Carpe Diem - Reader Reports & Opinion
Kimberley Cahill from U.K. visited in March 2012 and awarded
We had a very peaceful holiday in a studio flat that felt a little like a tree house. It was a great opportunity to relax and observe local wildlife. We spent a lot of time sitting on the balcony and watching the beautiful birds and fruit bats feed on the birdfeeders. Chris and Yvonne were very welcoming and were happy to help with advice, information and also organised a boat trip with a beach BBQ and a stop at Nylon Pool. They arranged for a local driver, Denzil, to pick us up at the airport and then at the end of our holiday to drop us back there again. We got to know the village and found that although it was not very 'touristy' there were good restaurants and a very good beach bar and that the locals were glad of our custom and made us feel at home. We had some very good evenings at The Boathouse, a particular evening of drums and limbo dancing will never be forgotten. Thanks to Chris and Yvonne for sharing your home and to Castara for allowing us to see what Tobagan life is all about. My friends described my photo's as a view of paradise, how true!
Mike Milne from U.K. visited in March 2012 and awarded
We’d visited this traditional fishing village on ealier trips to Tobago and liked the laid back “non-hassle” style of the locals - and the fact that our dates coincided with owners Chris and Yvonne being there turned out to be an added bonus.
Their advice on which places were usually worth going to (and which to avoid) was very helpful - plus we thoroughly enjoyed their company on the occasions they invited us to join them upstairs for a drink or a meal or to watch the sunset.
Overall, although the accomodation is fairly basic, it’s certainly serviceable, and the American-sized fridge was particularly useful for keeping all our food and drinks cold and fresh. Clean sheets and towels are provided regularly by the lovely Doris and her husband Denzel (who is also a very efficient taxi driver) and the Wifi connection is much faster than we’d expected.
Sleepwise, we’d warn anyone who is a light sleeper to take a supply of earplugs as the local roosters tend to start the first round of their crowing contest around 4am! But the wonderful variety of tropical birds that will come and eat from the bamboo feeder trays hanging on each balcony is a joy.
We had a great time at Carpe Diem and look forward to staying there again.
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.