Sandcastles - Reader Reports & Opinion
Shelly D'Amour from U.S.A. visited in January 2007 and awarded
Being in Castara in late January this year was like being in a postcard. Travel ads often describe certain vacation destinations as “paradise” – but this place really is. And being Adam & Ria’s guests at Sandcastles made the whole experience feel complete.
There was just the 2 of us on this trip, and we opted to rent the entire upstairs apartment (2 bedrooms) for the luxury of having it to ourselves. It was well worth doing. The common areas are small, but would work well if you are sharing with people you know. Some of my most pleasurable moments were spent having breakfast and writing in my travel journal out on the patio in the cool of the morning. With 2 patios and a private balcony it was difficult to decide where to sit sometimes! In the evening we sat on the side patio and enjoyed the night stars, the sound of night birds and the whirr of little bats.
Prior to arriving, we stopped at Penny Savers market in Caanan, near the airport (you pass right by it on the way to Castara). I strongly recommend that you do your food shopping there, esp if you are keen on having certain items. We stocked up on drinks, snacks and breakfast foods. There is no fresh milk for sale on the island that we were able to locate – but we made do with the heat-treated variety for our tea & coffee.
Our bedroom at Sandcastles was wonderfully romantic with its mosquito netting and open air view. The walk-in shower with its large shower head and tons of hot water was *incredible*. There is lots of storage space for clothes and gear, especially in the spacious bathroom. I longed for the quiet of a retreat-like setting and Sandcastles met that need beautifully. Its location up against the hills is just far enough removed from the hubbub of the village (5 minutes drive max) to ensure uninterrupted tranquility.
We immediately became very fond of the whole family. Adam is a superb chef. My sweetie & I shared a lobster tail one night (preceded by an “appetizer” of about a pound of shrimp cooked in an exquisite marinade) that is one of my most memorable dinners ever. On our final night we enjoyed a dinner of snapper stuffed with lobster & shrimp, complemented by several amazing side dishes. It was wonderful to eat food that was so fresh, having been caught locally that day.
The afternoons are very hot in the apartment, but you don’t want to be spending your day inside anyway. We rented a jeep, which was absolutely essential, not only for getting around Tobago, but also for getting us and our stuff down the steep road to Heavenly Bay beach where we enjoyed a swim in the bathwater-warm turquoise sea followed by a drink and a view of the sunset from the atmospheric Beach House restaurant. I should mention that the Sandcastles driveway itself is very steep and if you’re on foot on a hot day carrying things, it can be a challenge. Another good reason to take your car to the beach, even though it’s a close walk.
Liming on the beach at Castara, followed by an extraordinary meal at Sandcastles, star gazing, and a peaceful sleep in the sweet night air – who could ask for anything more?
Tom Noddy from U.S.A. visited in January 2007 and awarded
We spent a short time there and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Adam is on the verge of opening the restaurant that he's built on the site and, judging by the dinners that we had, it's going to be a spectacular addition.
We stayed in the upstairs rooms which can be shared by two couples or, for twice the price, can provide a roomier and dreamy spot for two.
The place is on a hill with a spectacular view and it's open. It's open because the nights are so sweet and warm that you want the sea breeze to come into your room and caress you in your bed. If you're unused to tropical living this can be surprising ... we were visited by a couple of curious birds, a lizard, and even a bat (yeah, I know, but when he saw me, he just wanted out -- they have no interest in you or your hair).
There's a small kitchen/fridge/sink but with Adam cooking at night and the island to explore during the days we just used it for breakfast and drinks. There are two bedrooms separated by a small living room. All of those rooms continue out onto balconies and, when the sun isn't too oppressive, you'll be out there as much as inside. The beds are covered with sheer white mosquito netting but, while we were there in January, they were more for decoration than use ... no mosquitos at all at any time of day or night.
That mid-day sun is a good reason for getting out to the beach during the day. We drove to nearby Castara or took off for forest walks, boat rides to bird sanctuaries, or other activities. It was so nice to "come home" to Adam and Ria's place and back to our room for naps, snacks, or nighttime star gazing from our balcony (the big dipper/starry plough is low and if the North Star is visible at all, it would only be from the northern beaches I think).
