Toad Hall - Reader Reports & Opinion
Bryan from U.S.A. visited in February 2009 and awarded
In the interest of preserving the sacred score of "5" for the most fantastic experience possible (which I have experienced only once in my life at a safari camp on the shore of the Zambezi River), I give Steve, Horace and Rita a 4.2. I found their establishment during a web search. I had not been to Castara before so was taking a bit of a chance but it worked out fantastically. Horace picked me up from the airport (and dropped me off too) and was timely, a very safe driver, and a very informative. I stayed in Tadpoles--the one room efficiency--and it was clean, comfortable, and put together with a very keen sense for what works in the tropics. Unfortunately I booked at the last minute and could only stay there for part of my trip, but I would have preferred to stay there the whole time.
I had to move down the hill when my reservation expired to another location to a more expensive place and was disappointed. It was right on the water, but smelled strange and i felt like for the extra 15 USD I would have rather had a fan and better furniture than the A/C. I can't speak for other establishments on the beach, but my experience was that it is more touristy and actually hurting the local economy by centralizing everything along a narrow strip of land. It is also going to be destroyed if there is ever another hurricane. One of the more well-to-do locals also filled in what must have been a fantastic mangrove swamp in order to put in a tiny grocery store. The upland places to stay, at least from my perspective, give visitors a better sense of day to day life in Tobago and disburse the tourist dollars more evenly throughout the community.
Spike And Rodney from U.S.A. visited in January 2009 and awarded
This little spot in paradise is quite wonderful, and with a few more tweaks, will be almost perfect. The location is great. Off the road, in separate units so not too loud, you have your own flat with a kitchenette, a simple, though uncomfortable bed, and a simple bathroom with shower. There weren't any visitors staying above us; i think with the simple wood floors, it would be too loud hearing them walk back and forth above our heads.
You can't beat the price, but with it, you don't get hot water (not needed in the tropics, but it'd be nice to wash the dishes in warm/hot water, and for shampooing) and it's quite basic. But for us, fit the ticket. I'd suggest that instead of (or in addition to) mosquito netting around the bed, putting up window screens and a screen door would greatly improve our evening enjoyment. Instead, we had to close the glass windows at night and put on the fans, to keep out the bugs. It'd be far nicer to be able to keep the windows open during dinner and while sleeping.
Additionally, although all the towels and sheets were clean, they, and the bedding all smelled musty from the humidity. I appreciate the owners' attempt not to kill the environment by using bleach, but I think getting a dryer and putting up a clothesline would help, plus taking out the mattresses and pillows and putting them in the sun between visitors to freshen them up.
I must say that I told the owners my suggestions, and they were most responsive. They don't live on the property, so weren't aware of our concerns. But, they were flying in within the week that we left, and I'm pretty sure that they will take care of all our issues. I was most impressed with their response and efforts to make sure we were satisfied. Even as is, it was nice enough, and I look forward to coming back next year.
Ryan Stroschein from U.S.A. visited in February 2008 and awarded
The Toad Hall "complex" actually has four units. In addition to Toad Hall, there is the Tadpole, Toad Heights, and Leapfrog. We -- two adults and a five-year-old -- stayed at Leapfrog for 4 nights and found it to be a very good accommodation.
It is very new (built in 2007) and very clean. If you can handle simple as long as it's clean, this is an excellent choice.
It is imminently affordable.
Steve and Rita (the British owners that spend several months a year in Tobago) were staying in the Toad Hall unit when we were there and they were very gracious and welcoming. They provided a small bed for our son and a mosquito net for him as well.
The arranged for Horace Jackson to pick us up from the airport when we arrived and also to drive us around the island whenever we needed a lift. He was a wonderful, knowledgeable, friendly guide and we will look him up again when we go back.
It is only a 5 minute walk (albeit up a very steep hill) from the beach.
Things you should know:
It does not have any hot water. Given the balmy climate, my wife and I were fine with that, but our kindergartener wasn't. We set a jug of tap water in the sun each morning and it was toasty for an evening shower.
