There is a passionate debate on a Caribbean radio station as our taxi makes its way around the winding roads deep in the heart of Tobago’s forest.
“It’s an outrage,” a voice stirs with emotion.
“An absolute affront to the Caribbean people and everything we hold dear.”
And the subject at the centre of this impassioned phone-in?
Er, Miley Cyrus and her ever-twerking backside.
You see, while the UK has been transfixed by the starlet’s alarmingly unsexy bottom jerking, we’ve been uninformed about the origin of this worldwide dance phenomenon.
“Twerking has been in the Caribbean for many years,” the radio presenter affirms.
“It is a dance done by big-bottomed ladies loving life at the carnival – it is part of our dance heritage.”
And during my stay at Tobago’s magnificent Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort, I get to see how real women twerk at an evening’s entertainment from a troupe of fantastic local dancers.
Eat your heart out, Miley!
So incredible, passionate, vivid and frenzied is their dancing that their joy and spirit intoxicates the guests.
And dressed in their tribal robes, there’s not a bare cheek in sight (thank goodness!).
It is that same infectious abandon that the sun-drenched island of Tobago fills its many visitors with every year.
You cannot help but be charmed by the laid-back lifestyle of the fun-loving locals. It is the ultimate holiday destination for relaxing and unwinding.
Big fish: One of the locals Michael Melford
In fact, chilling out is such an integral part of everyday life that they even have a word for it – “liming”.
This essentially means sitting down and hanging out with your pals, with an obligatory beer in hand.
Liming can happen anywhere. Even, as I discovered to my delight, in the middle of the ocean.
While tranquilly floating on one of Tobago’s most beautiful untapped tourist points – the idyllic lagoon Nylon Pools – our glass-bottomed boat encountered some local revellers on their own vessel.
As the dulcet tones of Shaggy (who else?) blared out from their craft, it only took a matter of minutes before a barbecue was lit and beers were being passed across the waters.
The visit to Nylon Pools truly was one of the trip highlights.
The crystal-clear water is shallow enough to stand in yet you are floating in the middle of the sea with land barely visible.
Fans of snorkelling will be thrilled to know this is an ideal place to do some exploring with a variety of fish and even turtles zipping through the waves beneath you.
There was also a stunning ocean view from the balcony of our room at the Magdalena Grand.
The impressive building, right in the middle of a 750-acre plantation, is a stone’s throw away from the twinkling blue sea… and a sandy beach which is famous for being a nesting place for turtles.
With such a breathtaking view, plus a number of outstanding restaurants, bars, a spa, gym, tennis courts and even a practice diving pool, you could happily top up your tan without leaving the grounds.
But the island has a surprising amount to offer so you must venture out to experience the incredible food and magnificent scenery.
One place I would not have expected to wind up was inside the lush green of the Tobagan rainforest (yes, it does in fact rain in Tobago, albeit rarely).
The wild beauty of the forest was amazing.
Tumbling waterfalls, massive trees and, of course, the animal inhabitants were all there to greet us.
Our guide was particularly keen to introduce us to some of the less pleasant creatures. Let’s just say I was more a fan of the exotic birds than the spiders!
Heaven: A waterfall in Tobago Debra Wiseberg
I returned from this adventure muddy, soaked and exhausted but thrilled to have experienced something truly amazing.
Another great experience (especially in the Caribbean sunshine) is the chance to paddleboard at charming beach retreat Pigeon Point.
At first it’s tricky trying to balance on the board, but I quickly got the hang of it and had an hour paddling over the calm water. And enjoyed a cocktail under a palm tree afterwards, of course.
For foodies a trip to the famous Tobago Cocoa Estate allows you to see the incredible process that creates bar after bar of delicious chocolate. And, yes, you are allowed to taste some.
With neighbouring Trinidad just a short plane hop away, we popped over to experience their cultural delights.
Again, twerking was a central feature with locals keen to boast about their world-famous carnival which grips the nation for a wild week every February.
I was lucky enough to be see inside the costume storage unit for a peek at the dazzling array of outlandish bikini creations the brave women wear at the carnival.
No matter what shape or size, nothing stops the Caribbean women from taking part, shedding their inhibitions, along with their clothes.
As it was a few months away from carnival, I didn’t quite feel up to stripping down to my underwear but was allowed to try on the incredibly heavy feathered headpieces that women wear for the celebrations.
After watching footage of the amazing parades, I certainly understood what that radio presenter had been getting so worked up over Miley’s appropriation of the twerk.
And let’s just say Beyonce was underselling it when she coined the phrase “bootylicious”.
These women were seriously proud to be shaking and shimmying their fabulous figures around as they revelled in the happiest dance you’ll ever see.
It made skinny Miley look positively second-rate in comparison.
I’m hopeful for a return visit during carnival time to get a twerking lesson from the country where it all began.
Travel fileWhen to go: The island enjoys tropical weather all year round, averaging around 30C.
High season is January to March when accommodation prices soar, especially in February for the annual Carnival.
Off-peak months are April to June and October to December.
Do try: Stand-up paddleboarding – the latest watersports craze is fun and easy to learn. From $60 (Ł37) for a one-hour lesson at Pigeon Point. standuppaddletobago.com.
Good to know: Water temperatures at a constant mid-20C means Tobago is perfect for snorkelling and diving to explore the rich sealife.
Book it: BA Holidays offers seven nights at the four-star Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort from Ł737pp based on two sharing a Deluxe Ocean Front room, including breakfast and flights departing Gatwick on selected dates in May and June, via St Lucia to Tobago.
ba.com/magdalena, 0844 493 0787
More info: Check out the hotel at magdalenagrand.co.uk. For more on the islands go to gotrinidadandtobago.com.
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