If you need air conditioning and, therefore, to be sealed off from the outside world when you get to your room you would do better staying at one of the big hotels. But even then, I advise you to make your way out to Sandcastles for dinner at least one of the nights of your stay.
Sue And Karl from U.S.A. visited in January 2007 and awarded
Castara is truly one of the most beautiful spots on the island, and Sandcastles is tops. We had originally hoped to find a waterfront guesthouse, but are so glad to have landed with Adam, Ria and Lizzy. They truly "made" our stay. The guesthouse is located just outside of town, a easy walk down to town and back up from the beach, and the apartment is gorgeous, peaceful and offers stunning views. I will never forget breakfasting on the balcony, a sweet breeze and legions of lively birds (No roosters either!), munching on homemade bread from the "stern ladies" on the beach. The most special part though, was meeting Adam and Ria (and Lizzy!). They are absolutely passionate about what they do. We had so much fun getting to know them and talking (and eating) food with Adam. An unforgettable pair, wish we could have stayed much longer.
Definitely plan some time in the Castara area and don't miss Sandcastles.
Robert Mearkle from U.S.A. visited in January 2007 and awarded
I stayed in the guest room at Sandcastles for 4 days in January, 2007 and would return again in a heartbeat. The location (up the hill as you enter Castara) was ideal, with few distractions around, ocean views from the room and lush nature all around. It's a quick walk down to the beautiful Castara beach and short drive to neighboring bays. Peaceful moments were abundant, as there is only one other apartment at Sandcastles and no real foot traffic. Adam and Ria, the owners, have just opened a restaurant on the premises and the gourmet fare is not to be missed. On the night I joined them, there was pumpkin soup (served in the gourd), beef tenderloin, greek salad and other succulent sides. Not a fried chicken in sight. Adam and Ria are very friendly and generous and you truly feel like a welcome house guest (complete with host dogs and their young daughter Lizzy), though they're mindful to respect your privacy and keep noise to a minimum. The apartment has a small front room, complete with microwave, refrigerator, some dishes, a TV/DVD player and plenty of books and movies, should you be in the mood. The bedroom has some storage space and an adequate bed w/mosquito net. The creatively painted bathroom is a bit tight, but sufficient. I knew ahead of time that this smaller apartment only has a cold shower, which I didn't mind in the heat of Tobago. It was enough to get and stay clean with. Castara is charming and the walk up and down the hill rewards the visitor with some gorgeous vistas. For the price, this is a highly recommended accomodation for the low-maintenance traveler looking for some quiet time and gorgeous Caribbean relaxation. Enjoy.
J. Duemark/ R. Stubberud from Norway visited in August 2006 and awarded
We stayed at Sandcastles 9 days in August 2006, where we rent the whole 2-Bedroom Apartment on the upper floor. It was very clean, and we had a marvellous view, and even from the bed we could watch the sky with the stars and fireflies. On the backside of the apartment we had our own garden, ‘next door’ to the rainforest. For those who are bird lovers there are plenty of beautiful birds to watch from the verandas.
And the beautiful Castara beach was only a 5 minutes walk from Sandcastles.
The hosts Adam and Ria were nice and warm people and took so good care of us, they were always there for us when we needed help. We did also have the pleasure to play with their lovely little daughter Elisabeth. As we are dog-lowers it was an extra bonus with the three nice dogs Big Boy, Xina and Marbles, beside that it made us feel safe living at Sandcastles.
The flat was self-catering, but you could also order dinner in Adams small restaurant, and so we did some times. The Shrimps and the Tenderloin was marvellous, but the Pumpkin soup was our favourite. Together with a good bottle of wine it was a relaxed and homely atmosphere sitting dining at the terrace, and talking with Adam and Ria. We felt like having our own home, and were sad to leave the place and our friends Adam and Ria. We surely want to go back again.
We rent a car which made it easy to se other parts of the island. Tobago is so green and beautiful, and the people are very friendly.
We highly recommend Sandcastles!
Jytte and Roger