Beach House - Reader Reports & Opinion
Mark Gibbens from U.S.A. visited in March 2009 and awarded
If you've settled on Castara for your vacation, or for that matter any of the small villages in the northeastern part of Tobago, I doubt you can do much better than the Beach House. A highlight of my stay (in one of the two small units)was just sitting on the porch enjoying the beautiful views of Castara Bay, and of course a wonderful small beach and swimming area is just a few feet away. This is a huge advantage, in my view, because most of the accomodation in Castara is well away from the water. Also, the porch is very sheltered and I used it during a couple of heavy rains and stayed completely dry. The inside portion of the apartment was very clean and basic, the bed comfortable, the kitchen well equipped. It's small, but you won't be spending much time indoors but for sleeping or maybe cooking anyway. The caretaker, Porridge, will take good care of you. I had a very good sense of privacy even though the other units were occupied when I was there. Since the House is slightly above the beach, and separated by a line of vegetation, the beach users also don't intrude on your privacy. I would have no hesitation recommending this place to my friends.
Garry & Julie Reeves from U.K. visited in March 2009 and awarded
What a wonderful place to stay for a relaxing away-from-it-all holiday.
We stopped for 11 nights 15-26 March 2009 in Coconut Heights and were blown away with the whole setting. The sunsets were to die for. A tip for those stopping here with regards to the waves breaking on the beach, just like sleeping with someone who snores, try to get your own breathing in synch with the waves/snores and you will soon drop off.
Thanks to Porridge who really looked after us well and knows just what you need/want by intuition. One of life's real genuine good people!
I recommend putting some titbits in the bird feeder 1st thing in the morning and just lie in the hammock (I've got one since returning) and watch the variety of size/colours etc of the birds that come to feed there.
The Boathouse next door was great - friendly and really good service. I recommend Hazel's above Max's store for lunch - a real taste of the local food at a great price.
Get snorkelling if you can and you will be well rewarded.
Diana Moss from U.K. visited in March 2009 and awarded
We spent a wonderful 10 days in Coconut Heights, upstairs at the Beach House, in early March last year. For the first time for us, we are returning to the same place in the new year, for a longer stay.
Castara is kind of unique - it feels like you've wandered into someone's village, and whilst they are quite pleased to see you, they won't put on a show - they're friendly as long as you fall into doing things their way and at their speed - and if you do, then after a few days you realise you've become part of the rhythm of the community - and it's great.
It's not the scene for eveyone but we loved its natural, quaint, unpretentious atmosphere. The highlights for us were:
-Bare foot escapism, carefree and non-judgemental - about as far from 'corporate' and 'all inclusive' as you can get - no glitter, no fashion statements, just real.
- Buying fish from the fisherman in Big Bay as they cleaned and gutted their catch for that day - cooked back in our well equipped little kitchen - delicious
-The ladies who bake wonderful bread in their clay oven in the centre of the village. Tea bread, pumpkin bread and coconut drops are highly recommended. Order double because they won't last and order early!
- Exploring the local stalls for the best fruit and veg (not cheap)and trying to find things to eat at the local supermarket(you can, with imagination). There's plenty more choice further afield.
-Visits from the local menagerie; chickens,dogs and cats (some mangy but all loveable). They don't encroach but they are ever present, on the beach and around the apartment.
- Snorkelling early in the morning, encountering massive rays, a little turtle and cuttle fish, all in Little Bay.
-The reassurance of Porridge - knowing you have someone quietly looking out for you and always there if you need him. He provides a good car hire and transfer service. We wanted a convertible jeep which Porridge didn't supply so we hired a rather old, smoky but reliable jeep from KCNN.
As others have said, in our view, the Beach House is the best place to stay in Castara - no better place in the world to enjoy a sundowner. The balcony, the bats and the bananquits, along with the highlights mentioned above have beckoned us back. Whilst there, a number of other hoilday makers approached us to ask about the Beach House as they were enchanted by it too.
