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Top River Pearl - a myTobago guide to Tobago holiday accommodation
 

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Top River Pearl, Tobago

Top River Pearl

5 Self-Catering Apartments

Top River Pearl is located just 200m from the beach in Charlotteville. The property offers 4 studio apartments with kitchenettes, plus a larger two-bedroom... apartment. The accommodations are basic, but adequate, and arguably the best in this lovely fishing village. [read more]

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Top River Pearl

5 Self-Catering Apartments in Charlotteville, Tobago

Top River Pearl is located just 200m from the beach in Charlotteville. The property offers 4 studio apartments with kitchenettes, plus a larger two-bedroom apartment. The accommodations are basic, but adequate, and arguably the best in this lovely fishing village.

click/tap the photo to view a gallery of 16 photos

Property Description

Provided by the property, or taken from their website

Top River Pearl offers visitors a choice of double-occupancy apartments with kitchenette or a two-bedroom self-contained cottage.

Our accommodation is spacious, comfortable, clean and affordable. We are proud of our reputation for friendly hospitality.

Our balconies provide stunning views over Man 'O War Bay. Terracotta floor tiles and hand-built mahogany furniture create a homely atmosphere.

We invite you to enjoy your Caribbean nights on the covered terrace of our cosy Cappuccino Café, overlooking our lovely tropical gardens.

Top River Pearl is located just 200 metres from the sea, in the centre of Charlotteville. This picturesque fishing village is situated at the less-commercialised beautiful northern end of Tobago.

Top River Pearl has four self-contained apartments. Each apartment offers the following features and facilities:

  • Comfortable double bed
  • Fully equipped kitchenette with refrigerator and oven/grill
  • Shower and toilet with hot and cold water
  • Air Conditioning (on request, at extra charge)
  • Ceiling Fans
  • Balcony

We would be delighted to make all arrangements for your transfers to and from the airport, as can arrange sightseeing tours, trekking and boat trips.

The Top River Pearl self-contained cottage provides spacious, affordable accommodation for up to six people. The cottage offers the following features and facilities:

  • Two bedrooms
  • Fully equipped kitchenette with refrigerator and oven/grill
  • Large bathroom with hot and cold water
  • Living/dining area with seaviews
  • Air Conditioning (on request, at extra charge)
  • Ceiling Fans
  • Futon couch
  • Wooden deck with hanging chairs (as comfortable as a hammock)
  • Full seaviews

We would be delighted to make all arrangements for your transfers to and from the airport, as can arrange sightseeing tours, trekking and boat trips.

myTobago Review

Our reviews are devoid of marketing hype. We aim to provide concise, unbiased factual information that will help you find Tobago holiday accommodation that perfectly matches your hopes, requirements and expectations.

The following review was produced during a 4-night stay at Top River Pearl.

Introduction

Let us be under no misapprehensions. Charlotteville does not offer the accommodation options of Crown Point or other more populated areas of Tobago. Those looking for 5* luxury should forget Charlotteville. This small fishing village offers little but a small collection of basic, but comfortable, self-catering guesthouses. No resort, no hotels. And long may it continue so.

I sit here on the shaded deck of Top River Pearl's Cappuccino Bar, enjoying the wonderful views over Man O' War Bay and the surrounding lush green hills. Hermitage Beach is in the far distance. The vibrant red flowers of the dwarf immortelle trees are starting to come into bloom, setting the hillsides alight. Around two dozen small fishing pirogues bob in the protected bay. It is now nearly ten on a Sunday morning. The fishermen have long returned from their labour and are no doubt 'liming' along the seafront, their voluble arguments initially somewhat intimidating until you appreciate how good-natured they are. Above the chirping of the birds I can hear the choir in the adjacent Methodist church. To my right, a ruby topaz hummingbird feeds on the hibiscus flowers. To my left, another mug of Top River Pearl's wonderful cappuccino coffee. If this isn't paradise, then I don't know where is.

