Reviewed by Steve & Jill Wooler in February 2010 and February 2014
SeaScape is a relatively new addition to the Castara holiday accommodation market. It will be of interest to those looking for a more sophisticated experience than provided by the many ‘back to basics’ properties in the village.
Completed in January 2009, this new and striking wooden house is built on the side of a cliff directly above Castara's Little Bay beach. SeaScape offers stunning views over Castara Bay and a walk of less than a minute to the more beautiful and quieter of Castara's two glorious sandy beaches. The property has a choice of two self-contained self-catering apartments; one with two bedrooms and one with a single bedroom. The American owners have furnished and equipped the apartments to the very highest standards, whilst still managing to keep the accommodation compatible with the 'open living' ethos that is so much a feature of the Castara experience.
SeaScape 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. You need to walk up the hill and back 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 SeaScape.
Castara is a 50-minute journey from the airport. SeaScape is managed by a friendly and helpful couple, Rollins and Lavorne. When booking your stay, it is best to arrange for Rollins 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 at 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 is 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. I was once accosted by an angry American family who accused me of hiding the truth about Castara. One comment sticks with me because it summarised their misconception and feelings: “the village is so primitive that we can’t even get fresh bagels or coffee for breakfast”. I exaggerate not!
SeaScape utilises an open and practical design concept utilised by several apartments and cottages in the village. However, it has been built to much higher standards than most. The overall result is a more refined and comfortable version of the simple houses that dominate the village’s holiday accommodation market and which sometimes seem to view hot water as a luxury confined to 5-star hotels.
SeaScape conforms to an open and practical design concept utilised by many of the holiday apartments and cottages in the village. However, SeaScape was built to a far higher standard than most. The overall result is a more refined and comfortable version of the very simple houses that dominate the village’s holiday accommodation market. A village where some owners still consider hot water a luxury limited to 5-star hotels.
The house is difficult to see from anywhere but the beach or bay. In our previous review, we commented that being new, it was somewhat bright and shiny and possibly too visible. I am delighted to report that the wood has aged nicely and the house now melds more seamlessly into the surrounding landscape. Some much-needed clearance of the vegetation beneath the house had been carried out prior and the rock-face below looked a little stark. However, given the speed of growth in the tropics, I know that the cliff-face will green up within just a few months.
Viewed from the beach, SeaScape does initially appear to be two buildings on different levels. The design is very different from the rectangular blocks of most other houses in the village and this helps to give the property an air of distinction.
The house has no dedicated parking, but we had no problems parking in the sleepy road next to the apartments. From there, around 40 shallow steps take you to the shared balcony that wraps around the rear of the house and provides access to both apartments.
Needless to say, neither Castara nor SeaScape would be ideal for anyone with mobility problems.
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