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Philip, Trip Advisor Reviewer
Visited: November 2015
It is very rare to find that perfect combination of very comfortable accommodation, beautiful views, a lovely restaurant, outstanding staff, proximity to a beach and a working fishing village where the people are just so friendly. We were trying to work out why we loved Castara Retreats so much and it is actually it's "sophisticated" simplicity that blends all these things together so uniquely. If you want to laze on the beach, tour the island, scuba, snorkel, go on a beach party, walk in the rainforest, horse ride or just read on your room terrace it is so easy to do and just chill out. A holiday and a place one will never forget for such happy memories.
Trip Advisor Reviewer
Visited: October 2015
My, my how do I start to express how overwhelmed I was during my stay at Castara Retreats...It was the best ever, I had one problem which was not being able to stay longer. The view from the bedroom and living room was really breath taking not to mention the restaurant. I would definitely recommend this getaway to anyone seeking the quiet laid back and nature aspect, [and] the beach being just a stone’s throw away…listening the waves breaking on the sand is just music to your ear. You would have a wonderful time guaranteed if you choose Castara Retreats as your next vacation getaway, I can hardly wait to return, thank you very much to the hard working team at Castara Retreats and for making our stay extremely comfortable. See you in the near future guys.
Trip Advisor Reviewer
Visited: September 2015
What a beautiful place! Go here if you intend to completely chill out. This is no tourist resort which was perfect for us. You will stay in beautiful, but simple lodges nestled into the hillside overlooking Castara Bay, where you will be totally, but discreetly looked after. Porridge has lived in Castara all of his life so he knows everything and everyone! I'm not one for revisiting places as there's a big wide world out there to explore but I'm faltering … We are already looking into going back next year!
Andrew, Trip Advisor Reviewer
Visited: September 2015
I’ve been home three weeks and I’m still finding it hard to get on with life after Castara. Even just going through the photos is difficult. I know I'm not the first to experience this affliction. Is there a "post-Castara Retreats support group" that anyone knows about? I guess the best therapy is to just get back there as soon as possible. The team there is an exceptional one … a perfect blend of professional, friendly, attentive and discreet. Wandering down to the restaurant was like dinner with friends. Having the ladies visit to clean and re-stock was like friends dropping in for a chat. Even the guys labouring for some building work on-site were in on the act. One of them put down the bag of concrete he was carrying and insisted on taking the rubbish he saw me with. Another guy handed me a couple of mangoes when he saw how dejected I looked on the last day. Thanks also to the office staff for your involvement in our holiday. Nothing was ever any trouble and everything went smoothly.
JP, Trip Advisor Reviewer
Visited: September 2015
Paradise…Robinson Crusoe island with all you need. Waking up with the sound of the surf and birds competing is unbeatable. Restaurant is top notch.
Barbara, Trip Advisor Reviewer
Visited: August 2015
Best holiday ever! Amazing place if you want peace and quiet. Beautiful Eco lodge. Cabins excellent all overlooking beach/sea. Staff lovely, helpful and nothing too much trouble. We just wish we could have stayed longer. Overall review of Castara Retreats, outstanding. Can't wait to go again.
Hugo and Claudia
Visited: April 2014
Our stay at Castara Retreats was simply perfect, as always. The view, the garden, lots of birds… what else could you ask for? The views and the sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks are just spectacular. We can't recommend this accommodation highly enough! Porridge, Jeanell as well as all other staff are wonderful hosts. They are happy to answer any questions you may have and they make sure you love this paradise as much as possible. We enjoyed chatting with the other guests at the bar of the restaurant which is part of Castara Retreats. Kenny, Patricia and team serve Italian style food with a stunning sea view included. Don’t forget to try the fabulous selection of rum sitting at the bar!
Visited: March 2014
This trip was a dream come true for us- it was to be our holiday of a lifetime and it was. Castara retreats is everything you could wish for and more ,Porridge, Jeanelle. ,Kenny, Patricia, Will and David all help to make you enjoy all Castara and Tobago have to offer. The Studio is well equipped and comfortable with extra homely touches . Suffice to say if we ever return to Tobago Castara retreats is the only location we would consider.
Visited: February 2014
One of the best holidays of my life. Castara retreats had everything we were looking for. We stayed in Birdsong, and it was perfect. Not only was everything clean, comfortable and spacious, they even had an English plug in the wall which was a real help as we'd brought the wrong adapter. They were kind and welcoming and ready to help, yet unintrusive and let us get on with things when we wanted to- I can't recommend Castara Retreats more!
Visited: March 2014
We had a wonderful week at Castara Retreats in early March. We stayed in the Birdsong lodge. The eco accommodation was perfect, very comfortable, and very well equipped. We had two terraces, which offered stunning views over the bay. The manager of the lodges is Porridge, who does everything to help to see that you have a wonderful time during your stay, from collecting you from the airport, to arranging car hire, and providing wonderful boat trips to nearby beaches. The fishing village of Castara is very unspoilt (not a hotel in sight), and characterful, and the local people very friendly. There are a few small shops, and some good but simple places to eat. The beach is great for swimming, snorkelling, and relaxing, and one also has very easy access to the rainforest. If you want a comfortable, relaxed, and colourful Caribbean holiday this is the place.
Visited: Hummingbird 2 - June 2013
My boyfriend and I stayed in Hummingbird 2 apartment. From the breathtaking views, the amazing restaurant food, the great service of the caretakers, and the relaxing atmosphere, we could not have asked for anything more. If you are looking for somewhere to RELAX and kick back this is the place to go! Thank you again for a GREAT and unforgettable experience.
Visited: Birdsong - May 2013
Castara Retreats is nestled in the hillside with great views overlooking Castara bay. A five-minute walk down the hill and you are on the beach, and another five minutes and you are in the village. The people are generally very friendly, if sometimes a little shy, and it feels like a safe and welcoming place. We spent a lot of our time out on our terrace watching the birds, and the occasional agouti, or in the evening under an amazing canopy of stars (and fireflies). The accommodation is really comfortable and it seems like a lot of care and attention has been put into everything, from the mosquito nets over the (very comfortable) beds… to the music system which plays from the iPhone… to the way the fresh sheets and towels were replaced every few days which helped to make the experience almost luxurious. The apartments are quite open which allows a gentle breeze to come through the rooms (and the occasional bird), with wooden shutters that can be easily closed for privacy or I suppose in the unlikely event of a storm coming through. Everyone at Castara Retreats was very friendly and helpful, and made us feel at home straightaway. We ate in the Castara Retreats restaurant quite often in the evenings (meeting other residents for cocktails or freshly made juices, which was always fun), and we found the food to be consistently delicious and better than most places we have found on the island. Add to all this a warm sea that is wonderful to swim in, fantastic boat trips for fishing or snorkeling, and you can see why we were tempted to stay right there for the whole of our two weeks. We will most definitely be going back!
Visited: Fisherman's - May 2013
The pictures of the views enjoyed by Castara retreats are amazing, the reality is even better. It really is an amazing location. The service is excellent, there is always someone around to answer a query or pass on a message to Porridge who organises most things. Although it is self-catering, the staff made it feel more like a hotel, first names were used from day one onwards and as I mention, there is always someone around. The lodges themselves are as stunning as the scenery, fully equipped kitchens, mosquito nets around the beds, plantation shutters on the windows. The village itself is probably the friendliest we have ever stayed, we 'limed' with the fisherman, went to a block party, watched three local football games, all the while feeling perfectly safe (we had teenage daughter in tow). For us, this location brought us serene peace and we left with a sense of calm. The only downside to our trip (and this was due to my bad planning rather than the retreat or village) was the mosquitoes. Make sure you take good sprays and creams! The lodges are surrounded by mango trees, which meant a steady supply of the freshest fruit. We did a couple of day trips to other parts of the island but to be honest, nowhere compared to this place. Book it now!
Visited: Coasthanger - April 2013
We stayed two weeks at the Retreats again this Easter, and enjoyed it even more. Why even better? Anticipation for one thing, knowing how good it is from our first visit; the restaurant run by Kenny and Patricia which produces excellent food (and Wes mixes a mean cocktail!); the welcome and service from Porridge and Jeanell; got to join in the hauling of nets; saw more wildlife (and fed the agouti); sunbeds for hire on the beach (the best bit of beach without a doubt is right below Castara); fewer bug bites (more deet); great trip to Charlotteville catching our own fish on the way. Downside? Ummmm.....we'll get back to you on that one.....
