Carpe Diem - Reader Reports & Opinion
Eddie Coates-Madden from U.K. visited in February 2012 and awarded
There are a lot of reasons for taking a “trip of a lifetime”. In our case it was the end of a maternity leave period.
The decision to travel 4,500 miles with a thirteen year-old and a 10 month old baby might seem a strange one to some, but when you choose a place like Carpe Diem in Castara it becomes about the best decision you’ve ever made.
I don’t remember imagining that we’d feel sick on arrival and heart-broken on departure; but we did: Sick with jealousy and heart-broken to leave. The single best holiday we have ever had; and we’re not inexperienced travellers.
Carpe Diem was exactly as we’d imagined it, except more so. Our opening remarks to Chris were that we were already green with envy (nearly as green as the gardens) and that we already hated him! That bit wasn’t true (we’ll come back to that).
The view is stunning. The few minutes’ walk into the village and on to the beach is shorter than we expected. The balcony is right in the garden (there is a Papaya tree within yards – we ate some!) and within minutes we were seeing Tanagers, Mot Mots, Cocricro, Ant Shrikes, Humming Birds and more. We had visits from red squirrels, lizards, butterflies, and at one point one of Tobago’s non-venomous snakes.
The apartments are immaculately kept and everything you could want is available in them.
Castara is an absolute dream. A genuine Caribbean paradise of a village. Very few tourists - very few villagers! - and a working fishing village. You will want to do a supermarket shop on your way there though – the shops are a bit limited. But the fresh bread and cakes from the outdoor oven are a real treat.
We had the great big glorious beach to ourselves more or less for the week and a half we were there. We met so many great people but somehow they melt away when it comes to being on the sand. No bothersome chair vendors or anything vendors; just you, the (brilliant) sand and the waves.
We helped pull in the seine nets (and earned five greenback fish as a result which Splish Splosh came and cooked for us in a Caribbean style for a very small fee and his lunch). We snorkelled. We ate good food. We visited the rain forest. We went out on a boat trip with Chris and Yvonne, and some of their other guests and former guests and locals, and we had a BBQ on the beach, and rum punch in the Nylon Pond.
Chris and Yvonne are just brilliant. It’s not usual to leave having made good friends with the landlords, but I really believe we did. They are just great people. They give good advice on what to do; they lend you books and bus tickets, take you on boat trips, make you laugh, let you use the internet, and generally have about as fantastic a house and lifestyle as you could reasonably long for!
Within a few hours of arrival Chris had brought us a book about Tobago’s history; La Magdalena: The Story of Tobago. Magdalena is the island’s original name, and Chris had been delighted to find it to be the name of our daughter too. We hadn’t known that, but in that moment we knew everything was just right.
Leaving Castara was really hard, partly because it’s stupidly beautiful, partly because it’s gloriously sunny, partly because the food is pretty good and the pace of life is ideal, and partly because there is just enough of everything and just enough of nothing to do. But mainly because we made a lot of good friends; most of all Chris (the Prof!) and Yvonne.
You will not be disappointed to have chosen here; you will be heart-broken to leave.
Nicola Hart from U.K. visited in December 2011 and awarded
The setting for Carpe Diem is fantastic, the view from the bed and tarrace is stunning. The birds visit regularly incuding the Mott Mott. We missed the Humming Birds but the Fruit Bats visited every evening. Our first night was during a bad storm which took out the power so we sat on the terrace in pitch black drinking beer and watching an amazing display by the fireflies, a first for us and to begin with we thought it was villagers with torches in the woods (they were that bright) but finally realised there were far too many for that!
Unusually for self-contained accommodation the bed was fantastic, not too hard or too soft and a great size which was appreciated in the heat - we could avoid sticky contact easily!
The kitchen equipment is basic but there is all you need, although the smell of bottled gas was quite strong.
The shower was ok although the temperature of the water was not very hot.
Denzil and Doris (the guardians)are a major advantage as they know the local customs and where to go better than any review!
The main attraction of Carpe Diem is undoubtedly the terrace and the view both of which are wonderful.
