Naturalist Beach Resort - Reader Reports & Opinion
Patrick Rennison from U.K. visited in February 2007 and awarded
The standard rooms were fairly basic and some of the furniture was looking fairly worn. However, the manager and family were freindly and helpful and the setting, right in the village and on the beach, couldn't be bettered. My In-laws, who are used to somewhat posher accomodation, insisted in moving to the Hilton! Well away from 'real Tobago'. We stayed put and had a lovely time. It is also worth noting that it wasn't too far to the Island's Nature Reserve plus there was a nice walk to a waterfall with pool below to swim in near the village.
All in all, if you don't need sophistication and if you do want Genuine Tobago, then I would heartily recommend it!
Paul Williams from U.K. visited in April 2006 and awarded
I have given the Naturalist 5 stars on my rating as from a personal point of view stars are not only about facilities but in my opinion how you are treated and also the attitude of staff.
We spent a 2 centre holiday which meant we had 9 days in the Kingfish room and 5 days in the Blue Marlin suite.
King fish is the room we stayed in last year as well and suits us ideally in that you have a double and single bed and a small kitchenette which allows you to make basic meals and very efficient air con if required although we only used it to cool the room and then used the fan.
The room has a lovely little porch and terrace where you can sit and watch the world go by.
Blue Marlin suite is located on the beach edge above the Cafe Delight (which is closed most evenings) and is a wonderful place to relax and look at the ocean views either from the large terrace or even whilst laying in bed.
The kitchen area is very well appointed and an efficient fridge keeps the beer and wine cool.
All of the staff at the Naturalist are very helpful and ensure that the rooms are kept very clean.
We will be back again as soon as possible
D Powell from Canada visited in February 2006 and awarded
Our first visit to The Naturalist was a spur-of-the-moment decision in June, 2005. After two weeks in Trinidad on business, my husband and I decided to take a short trip over to Tobago, on the recommendation of Trinidadian colleagues. We found The Naturalist on the Internet, and as Castara seemed to be exactly "our" type of place, we contacted Ancle George and arranged to stay at his little hotel for three days.
It is difficult to describe our reaction to Castara, and to Ancle and his people who received us so hospitably at The Naturalist. The closest I can come is to say that it was like discovering a tiny piece of the Caribbean I had always dreamed of visiting but thought had long disappeared.
The Naturalist is perfect for us. It is small, the rooms are a good size and kept spotlessly clean. They are equipped with a small fridge and cookstove and basic utensils and dishes. There is a huge patio area overlooking the beach and a charcoal bbq if you want to grill your own supper.
The best thing about The Naturalist is the staff, beginning with Ancle himself, who is charming, helpful, and so relaxed that it is impossible to stay stressed if he is around.
The village is a working fishing village. People go about their lives, friendly and courteous to the visitors, but their lives and their community do not revolve around tourists. Shopping is confined to little stalls that sell the basics: fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, tinned goods, spices and hot sauce. You can pick up the catch of the day at the fishermen's stand on the beach, and of course, rum and Caribbean beer, soft drinks and bottled water. There is usually chicken, and always eggs -- the village is overrun with chickens and cockerels, which crow at all hours of the day and night.
There are several small restaurants on or close to the beach, where we ate most evenings, and also picked up roti for lunch. The food is simple but excellent fare -- disregard the menu on the chalkboard, just ask what they are serving that day! And there is no night life. So if you want fancy shops and restaurants, and bars with live music, Castara is not for you. If, however, you love walking along the beach looking at the stars to the music of the surf, then Castara IS for you. And the sunsets are amazing.
The setting is idyllic, with a crescent shaped sandy beach in front and the rain forest rising up the hills behind. The water is crystal clear and warm, and there are no dangerous currents or undertows to worry about. We spent hours in the water every day, watching the fish beneath us and the frigate birds above.
We were there for only three days in June 2005, but our experience was so incredible that we booked a return visit for ten days in February 2006. And that visit was even more amazing. We spent one day on a fishing boat excursion up the wild and beautiful coast with Duck, one of the local fishermen, and his nephew Dolla. It was an incredible experience, going up the coast in a small boat with an old 50hp Evinrude outboard motor, Duck and his nephew trolling for fish with fishing line wrapped around their hands. We ended up at a lovely sandy cove where Duck grilled the fish over live coals, and we spent the rest of the day swimming and walking on the beach. Lovely.
