As Bacolet Street eases east out of Scarborough along the coast past Sandy Hall and Fairfield Complex – the main administrative base of the Tobago House of Assembly as well as the Tobago Hall of Justice court and the island’s main cemetery – the roadside homes become noticeably grander. Though Bacolet suffered a lull when its eponymous street was replaced by Claude Noel Highway as the main route to the windward coast, this is still a suburb of choice for Tobago’s elite.
The area enjoyed a heady prestige during the late 1960s and early 70s, boasting a couple of luxury hotels, the Bacolet and Blue Haven. Rita Hayworth and Robert Mitchum stayed here while filming Fire Down Below, and the Beatles frolicked on Bacolet Bay Beach, which also provided the setting for Walt Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson. The Blue Haven was once part of Tobago’s battlements: a cannon still stands on the hotel’s grounds, the base of the hotel is surrounded by stone walls dating back to 1770 and the bay itself was the site of many sea battles. The hotels tried to cordon off the sand in the 1960s but Dr Eric Williams – the premier who once declared that he had no intention of ruling “a nation of waiters and bellhops” – intervened to keep the beach public. South of the beach, the houses thin out as Bacolet Street swings left to meet with the highway and the traffic on its way along the windward coast.
Bacolet Bay Beach
The best reason to linger here is the crescent-shaped Bacolet Bay Beach, a tranquil spot mostly visited by guests from the nearby hotels, with its yellow sand shaded by palms and Indian almond trees. A protective coral reef ensures good swimming despite the location on the Atlantic side of the island – but be aware of the occasional dangerous undercurrents and rough seas in winter. From the road, concrete steps lead down the cliff side to the sand, where a beach bar serves up drinks and snacks.