Castara Cottage - Reader Reports & Opinion
Chris Robb from U.K. visited in January 2009 and awarded
Just echoing the report of December 2008. We stayed in Cinnamon cottage for a week at the beginning of New Year. It is difficult to tell from the details, but the apartments are right on top of each other. We are a family of four with two kids aged 5 and 18 months who stayed in Cinnamon Cottage. We were delighted with the rustic charm of the place - cockerils, lizards and various birds coming to say hello. It was literally a tree house.
However, there was an English family staying directly above us in Tamarind. They were there for 3 weeks and had 3 kids. The 18 month old spent his time from 7.30pm till 9pm every night running up down and screaming uncontrollably. Without kids, we would have just gone out, but this is their bed time. The floors are wooden and there is no sound proofing. It was horrific.We know that several different parties complained about them, but nothing of significance was done to rectify the situation.
Before booking I would suggest checking the occupancy of the other appartments. They are so close together that this will have an affect. Despite my rant, it is such a lovely place I would recommend staying there. Just check for toddlers and selfish and irresponsible parenting...
Chris & Annie Robb, St. Albans UK
Marsha Mark Montgomery from U.K. visited in December 2008 and awarded
For us, the best part of staying in Castara was having easy access to seeing the other very scenic parts of the island; from the north to the east and back to the west again. With car hire, this proved a wonderful and memorable experience. Like others before us we also thoroughly enjoyed Englishman's, Parletuvier and Bloody Bays, and drove through the forest reserve on our way back to Castara.
However, I am afraid that for my husband and I the four nights and five days spent in the Saffron appartment of Castara cottages was a huge dissappointment.
We were initially highly surprised by how close to the main road, the appartment was located as we drove into Castara, but thought that there would not be any problems if the noise level of the traffic was low. This proved totally the opposite - with loud hooting and people revving cars on a daily morning basis...with no chance of a sleep-in.
Unfortunately for us, we also had an English family next door with two screaming children, loud and constantly jumping on the floor boards. This proved our worse nightmare and we dread to think what the family in the appartment cottage below were going through. From all accounts Brigitte, the manager had already received complaints from the French family of four staying in the appartment below!
On a separate note, Brigitte, the manager was a star. She fixed the non-flushing toilet immediately and cleaned and tidied up the appartment on a regular basis. Even when after 3 nights, we decided to leave earlier than planned, she totally understood our position.
We also understood that there were no mod cons, such as TVs in the appartment; but with the noise of films being played next door, we felt as if we were living in a cinema whilst trying to have a relaxing evening, taking in the sun-set.
I would recommend to anyone wanting to visit Toabago, to either choose accommodation in and around Crown Point and /or Pidgeon point with its great relaxing and fun beaches, surfing, diving and snorkelling and with numerous guesthouses and hotels with a wide range of prices as well as some choice of reasonably priced restaurants and supermarkets for self-catering or further afield near Black Rock; where the small family-run guesthouses were comfortable but that can get booked out very fast in December.
We fortunately spent the remainder of the two weeks in two other places: one of them an appartment overlooking the sea near Black Rock and the other at Crown Point where we had a glorious time, with access to beaches, snorkelling and diving. Where we had a much needed relaxing time.
Tobago is a small enought island to get to know your way around, filled with stunning smaller and less frequented beaches than Castara that are simple, beautiful with fewer people.
Dr. E Torres from U.K. visited in March 2008 and awarded
My family and I spent 2 glorious weeks at Castara Cottage (Cinnamon) in March this year. If you donít want breathtaking beaches, fantastic snorkelling and fishing, lush, wildlife-filled rainforest, and warm friendly locals, then this is not the place for you.
We started each day by putting out food scraps along the balcony railing and then sat eating our breakfasts while a kaleidoscope of tropical birds came and sat happily munching just yards away. The cottage is just a minute from either of the two beaches, so our first venture out each day was down to the beach for a bit of swimming, snorkelling or fishing. The fishing off big beach was good and the snorkelling at the north end of little beach was fantastic. On our first day there we helped haul in the seine net off big beach, and an hourís hard work was rewarded with a huge haul of tuna up to 15 lb in weight.
Cinnamon cottage was amazing. Not for the faint-hearted, the open front wall and close proximity of the vegetation makes it seem more like a tree house (albeit a very well equipped tree house). Both birds and bats were wont to fly in for an occasional visit, and the two resident geckos made regular appearances. We loved it. Even my normally squeamish teenage daughter enjoyed it. One thing worth mentioning is the noise. You are close enough to the beach to hear the waves all the time, and together with the birds during the day and the frogs and cicadas at night, it is not the quietest place youíll ever stay. However, after a couple of days we were all sleeping like logs and this minor inconvenience was well worth it for the magical experience overall. The local shops sold the basics necessary for life (no meat or cowís milk) and fresh fish was available every day from the fishermenís centre on the beach. The restaurants sold good food at reasonable prices, with picture-book sunsets thrown in for free most nights.