It has no air conditioning but it does have a fan that blows directly on the bed and a large floor fan to pull air through.
Really stock up at the grocery store before you leave Scarborough. Buy plenty of water, food, and beer; you'll use them.
Our biggest complaint was the bed. It was a single, stiff foam mattress on a frame of planks. I thought it was adequate but my wife found it really uncomfortable. If we don't go back, it will be because of that.
In summary, it's a well-situated, clean, simple place, run by friendly people and offered at a bargain price. If you're confident you can handle the bed, go for it.
Tony Gregson from U.K. visited in January 2007 and awarded
We, a party of three, stayed at Toad Hall for 14 days from 25 Jan to 8 Feb 2007. Originally we had booked two weeks at Young's House through the wonderfully helpful Iris of Yes Tourism. Unfortunately there was a double-booking problem, (or fortunately, as it turned out) and Iris came up with Toad Hall as an alternative.
We were met at Crown Point Airport by a friendly driver from Yes Tourism who took us to Penny Savers in Canaan and waited while we got some supplies in. On arrival in Castara we were met by Horace Jackson who, along with his lovely wife Suzanne, look after the Toad Estate, (Toad Heights, Toad Hall and Tadpoles) while the owners are away. Horace showed us how to set the burgular alarm and gave us his mobile phone no. with instructions to call him if we needed anything, (there is a telephone in the bedroom which can be used to call anywhere in Tobago).
Toad Hall is, as advertised, in it's own secluded valley, (with lemon, papaya and custard-apple trees) and is accessed from a track at the side of the ever-smiling Miss Joycey's place. This is a communal track that is used by the neighbours to get to and from their homes from Northside Road so you get to meet quite a few locals. OK there's no sea view but it is only a five minute amble down to Heavenly Bay or a couple more minutes to Big Bay. Castara is so small that nothing is more than a stroll away.
The house itself had everything we required and more, a large living space, good kitchen facilities, safety-deposit box and a walk-in cold shower. The downstairs double bedroom has a fan and mosquito net and the mezzanine bedroom the same. Horace replaced the towels and bedding every three days. The only complaint came from my friend Paul who kept banging his head in the restricted roof space in the mezzanine area. Well, he never actually complained but uttered the occasional choice turn of phrase whenever his head came into sharp contact with wood.
The best feature of Toad Hall is the long verandah at the back of the house where we whiled away many an hour watching and feeding the birds. In the evenings, after strolling up the hill from whatever eating establishment or rum shop we had limed at, we would sit and watch the geckoes on the ceiling and the bats silently flying around our heads accompanied by the soundtrack of the nocturnal rainforest.
I can't recommend Horace highly enough. This man is a mine of information. He took us on a rainforest tour and twice drove Janette and I to Sunday School in Buccoo where he stayed until we were ready to return to Castara. He even helped organise our DIY wedding, introducing us to the minister, Brent Hart, suggesting an incredible place for the ceremony, even being a witness. Horace Jackson is a registered tour guide and, as well as rainforest tours, will take you around the Island or arrange boat hire. He is highly thought of by other guides and can be contacted on Tobago on 733 6829.
OK there's no sea view but it is only a five minute amble down to Heavenly Bay or a couple more minutes to Big Bay. Castara is so small that nothing is more than a stroll away. We loved staying at Toad Hall, (or Steve & Rita's place as it is better known locally). We didn't want to leave and if time, money and availability were to allow it we would return tomorrow.
Robin Thomas from Canada visited in February 2006 and awarded
I've been to Tobago a few times now,a great place!!! But staying in Castara, at Steve and Rita's (toad hill) Ive stayed there can't be beat! Short walk to a beautiful beach,crystal clear blue water,swim to coral reef,or cold beer at the boat house local watering hole,Wednesday nlght here is a must..Doesn't get any better than this folks.Sign up and enjoy ..Robin from Canada