I first visited Charlotteville in the mid-1950s. I hasten to add that I was a mere lad. It was then that I fell in love with Tobago. A love that led to this website. A love shared by my wife, Jill, who first visited the island less than ten years ago.

I cannot visit Tobago without travelling to Charlotteville; visits of immense affection and respectful memories for our hosts of days gone by, the late Mr & Mrs Turpin. Their plantation includes most of the land around Charlotteville and the village itself.

I have refrained from returning to the Man 'O War Bay Cottages where we stayed during those early visits. The original cottages still exist, but they have been modernised and upgraded. They have also been joined by at least another dozen cottages along the beachfront. The cottages will have electricity and running water now; a big change from our early visits. The location of the cottages is still great, but they are fenced and hedged and very different from the simple structures set among the palms on the beach that I recall. Sometimes it is better to preserve fond memories and I strongly suspect that a re-visit would do the cottages and my lovely memories no favours.

Forty-five years have passed since my last stay in Charlotteville. My heart begged me to return. We decided to take the plunge and spend four days at Top River Pearl, a small apartment guesthouse at the top of the Charlotteville accommodation market.

Two-Bedroom Apartment

The 85 square metre two-bedroom apartment – or 'cottage' as Rainer prefers to call it – occupies the entire first (upper) floor of the left-hand wing of the building. The café below is only open during daylight hours, so guests in the apartment need have no fear of noise or disruption from the café (which is so small and intimate that noise is never likely to be a problem).

The apartment consists of a large L-shaped living/dining room with open-plan kitchen, the two bedrooms plus a bathroom. The décor throughout is simple and practical, with white walls and attractive terracotta clay floor tiles helping to engender a cool atmosphere. A nice touch that improves the "quality" feel of the property is the fact that all furniture is in solid mahogany, matching the doors, windows and balconies.

Double doors lead from the main living area on to a substantial wooden balcony, with wonderful views over Man O' War Bay. The balcony is bound to become the preferred liming and dining spot for most residents of the apartment.

Although the single bathroom places some restrictions, the apartment is large enough to accommodate six adults, with the third couple being accommodated on a fold-up futon-couch in the main living room. The dining table offers spacious seating for six, or eight at a pinch.

The self-contained kitchen is separated from the living/dining area by a useful breakfast bar. Although spacious, the kitchen facilities are very basic – a large fridge/freezer, a simple gas stove, a toaster, kettle, several pans, cooking utensils and a small supply of cutlery and crockery. Rainer tells me that he plans to install a gas oven in the kitchen eventually.

Leading off the main living area, a short passage provides access to the bathroom and bedrooms. One bedroom has a king size double bed, the other a queen size. A cot was stored in the second room which, subject to availability, would also be available to guests in the studio apartments. The bathroom is tiled and offers the usual facilities of pedestal basin, toilet and walk-in shower.

The bedrooms are of adequate size and each was fitted with hanging "shelves" in an open wardrobe. These are not the most attractive of wardrobes, but do represent an ideal way to store clothes whilst avoiding the inherent tropical problem of providing a hiding place for mosquitoes and other insects, who love the dark corners of cupboard.

The rooms are not air-conditioned. Rainer has recently purchased two mobile air-conditioning units. Plug-in vents will be installed in each room in all the apartments so that guests have the option of ordering A/C. In truth, we think that this will be totally unnecessary under normal weather conditions. We followed Rainer's advice and closed the main windows, while keeping the louvered side windows partially open. This struck a happy balance, keeping insects out while allowing the cool night sea breeze in.

All rooms have overhead ceiling fans and these are normally highly effective. However, if we had any criticism of TopRiver Pearl, it is that the ceiling fans were corroded and this, apart from anything else, let the decorative order down. Our ceiling fan squeaked, so we did not use it. Fortunately each room is also supplied with a freestanding oscillating fan, so we were adequately covered. In practice, we did not need either of the fans and slept very comfortably each night, with just the supplied thin cotton sheet to comfort us during the coolest hours of the night.