Visited: Birdson - March 2013
Last piece of Heaven left on the earth. We had a great stay in Castara at Castara Retreats. A work trip but pure peacefulness while in Castara. Porridge, his wife, and his son were most helpful. Porridge even gave me some limes to season our fish for dinner. Just great people in the village and amazing place at Castara retreats. Very clean, well furnished, and comfortable. We stayed in Birdsong....it doesn't even matter which lodge you choose. It is just beautiful and you will be pleased! Will definitely be back!!
Visited: Rainforest - March 2013
A beautiful location, with incredible views. Our apartment, Rainforest, was very big and open and had 180 degree views to the beach, ocean and village/mountains. The accommodations were well appointed and had everything we needed for a comfortable stay. Evening meals at Castara Retreats were delicious and varied. Dining in town was a little more affordable. Take a tour to the rainforest - it was absolutely beautiful. I would definitely go back.
Visited: Birdsong - March 2013
We stayed at Birdsong for 10 nights. This is an outstanding place to stay- a wonderful tree house with the most amazing views, cooled by sea breezes with all the comforts of a hotel with so much more space and freedom. We fell asleep to the sound of the sea and woke to the sun coming up over the whole bay. The beach is 5 minutes walk away - we counted a maximum of 15 people on it at any time. We loved the restaurant - a wonderful welcome, delicious food- sometimes delivered to our tree house- and Wesley makes the best piña coladas we have ever had. Porridge is on hand to help with anything you need - he gets it just right -around when you need him and leaving you to relax too. Castara is the real Caribbean and we would highly recommend Castara retreats.
Visited: Rainforest - March 2013
We are a family of five (nearly six, as I am preganant!) and we wanted a holiday that was safe and comfortable but also exotic and exciting. Our children are all under ten and being boys enjoyed a feeling of freedom and a lack of constraints. Castara Retreats provided the perfect setting for this. Our tree house apartment was a dream, delightful sea views, immersed and surrounded by wildlife and lulled by the sound of the sea. Plenty of room and thoughtful touches combined with simplicity (but not too basic). Our host Porridge and his team were super friendly, helpful and very caring. Our whole family felt relaxed and charmed. The village of Castara was lovelier than we expected. Quiet, peaceful beach, nestled next to and amid rainforest and full of colour and vibrancy. The people were very welcoming too, all those we met made us feel newly touched and inspired by the world we live in... what a wonderful example of simple living and heartfelt human interactions! Thank you Tobago, a beautiful holiday!
Visited: Rainforest - March 2013
What I can add to the many positive reviews is pertinent for Canadian travelers - WestJet offers some incredibly affordable flights to Trinidad. My daughter and I travelled for less that $700 for both of us - no, not each but BOTH of us. The flight from Trinidad to Tobago was about $70 return, and the timing of these flights was pleasant and perfect for the short trip we could fit into our busy schedules as a University student daughter and Professor mother escaping together. Castara Retreats is just perfect - lovely community, exquisite snorkeling, exciting activities including an evening of drums and delicious food - but really the best part is the kind and caring people who made our stay perfect. The Rainforest apartment where we stayed is situated on a hilltop with an astounding view of the beach visited by birds and we encouraged the evening arrival of bats with bits of banana. The kitchen, hammock, bedrooms and outdoor seating area create a marvelous space you won't want to leave, though the in-house restaurant is inviting. High point - snorkel with our guide Seon - an amazing experience! If, like us, you enjoy a place away from big-box tourism and love the sea and the experience of being in a small community and fishing village, this will really be paradise for you. Breaking news - thanks to WestJet flights, Castara Retreats is now affordable for Canadians.
Visited: Fisherman's Lodge - February 2013
It’s my sixth visit to Castara Retreats over the last eight years and I have stayed in all the lodges except the new one. Nice surprise on arrival at Fisherman’s Lodge - new cooker, super large fridge freezer - and just below, at the new Pagoda Restaurant, was a large chiller cabinet well stocked with beers, lime coolers, nice dry white wine and even Proscecco for us to help ourselves to on an honesty basis. This was a great saving in energy rather than walking up the hill laden with heavy bags. The roofed seating area had also been equipped with new chairs and other enhancements to make our stay very comfortable. The Pagoda Restaurant can be described as fitting in perfectly in a completely unobtrusive way. I liked the natural wood exteriors and this blends very well with the modern kitchen facilities. I have stayed at the other end of the island, usually for a couple of nights on arrival each time we have come, usually at the Kariwak. They epitomise being in the Caribbean and produce meals using their own vegetables, herbs etc. That establishment oozes the better things in life and simple good quality food. The Pagoda Restaurant (for the ten times I ate there) provided very tasty, nicely prepared, presented and cooked meals. The fish I had most nights was delicious and its taste wasn’t smothered in other flavours - just a light sprinking of herbs from the garden. My wife tried a selection of the other dishes and found the stuffed peppers delicious. She liked the fish as well. To me the service was perfect. Kenny is a delightful mine host and his young assistant tending the bar, a local school master and scout leader, ably assisted him - a nice team. I have had good wines at the Kariwak but nowhere else unless we took our own, but in fairness, Tobago is a place for long drinks and having stunning scencery more than makes up for the odd glass of wine. But I have to say my wife loved the lemon & lime cocktails, and having a decent glass or two of red was an unexpected treat. So overall, we ate at the Pagoda with odd snacks at Chino’s - he deserves support as well. I would go back to Castara - it means something to me that people come out of their houses and greet us upon our return and, after all, I wouldn’t have done some 50,000 miles getting to and from Tobago unless the island , its people and Castara, were not special. And not least, I must not forget Porridge and Jeanell - they are very special people who coordinate things to make it all work. I would say we are very lucky tourists.
Visited: Coasthanger - February 2013
We have just returned from a lovely holiday at Castara, staying in Coasthanger Lodge. Our intention was to relax - and oh did we RELAX. Coasthanger was perfect for us as William cannot sit in the sun, so I spent most of my time on the comfortable loungers on the deck and he was within speaking distance in the shade. The birds were a delight and really appreciated our sugar bread and bananas - as did the lizard. We also saw a huge lizard disappearing up a tree and the funny agouti. We made full use of Kenny's bar where his wife Patricia and staff Gillan and Wesley really looked after us, even asking us during the day what we would like to eat that night. Why climb the hill after dinner at our age when they were literally next door? I loved pottering in the well appointed kitchen preparing light breakfast and lunch. The highlights were the beauty of Tobago, the fireflies in the bedroom when you turned out the light and, most of all, Derrick Lopez - Porridge - Mr Tobago. Truly a Living Legend!! Sorry about the insect bites though!!
Visited: Hummingbird 2 - January/February 2013
I am writing this the day before we leave Castara Retreats (7 Feb 2013). So everything is fresh in the mind. We would endorse everything others say. Porridge and Jeanell are wonderful hosts---it¹s as if you are their house guests. They can rent you a car, organise a boat and rainforest trips, all with minimum fuss and maximum efficiency. The apartments are well appointed with everything you would practically need in them. Just a few observations, first on CR and then on Castara itself. One thing that we really liked is being able to do without air conditioning at night. Instead of that irritating hum you are lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves. Bugs didn¹t seem to be problem if you were careful. The mosquito nets are very effective---a bit like a canopy over the bed. However, we did talk to another couple at CR who did have a problem with mosquitos, even though they took all the recommended precautions as we did. Maybe their apartment is more bug prone than ours? Another nice feature is the bird feeder. You just put out scraps and watch them come. However, do be aware that CR is up a very steep hill, after you have walked up a (relatively) gentler hill from the village/beach. Only a few minutes walk in all but not at all suitable for anyone who is not fit or in some way restricted. If you can¹t do short, steep hills CR is not for you. The other place we considered in Tobago was Blue Waters Inn at Speyside on the Atlantic coast. It¹s a hotel, not self-catering like CR. It¹s a well-ordered small hotel with good facilities. We drove there and had a swim and lunch to have a look. Worth doing if you have a car and want a contrast. Actually, the basic room prices are not too different: a standard room at Blue Waters is around the same as the better apartments at CR. The point is that it is a totally different experience. To my mind, BW is ³sanitised² Caribbean as opposed to Castara being the Caribbean as it is. Castara has no hotels, just self-catering accommodation scattered through the village. CR is very much at the upper end of these. BW is outside Speyside and feels like the enclave it clearly is. What¹s so nice about CR is that it feels very much part of the village. A few minutes walk takes you there, with about a dozen simple restaurants and bars to choose from. Nothing fancy but wonderful fresh fish especially. For a more interesting, higher quality, more extensive (and more expensive) meal with some choice of dishes, eating at the Pagoda at CR is definitely recommended. Kenny does a good job. The chef is his wife who is Venezuelan of Italian extraction---and it shows in her cooking. Villagers and tourists appear to co-exist with each other on equal terms. Locals are friendly and if they want to sell you something they do it in a gentle and pleasant way. We met some people who had been coming here for 10 years and said it hadn¹t changed in that time, though obviously there are more self-catering apartments than there used to be. The atmosphere is the same they said. Long may it continue.
