning at 9 am and must be returned by 5 pm. Every day you windsurf, you must sign out yourself and the equipment that you are using. This enables us to keep track of our equipment and know that our guests have returned safely. All procedures and safety concerns will be explained during the orientation. Please note that equipment fee is per person and not transferable.
Pre-booked Rentals for Beginners:
If you are planning to take lessons, you may choose to begin your pre-booked windsurf rental to kick in after the first few days. This gives you time to develop your skills before dedicating yourseld to a full-time rental. .
Getting Your Gear:
You will be given an orientation session before checking out your equipment. All guests must use the equipment sign-out / sign-in sheet located at the equipment area to check out equipment. If you want to change your board or rig during the day, simply return the first board or sail to the rack and use the sign in on the sheet, then sign out again, indicating your new board and/or rig choice on the sign-out sheet. All this will be covered in your "Center Orientation" on your first day sailing with us.
Sailing Conditions and Safety:
Beautiful, warm, crystal-blue and clear water with several hundred yards of sandy bottom ... you'll find absolutely great conditions for all levels: because of a large fringe reef protecting the inland shore, the waters are flat and shallow making learning and free riding easy and enjoyable. The same reef creates some fantastic surf breaks to explore!!!
Each of the different types of sails available for check out have been rigged in a manner best suited for that particular sail. If you would like to make adjustments to the rig, we ask that you first get a short orientation to that particular sail from one of our staff. You will be responsible for any incorrect handling of the rig that damages the sail.
Damage to equipment:
You will be asked to leave a credit card as deposit when you take out equipment. Once you sign out a board and sail, it is your responsibility to return it in the same condition! To minimize the possibility of damage, please choose equipment that suits your ability level and conditions, and handle equipment carefully when launching and coming in to shore. Items that need replacing such as fins, sails or mast will be charged at cost plus 10% for parts and labor. For items that can be repaired, standard charges will apply. This must be paid directly to the center in full upon return of the damaged equipment..
On-Site / Walk-Up Rentals:
If you have not paid for equipment as part of your vacation, note that rentals will only be available after the staff is satisfied that all pre-paid guests have had their first choice. Complete board and rig rentals only.
Limited space is available if you need to bring your own gear, and we highly suggest reserving in advance to ensure you have a spot! Maximum 1 board and 2 sails and 1 rig per storage space.
Vela Wind Warranty:
In the event that there are 4 or more days of no sailable wind using any of our equipment, you may request a NO-WIND CLAIM FORM that will allow you credit towards a future trip to any Vela destination. Note that you may receive higher credits if you return to the same center. You must get this form before you leave the center.
There are a variety of options to choose from, but the best value is to get the full 5 + 5 BEGINNER COURSEThis multiple day program will help to take you from your first steps on the board, getting up and going, and perhaps most importantly, turning back around again! A perfect introduction to the basics in warm and shallow water. 5 HOURS OF GROUP LESSONS WITH ALL GEAR INCLUDED DURING INSTRUCTION TIME, PLUS AN EXTRA 5 HOURS OF RENTAL TIME TO KEEP PRACTICING ! Beginner planning to practice after lessons are encouraged to sign up for rentals as well, though alternatively could plan to start rentals after the first few days of lessons are completed.
Regardless of what skills you have mastered so far, there is always more to learn! Whether you want to push yourselves to ride the waves, hope to master your planning jibe, or simply make a confident waterstart, help is available! All lessons are private one-on-one to ensure that you progress as much as possible during your trip. EACH LESSON IS 1-HOUR AND REQUIRES SEPARATE GEAR RENTAL.
The launch area at Pigeon Point beach is a great calm water location making it an ideal place to learn how to kitesurf. Beach training is conducted on Pigeon Point beach or No Man’s Land. Body dragging sessions are started on either beach before entering the water, and then you are collected by watercraft t the end of the session by the instructor. With such a large sailing area and the use of watercraft we are able to keep away from other kiters, helping to further instill your confidence throughout the learning process..
Stage 1: 1-2 Hours
Learn to fly trainer kites on the beach, these are normally Ram Air kites or small C-kites. Areas such as safety, set up, launching, piloting the kite, landing, water re-launch and self rescue are covered.
Stage 2: 3-4 Hours
Body Drag. This is where the fun really begins and we increase the size of the kites and enter the water. As the term describes, you body drag through the water using your kite to pull you along. During stage 2 you really get the feel for the kites, you will be flying either C-kites or Bow Kites. Your instructor will follow you and coach you from the support boat. Inevitably you will crash the kite in the water, but the skills learnt in the first stage will enable you to re-launch the kite from the water, and get back having fun flying the kite.
Stage 3: 3-4 Hours
This stage will vary depending on your board skills. If you have wake boarded, snow boarded, skate boarded or surfed, you might advance to a big board and kite. If you have no boarding experience we suggest taking a wake board lesson. With the skills learnt on a wake board lessons the transition to the kite board is usually smoother and easier. Once up and riding we will teach you the correct stance, piloting of the kite, getting up wind, recovery of your board, turning and much more.
Beginner Course: 10 Hours
This multiple day course will help to take you through the first 3 stages of skill-building describe above. 10 HOURS OF GROUP LESSONS WITH ALL GEAR INCLUDED DURING INSTRUCTION TIME.
Continuing Student: 2 Hours Per Lesson
Private personalized instruction in a boat-supervised session that is entirely focused on the skills or tricks that you want to work on. Also perfect for continuing students who prefer to learn in a private one-on-one setting instead of the normal Semi-Private course.
NOTE: If you have already booked lessons please make sure to check-in at Vela the day before or no later than 9 AM the day of your first scheduled lesson. We always recommend booking lessons in advance to ensure your spot on the schedule. Contact us if you need to reserve some time learning how to Kitesurf!
Our integrated Vela kitesurf school is powered by the latest Cabrinha equipment. In addition to the school fleet we offer rentals for experienced kiters or students ready to get more time on the water on their own. Space is limited and subject to approval by your instructor, or through proof of certification as an independent kiter. Contact us for more info.
READY TO GO? ARE YOU SURE? PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS BEFORE YOU DEPART. HAVE A GREAT TRIP AND DON'T FORGET TO WRITE!