Many visitors worry about sleeping with windows open, from the point of view of both security and mosquitoes. One can quickly assess whether a particular window poses a security threat. If it is, chances are that the owners of the property will have fitted security grills. Mosquitoes are a different problem. At certain times of the year, and particularly during the wet summer months, these pesky insects can be a problem. Rainer provides electric Bug Mat burners in each room and the refill pads can be bought at most local shops (30 mats, approx. TT$12). We have always found these to be effective. I don't know whether our Bug Mat worked or not, but can only say that we saw no evidence of mosquitoes during our stay. In fact, we slept remarkably well each night and even the best efforts of the local cockerels did not spoil our nights or early mornings.

I would mention that cockerels and cocricos can be a problem at most accommodation in Tobago and, in my opinion, are generally the only reason to consider air-conditioning – after all, you can normally hear little else above the racket of the A/C fan. Sadly closing up your room and relying on A/C means that you will also be unable to hear the many welcome sounds that Tobago offers, such as the sea or the dawn chorus of the many wonderful birds. Wherever you stay, I would recommend that light sleepers carry ear plugs and eye shades to ensure undisturbed sleep. Although cockerels were apparent, as they would be in every village, we had no problem with noisy cocricos during our stay at Top River Pearl.

Jill was concerned that she would have difficulty sleeping after dawn in view of the very thin net curtains on the windows. She is very sensitive to light and the curtains do nothing to darken the room. Maybe good dining and sea air did the trick, because for whatever reason – and despite the fact that we had just arrived and had not fully acclimatised – we slept like babes. I think the only disturbance was a noisy morning refuse collection at an hour that would put shame to our bin-men at home.

The linen and towels provided were of thin "tropical" weight, but clean and serviceable. Linen is changed twice a week. Guests must remember to bring their own beach towels. General standards of cleanliness and maintenance order were adequate.

Studio Apartments

Each of the one-bedroom studio apartments consist of a single, 23 square metre, room with a separate bathroom and a small kitchenette. The two currently-completed upper-floor studio apartments are identical in size and layout, the only difference being that one has a king size bed and the other a queen size bed.

We stayed in the studio apartment with the smaller bed. We would have been perfectly content and comfortable had we stayed there for a full two-week vacation. The beauty of Charlotteville is the casual atmosphere. You need bring so little – a backpack would be appropriate for most people (well, maybe two, but Jill is getting better at packing).

A separate bathroom with shower, pedestal basin and toilet lead off the bedroom. The kitchenette is located in the passageway leading from the apartment's door and is equipped with a small fridge (but no freezer), a small two-ring gas stove, kettle and toaster, with a very limited assortment of pots, pans, crockery and cutlery. Although tiny, the kitchenette was reasonably adequate for the morning bacon and egg fry-ups that we so thoroughly enjoyed on our balcony, but would not be ideal for more adventurous meals.

Most of my previous description of the two-bedroom apartment applies equally to the studio apartments, so I will not detail everything again here.

The Deck

The upper floor between the two wings of the building offers a wonderful wooden deck with intricate wooden balustrades. Rainer told me that he had prepared 28 drawings before finally settling on the design. He certainly didn't scrimp on cost either. Like the main balconies, doors and windows, the deck is made of solid mahogany. The quality really shows.

The upper deck is furnished with a wooden table and chairs, plus two hanging chairs. They are a form of hammock, but designed to be sat in, rather than lain in. They can be surprisingly comfortable.

Beneath the deck, on the ground floor of the property, is a general utility area where guests can hang beach towels and other washing to dry. The staff of Top River Pearl, under the excellent and friendly supervision of manager Lisa, will do washing for guests at a very reasonable charge of TT$20-25 per normal washing machine load.