Last but not least, I must mention the people. Without exception the people we met were friendly and welcoming. Duck was our main contact there and he not only organised a couple of boat trips for us (sightseeing, snorkelling and beach barbeques) but even arranged a birthday cake, pink icing and all, for my daughterís 15th birthday. As a rainforest guide, I canít recommend Fitzroy highly enough. His encyclopaedic knowledge of the jungle is surpassed only by his enthusiasm for sharing it, and a pair of eyes that would put a hawk to shame. Sharon and Brenton down at the boat house are the perfect hosts and donít miss their steel pan and drum night on Wednesdays. Finally, for the serious fishermen among you, get Anaconda to take you out on his boat. The fishing was fantastic and the rates very reasonable. Donít forget to ask him about the big marlin he caught.
Mark Neal from Georgia visited in March 2008 and awarded
After reading the reviews on Castara Cottage, there is little left to say. The cottage is perfect if you are looking for a self serving apartment within an authentic, welcoming fishing village...walking distance to two beaches, next door to a market, etc. Duck, Fitzroy, Bridgette, and the management were fantastic and there were no hangups what so ever. Castara, the actual village, is the most genuine community you could ever hope to visit. Where else will people accept you into their lives, their circle of friends, and families after knowing you for just a few days?
I had no idea what to expect of Tobago before we arrived, but it is paradise, and Castara is the gem in the crown. Charlotteville is fantastic as well. I highly recommend renting a car while you are here and see the entire island. The roads are definitely dicey in that they have constant blind curves on the side of cliffs, with very few guardrails...and as an American not used to driving on the left, and driving a manual transmission changing gears with my left hand...it was certainly a new experience, but all this just added to the "coolness" of Tobago.
I would recommend spending a day at the beach at Pigeon Point as well. Sure it's full of tourists, kids screaming, trinket shops, and more burgers than roti, but it is absolutely beautiful and reminds you that Tobago has not only the rugged beauty of the North, but the quintessential Carribbean beaches and crystal clear water to the South. It also, in my opinion, allows you to truly appreciate the rest of the island and how well other areas have kept their purity. If you are planning a family vacation and you want to walk off the plane on to the beach, consider staying in the Pigeon Point area. If you are looking for more, just take a day trip there.
Here are my recommendations:
-rainforest tour with Fitzroy. a rainforest tour really is a must.
-boatride with Duck and friends
-bring your own coffee, because i can't think of a better place to wake up early and have a good cup of joe, and it is tough to find on the island
-try to go to Tobago during Goat and Crab race, and go to the race by boat
-visit all parts of the island, even if it's just to drive through
-spend a lot of time between Castara and Charlotteville....breathtaking panaramas everywhere.
-bring very few clothes...pack what you think you need and then put half of it back. no collars necessary.
-stock up on groceries when you arrive, and enjoy cooking with local ingredients and the catch of the day
-eat "bake and shark" sandwiches, the salted fish puff pastry things, fresh fruit, home baked bread and veggie roti
-drink local beer and don't be afraid to drink a little more rum than you are used to :)
-MEET people...it's worth it here.
-snorkle as much as possible
Thank you Tobago!
Johann Klinger from Austria visited in February 2008 and awarded
We stayed for 15 days in the Tamarind apartment at Castara Cottage and it was a great time !
Castara Cottage is just located perfectly in Castara.You have the choice of two beautiful beaches - it`s one minute down to Big Castara Bay and 2 minutes to Heavenly Bay.
We also got a nice view over both beaches from our apartment.
The wooden house is offering good vibration to you from the morning to the night.
We used to have our breakfast on the terrace enjoying the start of the day and watching our kids feeding the birds.In the late afternoon the sun is setting the whole house in a wonderful light.
The house itself is decorated with love and Brigitte the manager is always there if you need some help.
We`ve been to a lot of countries around the world always searching for peaceful places where you can stay without big hotels and get in contact with local people - Castara is one of the best places we have found !
The people of Castara(as on the rest of the island!) are really friendly and helpful - for boattrips ask Duck/for bushwalks ask Carlloyd - we had a great time with these guys.
It`s also a good idea to get a car and explore Tobago on your own - we rented a car for two weeks and explored the island from Pigeon Point to Speyside.Especially Charlotteville/Pirates Bay and Pigeon Point/Buccoo Reef are places you should not miss !
We just hope that Tobago will stay the way it is and tourism will not get to strong on that paradise island.
Johnny,Eva,Yvonne,David & Sarah