Beach House - Review Page 1
Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in February 2006 & March 2013
The Beach House is unique: it is one of a tiny handful of Tobago self-catering accommodation properties with direct access onto a decent sandy beach with safe swimming and snorkelling. Things get even better when you learn that the beach concerned is Castara’s Little Bay. Possibly the prettiest beach on the Caribbean coast, Little Bay is still very much part of the ‘real’ Tobago. Given its very special location, the property would be popular with visitors even if it were a shack.
The Beach House was the first self-catering rental property in Little Bay, and one of the first in this popular fishing village. The small valley that backs Little Bay has suffered extensive development since our last visit. We were intrigued to find out how this had affected the Beach House and whether it could retain the accolade of being one of our personal favourites.
The Beach House is located at the southern end of Little Bay, the smaller and prettier of Castara’s two lovely beaches. Little Bay is often referred to by the more glamorous, but incorrect, name of Heavenly Bay. Access to the bay is via Depot Road, a steep narrow pitted lane that drops from the main coast road as it wends its way through Castara.
Two rocky outcrops separate Little Bay from Big Bay’s main beach. At low tide, and with calm waters, it is possible to wade waist-deep from one beach to the other, but few do. With the exception of the Boat House Restaurant, there are no shops or restaurants in Little Bay. Going to shops and restaurants involves a walk up the valley and down to the village. A pleasant stroll that will not faze anyone in reasonable health, it is best avoided during the hottest hours of the day. Mind you, a cold beer always tastes amazing on your return.
Holidaymakers will not need transport around Castara, but I must repeat my usual recommendation. To get the best from your Tobago holiday, visitors should consider hiring a self-drive vehicle. Cars and SUVs can be rented by the day or week and there is a small rental service within a stone’s throw of the Beach House.
Castara is a 50-minute journey from the airport. The Beach House is managed by a friendly and charismatic couple, Porridge and Jeanell. When booking your stay, you will have the opportunity to arrange for one of them to meet your flight and transfer you back to the house. This will normally include a visit to a major supermarket. Shopping in Castara has vastly improved in the last few years. Some regular visitors claim they can now get everything they need in the village. However, most people still plan a weekly trip to one of the larger supermarkets in the more developed end of the island. Even then, the golden rule is “if in stock, buy it”. Do not assume that something will be available tomorrow because it was on the shelf today. Stock control seems to be an unknown concept on Tobago.
Castara is a place that visitors either love or hate. The lovers will decry my words and say that I am missing the point. No, I am not. I do not want to mislead those readers who have never visited this small fishing village. Do not expect to enjoy the warm aquamarine waters, golden sands and lush rainforest-clad hills then walk behind a backdrop to a Starsucks or McCrapBurger. Please do not think I am exaggerating. During our 2010 visit, I was accosted by an angry American family. They accused me of hiding the truth about Castara. One comment that summarised their complaints: “the village is so primitive that we can’t even get fresh bagels or coffee for breakfast”.
Architecture & General Layout
Even when parked outside the Beach House it is difficult to catch more than brief glimpses of the property. Hidden by mature shrubs and coconut, breadfruit and orange trees, the lush gardens enjoy lots of shade and help to keep the apartments cool on even the hottest days.
The house is a two-storey property of typical Caribbean style. The lower floor consists of rendered block-work, partially clad in timber, whilst the upper floor is almost entirely of wood. Snuggled into the foliage, less than three metres from the sandy beach, it is hard to imagine a property more at home with its environment. Given its close proximity to the beach, It also could not be more appropriately named.
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