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Alibaba's Sea Breeze - a myTobago guide to Tobago holiday accommodation
 

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Alibaba's Sea Breeze, Tobago

Alibaba's Sea Breeze

4 Self-Catering Apartments

Alibaba's Sea Breeze consists of 4 self-contained one-bedroom apartments located directly beside Castara's stunning Little Bay beach. The owners live above the... apartments and operate one of the most highly-regarded tour services on the island. These apartments offer comfortable accommodation at a modest rate that belies their stunning location and direct access onto Castara's nicest beach.

We have stayed at Alibaba's Sea Breeze several times and cannot recommend them highly enough. One of our real favourites!
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Alibaba's Sea Breeze

4 Self-Catering Apartments

Alibaba's Sea Breeze consists of 4 self-contained one-bedroom apartments located directly beside Castara's stunning Little Bay beach. The owners live above the apartments and operate one of the most highly-regarded tour services on the island. These apartments offer comfortable accommodation at a modest rate that belies their stunning location and direct access onto Castara's nicest beach.

We have stayed at Alibaba's Sea Breeze several times and cannot recommend them highly enough. One of our real favourites!

click/tap the photo to view a gallery of 24 photos

Property Description

Provided by the property, or taken from their website

"Alibaba's Sea Breeze" self-contained apartments are located right on the beach of Castara's "Little Bay" (also known as "Heavenly Bay").

The separate balconies are overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the beautiful reef and both of Castara's beaches.

Every one of the Caribbean style apartments has a well equipped kitchen (stove, oven, family size refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker and toaster) with ceiling fan, a bathroom with hot and cold shower and mosquito nets on the beds.

All four apartments have a king-size double bed with nightstands and lamps and another ceiling fan in the bedroom section.

Bed sheets and towels are provided twice per week, more often for an additional fee (please bring your own beach towels!!!) and we offer a light clean per week (included).

Our apartments have:

  • King size beds
  • Nightstands with reading lamps
  • ceiling fans in bedroom and kitchen & additional standing fan to even cool you on the balcony
  • balconies facing the sea, overlooking the reef
  • kitchen with...
    • 4 flame stove with oven
    • family fridge in every room
    • microwave
    • toaster & coffee maker with filter paper/reusable filters
    • full cutlery, flatware and pots
    • fresh kitchen towels every 3 days
  • table and chairs
  • closet with hangers
  • bathroom with hot/cold shower & hair dryer
  • clothesline with clips
  • mosquito netting on the beds

Also available for our guests:

  • fresh bed sheets, bath towels and kitchen towels every 3 days

PLEASE! Bring your own beach towels.

  • iron and ironing board
  • books in English and German
  • laundry service (no ironing, line dry, 5US$ per bag)
  • sightseeing tours for special rates
  • free WIFI! not the fastest, but you are on holiday, remember?!

Please bring adapters for different power plugs!

myTobago Review

Self-Catering Apartment, Castara, Tobago

The following review was produced during a 7-night stay at Alibaba's Sea Breeze in February 2016.

Introduction

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.

Location

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.

Architecture & General Layout

Like most of the houses in Castara and other mountainous parts of Tobago, Sea Breeze is built on the side of a steep cliff-side on sturdy reinforced concrete supports. The two storey building is of block and concrete construction, with wooden verandas, balustrades and roof facia.

Although the house is perched some seven metres above the beach, surprisingly little of the building can be seen from the sand. Great care was taken to preserve the trees and shrubs lower down the slope; not least because the foliage provides essential shade to beach users. Judicious pruning ensures a good balance between the natural look of the bay and beach whilst preserving the wonderful views offered from each apartment's balcony.

And what amazing views they are. There are half a dozen properties in Castara that claim to have the best views in the village and I hesitate to judge a winner. Each has different merits and without any false diplomacy, I couldn't the best! Few visitors will have the opportunity to judge them all, and even less will care. It would be a cold-hearted individual who is less than satisfied with any.

Sea Breeze is located at the very end of Little Bay beach. The balconies face south-west, facing the centre of Castara Bay, with open sea to the right and views of both the main Big Bay beach and Little Bay beach to the left. Being able to see both beaches at the same time is an almost unrivalled feature – and being a working fishing village, the beach is where the 'action' happens and your eye constantly enticed.