Local Amenities

There is extremely limited shopping available in Charlotteville and this extends to foodstuffs. Charlotteville is not a destination for adventurous souls who wish to demonstrate their cordon bleu cookery skills. The one and only Mini Mart supermarket (their description, not mine) is conveniently located at the bottom of Spring Street, leading up to Top River Pearl. However, this store offers considerably less than the average British corner shop. We were able to get bread, bacon, salt, eggs and cooking oil, but had to make do with a poor quality margarine instead of butter (health fanatics calm down - everything in moderation is my motto). The Mini Mart freezer offered little but a couple of frozen chickens. The other thing to bear in mind is that most of these staples are sold in huge bags. The average visitor does not need a pound of salt, or two kilos of rice. Apart from anything else, where do you keep it all once you've opened the big bags? The bulk packages are obviously the most economical way of shopping for locals. Sadly - or gladly - tourism in Charlotteville has not developed enough to influence the buying habits of the shopkeepers. To avoid disappointment, visitors intending to self-cater are recommended to do their shopping before travelling up to Charlotteville. I would suggest the main Penny Savers supermarket at Canaan, just five minutes from the airport.

Dining out in Charlotteville is similarly restrictive. Sharon &Phoebe's is the largest and most noticeable restaurant (first building on right after entering the village). We thoroughly enjoyed our lunches and dinners there and have no hesitation in recommending the restaurant to others. Gail's, at the other end of the village, is open for dinner every day except Sundays, but only has five tables so it's essential to get there early. A local acquaintance expressed the opinion that Gail's offered the best cooking in the village. It was certainly cheaper than Sharon & Pheobe's, but based upon our one meal at Gail's, we couldn't automatically endorse the view that the catering was better. There is one other small restaurant/café, Lynda's, located on the seafront between the two, but this never seemed to be serving food while we were there, so we cannot comment.

Apart from these three establishments, the only choice is the Banana Boat, just outside Charlotteville on the Cambleton Road. This new guesthouse/restaurant has had a somewhat controversial start and local opinion is divided. It has, however, succeeded in becoming a popular drinking hole for both locals and visitors. Given the few visitor reports we had heard, we didnot bother to dine there.

There is no bank or cash machine in Charlotteville. It is important that you bring enough local currency to cover your stay, or you will have an hour's journey back to the nearest bank/cash machine in Scarborough. Sharon & Phoebe's was the only restaurant that takes credit cards, but even this was out of operation during our stay.

Charlotteville is very much a laid-back village where taking things easy is the order of the day. Don't expect activity centres. A useful trip contact for the village is Curtis Yeates of Workshop Tours who specialises in offshore island tours and local fishing trips. Curtis can be found at his office, more or less opposite Sharon & Phebe's.

Charlotteville Beach

It is little more than a two minute walk from Top River Pearl to the seafront and a similar walk to the nicest part of Charlotteville Beach. This is one of the few beaches in Tobago to be regularly supervised by a lifeguard. Flags are displayed to indicate the swimming conditions.

Swimming and snorkelling off Charlotteville beach are excellent and you will seldom see more than a handful of other visitors. The only slight downside is that parts of it are a working beach. On your way to the beach from the centre of the village you will pass the fishing co-operative. Opposite this and throughout the day you will see fishermen landing and gutting their catches. This means that the immediate area can suffer from "fishy" smells and the water and beach can be littered with – how can I put this delicately? - fishy parts. Mind you, a hundred metres up the beach and you're in a different world.

You are spoilt for choice of lovely beaches in Charlotteville. Getting to them can take a little effort, and/or cost, but all are worth exploring. Pirate's Bay beach is undoubtedly the best known and the easiest to get to. Mind you, "easiest" is a relative term. It is a good 20 minute walk from the centre of Charlotteville, up a steep unmade track with deep precipice on one side and a cliff face (subject to landslides during the wet season) on the other. Having ascended to a point above Pirate's Bay, you then descend some 80 or so steps to the beach. Mind you, most visitors would agree that the effort is worth it. Do NOT attempt to drive up the track leading to the beach.