Suffice it to say, we had such a wonderful time that we are going back in February 2007 for fifteen days. Castara and The Naturalist feel like a second home now.
Mrs Hilde Schoenberg from Norway visited in May 2005 and awarded
A very nice, calm place to stay. Clean, cozy and a nice Castara atmosphere.. It is ON the beach with mango threes as closest neighbour, and the local fish market few steps away.. Nothing to do, just reading books and magazines from the hotel's library.
Definitive a good choice, whether you are a couple, or staying with small children. We stayed in the blue marlin room: This main "suite" is very cosy, but not big. So to stay for a few days for us with two small children, it was nice, but we couldn.t have been any longer than a week...
Naturalist - 2016 Update 10 Jan 2016
Paul Tallet from Yorkshire
As most readers will know, I am one of many repeat visitors to the Naturalist Beach Resort in Castara. The owner, Ancle George has become a good friend to me over the years and so have many other repeat visitors depending on what time of year we clash.
I have seen this venue grow organically from 5 rooms to 14 rooms over the last 15 years since my first visit.
The cheapest nightly rate is US45$ (£31 as of today's currency rates) per night for the smallest rooms and, in my opinion, extremely good value to be so close to a beautiful beach.
From time to time, discounts are offered for longer stays of one week or more and each room has a hire car option for an additional cost. See the Naturalist website for more details of this.
The room prices increase according to how close you are to or how well you can see the beach from your room. The prices do not necessarily reflect the standard of accommodation. All rooms provide basic cooking facilities, a fridge/freezer and on-suite shower/toilet facilities.
All the rooms are cleaned and the bedding changed at least every other day and all guests have access to free breakfasts, 24 hour coffee, 24 hour ice and laundry services. Free Wi-fi is also available. Ancle and his staff are also there to provide advise on places to go and who to hire whether it is for scuba diving, bird watching, boat trips or rain forest trips.
I am going to talk about the Blue Marlin Suite which costs from US145$ (£100 as of today's currency rates) per night. Hire Car is extra.
Some would understandably say that the Blue Marlin accommodation is not as good as the newer Snapper, Wahoo and Shark suites. But the Blue Marlin gets you as close to the elements as you can be, just short of sleeping on the beach, but in comfort.
There are no windows, just shutters and I leave these open all night and sleep to the sound of the Caribbean Sea. The bed is draped with Mosquito nets so the beasties cannot get to you. If you open all of the shutters you will benefit from a 360 degree aspect of both the sea and the rainforest.
The kitchen provides an oven and hob, microwave, toaster/grill, fridge/freezer and all the utensils you need to self cater.
The main room comprises of a double bed, a 3 piece suite and table, an additional set of a table and 4 chairs, a spare single bed, a TV (I have never used it).
The bathroom comprises of a walk-in shower, toilet. Hot water is provided via a red switch.
Outside are 2 balconies. The main balcony is sheltered from the sun and provides an unbroken view southwards down the whole length of Castara Bay and further out to the west where you can see the shear cliffs and rainforest where it meets the sea.
Ancle has added an extension on the west side of the suite ( a second balcony) that brings you closer to the sea (or over it) and is perfect for those that wish to have more exposure to the sun. As a result, the steps up to the Blue Marlin are now on the 'inside' and this, to me, provides more security.
Ancle has also recently added external power sockets around both balconies.
Any improvements? I can only think of one that I am sure Ancle will already have on his to-do list. The steps up to the Blue Marlin could do with a gate at the top or bottom or both.
Things to do if you are bored ...
1. Set up a bird feeder with brown sugar to attract the local green and blue tanagers and bananaquits. Fruit Bats will also be attracted to this at night but be careful because the bats can be a pest (just empty the feeder before dark).
2. I set up a Hummingbird feeder on my last visit and a regular Hummingbird became attracted to this after 5 days (again bring this in before dark).
3. Counting the Sting Rays sweeping majestically across Castara Bay (there are a few big ones, they are not Manta Rays).
4. Watching the Pelicans and Boobies diving for fish (especially around sunset).
5. Watching the local fishermen pull in their seine nets.
You are in a fishing village community that lives around a beach and there are plenty of comings and goings and plenty to get involved with.
The beach is perfectly safe and is monitored by life guards and when the waters are clear there is excellent snorkeling over the coral reefs at the eastern end of the Bay.
I hope this helps.