Visited: Birdsong - January 2013
We got married in Birdsong in Castara Retreats on 14th Jan 2013 on the balcony surrounded by the most beautiful flowers - it was the most romantic yet relaxed thing we could have done. Loads of help from porridge who drove us to register the wedding in Crown Point and also organised the minister and flowers. Castara Retreats was perfect, Birdsong was wonderfully cool and breezy at night and we felt no need for the fans which were provided - the sound of the waves took some getting use to at night and the birds singing was so relaxing you really felt like you were in the middle of no where (although our visit coincided with Tobago's Government elections and the canvassers and supporters were constantly driving around the whole island playing music with flags flying). It was more like a carnival, everyone was so happy. We hired a car from Porridge and visited the rest of the island. It's really a great place, we also did a tour with Newton George who was a really friendly and knowledgeable man well worth the effort even in the heat. The drivers in Tobago are a little mad but due to the windy roads speeding is not an option - 30 mph is the most you can do a lot of the time. we found eating in Castara fine, quite a choice of small eating places for a quiet fishing village and of course lots of fresh fish straight from the beach which you can watch the fishermen haul in in the mornings. I can't wait to return and have some more rum punch - bliss.
Visited: The Studio - January 2013
We had a great time. We stayed at the studio, Castara Retreats. The accommodation was super and we liked the air con in the bedroom, which made it very comfortable at night. The apartment felt - and is - very secure. The kitchen was very well equipped, and furnishings and fittings were all of an excellent standard. The verandah was great. We loved Castara and Tobago, and will return. Castara is a lovely village and the beach is fab, if like us you love swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling. Last, but by no means least the support from Porridge and Jeanell was also just right. They were helpful, friendly, and there if we needed them.
Visited: Fisherman's - January 2013
We loved it. Such a lovely place, we had 18 very happy days. Wonderful accommodation, island, wildlife, beach, people, snorkeling, fresh fish and rum. We shall be highly recommending it - even though it was more expensive than we're used to.
Visited: Coasthanger - January 2013
We absolutely loved it. Even Porridge's driving. Coasthanger was great with lots of wildlife which we love. The people were great, even managed to get a smile from the shy gals at the bakery! It's my idea of the perfect Caribbean island holiday. The elections were being held while we were there so it was a little like carnival time. Met the TOP main man who happens to share his name with my son, only backwards. Ashworth Jack. We'll be back.
Visited: Fisherman's - November/December 2012
Castara Retreats is rather unusual in that it offers service and facilities of a high class yet blends with and supports the local community. Castara is a beautiful small village on the north-west coast of Tobago away from the more built up area around the capital Scarborough and the airport yet within a relatively easy one hour drive. Both the village/beach area and the surrounding countryside are outstandingly beautiful and the apartments exploit this to the full with wonderful views across the coast. The accommodation is set on a hill above the beach requiring a short walk down a well surfaced path. Though steep in places it could be viewed as a bonus as the beach is close but the elevated position provides the great views, a cooling breeze and another environment (it's like having two holiday locations). The standard of the rooms is top notch - comfortable chairs, beautiful tables from local wood, plenty of space to relax in and all presented spotlessly clean - with no rough edges and everything working. The service is exemplary - with some rental apartments/villas you feel you are on your own following a short introduction but at Castara there is always someone on hand or a phone call away to sort out problems yet the service is not intrusive so big tick. For those who like to cook there are proper facilities to prepare a sophisticated meal - a visit to the supermarkets in the south might be wise to stock-up, and for those who want to be cooked for Castara provides a number of well priced restaurants, including one on-site and meals can be cooked to order by arrangement with Castara Retreats. A look at previous reviews underlies the popularity of Castara Retreats and it is well deserved. If you're looking for air conditioned luxury in a resort setting then this may not be for you but if you looking for a bit of Caribbean magic then here it is. PS There is occasional loud music drifting up from the village into the early hours - hence the average rating for sleep quality - otherwise gentle breezes, a comfortable bed and a magnificent view to wake up to would bank the full 5 stars.
Visited: Hummingbird 1 - November 2012
Every accommodation on Tobago reflects upon the island, whether for good or for bad and I believe that Tobago should feel justifiably proud having Castara Retreats acting as an ambassador. Half of me wants to tell the whole world about the place, the other half wants to keep it to myself, a carefully held secret. The location of Castara Retreats is stunning; the accommodation is lovingly crafted with great attention to detail. They're built using local materials, and designed to not only make the most of the scenery but also to blend into it seamlessly. The gardens are bright and colourful with both flowers and beautiful birds. There are birdfeeders everywhere and it is easy to spend a morning in a hammock, watching the birds and lizards scrap over bits of bread. There are plenty of things to do: trips into the rain forest with Newton to spot birds; visit the cocoa plantation with Porridge; snorkelling safaris round the bay; car hire, go off independently to visit other places; boat trips with Seon and Shaq, incorporating snorkelling, fishing, a beach barbeque and, in our very lucky case, swimming with a pod of dolphins that were passing. The local village itself is also charming and it was always good to buy the delicious bread from the ladies working the open-air clay oven. Of course, Castara Retreats wouldn't work nearly as well as it does without the people who make it all happen and, the real jewels in the crown of this magical place are the people who every day turn the very nice into the truly memorable. If your idea of deep joy involves a weekend in Blackpool or Reno, or a week's holiday in Ibiza or Las Vegas then Castara Retreats may very well not be for you, as you would find it too quiet and relaxing. However, if there is anywhere in the world that could possibly persuade you to try the quiet route, then it has to be this beautiful, charming, peaceful place. Go, you will love it, but please, don't even think of trying to change a thing!
Visited: Fisherman's/Coasthanger - November 2012
It's hard to add to the reviews already here from other happy Castarans but if you like to be welcomed into a small fishing community, into lovely naturalistic accommodation in beautiful Cliffside gardens, hugged by the sound of the sea, warm sun, fireflies at night under a sky full of stars, then spend time in Castara. The Castara website and Notes for Visitors are thorough, accurate and honest descriptions of what you get, what you can do and how it is in Castara and that's a really good place to start. It's a tranquil, authentic, rural Caribbean spot on a relatively unspoiled island. And you are looked after by an extended family who engage you as much as you wish, privacy and tranquility and/or limbo competition at the Beach House, heaving in the seine net with the fishermen on the beach (who know you from the limbo night even though you were sitting it out with another rum punch!) and/or snoozing on your deck overlooking the bay. There are discussions to join on the beach and in the Pagoda at sunset about everything Tobagonian; there are all day boat trips, fishing and snorkeling with Seon; we went bird watching with the amazing Newton George (who can see things in the densest thickets in the Rain Forest!), and daily early morning scrumping for mangos knocked from the trees by rambunctious parrots. If there's a party in the village music fills the air and draws you down with everyone else to jump away the night until the early hours. One day we hired Porridge's jeep and explored the north of the island, snorkeling and then dancing about in the tropical downpour at Pirate's Bay. At Castara, there's always something afoot, or you can just absorb the tranquility and warmth, both of the sun and of the people around you. For us, this was the best of times because of the relationships, with people, with community and with the place; it's harmony and spirit is very hard to resist.
