Carpe Diem - Reader Reports & Opinion

Guest Report   

Seamus Corr from U.K. visited in September 2008 and awarded  Five out of Five

My wife and myself have just been for a fortnight's stay in

Villa Carpe Diem , in the village of Castara on Tobago.

Quite simply, it was the best trip we've ever had to the

Caribbean (we've been to Barbados, Antigua and

Monserrat before) and we can't wait to get back to Villa

Carpe Diem and Castara again.

It pretty much defines for us what a Caribbean trip should

be all about : as relaxed as you want to be, a lovely,

unspoiled fishing village of really friendly and helpful locals plus plenty of day trip activity if you feel like it. Most of all - the beautiful, comfortable, clean and well-organised accomodation we had in Villa Carpe Diem : it's no good being somewhere terrific if you aren't happy with where you're staying locally. We generally prefer self-catering rather than hotels so that we can suit our own schedule and cook local when we want to, always an added extra when you're somewhere new.

Villa Carpe Diem fitted the bill for us perfectly. The house is newly-built on two levels, with two fully self-contained

apartments on the lower level, opening onto a smaller and more sheltered verandah than the one above. The upper one where we stayed has two double en-suite bedrooms and a large kitchen/lounge area in the middle, all fronted by a fantastic (and huge!) verandah complete with dining table

and chairs, loungers etc.. We spent practically ALL of the

time we were around the house on that verandah and even now, I smile to think of it. It has a truly panoramic view down

over the village and the wooded hills that run down to it,as

well as the entire bay and the sea beyond. It even faces

west for the full and glorious sunset experience (which very

quickly became a must-see most evenings with a "decent" gin and tonic to help it all along). It was equally good in the

morning while we got breakfast going (slowly) ; the bird-feeders hanging on the end of the verandah were rocking with a amazing variety of local birds, all busy and exotic colours. The big flowering plant at the other end of the verandah even had a visiting humming-bird and, in the trees below, bright green parrotlets flying while Magnificent

Frigate birds cruised above the bay. (I only know these bird

names because the house owners have provided a very well-chosen little library of books about Tobago and it's wild-life which got well-used while we were there. Thanks for that, you guys.)

A fantastic panorama, then, while we made up a pre-breakfast smoothie of ice-cream mangoes (which roll down to the kitchen door after dropping from the trees up the slope behind the house) and bananas from a nearby banana plant. I must say that the kitchen was really well fixed with all we needed - from the liquidiser we used for those smoothies to all the necessary pots/pans/bowls/utensils and a large fridge/freezer for the essential ice and "beastly cold beer" supplies, to quote a local phrase. We used some of the very interesting condiments already stored in the fridge and replaced them if we used up too much. The bedrooms were lovely too, very comfortable beds, good mosquito nets - though we were seldom bothered by mosquitoes, maybe the breeze on the hill kept them away for the most part - and excellent en-suites with good showers.

Villa Carpe Diem is part-way up the hill on which the village is built but it's a short few minutes down to the beach from the house, either to the main bay or Little Bay. The choice can be decided with the help of a cold beer in "Skipper" Codrington's rum-shop just opposite the path up to the house. Both beaches are sandy with warm shallow waters(lovely swimming and a bit of snorkelling near the headland if you fancy it) and are refreshingly free of hustlers (and

tourists!). We bought some great fish there for dinner during our stay and, believe me, it doesn't get any fresher

than that. Try for kingfish if you can. You can count on seeing stingrays come in close around 3 or 4 p.m., when the fishermen clean and sell their daily catch. The two older

ladies who make bread and cake in the kiln on the beach twice a week also sweep the main part of the beach every

morning which might explain why it's so clean around there.

Marvin's bar, just along from the fishermen's hangout, is an

excellent place to sit, relax, chat and meet anybody else who's about.

We ate in quite a bit because we like to cook, but made a

definite exception on a Friday night for the jump-up at

Shirma's rum-shop (a.k.a. Andrew's) which featured a fine

plate of barbeque meat or fish and a decent street PA for

dancing - yes, traffic occasionally had to wait up until the

end of a track to get past! Shirma also makes extremely good bread which we used to order on our way down to the

beach. Sadly, we never got to sample Miss Merline's home-made ice-cream from her grocery/rum-shop at the bottom of the village. Possibly because it was so difficult to avoid dropping in to Marvin's on the way for a social. Maybe next time...

We had great days at Englishman's Bay and Pirate's Bay(the latter has a sizeable remnant of Tobago's primeval forest running down to the beach, as well as some excellent snorkelling over coral just 20 yards off the beach),had some terrific fishing and a great rainforest hike.