The apartment has all the basics you will need including a great fridge with freezer dept. We would recommend you take an additional towell or two as the sand really does get everywhere and there are no laundry facilities. As a tip, ensure you use the floor brush provided and use the outside tap to wash sand off your feet otherwise you increase the sandfly population.
The apartment is substantially built - we didn't hear our neighbours downstairs. Everyone we met was like minded and had chosen Castara for the same reasons as us - mostly for the Robinson Crusoe effect.
Beach chairs are at a premium so you may want to take a lilo as a makeshift lounger. Not recommended for the water but when covered with a towel they don't look out of place.
BUT....don't choose the Beach House unless you can put up with:
Mosquitos and sand flies (just normal really)
The constant sound of the sea - it's very close
The crow of the cockerals at 3am (it's what cockerals do)
A frog and insect chorus with the occassional harmony from the local canine community
Visiting lizards (small ones), bats(many & harmless)
Weevils in the pasta (protein?)
Finally for the diver, there are some reasonalbe reefs for scuba diving. We recommend Richie from Wild Turtle Dive who will bring all the gear to Castara. If you go to Speyside, choose your dive operator carefully - we had an 'out of air' incident due to rented equipment failure, and no-one at Extra Divers seemed to take it seriously.
So that's our experience of the Beach House, one we would like to keep a secret but feel we have to share out of respect for it's generous owners. Thank you!
Jose L. Gonzalez from U.S.A. visited in February 2009 and awarded
This was my second visit to Tobago. After my first visit in 2007, I knew I had no need to fly in to Trinidad so I flew directly to Tobago. I knew one week was not enough so I stayed two weeks. I also knew the Beach House in Castara was the best accommodation for the best price on the whole island. It's the one place that truly delivers on ACTUAL beach front access, privacy, serenity, and a fun schedule of local activities throughout the week, should one choose to participate. On each visit I rented a car and circled the island. In my opinion Castara's beach is by far the most relaxing, calm, and unencumbered beach on the whole island. I can not say enough about the local residents and business owners of Castara who genereously share their paradise with visitors from all over the world and help us explore and appreciate their village and island. I especially love Sharon at the Boat House!! Porridge and the rest of the Beach House staff offer their services without being intrusive. Clean sheets and towels mysteriously appear every 2-3 days and your kitchenette and room are suddenly a little cleaner then you left it. Car rental, driving tours, laundry - you name it - just ask Porridge. I highly recommend scheduling your visit during J'Ouvert and Carnival. Baccanal and beauty in one place. All the more enjoyable if you let loose!! The final deal closer for staying at the Beach House is the spectacular beauty of the sunset each evening around 6-ish visible from from the comfort of the Beach House. It's a great opportunity to invite friends for appetizers, wine, and music. Finally, if you are lucky enough to be at the Beach House while the owners, Graham and Carol, are there invite them to your/their place for an evening. They are wonderful company with many fun life experiences and stories to share! I fell in love with them. Visit Roxborough, Scarborough, Crown Point, etc., but stay at the Beach House in Castara! I must also thank Alison for all her help and patience in helping me focus on my vacation. She did the rest! Gracias.
Bill & Diane Mollison from Canada visited in February 2009 and awarded
Diane and I stayed at the Beach House for our first trip to Tobago and because we loved it so much we have already booked for next February. We stayed in one of the lower units and found it met our needs perfectly. We cooked in some nights using the kitchen which was more than adequate for our needs. Other nights we went out to the local eateries in Castares, which are plentiful and all had great food. Locally there are places to buy groceries and fresh fruit and veggies.
The porch became one of our favourite places to be, watching the local fishermen going out in the morning, waves on the beach, birds at the feeder and those glorious sunsets in the evening.
The Beach House is only steps from the water's edge where swimming and snorkeling is great.
Porridge was very friendly and a great help to us. We also met Carol and Graham, the owners, who were friendly and great company.
We found our stay at the Beach House in Castares to be both restful and enjoyable and can hardly wait to get back next year.