Visited: Rainforest - November 2012
In November I made my fourth trip to Castara in 3 years, and this is my first review, so apologies if not up to the usual standard. Most (if not all) of the obvious delights that this place has to offer have been described in detail already, so I won't dwell too much on the fantastic wildlife (on land, in the air and in the water), gorgeous scenery, amazing people, fantastic accommodation - the list goes on. My main intention for the week (aside from the obvious 1919 rum intake and general 'liming') was to catch the elusive 'Big Fish'. Thanks to Steve (the owner), I had plenty of opportunities for getting out on the water in the dinghy fishing, so was geared up for my organised trip with Seon (local fishing guru) on the Wednesday in Sun Arise (the boat). Seon knows the best places for hooking up with the larger varieties of fish off the coast, and I was not disappointed! On our way out to the 'Sisters' rocks (rather large rocks at that), we landed several smaller fish (Bonito, Albacore and I think an Amber Cevalli) on both hand line and trolled rapala lures. As we passed below the Sisters, one of the rods bent dramatically and the reel screamed in protest as the line was rapidly stripped from it. A very quick thinking Seon slammed the boat into reverse which fortunately saved the day as all but few feet of the line had been taken from the reel. This was a bit larger than normal on the end of the line! After what seemed like mere seconds, when in fact a good five minutes had passed, I managed to play the fish to the boat where it was expertly gaffed by Seon onto the boat. A good 30lbs of delicious KingFish - a very satisfied fisherman indeed. That was the highlight of my trip, although being biased about fishing I should also mention that snorkeling with a Barracuda and swimming with Dolphins were also on the agenda... Unfortunately the time passes way too quickly and the desire to get back there is already preying on my mind. Now back in a dreary, dull and thoroughly miserable London, wishing I could still wear shorts and swim (read: float like log) in the warm sea. A week is not enough.
Visited: Rainforest - September 2012
This is really a great place to stay. The Rainforest Apartment had just the right mixture of comfort, naturalness and relaxed athmosphere. Everybody was very friendly and helpful and we particularly appreciated finding the necessary groceries in the fridge upon arrival. Sitting on the porch we followed the blue clouds of dense shoals of fish and the grey disks of stingrays move up and down the coast, and even during heavy rains in the rainy season, watching the water in the bay turning from turquoise to brownish (from the creek) is fascinating and relaxing.
Monica and Demetrio
Visited: Fisherman's- September 2012
Thanks to the people at Castara Retreats for looking after us so well on our Honeymoon. We really enjoyed are stay. Castara is a wonderful place and we made some friends in the village but one week is not enough - I think I needed two. You have the right balance there at the retreat considering the different backgrounds of the people. I think you guys are going in the right direction. It was my first time in the Caribbean and I think we picked the right place and the right resort in the right place after hiring a car and seeing the other beaches. I'll mention it to friends. Maybe there are other spots on other islands that have that feel but certainly in Tobago I would come back to Castara. Maybe not with really young children so would have to wait a few years now. Thanks again and hello to Sue for giving us some background when we first arrived.... Maybe those tables at the common dinners should be together to create interaction but then that depends who you have staying there...
Visited: Hummingbird 1- August 2012
Thanks to the people at Castara Retreats for looking after us so well on our Honeymoon. We really enjoyed are stay. Castara is a wonderful place and we made some friends in the village but one week is not enough - I think I needed two. You have the right balance there at the retreat considering the different backgrounds of the people. I think you guys are going in the right direction. It was my first time in the Caribbean and I think we picked the right place and the right resort in the right place after hiring a car and seeing the other beaches. I'll mention it to friends. Maybe there are other spots on other islands that have that feel but certainly in Tobago I would come back to Castara. Maybe not with really young children so would have to wait a few years now. Thanks again and hello to Sue for giving us some background when we first arrived.... Maybe those tables at the common dinners should be together to create interaction but then that depends who you have staying there...
Visited: Birdsong - July 2012
We had a wonderful holiday. Porridge and his family looked after us very well and were very good company. The accommodation and setting are simply stunning. However the friendliness of the locals in Castara made it for us - particularly Bingi the Fruit King and the fishermen on the beach. We would definitely like to go again. We liked feeling part of the community with not many tourists about. We had looked at hotels on Tobago but it seemed you would be in a sterile bubble cut off in a gated community. So well done to everyone who has made it happen.
Visited: Hummingbird 2 - July 2012
Despite travel challenges, Scott and I had an incredible time at the Retreats and in Tobago in general! We look forward to future trips and to spending a great deal more time getting to know the culture there. All of the staff were helpful, courteous, and inviting, and we especially appreciate the time that Porridge spent with us. We also found the casual, relaxing environment a much needed break from our everyday routines. Thanks so much for your efforts in making our brief but very sweet trip all that we hoped it would be, and do pass along our sentiments to the rest of the staff at Castara Retreats!
Jeff and Marissa Brown
Visited: Coasthanger - May 2012
We had an amazing time, the accommodation was even better than we expected and Porridge and his wife were just fantastic, we couldn't ask for anything more!! We saw an amazing amount of wildlife and the view from Coasthanger is beautiful, that in itself is worth the money. We found Castara to be very friendly and relaxed, just what we both needed after a very busy Christmas and year so far, only wished we could have stayed another week. Big thanks to you and everyone at Castara retreats for making it the holiday of a lifetime....totally loved it.
Visited: Birdsong - May 2012
We had a LOVELY honeymoon in Castara. Porridge, Jeanell and their son Shaq were very accommodating and helpful. We couldn't be happier with our experience at the Castara Retreats... I guess the only thing I could complain about is that we didn't stay longer. We do hope to return to Castara someday! Thank you so much for all of your help and recommendations.
Visited: Hummingbird 1 - May 2012
I just wanted to email you to let you know what a fabulous time we had in Castara Retreats - it's a truly idyllic place and we spent a week totally relaxing! A week wasn't long enough and we are already talking about returning at the same time next year but for 2 weeks! The accommodation (Hummingbird 1) is so well designed and set up - it's such a special place. Porridge is an absolute delight as are his team! We couldn't have asked for a better place to spend our holiday. Thanks ever so much and I'll be in touch to book up for next year!
Visited: Coasthanger and Fisherman's - April/May 2012
We had a great holiday, this being our third time in Castara Retreats. The accommodations (Coasthanger & Fisherman's Lodge) were beautiful and the fresh flowers in the apartments on arrival were a really nice touch. The first week was quite active with a rainforest walk and a daytrip to Trinidad with Newton George who is an excellent guide to the wonderful wildlife in both islands. We also joined several boat trips on Sunarise. The second week was quieter and very relaxing. We went On one more boat trip on Sunarise when we saw a pod of pilot whales (approx. 20 of them) just outside Englishman's Bay. It was a lovely Experience. Fishing was great this year, with several unusual catches and Steve managed to land the biggest bonito I have ever seen. In addition, the guys caught Amber Cavalli and Sea Salmon most of which were turned into delicious meals in the evening. We also loved the Caribbean Barbecues at Castara Retreats on Fridays and Jeannell's Curry nights on Tuesdays. These were wonderful Evenings on which we also met the other holidaymakers in the beautiful pagoda, which clearly has one of the best views in the entire island. Jeannell, Porridge, Shaq and Sherwin made our holiday truly special again and we will hopefully be back some time soon.
Pete and Chrissie Hibbert
Visited: Birdsong - May 2012
I cannot say enough good words to describe my experience at Castara. I immediately on arrival felt I was on holiday; it usually takes me a few days to adjust. Meeting Steve and Sue on the first day gave an immediate impression that we were on holiday with friends and that is how we felt for our entire stay. That feeling included Porridge and his family and the other guests that came through during the stay. The accommodations were lovely, Steve's love of fishing and Sue's knowledge of the flora and fauna was invaluable. We hired one of Porridge's vehicles for 2 days and toured the Island which was nice but we could not wait to get back to Castara for the company and Steve's Ceviche. All in all we had a ball!!!
Visited: Rainforest - April 2012
We had a wonderful time at Castara, Rainforest is absolutely stunning and we will definitely be returning in a couple of years time for our anniversary! The wedding was everything we had hoped for. Thank you so much for your help. Porridge and Jeanell were fantastic and were an immense help to us. We haven't been able to stop talking about it since and I am sure we have bored all our friends with our pictures!
Visited: Hummingbird 1 - April 2012
We loved Castara Retreats and staying in a real Caribbean community. This is a great location for people who like to get away from the tourists, want to get out of a hotel, and are relaxed about their vacation experience. We stayed in Hummingbird 1, which has fantastic views. Specifically, here is what I liked about Castara Retreats. I like staying in places that are open to the air - the windows all open wide, so you feel like you are living outside - yet you can still shut the windows and leave the louvers open for security, if you want that. I liked that the kitchen had what I needed - an electric kettle for tea, a French press, enough materials to cook and prep meals with. We also really liked being close to the village, but also having separation. The other travelers here were really pleasant, and you can spend as much time with them as you wish to. The owners happened to be here and they are fantastic - have invested into the local community, which is great to see. We loved staying here, it was perfect. Gorgeous, relaxed - just loved it. This is what I liked about the Castara location. I liked that the people in the village were friendly, but never obtrusive. No one trying to sell us things on the beach, etc. I felt completely comfortable walking everywhere, no matter what time of day or night. We did the boat trip w/ Porridge and it was fabulous -- great snorkeling, nice lunch, actually swam with a dolphin for a few minutes - truly amazing. We've been to Negril, Antigua, Vieques and this has been our best Caribbean vacation so far - both b/c of the village, and being away from tourists, and staying in a gorgeous apartment. Next time, we'll bring the kids.