There are several other choices – Lover's Beach being particularly noteworthy. These are largely only accessible by boat. Have a chat with Curtis or any of the fishermen along the seafront and you will soon have a boat trip out to these beaches arranged.

tends to foodstuffs. Charlotteville is not a destination for adventurous souls who wish to demonstrate their cordon bleu cookery skills. The one and only Mini Mart supermarket (their description, not mine) is conveniently located at the bottom of Spring Street, leading up to Top River Pearl. However, this store offers considerably less than the average British corner shop. We were able to get bread, bacon, salt, eggs and cooking oil, but had to make do with a poor quality margarine instead of butter (health fanatics calm down - everything in moderation is my motto). The Mini Mart freezer offered little but a couple of frozen chickens. The other thing to bear in mind is that most of these staples are sold in huge bags. The average visitor does not need a pound of salt, or two kilos of rice. Apart from anything else, where do you keep it all once you've opened the big bags? The bulk packages are obviously the most economical way of shopping for locals. Sadly - or gladly - tourism in Charlotteville has not developed enough to influence the buying habits of the shopkeepers. To avoid disappointment, visitors intending to self-cater are recommended to do their shopping before travelling up to Charlotteville. I would suggest the main Penny Savers supermarket at Canaan, just five minutes from the airport.

Kayaking in Man 'O War BayDining out in Charlotteville is similarly restrictive. Sharon &Phoebe's is the largest and most noticeable restaurant (first building on right after entering the village). We thoroughly enjoyed our lunches and dinners there and have no hesitation in recommending the restaurant to others. Gail's, at the other end of the village, is open for dinner every day except Sundays, but only has five tables so it's essential to get there early. A local acquaintance expressed the opinion that Gail's offered the best cooking in the village. It was certainly cheaper than Sharon & Pheobe's, but based upon our one meal at Gail's, we couldn't automatically endorse the view that the catering was better. There is one other small restaurant/café, Lynda's, located on the seafront between the two, but this never seemed to be serving food while we were there, so we cannot comment.

Apart from these three establishments, the only choice is the Banana Boat, just outside Charlotteville on the Cambleton Road. This new guesthouse/restaurant has had a somewhat controversial start and local opinion is divided. It has, however, succeeded in becoming a popular drinking hole for both locals and visitors. Given the few visitor reports we had heard, we didnot bother to dine there.

There is no bank or cash machine in Charlotteville. It is important that you bring enough local currency to cover your stay, or you will have an hour's journey back to the nearest bank/cash machine in Scarborough. Sharon & Phoebe's was the only restaurant that takes credit cards, but even this was out of operation during our stay.

Charlotteville is very much a laid-back village where taking things easy is the order of the day. Don't expect activity centres. A useful trip contact for the village is Curtis Yeates of Workshop Tours who specialises in offshore island tours and local fishing trips. Curtis can be found at his office, more or less opposite Sharon & Phebe's.

Beach

Charlotteville beachIt is little more than a two minute walk from Top River Pearl to the seafront and a similar walk to the nicest part of Charlotteville Beach. This is one of the few beaches in Tobago to be regularly supervised by a lifeguard. Flags are displayed to indicate the swimming conditions.

Swimming and snorkelling off Charlotteville beach are excellent and you will seldom see more than a handful of other visitors. The only slight downside is that parts of it are a working beach. On your way to the beach from the centre of the village you will pass the fishing co-operative. Opposite this and throughout the day you will see fishermen landing and gutting their catches. This means that the immediate area can suffer from "fishy" smells and the water and beach can be littered with – how can I put this delicately? - fishy parts. Mind you, a hundred metres up the beach and you're in a different world.

