The Tobago Cays are recognized as the "jewel in the crown" for marine tourism in the Southern Grenadines. It is one of the best known and most popular tourist destinations in the region. The Tobago Cays are located in the Grenadines chain of islands, in the southernmost waters of the state of St.Vincent and the Grenadines. Four of the Cays - Petit Rameau, Petit Bateau, Jamesby and Baradal - enclosed within the aptly-named Horseshoe Reef, while the fifth Cays - Petit Tabac - lies just to the east of the main group. Surrounding the islands are series of other reefs and shallows, including Egg Reef and World's End Reef on the eastern side, and Mayreau Gardens to the west. Historically, the Cays also supported a small local fishing industry, giving an important local source of income and employment. Overuse from both tourism and fishing has damaged the valuable resources. To sustain livelihoods and other opportunities for future generations, the natural beauty and biodiversity of the Cays and Mayreau must be protected and preserved.
The Cays have been declared a wildlife reserve by the government and all visitors are urged to preserve and protect this unique natural resource. Towards these aims, the Government of St.Vincent & the Grenadines established the Tobago Cays as a marine park to protect, conserve and improve the natural resources of the Tobago Cays.
No fishing, jet skis, or anchoring of dinghies allowed. Make your own contribution to the efforts by disposing properly of your debris, including the charcoal and remainders of your beach barbecue. Local youths may offer to remove your garbage for a fee but avoid this temptation, as some are known to dump it without care. The huge Horseshoe Reef that protects these five deserted islets, with their dazzling, palm-studded shorelines, provides some of the best snorkelling and diving in the world. The brilliant powdery, white sand, the coloured waters shaded in unimaginable blues and the neon marine life beneath give true meaning to the "stop-the-world-l-want-to-get-off' Caribbean fantasy. Petit Rameau features a beach on the south side of the cay, as does Barabel, which lies southeast of Petit Rameau. Petit Bateau provides visitors a shaded beach to the north and another beach on its east side.This easterly beach is the best choice for beginning snorkellers as it has calm shallow water. More experienced snorkellers will be delighted by the waters surrounding Horseshoe Reef, but may find it occasionally choppy. When approaching these islands, well aided by black and white day markers, be careful not to cut corners as you may end up on a coral head. Anchor in the cut between Petit Rameau and Petit Bateau with bow and stem anchors, as the current is strong. The smallest and southernmost cay, Jamesby, features on its eastern side one of the best beaches of the group. Petit Tabac where Johnny Depp was marooned as Sparrow in Disney's blockbuster "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl", is the most inaccessible with a narrow entrance at the southwestern tip. This crescent shaped islet is covered in coconut trees planted by the late John Caldwell (a.k.a. Johnny Coconut), formerly of Palm Island and his efforts have been continued by Glenroy Adams of Grenadines Dive, a devoted conservationist and a good choice for scuba diving in the area.