Visited: Rainforest Apartment - April 2012
Castara Retreats surpassed all our expectations. We stayed in Rainforest - my son 10 yrs, husband and myself. The apartment has to be one of the best in Castara and worth the small walk up the hill! We loved every single thing about this place - the infamous Porridge/Derek and his team are very well versed with the expectations of clients that are paying good money to rest well and rest you will without a care in the world. The fresh homemade bread on arrival was just the icing on the cake. The views were incredible, the gardens well maintained (make sure you go out on days when the gardener is out with his strimmer!) Our relationship with all the birds, bats, lizards and agoutis was mezmerising. I am kind of speechless with regards to any issues (if there were any) - oh yes one for Porridge. I think some one pinched page 7 of the ample descriptions of facilities and local amenities. We forgot to tell you, as finding our own way around was part of the fun. Would we go again? Absolutely. Do we want anyone else to know? I will be hoping this treasure is the best kept secret for those in the know generous enough to support the locals to keep going in the way they are doing. Castara Retreats we absolutely love you.
Visited: Hummingbird - March 2012
As a female solo traveler who loves off the beaten track kinds of places, Castara Retreats was the perfect find. Although there is no real security that I'm aware of, the locks are good, and most importantly, the place is always booked, so I never felt that I was in any type of danger. I stayed in Hummingbird 1, and enjoyed the beautiful ocean views, the sound of the waves crashing, bats flying around me at night, the hammock, village roosters crowing at 5 a.m. and preparing fresh fruits and sugar for the birds. It is a nature lover's paradise. Jeanell and Porridge were the most gracious of hosts, and I know we'll be friends for life. The BBQ on Friday night was amazing. The Castara Waterfall was a short trek away, but, be sure you wear proper shoes ( I made the mistake of wearing cute leather thong sandals). I simply can't wait to visit again! Thanks Porridge and Jeanell for an amazing holiday!!!!!
Visited: Fisherman's - March 2012
Where do you begin???? the location, the accommodation, Porridge & Jeanell etc etc. It is exactly as it looks on the web site - so chilled out and relaxing (listening to those waves at night time). I fell in love with the Agouti and the chickens and even the gheko that lived in our living room. We hired a car for 2 days and drove around the island and that just made us appreciate Castara even more (the BEST place on the whole island) even the actress Jenny Agutter stays in Castara !!!!! Chris had the best 50th birthday present ever I think (and I got to go along too)...
Visited: Rainforest - March 2012
We stayed a week at Castara Retreat and loved every minute. We'd love to come back again and again. Everything is splendid: view, rooms, beds, bathroom, surroundings etc. and we were very well treated by Porridge & co. We have been to Castara before, and find it's the most authentic place to stay in the Caribbean with the small village, the friendly locals, good food, wonderful nature and great beach.
Visited: Hummingbird 1, Rainforest & Birdsong - February 2012
Our vacation was so nice that it was impossible to get back to the real world. Life here has been unbearable!!!! Time in Castara was perfect and we will definitely do it again. I also owe Porridge and Jeanine a big thank you.
Dave and Liz Marsden
Visited: Hummingbird 2 - February 2012
Liz and I had one of the best holidays we can remember. The location is stunning, the shopkeepers and fishermen in the Village were great and we could not have had better personal service from Porridge and Jeanell. The evenings hosted by Jeanell and Porridge are a great idea and what a great location to hold them in. Eighteen days in paradise is how we will remember our trip from the early morning birds visiting, the coral reef, the warm sea, the trips to the Cocoa plantation and the rainforest, plus the nights out at the local restaurants, bars, topped off by the regular visits to the shallows from the family of Rays. We have loads of pictures loaded up onto our home PC which we have as a reminder of a great three weeks away.
Brian and Astride Livoti
Visited: Coasthanger - February 2012
Our Renewal of Vows went perfectly - the ceremony was simple and lovely, and the weather cooperated beautifully. Thank you once again for all of your help with our trip and our ceremony planning! We had a fabulous time and would like to repeat the experience at Castara Retreats once again!
Rosemary and Peter Fraser
Visited: Hummingbird 1 & Coasthanger - February 2012
We enjoyed our 2 nights stay in Hummingbird 1 - fabulous view, and lovely large veranda to admire it from. Coasthanger (8 nights) was of course much larger and sophisticated with great mahogany flooring, and equally, and more varied, beautiful views - we loved them both. The gardens surrounding the lodges are superb, and although we didn't manage a 'guided tour 'admired them every day. Porridge and Jeanell, and all the staff were great, and we joined in on the curry/bust up shut supper on the Tuesday, and BBQ on the Friday - both were very enjoyable, and a good way to meet other people staying in Castara. We hired a car for 2 days, and drove all round the island, and also would like to mention Newton's tour again - he was so passionate about his subject. Well, I think I've mentioned everything else except that we really didn't find the mosquitos and sandflies the problem we expected, a couple of bites, but nothing much - perhaps we just don't taste that good. It's true we did have to get used to living on the edge of the village regarding noise - especially as we live in a exceptionally peaceful place in France, but must have mellowed as we found it very quiet when we first came back here! I'd also to comment again on how friendly and helpful we found the majority of the people in Castara and Tobago, and with a great sense of community. Castara Retreats was the perfect place to unwind and truly relax - we hope to be back.
Aristo & Varsha Kelly
Visited: Rainforest - December 2011
I gave this holiday as a present to my mother together with my wife and 1 yr old son. They all really enjoyed their stay. My mother was completely amazed by the views from the beautiful apartment Rainforest. We enjoyed every second of our stay. We had a BBQ and boat trip with Steve, the owner & family and we had a lot of fun. In case you visit Castara Retreats make sure you book a BBQ or boat trip with these guys because they really make you experience the hidden pearls of TOBAGO. We also rented a car from Porridge - he gave us a good deal!! I traveled to many places around the world but this is my absolute number one here in the Caribbean. We definitely plan to go back to Castara Retreat. Thank you guys for the wonderful time.
Visited: Hummingbird 1 - November 2011
Just a brief note to say that we had the most terrific week at Castara Retreats. Thank you so much for making it affordable for us to stay in such a wonderful place. The holiday was exactly what we had hoped for beautiful scenery, easy access to buses for exploring the island (we don¹t generally sign up for more 'organised¹ sightseeing), but most of all the fabulous balcony just to sit, read, relax and recover from a stressful time at work. We think your notes for clients are very thoughtful and well-written. I guess people approach Castara with very different expectations; for us, Hummingbird 1 and the knowledge that your team were in the background to offer support if needed were absolutely perfect.
Visited: Fisherman's - October 2011
I see what you mean about Tobago working 'its magic¹ on you! Everything that I had heard was true but meant so much more, having experienced a stay there! Porridge was indeed remarkable, very kind and happy to help/advise etc etc. The village scene was excellent...and the accommodation just wonderful and everything we had hoped for. Hard to tear yourself away from a place like that! Those views! The birds coming to feed - the stingrays on the surface of the water - wow! We loved the fishing trip and birdwatching - two things I had never done before! Bathing in the rock pool was just brilliant, visiting Little Tobago and going scuba diving just THE best! We tried Bust up Shut from Marieta and ate at marguerite¹s several times... Anyway a very memorable holiday.
Visited: Hummingbird 1 - September 2011
We had one of the greatest vacations ever at Castara. Hummingbird 1 and the view were perfect. Porridge was very helpful as were all the people in town. We were able to buy fish on the beach almost every day and the kitchen was perfectly set up. We have already recommended Castara to several friends and hope to come back again. Thanks for everything.
Visited: Fisherman's Lodge- September 2011
My mother, sister and I just had a fabulous four-day stay in Fisherman's Lodge. The apartment was charming and well-appointed with everything you need for your stay. The design of the apartment - with louvered walls to facilitate the view and free flow of breeze was especially appreciated. Then there was the view .. there are no words... just waking up to that view straight down the hillside and into the bay every morning was worth the price of the stay. Moreover every room and the porch featured that view. The beach is nice - not spectacular, but the water is clean, clear and very calm so an excellent place to bring small children. We can't say enough abut Porridge and Jeanell and their personal touch which was nicely balanced between concern for our having a nice stay while remaining far from intrusive. The village itself is accessible and friendly and the food options are excellent - uniformly tasty across the range of prices. We are special fans of Marguerite's and The Boat House for dinner. We can't wait to go back next year.
