Alibaba's Sea Breeze - Review Page 1
Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in February 2006, 2011 and 2016
Situated immediately adjacent to the smallest and prettiest of Castara's two beaches, Alibaba's Sea Breeze offer four self-contained studio apartments. Sea Breeze is owned and managed by Brian 'Alibaba' Taylor, one of the most respected and influential local citizens of this popular fishing village, and his German wife Stephanie. Alibaba Tours are probably best known for their hugely popular fishing, snorkelling, rainforest and island tours.
We conducted our first review of Sea Breeze in February 2006, about 18 months after the property first opened. We were hugely impressed by the standards of accommodation offered, particularly given the 'back to basics' ethos of most accommodation in Castara. We were also impressed that the rental rates for the Sea Breeze apartments did not seem to take into account the stunning beachside location; possible one of the best in Tobago. We assumed that the low rates were a marketing ploy to promote the new apartments. Ten years later, the rates have risen by less than the rate of inflation. Despite being one of the most popular holiday apartments in the village, Brian and Steph do not take advantage of visitors.
Alibaba's Sea Breeze is located at the northern end of Castara's Little Bay (more often referred to by the glamorous, but technically incorrect, name of Heavenly Bay). Access to the property is via Depot Road, a steep and twisty road that drops down from the main North Coast Road which wends its way through Castara en route to Parlatuvier and Englishman's Bay.
Two rocky outcrops separate Little Bay from the Big Bay main beach. At low tide it is possible to wade waist-deep from one beach to the other, but few do. Other than the Boat House Restaurant, there are no facilities in Little Bay, so walking to shops and restaurants does often mean walking up the hill to the main road, then back down to the rest of the village. Best avoided in the heat of the day, it can be a pleasant walk that shouldn't faze anyone and a cold beer always tastes so much better at the end of the walk.
As in most of our reviews, I repeat my usual recommendation that holidaymakers would be advised to budget for the hire of a car or jeep. Very conveniently, Castara's best car rental service shares offices with Alibaba Tours. Cars and SUVs (4x4) can be rented by the day or week. A self-drive is by far the best way to get the best out of Tobago – although you will certainly not require transport around Castara itself.
Castara is a 50-minute drive from the airport. They can arrange to meet your incoming flight and transfer you back to Castara, via one of the main supermarkets. Shopping facilities are still limited in Castara, despite improvements in recent years. You will almost certainly need to plan a weekly trip to one of the main supermarkets near the airport. Even there, the golden rule is "if in stock, buy it". Don't assume that something will be available tomorrow just because it is on the shelf today.
Castara will not suit everyone. Those that love the village will decry my words and say that I miss the point. No, I do not – but neither do I wish to mislead those who have not stayed in any rural village before and come to Castara expecting and wanting to find a Starbucks or MacDonald's on every corner. Like the stroppy American family who accosted me in 2010 and accused me of hiding the truth about Castara. The comment that summed up their complaints and expectations was "the village is so primitive that we couldn't even get fresh bagels or ground coffee for breakfast". And long may it continue so.
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