The entrance to the apartment is immediately behind the Boathouse Restaurant. A narrow concrete driveway leads up to the house, through a small car park. Fifteen shallow steps lead up to the entrance corridor at the back of the building. Due to the mountainous terrain, Castara is not a good option for wheelchair users and no mobility aids are fitted at Sea Breeze.

Inside the entrance corridor, a notice board offers visitors a variety of useful information and a collection of novels and reading matter, in both English and German. Flotation rings and a waterbed for children are also available. Although finished in different colours and with a slightly different theme, the four apartments are basically identical. The end apartment is around a foot (30cm) wider than the others, but otherwise they are of identical size.

Accommodation

Three of the apartments offer a comfortably spacious accommodation area of 30sq.m/320sq.ft., plus a 6.3sq.m./70sq.ft. balcony to the front. As mentioned, the fourth apartment is marginally larger and this will normally be allocated when a fold-out divan bed or cot is required for a small child or baby.

Each apartment essentially consists of a single high-ceilinged room (8.3x3.6mx2.75m) with 2m-high partitions separating the central bedroom area from the bathroom, to the rear, and the kitchen/dining area and balcony to the front.

Whilst immaculately clean and undoubtedly comfortable, Alibaba's Sea Breeze offers no-frills accommodation, just like all other vacation accommodations in this back-to-basics fishing village. Those expecting mini-bars, direct-dialling telephones, TV, or room service should limit their search to the more commercialised end of the island. However, the Sea Breezeapartments have all the essentials, including the fastest wireless Internet access we have found on the island. The apartments are serviced three times a week, together with a change of linen and towels, which were of excellent quality and immaculately clean. Unusually, for such modest accommodation, beach towels are provided. A basic laundry service (no ironing) is also available.

Bedroom Area

The spacious bedroom area occupies 50% of the apartment floor area and is dominated by a bamboo four-poster, king-size bed with mosquito net and large bedside tables on each side. The overall effect is most attractive.

The bed is actually made up of two 38-inch single mattresses fitted into a recessed base which prevents them from separating. What a perfect solution for those with a restless partner. Even better, the mattresses are high-quality orthopaedic models with firm but comfortable cushioning. We slept wonderfully every night.

The bed sits some 32-inches above the floor. This affords valuable storage space for suitcases and other luggage below. What a lovely change not to be falling over suitcases or have them taking up valuable space in wardrobes or storage cupboards.

Adjacent to the bed, a large open wardrobe with storage shelves provides 34-inches of full-length hanging space, plus four very large open shelves for smaller garments and sundries.

A wall mirror, colourful prints, pictures and other decorative features enhance the atmosphere and combine to create a pleasing and homely room. The apartments are not air-conditioned – nor have any need to be. A large and quiet ceiling fan above the bed helps keep the air moving and a free-standing floor fan is there when required.

Some may argue that the central location of the bedroom prevents guests from waking to the spectacular views over the beach and bay. True, but on the other hand, it also means that the bedroom remains cooler and is not subject to the glare of the afternoon sun; a feature you will truly appreciate should you wish to rest during the heat of the day. Moreover, when staying in self-catering accommodation, it is a safe assumption that someone will be spending valuable holiday time in the kitchen, preparing meals. How much nicer to do so with stunning views as a backdrop and also to be able to serve and eat those meals on the adjacent balcony.

Accommodation

Kitchen

Moving to the front of the apartment, the kitchen is of adequate size, well laid out and very well equipped. Everything was immaculately clean – something that many small hospitality properties on Tobago could learn from. Sea Breeze is arguably the only property that we have visited three times over a 10 years period and can genuinely claim that the apartments look as good and 'new' today as they did when they first opened. In fact, contrary to virtually every other hospitality property in Castara and possibly in Tobago, these apartments have improved with age rather than the opposite.   

Kitchen fittings and equipment included a four-ring propane gas oven/stove, a medium-sized fridge with small (ice cube) freezer section, an electric coffee filter machine, electric toaster and a kettle (heated on stove). There is a small but adequate collection of cookery, crockery, glassware and cooking and kitchen utensils. Considerately, food storage containers and a pack of candles and boxes of matches were provided. Power outages are far from infrequent in Tobago.

Tucked into the corner, beside the kitchen, a table with two chairs can be used for dining – or easily moved onto the adjacent balcony for al fresco dining, if preferred. A third chair, located in the bedroom area, could easily be brought into service at the table if required.