Tonia and Rick Briffa
Visited: Rainforest - August 2011
This was a longed-for return to Tobago. My husband and I had travelled here previously, before we had 3 kids. This time the whole family went and we had the best holiday ever at Castara Retreats. We stayed our first week in a hotel which was all inclusive. This was quite luxurious compared to our usual holidays and very relaxing and so we were worried that the second week self-catering at Castara might be disappointing. How wrong we were. The second week was better - much better. Castara is a special place that gives you insight into the real charm of Tobago. Rainforest apartment allows you be part of the natural habitat of the rainforest. There are limes and mangos to collect from the trees and the largest avocados you could imagine. From the deck we could see stingrays silently crossing the bay and the incredible variety of birds. The owners have tried to think of everything - and they try to make your stay as pleasant and easy as possible. They succeed admirably in this. We went on the day boat trip with Sherwin which we all loved - the kids just loved line-fishing from the boat and pulling in fish after fish (barbecued later for lunch). The snorkeling was amazing with so much to see - and so close to the bay. One of the big highlights was to meet Sue and Steve who are the owners of this fabulous place. Their generous spirit made this an even more perfect holiday and we had some memorable, impromptu get-togethers in the Pagoda where we enjoyed the freshest cerviche and a few rum and passion fruit cocktails whilst the fireflies flitted about. Our friends have booked for February already ( I am very jealous) and we hope to be back soon. You will definitely make the best holiday choice of your life if you book Castara Retreats.
Tom and Julie Kilburn
Visited: Fisherman's Lodge- June 2011
After several holidays in Castara we thought there couldn't be a better place in the world to get married. We chose Castara for our wedding as it is the ideal location. It is picture perfect and such a beautiful back drop for the ceremony. The Retreats overlooks the beach and is by far our favourite view. The proceedings were totally stress free and we were able to spend a week in preparation for the friends and family arriving to celebrate. Porridge, Jeanell and the rest of the team played a massive part in making the whole experience totally enjoyable, relaxing, fun, romantic and overall perfect. Our party also included children and they were well catered for. Our friends stayed in Coasthanger and they brought a blow up paddling pool for their 2 year old. Ideal to keep the little one happy and cool whilst the parents kept cool with a nice rum and coke. Room Tip: Fisherman's Lodge has the best views
Kirk and Kris Vyverberg
Visited: Hummingbird 1- April 2011
Castara is a getaway we would recommend to anyone truly looking for a retreat from the daily grind - an inviting community, a restorative landscape, and a home just like the one we would have built for ourselves. Thank you so much. With hopes to meet some day...
Visited: Birdsong - April 2011
We had a lovely stay in Castara and Birdsong was perfect for us. I loved the view and my friend Marjory loved watching the birds. We hated to leave. The information packet that you had on the web which I printed out and brought with me was most helpful and Porridge's services were also good. For me, the only difficult part was the walk up and down the big hill to the beach and downtown area because I have a very bad back. All in all, we had a great time and would love to get back one day. We will certainly recommend Castara to anyone we know headed down that way. We have not seen any sun since we left Tobago up here in Maritime Canada at this time of the year, so I think about it in my dreams!!
Matthew and Ann Lines
Visited: Birdsong - April 2011
We had the most amazing holiday in Castara. Birdsong was everything that you said it would be ...and more. The Felgates vision for the retreats and everything that they have put together there is wonderful. We really fell in love with everything about Castara and would love to return. Porridge, Jeanell, Sherwin and Daniel made the holiday truly memorable. The BBQs and the boat trips were especially good fun, but they all went out of their way to ensure that we had a great holiday. Shaq and our son Ben (who are the same age) got on brilliantly and we all hope that he will come and visit us in England. Please pass our best wishes to them all, we miss their company and are feeling quite homesick for Tobago.
Visited: Hummingbird 1- April 2011
We had really a great time at Castara. Castara Retreats and Hummingbird 1 were great places to be with wonderful views, great weather and all opportunities one needs to relax. Porridge and his team did a great job! All in all, we had a wonderful time on the island!
Annette and Mike Vogel
Visited: Rainforest - April 2011
This year was different from last year in that we got to know the local people more. Porridge, Jeanell, their children, Sherwin and Carrington are such lovely people - they really make the place what it is: beautiful, friendly, relaxing and unforgettable. Incidentally, we think the new pavilion is a great idea. It is a very attractive addition to Castara Retreats and it brings people together, whether for an impromptu cook up, sunset drink / party or Friday Barbecue. The food Sherwin cooks there is absolutely delicious. We also went on 2 boat trips on Sunarise, which we loved and Mike went out on several fishing trips with Steve. In addition, we went to Speyside and Pirate's Bay (beautiful) and had an impressive rainforest walk with Newton. The waterfall at Parlatuvier was amazing, no wonder the locals keep this one out of the tour guides! In short, we loved the place (once again) and we will be back.
Visited: Coasthanger - March 2011
We had a really lovely time at Castara. After a week diving off Crown Point it was the perfect place for a restful and very lazy break. Coasthanger was beautiful and just the place we needed. What could be nicer than to begin the day with a leisurely breakfast surrounded by exotic birds and wind up the day with rum punches and fireflies watching the sun set over the Caribbean?
Visited: Rainforest - March 2011
We had a lovely holiday. Just as we anticipated and even more. The Rainforest ³tree house² as my boys call it was SO beautiful and super relaxing. Porridge and Janelle are a fantastic team, like staying with friends!
Visited: Hummingbird 1 & Fisherman's - February 2011
Back in Blighty and just heard Bob Marley on Desert Island Discs and wished dearly we were back in Fisherman's Lodge! Thank you for all your help with the bookings and guidance for our first and hopefully, not last, visit. It was all just dandy and can only endorse those hundreds of previous Visitors' comments!
Peter and Anne Wightman
Visited: Fisherman's Lodge - February 2011
We had a fabulous time. Fisherman's Lodge was wonderful. Porridge, Jeanell and Sherwin were great. We really enjoyed village life, the BBQs and the other guests, and the boat trip. We found that we didn't go off exploring as much as usual as everything was so lovely right in Castara. Hope to come again next year, and the year after that, and...
Gethin and Helen Lewis
Visited: Hummingbird 1- February 2011
We arrived home on Friday having very much enjoyed our three weeks in Castara. Your website and notes give a good impression of what to expect both at the Retreats and in Castara itself. Poor weather for the first week or so probably helped to explain why we took quite a while to 'settle in' but by the end of our stay we could happily have stayed for another three weeks! Jeanell, Porridge and Sherwin were extremely helpful, as were Veronica and Marieta with the meals. The fact that you now include a BBQ on the Friday evening is a great idea as a means of being introduced to the other guests. The rough seas abated towards the end of our stay so that we were able to go on a boat trip with Porridge and Sherwin. We met up with Newton George again and went with him to Little Tobago; we also had a walk through the forest with Fitzroy, who we would recommend as a knowledgeable guide. The birdlife was magnificent, with an impressive range of birds seen in the garden and beyond - that the birds are so approachable is delightful and helped with photographing them, although the hummingbirds were more of a challenge! All in all we had a great time - a fascinating experience!
Maria, Peter, Amelie & Sophia Mohn
Visited: Rainforest - February 2011
What a unique spot on this planet! One of the best vacations we have had, great accommodation - at night you hear the waves and in the mornings an orchestra of birds. The little town is so authentic and there is just nothing to do - perfect if you want to relax and be away from the hectic daily life. We do recommend that you rent a car from Porridge and discover the island, which is very small and has plenty of beautiful beaches and forests. Our favorite beach was Englishman's Bay, just 10 min north of Castara. Buying fish from the local fishermen in the afternoon is something you shouldn't miss.
Paul and Penny Mullens
Visited: Fisherman's Lodge - February 2011
My wife Penny and I have just had our fifth visit to Castara Retreats. Each time we first look out from our lodge and see the bay, we marvel at the charm of the place.