I'm really looking forward to getting back there as soon as I can.

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Guest Report   

John Walker from U.K. visited in March 2008 and awarded  Five out of Five

Just arrived back home in the UK from two weeks in Castara staying at the Villa Carpe Diem (32 degrees to minus 2 and snow, bit of a shock to the system).

We were extremely lucky to stumble across this new property, everywhere we tried to book in Castara was 'sold out' (I now know why and will book earlier next time).

We were kindly directed to Villa Carpe Diem by Sue from Castara Cottage. For those regular visitors to Castara the property is located just past Coddrington Wallace's bar on the road up the hill going North, the path leading to the accomodation starts directly opposite the rooftop of the Castara Cottage.

The path is fairly steep but does contain a small number of steps to smooth out the incline, there are a number of small lights that guide you if you negotiate the path at night, which you invariably will do when you arrive from the UK.

We were met at the airport by 'Taylor' and driven to a supermarket to collect various provisions, the following drive to Castara in the dark is quite 'interesting' for a first-timer, but you soon get the hang of it.

We didn't do much the first night, just had a quick snack, a Stag, a Carib, a Stag, then went to bed.

Although I had seen a number of pictures of the property and Castara in general, nothing quite prepares you for the view when you open the door for the first time in the morning, a simply breathtaking vista of the main bay, I even forgave the cockerel with the dodgy timekeeping (4.00am).

We met Troy for the first time (very laid back) and was introduced to a new saying - 'Yeh man', which just about summed the whole Castara experience into two words.

We stayed in one of the two downstairs self contained apartments for two weeks, our daughter and her partner joined us in the second apartment for the second week, the apartments are spotlessly clean and have everything you need to spend two weeks(or more) in paradise and are very reasonably priced.

We had actually wanted to book the upstairs two bedroom apartment for all of us for the second week, but Chris and Yvonne the owners were coming over from the UK for that week.

Chris, Yvonne and Stuart (Chris's brother) were excellent hosts and gave us lots of advice and help and have built a brilliant place in a wonderful setting, we are so envious.

You get to the main beach by walking down the road at the side of Wallaces bar straight down past the Naturalist, you can get to Heavenly Bay either by using the same road but cut down the path in front of Castara Cottage or going up the hill and down depot road, it's easier in the heat to use the short cut.

We discovered Marguerites, the Boathouse, Cascerole, Wallaces, fresh fish, the bread ladies, the various food shops, the football matches on the strangest shaped pitch in the world, we went on a tour of the Rainforest with Fitzroy from Bloody Bay (cricket mad but a brilliant and enthusiastic guide).

The weather was superb, two very short rain periods in two weeks, the beaches are to die for although the sea did get a bit rough on the last two days due to the Atlantic thing and the coral section of Heavenly bay did get a bit mashed (another new expression) by the waves and there was some beach erosion outside the Boathouse, although I'm sure it will not be permanent.

Over the last 25 years we have never been back to a summer holiday destination once we have visited, that will now change, we can't wait to visit Villa Carpe Diem and Castara gain and that about says it all for me.

Guest Report   

Eva Mcpartland from U.K. visited in February 2008 and awarded  Five out of Five

I have promised to write about my experience of our holiday in Tobago well back in March but somehow did not manage to do it till now. I keep fondly thinking about the noisy cockerels ( although at the time they were testing my patience), colourful mot-mots, the breathtaking swimming with the manta rays, my early morning walks to the rain forrest, people of Castara ,the drums music (Boat House) - all is just coming back to me. The highligh of our stay in Castara was our accommodation,we were so lucky to be able to stay in the upstairs section of the Villa. I am convinced that we had the best views in Castara - the high location ( you do get used to the steps , belive me, it is worth it !)ensured that we had the most glorious sea view as well as the view of the rest of the village and the forest to the side of us. Being on a edge of the rain forest gave us a wonderful opportunities to watch a great variety of birds. This was my early ( very eary!) morning and late afternoon treat! They used to come very close so we could admire them in their full glory of colours.

Troy was so accommodating and so laid back, as a fellow gardener he share with me knowledge about some of the local plants. I envied him being able to grow so many fascinating plants and flowers. Nothing was too much of a trouble for him - you needed something and he just sorted it out for you. The villa is just unique - the beauty of the wooden building, its exquisite craftsmenship and closeness to nature makes this place very special. You have all the comforts of home - all is very clean and comfortable. The architecture of the building makes it very ,airy, so there is no need for air conditionning although we were glad to have the fans on few occations. We are planning to come back soon, I we will certainly want to stay in Carpe Diem Villa again.

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