Carpe Diem - Reader Reports & Opinion
Patrick Roach from U.K. visited in March 2013 and awarded
Out from the seedy airport area and expensive tourist hotels in the SW of the island are small fishing villages dotted around the coast. Castara is on the Caribbean about half way up the west side & perfect for talking part in real village life. Not so many tourists venture up here but it's a wonderful taste of what the real Caribbean is like with amusing friendly locals.
Nestled above the wonderful beach is Carpe Diem. A haven of tranquillity and just the best place to unwind. We shared the upstairs apartment with the owners Chris and Yvonne who are the very best of hosts. Living there for 3 months every year they know all the locals and places to eat and visit.
They built this house a few years back & the breeze blows through the spacious rooms, not a pane of glass in site. A comfortable bed, good shower and cooking facilities add to the comfort of this lovely house together with sharing your breakfast with the vast array of brightly coloured birds that visit you on the veranda each morning and fruit bats in the evening.
Behind the house is the rainforest and we spent many hours here when we got too hot on the beach. Our guide, recommended by Yvonne and accredited by the tourist office, was Errol Roach - not a relation. He was just the most informed man and so willing to part with a ton of information - some unregistered guides just wiz you through but he spent many hours with us.
Food is of a high standard in the local restaurants but avoid pretentious / expensive ones - Sandcastles being a case in point, see a full review on this site.
Fish & shellfish are on most menus depending on the days catch along with chicken and some excellent goat, usually only consisting of 4-5 items but the standard of cooking is high, mainly fresh and generally cheap. Careful with any of the chilli dishes - I mistakenly agreed to one where the option was normal - read extreme!!!
We found a car essential for touring further a field and again Yvonne came up with a great local company. The bays with glorious beaches further north were idyllic and deserted.
Don't forget to check out the direct Monarch flight - 30kgs of luggage and great service. Far cheaper than BA and Virgin who seem to have identical prices!
I can whole heartedly recommend Carpe Diem for that all important relaxing break, so easy to get to and away from our inclement weather in the UK. Such good value.
Frank And June from U.K. visited in February 2013 and awarded
We found Carpe Diem ideal accommodation on our first visit to Tobago. It is very well situated in the excellent village of Castara. We stayed in the Green Room which was very well appointed, we shared the very large balcony with the owners Yvonne and Chris who were excellant hosts they are very well informed and helpful with what to do and how to arrange trips etc. We especially enjoyed the Sundowner drinks with other guests enjoying the fabulous views from the balcony.
Castara is a very laid back and friendly fishing village which you fall in love with. We found some nice restaurants and would like to recommend the Almond Tree which is on the beach, also the Coffee Shop and the Boat House which have entertainment one night a week. For a special treat try the Castara Retreat Restaurant with very good food and excellant views.
We stayed in Castara for nearly three weeks and did not want to leave but hope to return one day.
James from U.K. visited in February 2013 and awarded
Expect a little piece of paradise. We felt right at home in the clean and welcoming apartment. Chris and Yvonne are really helpful and lovely. The apartment was bigger than we had imagined, well thought out and the location is perfect; with rainforest and beaches what more can you want! Feeding the exotic birds and fruit bats and watching the sunsets became our favourite past time.
We loved the fishing village of Castara, people are friendly and the food is brilliant. We didn't want to go anywhere else.
Ric French from U.K. visited in February 2013 and awarded
Carpe Diem is conveniently located in the village up the hill and equidistant to the main beach and Heavenly Bay or (Little Bay), as it’s known locally, which immediately became our preferred swim & lime location. The Boathouse restaurant there serve up delicious food, squid, prawn or fish in a coconut curry sauce and bake (coconut bread) was superb and also many cold bottles of Stag (a mans beer!) and rum punch naturally! Their drum & limbo evening was fun and a really good atmosphere with locals and visitors getting it together.
The house is also really handy for Bingy’s the fruit and veg King and Hazel makes bread and roti to order, turn left and Mr Coddringtons Bar is right there also good for take away beers, wine & spirits. Back at the house, The Green room had a personal fridge but we also shared the owners kitchen / living room which is really well equipped and has a large American fridge to keep food fresh and drinks cold, here all food should be stored to avoid attracting things!