This time, when Porridge opened the shutters, we experienced the cooling breeze, and took in the sparkling sea. At that moment two sting rays passed by, and on the beach the local fisherman were pulling in their Seine Net. We noticed the enlargement work to the pagoda. Later in the week, we had a very sociable barbecue with our neighbors. This is a very special place. It embodies sustainable tourism, in that Porridge and Jeanell (his wife) run a very efficient team of locals who quietly make things work. Porridge is one of life's special people. He arranges anything - airport collections, boat trips, snorkeling, and beach barbecues. Here you can also get fish daily. It is literally a step away from the boats and the general requirements of day-to-day life. The beaches are never crowded. There is an average of 20 to 25 on the Big Bay, and Heavenly Bay has less numbers than that. This is the real Caribbean. Each time we return the villagers greet us. We feel we are more like friends than visitors. Castara Retreats are beautifully equipped. The lodges are nestled very comfortably into the hillside and are surrounded by trees and many colorful plants and flowers.
Oddgeir and Berit
Visited: Rainforest - January 2011
This is just to say that we had a wonderful time in Castara Retreats. Perhaps one of the best places we have been to, - ever! ‘Rainforest’ functioned splendidly, everyone was nice and helpful, the village must be a good place to live in, the tranquility, the bread, the fresh fish! - The only thing we can complain about is that we had to go home to minus 6 Celsius here in Boston. I don’t know why I live here.
Visited: Coasthanger - January 2011
We had a really lovely stay in Coasthanger - quite the best house in our opinion, but I suppose everyone would say that! Everyone made us feel welcome, and we loved the village. In fact we threatened Porridge that we were going to squat in Coasthanger and not leave! Very sad to leave.
Christopher and Dominique Spratt
Visited: Birdsong & Hummingbird 2 - December 2010
We had a lovely time, very relaxing. Porridge looked after us superbly, he really is an exceptional person. The new pavilion is a great addition, and the welcome barbecue was a huge success. Castara is a gem, so different from the edgy south. We had a couple of delicious dinners at Marguerite's and lots of breakfasts at Chino's.
Our daughter Celeste (aged 10) said it was the best holiday of her life!
Visited: Coasthanger - December 2010
Five stars I am reborn - this is simply the best holiday I have ever been on. Fantastic. The views from our house as well as the village were memorable and exciting. I also felt our holiday benefited local people and had a minimal impact on the environment. One tip: take cash with you as the ATMs often do not work in small villages.
Marian and Viktor
Visited: Rainforest - December 2010
We had a wonderful time, four people in Rainforest. I think that the owners, Steven and Sue, as well as Porridge (manager) make an extra special place of it. Steven and Sue really are making a good effort to help Castara as a whole.
Visited: Coasthanger - November 2010
Being used to the hustle-bustle of life in NYC and the "comfort" of concrete we were looking for off the beaten path experience with quality/luxury room and board. We stayed at Castara Retreats for 6 days, and were able to see most of the island as we rented a car for the duration of our visit.
It is important to note that this Island is NOT tourist oriented, i.e.
unlike most of the Caribbean people here are friendly but not in-your-face - which is good if you want to experience a culture as opposed to visiting a resort.
The island's nature is diverse: waterfalls, luscious flora and fauna, secluded beaches and never ending mountainous winding roads. We made and effort to drive around the entire island and visit different beaches (Pigeon Peak, Englishman's Bay, Pirate's Bay) in addition to chilling in the Castara bay. We would definitely recommend a trip to Argyle waterfalls and the nearby cocoa plantation.
Castara Retreats is hands down the best place on the island in terms of design and location - assuming you are OK with an open living environment and adjust to life with birds, small gecko lizards, and an occasional bat dropping by for a visit :)
They just need to add internet ..... and since the owners are British they will assume that you are OK unless you ask for something (like everyday fresh towels or cleaning) and will let you be - so don't be afraid to ask for stuff as the management (Porridge) is very responsive and friendly.
It took us 2 days to realize that we are on vacation and appreciate the wonderful beaches, lack of tourists, the people, and Castara Retreats. Of course a couple of bottles of Angostura 1824/1919 rums came in handy.
On the way back we stayed for 2 days in Port of Spain at the Hyatt (highlyrecommended) and did a day trip to the natural asphalt pitch lake with a stopover at the Angostura distillery.
Visited: Coasthanger - November 2010
Absolutely fantastic. The photos on the website portrayed exactly what was on offer at the property: no camera tricks. Upon arrival at the property, I felt at home. The welcome service was sincerely friendly. The property well designed and well maintained. The view exquisite! I'll definitely be back for an even longer stay the next time as I want to really pamper myself.
Justin and Heather Frieda
Visited: Fisherman's Lodge - September 2010
Just wanted to write a short thank you. Heather and I were really treated to very unique and enjoyable experience in Castara. The accommodations were amazing and every view from the porch to the bathroom was just breathtaking. It took a day or so for us to acclimatize due to our busy lifestyle but once we did it was an "indescribable" relaxation state. The island and its simple way of life was just an unexpected treat, filled with beautiful landscapes and people. The uninhabited beaches were one of our most treasured moments on the island, and are just unheard of in any other destination we've experienced. The excursions whether it be the beach tour, water falls, or a day at the boat races with Porridge were just a complete bonus to the entire experience. As far as staff goes, the owners are extremely fortunate to have these lovely people to care for the place. Jeanell is quite possibly the sweetest lady I believe we've met, not to mention she laughs at all my jokes (or maybe just my Texas accent), and Porridge is the most charismatic and knowledgeable gent. Not that we felt at all uncomfortable but these two make you feel as if you're just family that's been away for awhile, ready to catch you up on everything that's going on. All in all it was a wonderful honeymoon full or romance with a sense of adventure. We will definitely remember it and hopefully someday (sooner than later) be back with other friends to show them all of our cherished spots and do a little more liming. You have a phenomenal place in paradise and thank you again for the chance to experience it.
Visited: Coasthanger - September 2010
Well, we are back to a very cold London.. Just wanted to say what a great time we had in Castara. A beautiful place, faultless accommodation and of course made special by porridge and jeanell. Please could you send our heartfelt thanks to them. We will certianly be recommending Castara to all our friends!
Visited: Coasthanger - August 2010
It's only the second holiday we've had together since our children, now 20 and 22, left home - so fair to say there was some hesitation before we left. Traveling without a family changes the emphasis from herding everyone and being busy parents on tour - to simply being a couple again, a middle-aged couple at that. Without the distractions of a noisy family would Castara Retreats shape up? Would it be able to cope with a potentially picky couple with too much time on their hands............? OK, stop holding your breath, it was gorgeous. From being picked up at the airport it felt safe - the service was excellent and well thought out and Porridge and his wife Jeanell were warm and welcoming.
We stayed in Coasthanger - the fabulous wooden construction was so gorgeous that I got on my own nerves trying to work out how I could replicate the design for a summer house back in Wales. We can all dream! Any hesitation and pre-hol nerves went immediately - and I think the key is in the name - Retreats. There was just a big chillin' factor that kicked in and we both got into the rhythm of Castara - we went snokelling (amazing), took breakfast at Chino's (mmm salt fish & bake) Porridge took us out with some friends on his boat (caught our own fish for the BBQ), drank Carib on our terrace as the sun went down, ate dinner at Marguerite's (shrimp ahoy) - everything at Castara pace. Time out. And within all this I actually managed to read 5 books - swinging in the hammock or sunning on the terrace...chillin to the max for me. It felt safe - we didn't even bother to lock the doors, which for me is probably a first.
And because Castara Retreats is such a special location, other residents we met were warm and friendly. Really lovely and we both had a gorgeous time - just the two of us!
Visited: Hummingbird 1 - August 2010
Just a note to let you know that I had the most wonderful time in Castara and can't wait to go back. Everyone was super nice and friendly and I had the chance to make wonderful friendships, including Tim and Ali (in Fisherman's). Please let Steve and Sue know how wonderful the staff is (I am sure I am not the first one to note that) and I do admire their spirit of creativity and sense of human generosity.
Linda V. Dautreuil
Visited: Hummingbird 1 - August 2010
I wanted to visit Tobago for nearly twenty years. Not Trinidad, but Tobago. I’m not sure what first attracted me to this island. Maybe it was the lack of commercialism, or maybe it was the remoteness. In other words, it wasn’t one of those high profile islands in the Caribbean. Back then, there were no websites or online reviews. Travel books had very little to say, if anything at all. So, when I began planning a surprise trip in celebration of my daughters’ graduations from Graduate School and Law School, I knew Tobago was the place I wanted to take them.
Discovering Castara Retreats wasn’t just luck – it was fate. I knew from the moment I found the website and read about the “Japanese haiku house” which described the architectural style of Coasthanger , one of the accommodations, that I need not look any further! The descriptions, the pictures, the reviews all convinced me this was the right place for the three of us to make memories that would last a lifetime.