You are spoilt for choice of lovely beaches in Charlotteville. Getting to them can take a little effort, and/or cost, but all are worth exploring. Pirate's Bay beach is undoubtedly the best known and the easiest to get to. Mind you, "easiest" is a relative term. It is a good 20 minute walk from the centre of Charlotteville, up a steep unmade track with deep precipice on one side and a cliff face (subject to landslides during the wet season) on the other. Having ascended to a point above Pirate's Bay, you then descend some 80 or so steps to the beach. Mind you, most visitors would agree that the effort is worth it. Do NOT attempt to drive up the track leading to the beach.

There are several other choices – Lover's Beach being particularly noteworthy. These are largely only accessible by boat. Have a chat with Curtis or any of the fishermen along the seafront and you will soon have a boat trip out to these beaches arranged.

Conclusion

So what were my opinions of Charlotteville after staying there for the first time in 45 years? Well, firstly I should admit that in the intervening years I have become rather fond of the comforts of modern life. I was somewhat concerned that we would find the village a little too 'rustic'.

In practice, we loved it. Fearing that we would be a little disappointed, we had restricted our stay to four days. Big mistake! We would genuinely love to have stayed there much, much longer.

Yes, the accommodation and facilities in Charlotteville are basic. However, Charlotteville is undoubtedly the REAL Tobago. Nowhere else on the island do the local people show the same warmth and hospitality. The inhabitants of Charlotteville gave birth to my love of Tobago 45 years ago. They could do the same again today. Charlotteville may be considerably larger than when I visited it back in the 50's and early 60's, but the essential ethos of the village has changed little. It is real, it is natural, it is wonderful.

And Top River Pearl? Well, I wish Rainer every success with his Caribbean dream and have absolutely no hesitation in returning to his guesthouse or recommending it to others.

Reader Reports

This property has a weighted Reader Satisfaction Rating of 93%   . Click below to read the 51 reader reports that this is rating is based on.

Sarah van Baak from Netherlands visited in March 2017 and awarded   

We had a lovely stay at the Top River Pearl. The location is good and quiet, not even 5 minutes from the seafront.

Our room was fine for two with a nice balcony. It was equipped for self-catering but we availed ourselves frequently of the cooking skills of Martha and Joel for breakfast and dinner. Lovely food.

They were also very helpful in arranging transportation and providing local information.

Recommended.

Knörr Sabine from Germany visited in August 2015 and awarded   

Hallo Rainer,

wir wollten dir auf diesen Weg nochmal danken, das du den Aufenthalt in Charlotteville, leider nur 3 Tage (nächstes Mal gerne länger), so bereichert hast.

Es war Urlaub im Urlaub;-)

Dein Apartment ist ein Traum, zum wohnen in der Karabik einfach optimal.

Über das Dorf muss man eigentlich gar nichts mehr sagen, wenn man in den Genuss gekommen ist und den traumhaften Ausblick vom Balkon geniesen konnte.

Dein Kaffee, so mal nebenbei, ist der Beste von der Insel.

Wir haben uns vom ersten Moment an bei dir wohlgefühlt.

Hoffentlich hast du immer viele Gäste, die du betreuen kannst, dass hat man gespürt, dass das Wohl, deiner Besucher, dir am Herzen liegt.

Danke für alles, und wir kommen auf jeden Fall wieder.

Liebe Grüße

Die Familie aus Bayern

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 Apartment:$50 - $80
2-Bedroom Apartment:$140 - $160
Minimum Nights:5 nights
Property Type:Self-Catering Apartments
Apartments:5
Maximum Guests:15
Air-Conditioned:Bedrooms only
Children:Children welcome
Hair Dryers:None
Telephone:No
Internet Access:wireless Internet
Television:No
Safety Deposit:No
Wheelchair Access:No
Swimming Pool:None
Catering Options:

Housekeeping:Twice per week
Baby-Sitting:Yes
Personal Laundry:Yes
Personal Cooking:No
Location:Charlotteville
Region:North End
Location Type:Village
Airport:90 minutes
Beach:3-5 minute Walk