We chilled out on the vast upper terrace that runs the full length of the property with amazing views of Castara Bay, looking out to sea directly west so an ideal sundowner location, and there were several impromptu get together’s with Chris and Yvonne, the wonderful hospitable owners, and other guests from the two studio apts. If someone would bring back whole fresh fish from the co-operative, on the beach, we’d BBQ and sit around chilling out (liming) all evening.
We watched pelicans dive for fish in the mornings, and a multitude of exotic birds feed, the bird book by my namesake was really useful. The garden and surroundings are incredibly lush, green and tropical, banana, mango, papaya, guava, coconut & lime in abundance... made lovely smoothies. The Coffee shop (Cheno’s) is very good for breakfast but surprisingly the coffee on Tobago isn’t the best, mainly serving strong instant mmmm!
Tings - Englishman’s Bay is spectacular and just what you would expect of a typically tropical Caribbean beach with just one small restaurant and gift shop.
Castara has it’s own waterfall well worth making the trek upstream and crossing the river several times to get there, easy now!
After a week here you feel like you already know half the village, it’s so friendly and relaxed a world away from the busy beach resorts in the south. Felt no real desire to leave except for a round of golf at Mount Irvine, and an interesting King David rain forest tour – it’s very green there!
Think – chilled out, easy-going, soon coming, no hurry no worry, one love, naturalist not naturist – Little Jamaica – Thanks to Yvonne & Christafari for providing all the ingredients for a wonderful relaxed experience.
Marilyn Mcintyre from Canada visited in January 2013 and awarded
We, 2 couples, stayed here Jan. 2013, for 5 nights, and would definitely go back here. We had one of the studios, as well as The Green Room, and it worked out perfectly for us. The owners, Yvonne and Chris, arrived 2 days before we left so we used the kitchen and deck on the upper level until that time, although we were welcome to use it after they arrived as well.
The beds are good...we left the netting around the beds the whole time, as there were mosquitoes around....the kitchens, both up and down are well stocked with cooking utensils. There were spices and such in the upper kitchen, so just borrowed them when we needed them. Showers work good, always hot water, although we did not use an over abundance as it was always nice to have a cool shower after coming back from the beach where it was lovely and hot. No problems with the WIFI.
The deck up is nice and big, with a gorgeous view of the bay....wonderful sunset pics there ! The deck on the studio level is not as large, but still large enough for 4 to sit around the table on it. The view is not as good there, being lower, but there are lots of birds to watch in the trees there. There are so many varieties of birds here, and a bird book to help identify them. We saw more birds here than any other place we visited.
The house is up on a hill, so anyone with walking problems would probably not want to stay here, but we had no issues as it isn't too far a climb. The home is not fancy, but was perfect for us...if you are looking for 5 *, stay somewhere else.
We arranged for airport pick up through the owners, and we had someone from the same family take us over to Speyside for a day, so we never rented a car while in Castara. There are lots of restaurants to walk to from here, we had picked up groceries before we arrived there, but could get some basics in town as well. Order some bread from the ladies baking at the clay oven on Wed. and Sat., or from Hazel just up the road from Carpe Diem...she also has fruit, makes Roti as well.
We walked to the waterfall, had a swim in the natural pool there. The beach was not busy at all, especially compared to farther south...you can rent beach chairs for next to nothing, or just lie on your towel.....beach towels are NOT provided here, so be sure to bring your own. The beach was great....no weeds, not a sharp drop-off...not much for snorkeling right there though.
We really like Castara, from there we moved to Mt. Pleasant, and we all agreed that we liked the feel of Castara better...it is a nice little town...people would soon get to know you here.
Yvonne and Chris were wonderful hosts ! They came for a visit the night they arrived, even though they had had a long day of travel...and invited us to come have Happy Hour with them the following night as well. They are a wealth of knowledge about the town, the country and the people. They are both very down to earth, easy to visit with, and certainly willing to help with any plans you need to make. I can't imagine the work involved hauling all of their supplies up onto the mountain to build their home...but they did !!
I would highly recommend Carpe Diem if you like a relaxing holiday, away from hustle and bustle and lots of tourists :)