Ian Anderson & Nicola Hart
Edna Corr from U.K. visited in September 2011 and awarded
Carpe Diem is a wonderful place to stay. The apartment was clean and spacious and very well equipped for all our catering requirements. The liquidizer for making mango smoothies was very much appreciated. The view from the balcony must be the best in Castara, whether in the early morning looking out over the bay or the evening watching the spectacular sunsets. An added bonus is watching the many species of birds from the rain forest behind the apartment, including parrots and humming birds. A short walk down the hill leads to a choice of Little Bay (great for snorkelling – we saw lots of different types of fish) or Big Bay which has the advantage of being able to call in at the D’Lime bar for a ‘beastly’ cold beer (as described by the owner Marvin) on the way back up or the Coffee Shop for breakfast depending on the time of day. Castara is a lovely village with really good beaches, enough little shops to meet our needs plus fresh fish daily from the fishermen – combined with Carpe Diem, the best place to stay in Tobago.
Ron Skene from U.K. visited in September 2011 and awarded
This is the second time i have been to Carpe Diem and was lucky to have Yvonne and Chris there as hosts this time. They are a great couple, good company and provided lots of information about Tobago where to go and what to see.
The accomodation as last time was first class and has everything you need, large comfy bed, big fridge frezzer and good cooking facilities if you are not eating out.
The apartments are set up the hill and give great morning views of Castaras beach and the colourfull evening sunsets.
The two great beachs are only a 5 min walk from the appartment where you can swim in the in the lovely clear warm waters a mask and snorlel are a must as there is a plenty of tropical fish to see.
Castara is a working fishing village so there is fresh fish to be had every day.There is enough shops selling fresh bread any any amount of fruit and vegatables.
Eating out is no problem whether its breakfast after an early morning swim or in the evening after a few cold beers/rum punches at Marvins bar. The local inhabitants are very friendly and everyone will say hello as you pass by.
If you want to do more other than just laze on the beach there is car hire,boat trips for fishing and diving available in the village
All in all a great holiday thats why ive been twice and hope to go again
Judith Poulteney from U.K. visited in March 2011 and awarded
We spent a week at Carpe Diem in March 2011. We had one of the two studios. This is a great place to experience 'real' Tobago. The lovely wooden house with the two integral studios is beautifully constructed on the side of a hill in Castara, a small fishing village, overlooking Big and Little Bay. The tropical rain forest comes down to the shore in parts of Castara and Carpe Diem, along with its neighbours, nestles on the edge of the forest. When you stay at Carpe Diem you are surrounded by all the wonderful colour, noise and activity that the rain forest produces - back to nature!
In the mornings you are rewarded with bird song as brightly-coloured birds come to the house to eat from the feeders where you can put fruit and bread. Banana, papaya and cocoa plants surround the house and you will see butterflies and lizards. The view of the bay is fantastic from the terrace and in the evenings there will be some of the most dramatic sunsets you have ever seen.
The studio has high ceilings and is airy. There is a large and very comfortable queen size bed with full mosquito net. The kitchen area is very well-equipped with a large fridge with freezer, full oven, grill and stove, kettle, toaster, juicer, etc, and all the utensils, crockery and cutlery you need - so you will have everything necessary if you fancy cooking for yourselves (we can recommend the fresh fish - caught daily). There is plenty of hot water, a great shower - and the water tastes good and is safe to drink.
The path to the beach is steep but it is not far at all - about 200m - and both bays are great for swimming. Local shops provide good basic provisions. It's a really friendly place where visitors are welcome to join in with village activities. We can recommend Chinos for breakfast - don't miss the salt fish and coconut bake - and the fresh pumpkin and wholewheat bread baked by the ladies of Castara in a traditional clay oven (Wednesdays and Saturdays). We had a great boat trip with Ali Baba Tours - and would also suggest you walk into the forest to bathe in Castara's pool at the base of the waterfall ...
Chris and Yvonne Runciman, the owners of Carpe Diem, were staying while we were there. They should be congratulated on the thought that has gone into their beautiful home and the care and attention they pay to looking after their guests. They play an active part in village life and encourage their guests to support local restaurants, stores and businesses - as they do themselves.
If you are looking for an all-inclusive 'clinical' package, then this is not for you. Carpe Diem is the ideal location for the independent traveller who wants to see and experience for themselves (in comfort!) what Tobago really has to offer.