Castara Cottage - Reader Reports & Opinion
Margery Nzerem from U.K. visited in October 2009 and awarded
We stayed in Castara Cottage for a 16 day, 3 generation (my husband and I, our grown up children and their partners and our 2 year old granddaughter) family holiday, and so rented all three flats. It was lovely family rental - the fact that we had three separate spaces meant we could spend lots of time together, but have some privacy when we wanted. Saffron (the studio flat) and Tumeric are interconnected, so when that door was open the top floor was one big space. To our delight, although Tumeric only sleeps 4, the balcony has a big table (seating, on one evening, 7 adults and a toddler in a high chair with ease). The sitting room in Tumeric is big too, so they both made great family spaces.
This is the fourth time my husband and I have been to Tobago, staying in different parts of the island each time, and Castara is the best - a fishing village that has its own life and pace and is not too touristy. Between the local fruit and vegetable shop and the 'fruit king' who called everyday, it was easy to get fresh produce, and of course there's lots of fresh fish, as others have mentioned.
The two beaches are very close and very quiet with good swimming and excellent snorkelling just off the beach, so we spent most of our time there - but, as others have mentioned, there are lots of other things to do too.
I don't understand the problems others had with the main road. It is indeed just behind the cottage, but caused no problems. The road down to Heavenly, which is beside the cottage, was a bit noisy; there had recently been work done to the drains and the road surface had not been repaired, so cars skidded and ground their gears - but there's not much traffic, and once the road is fixed all should be OK
Brigette, the manager, could not have been nicer or more helpful. The cottages were very well equipped - all the kitchen equipment we could have wanted and lots of towels, frequently changed. Ann, the owner, also could not have been more helpful, cheerfully answering our numerous enquiries before we went.
Claudette Forbes from U.K. visited in July 2009 and awarded
I stayed at Castara Cottage for 3 weeks last summer (my second stay at the cottage) and in a couple of other places in the village for the remaining weeks of my six week stay there. I have to say that Castara Bay is, in my view, one of Tobago's jewels. Castara Cottage is perfectly situated, just minutes from the beach and with access to some lovely places to eat. Talk of noise from the road surprises me. I don't recall that problem. It's not as though there are streams of traffic going by. My best memories are of waking up to the chorus of rainforest birds, conducted by a somewhat annoying cockerel and gorging on delicious mangos bought from Bingi, the 'Fruit King' who delivers in the morning. A note to those staying in the upper apartment to be considerate of those staying below should help as sound proofing is an issue which I gather is being rectified, but otherwise one of the best places to holiday in the Caribbean.
Maureen Taylor from U.K. visited in June 2009 and awarded
We stayed in Saffron for the first few nights, then we moved down into Cinnamon for the remainder of our holiday. Both apartments were just as described on the website i.e. traditional, clean, comfortable and well equipped but as a couple we found the layout of Saffron suited us best . The open plan apartment felt spacious and airy, unlike other studio apartments which we have rented. It was natural, unpretentious and simple – with a few quirky decorations.
Since coming back from Tobago we heard that some guests have complained about the passing traffic behind the studio, but that was a minor irritation for us, it was definitely offset by the positives of our holiday.
The manager, Brigitte was attentive, friendly, helpful & unobtrusive. She popped in now and again to check everything was OK and left us her mobile number just in case we had any problems (we didn’t).
Try calling in to see Cheno for breakfast as you walk through Castara. He has the small cafe on the edge of town and serves fresh, local food at a good price. You must put a special dinner order in for Crab and Dumplings, as the restaurant claims this is “ finger lickin’ good” !!
Don’t miss the stern old women who bake bread at the clay oven twice a week in Castara. The small number of restaurants in the village serve similar food ie chicken or goat, and all are good, but Cascreole (raised up on stilts on the beach) is the best for sunset drinks.
Castara fish must be the best we have ever tasted, the price is fantastic and it was certainly fresh. We bought it off the local fishermen on Big Bay beach and cooked it back at the apartment within an hour or so. The local shops sell most items that you will need but go to Scarborough market for a real eye-opening treat.
Bird watching is a must on this holiday and to see some you don’t have to leave the apartment. The small local yellow and black birds (bananaquit) fly onto the balcony and even hop in now and again. If you put food out on the balcony for the birds the results are breathtaking, especially when the MotMot lands. I would recommend you beg, borrow or buy a local bird book and check out how many different varieties you can spot. Many other species can be spotted on the beach or while travelling around the island.
The two local beaches are quite different, but both are wonderful. We often had the sea to ourselves and snorkelling off Heavenly Bay is brilliant.
We visited the Castara and Argyle waterfalls – fantastic ! We took a fresh-water dip in both of them and saw amazing butterflies and yet more birds.
A boat trip to Nylon Pool and Coral Gardens is a must – but even better is the BBQ on No Man’s Land when you cook what you catch.
Before you leave you MUST ‘lime’ at Codrington’s rum shop next door to the house. There you will get the feel of village life and meet lots of interesting local people, along with fellow tourists.
We really enjoyed our stay in Tobago and we give Castara Cottage a 5-star rating as natural, friendly apartments within a local community. However those wanting 5-star, up-market, sterile, ‘manufactured’ accommodation with all mod cons – maybe this place is not for you.
Maureen & Steve, Huddersfield
Veronica from U.S.A. visited in April 2009 and awarded
Had a great stay in Castara. Castara Cottage was perfectly located close to two beaches. We stayed in Cinnamon and found it comfortable and clean; perfect accomodation for the island experience. Great people, friendly and helpful.
Take a trip with Duck in his boat, rent a car and drive up the coast and see the magnificent coast-line, indulge in some local cuisine.
Had a blast!
Alan & Jacqueline Cole from U.S.A. visited in March 2009 and awarded
This is the first time in a few years we have been able to enjoy a trip such as this and Castara Cottage, Castara Village and Tobago way exceeded our expectations.
We were looking for a peaceful, simple retreat that had a flavour of how the locals live, with access to good beaches and the freedom to explore the island safely. In addition we wanted to be able to enjoy local food but also have the freedom to cater for ourselves - it certainly ticked all those boxes.
We stayed inititally in Saffron (studio) then moved downstairs to Cinammon. I have to say we would have happily stayed in Saffron.(The move was only necessary because we had to change our holiday dates and Saffron was not available for the full two weeks).
The apartments are clean, comfortable and well equipped. The shower is hot and the bed comfortable - what more do you need on holiday? We were particularly impressed with the way Brigitte called regularly to change bed linen and towels - particularly important in a humid environment.
We decided not to take any of the tours offered by Duck or Fitzroy - we really just wanted to relax. They were not the least offended and were not at all pushy when we said no.
Local restaurants serve good food at reasonable rates. The coffee shop run by Cheno and his brother do an excellent salt-fish and bake breakfast - must be tried at least once.
Ralph the fruit and veg man in the village gave us excellent advice on how to cook plantain and the fish purchased fresh from the co-operative was beyond excellent. The lady who runs the little gift shop by the beach offers excellent recipes on how to cook the fish.
All in all we really couldn't fault anything - other than the fact we had to leave.
If you are looking for a relaxing holiday, on a safe island, in authentic comfortable accommodation, in the most beautiful of surroundings, then look no further than Castara Cottage.