Balcony

To the front of each apartment is a spacious (3.6x1.75m) covered balcony furnished with two cushioned armchairs and a small table. Access to the balcony is via full-width glazed doors from the kitchen area. With the doors open and pinned back, the balcony almost becomes part of the kitchen/dining area. The overhang of the upper floor, plus the shade of a tall tree in front of the property, keeps the balconies remarkably sheltered, even when raining.

A washing line is discreetly mounted in front of the balustrade. When viewed from the beach, the frontage adorned with drying towels, swimwear and other garments may not conjure the image that Brian and Steph would ideally choose, but as always, they put the requirements of guests first.

The balconies of the four apartments are separated by decorative wood and tapestry-effect partitions, with an angled front. They provide an acceptable level of privacy between the apartments, whilst allowing neighbours standing at the balustrade to communicate. All four apartments were occupied during our stay and yet we were virtually unaware that we had neighbours. Mind you, the noise of the surf breaking immediately beneath the apartments masks most sounds, so honeymoon couples need have no fear of embarrassment.

The views of the mountains, beaches and bays from the balcony are simply stunning.

Conclusion

Owing to the last minute cancellation of a planned review, we enjoyed 11 days at Sea Breeze for this review, rather than our originally planned week. Despite that, the time passed all too quickly.

Jill loves the beach and she has been in seventh-heaven here. Her pleasure at being able to stroll down to the beach carrying nothing more than a towel and a bottle of cold coconut water cannot be described. She would move into the apartment permanently today, if given half a chance.

One of us needs to remain more objective. Truth is, however, that it is very hard to be objective in such a stunning location. I apologise for being less than original, but I can only repeat my conclusion written during our 2006 review:

"As regular readers know, I am not normally given to superlatives. However, the inescapable and honest truth is that in terms of location, service levels, cleanliness, quality of furnishing and equipment, Alibaba's Sea Breeze undeniably represents the best value-for-money beachside accommodation, not just in Castara, but anywhere in Tobago.

Castara is still a fairly unique experience. We genuinely look forward to our return and bid a fond farewell to two of the nicest people in Castara.

Reader Reports

This property has a weighted Reader Satisfaction Rating of 100%   . Click below to read the 102 reader reports that this is rating is based on.

Andrea Menning from Germany visited in July 2018 and awarded   

With my 12 year old son I spend relaxing three weeks at Alibaba' Sea Breeze. We know Tobago quite well as we have been living here some time ago. We come back frequently. And although our family lives in the south, we rather spend our Tobago visits up in Castara. Castara is such a beauty, such lovely people. Alibaba's is the perfect place to stay. Rooms and services are outstanding. We will definitely come back. Thank you Steph and Alibaba for making this stay so beautiful. Andrea

Neil McEachrane from Canada visited in May 2018 and awarded   

In early May,2018 my wife and I spent 3 days at Alibaba Sea Breeze in Castara, Tobago. We enjoyed this property immensely.

Upon arrival we were met by the owner, Stephanie, who gave us a quick tour and made us comfortable. Actually, since the unit was not rented the day prior to our arrival and day after we left Stephanie invited us to arrive early and stay late.

We loved the location of Sea Breeze, very close to the ocean and minutes walking distance to the village. These are self-contained units but we opted for the tasty foods offered at close by restaurants.

Everyone we met were so friendly and helpful. There were also events in the village each night which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Castara itself is paradise. Such a beautiful village. So peaceful, so serene. We did a lot of walking though I must admit the hills wore us out at times.

Our visit was so very relaxing. We intend to return.

Location Map

To view a detailed interactive map showing the location of this property relative to restaurants, shops and sightseeing features, click this link  

Studio/1-Bed Apt:0 - 0
Minimum Nights:0 nights
Property Type:Self-Catering Apartments
Apartments:4
Bedrooms:1
Maximum Guests:8
Air-Conditioning:2 ceiling fans per apartment plus a standing fan
Children:close supervision required, no special family unit available
Hair Dryers:Available
Telephone:No
Internet Access:we do have WIFI connection, just bring your laptop
Television:No
Safety Deposit:No
Wheelchair Access:No
Swimming Pool:None
Catering Options:

Housekeeping:Once per week
Baby-Sitting:No
Personal Laundry:30TT$ per laundry bag (in the room)
Personal Cooking:No
Location:Castara
Region:Upper Caribbean
Location Type:Village
Airport:50 minutes
Beach:Beachside Property