Although the three of us would have been quite content to sit on the deck and take in the magnificent views of Castara Bay with its fishing boats bobbing in the blue-green water, or soak up the sun while on the beach, we did venture into the village each day to purchase fresh fish from the local fishermen or warm, baked bread from the village women in the schoolyard. Castara has numerous wonderful, little restaurants, as well. It was nice to always have the option of preparing our own meals, having someone prepare one for us at Castara Retreats, or eating at one of the places in the village.
I cannot say enough about the management and staff of Castara Retreats. From the initial inquiry to saying goodbye at the airport terminal, every detail was handled professionally, with ease and warmth. Jean took care of the arrangements in regards to the booking, special room requests, and airplane arrivals. Milk (everyone in Tobago seems to have a nickname) met us at the airport and chauffeured us to the nearby supermarket to stock up on groceries for the week. Jeanell welcomed us into our immaculately clean “haiku house” when we arrived. And Porridge, with his keen intuition, spotted us walking along the beach the first evening, somehow “knew” we were the newest Castara Retreats guests, and approached us with a warm welcome.
We were so fortunate to have our visit coincide with that of the owners, Steve and Sue Felgate, and their daughter, Freya. It was delightful getting to know them, and to hear the stories about how such a paradise of a place was envisioned and became reality. Even though Castara Retreats is designed for the guests’ independence, these gracious hosts really went “the extra mile” to make sure we felt included and welcome. When they realized we would be missing out on a day long boat trip scheduled for the day after we were to leave, they threw together a last minute half day trip that we could enjoy (many thanks to the captain, Shaq – Porridge and Jeanell’s son). And the bar-b-que hosted the night before we were to leave, enabled us to get to know more of the other guests staying on the property.
Family and friends, food and fun, are part of our Acadian culture, here in south Louisiana. From our spicy food to our unique music, we love living life to the fullest! In all of my travels to date, I have not found a place that embraces all of these things as much as the Cajuns do... until I found Tobago! There were many similarities between Castara and Acadiana (the region in which I live). We felt very comfortable there. Almost like coming home… to a place we’d never been before. It won’t take me twenty years to return!
Kenny and Karen Sharpe
Visited: Coasthanger - August 2010
After a busy and stressful year we needed to go somewhere and chill - this was the place. We stayed at Coasthanger for one week , not enough time in my book. We had a great time in Tobago and an even greater time spent at Castara. Very relaxing and friendly place and will recommend the retreat to everyone - we will be back again. This was our honeymoon so we had to get this holiday right. We also needed a well earned break and this was it. We found the accommodation to be excellent. I was worried about how the place would look in comparison to the photos on the site, but I can say without any doubt the photos are spot on. The quality of the accommodation is to a very high standard, everything we needed was there. The seats were comfortable and we enjoyed many hours relaxing with the shutters wide open. Castara is a very stress free zone.
Poor Porridge was not a well person when we arrived but he still waited for us at the airport to take us to Castara. Unfortunatly we didn’t see much of him because of this but he was always on the end of the phone or Jeanell was on hand to help organise a tour or trip.
The village is friendly, good food and great places to drink. The Almond Tree is great for evening meals and Chino’s Coffee bar did the best breakfast to start your day with.
We will be back !
Max and Angela Oliver
Visited: Coasthanger - July 2010
I'd like to thank everyone involved in Castara Retreats - our stay there in July 2010 was superb. We found the accommodation to be excellent, exactly as we'd hoped it would be and the photos of Coasthanger (whilst very good) really don’t do the place justice. The quality of the accommodation, furniture and fixings is to a very high standard, we found everything we needed - from the kitchen to the bedroom. The seating was comfortable and we enjoyed many hours relaxing with the shutters wide open, listening to the waves, bird song and being cooled by the breeze from the sea. I dont think either of us have been so relaxed and chilled for years, I just wish our stay could have been longer. I'm sure that any doctor would prescribe a stay in Castara to remove any stress you might be suffering from!
Porridge and the team on site were fantastic, hitting just the right mix of being there to help and assist us but not being intrusive. I really felt that they would help with anything, from providing us with a new bird feeder (the previous one broken by an attack of fat chickens!) to providing advice and guidance on days out. The accommodation, village and surrounds are beautiful and idyllic, and Porridge and the team really make a difference.
We will definitely plan to return at some point in the future - hopefully this time we will be able to spend all our time in Castara. I feel there is a lot more on the island for us to explore.
My partner and I are not bird watchers but the local population of feathered friends provided hours of entertainment, and we experimented with various food in the bird feeder, finding that sugar and over ripe mangos seem to bring in the most birds - I just wish I'd had a book to hand to look up the different birds we saw. I'm glad I had a digital camera, else I’d have spent a fortune in film trying to capture the hummingbirds on film. I think I managed one slightly blurred shot - but in the battle between my camera and the hummingbirds i think we'll give them the win!
Please pass on my thanks to everyone involved - i have no hesitation in recommending Tobago, Castara and of course Castara Retreats to anyone. Of course i'm hoping that not too many people starting going as it may spoil the place!
Visited: Rainforest - July 2010
We thoroughly loved our stay at Castara Rainforest - the rain showers and mosquitos included! There was so much to see and do but Castara is so wonderful we spent most of our time truly vacating the world in our own little paradise. Porridge is terrific. He is thorough, professional and absolutely charming. I know my daughter and friend loved their stay as well. Perhaps one day we'll be able to visit again.
Visited: Coasthanger & Fisherman's - June 2010
I wanted to drop you a line and let you know that we had an absolutely amazing trip! We thoroughly enjoyed Castara and the Retreats were the perfect place for us. Porridge and Jeanell were great (I need to send you a picture we have of Porridge on the boat trip we took with him and Sherwin) and the lodges were fantastic. We wish we could have stayed forever!
Thank you again for all of your help and for putting up with my endless questions! We will always look back on our trip as one of the highlights of our lives. And as our daughter grows up she will hear stories and see pictures of herself in the tropical paradise where she swam in the ocean for the first time, rode a boat for the first time, discovered her love of chick peas and pigeon peas and where she stood up by herself and started cruising along the furniture all by herself!
Vita and Joe Samuel
Visited: Hummingbird 2 - May 2010
What pressure choosing a honeymoon destination! One can't help being worried, as it has to be the best holiday ever. Well, for us it most certainly was! It has been two months since we returned to London, yet almost every day, at least for a moment, we're back in Castara – the best place in Tobago and most probably in the Caribbean. For just a fraction of a second at some point while we are sitting at our desk, or squeezing through the crowds on the tube, we can feel, see, taste and smell the loveliness of Heavenly Bay: the sound of the sea, the perfume of mangoes, the hummingbirds feeding from the banana flowers less than a yard away from us, the wonderful hot sand, the warm sea water, the view of the bay from the balcony of Rainforest, the hot sauce with the mahi-mahi caught an hour earlier by one of our fishermen friends, the thrill at feeling the bonito biting at the fishing line, the laughter with Porridge, Sherwin and Daniel while sipping a malt on the beach, the exhilaration at seeing every new bay from the boat… We had such wonderful, exciting and relaxing time, made possible by the beautiful nature, the perfectly designed accommodation and most of all by the great effort, the hard work, the touching kindness and the relentless enthusiasm of Porridge and Jeanelle and of all the other Castara people. They made our holiday truly unforgettable.
Graham and Kay Miles
Visited: Hummingbird 2 - April 2010
Just got back and all I can say is WOW. We have had a truly wonderful time. Please pass on our thanks to Porridge and staff - we are looking forward to returning to Tobago (Porridge island ) and Castara.
Visited: Coasthanger - March 2010
Now that we are back home in chilly Edinburgh, I must write to tell you how much we enjoyed our week in Coasthanger. We have little to add to what everyone has said about Porridge and Jeanell save to confirm how very pleasant and helpful he was; we don’t know how he finds time to do all the things he does! We loved Castara and were very pleased that we had chosen to be there rather than anywhere else on Tobago; we loved the beach and swam there twice a day (when we weren’t swimming at Englishman’s Bay or Charlotteville). The variety and quantity of the birds who came to the deck was a total delight (we are keen birdwatchers). But the real star was the house itself. We have stayed in many wonderful rooms and houses (eg in Costa Rica, Bali, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles, Italy) but Coasthanger is simply the most beautiful and fit for purpose that we have ever stayed in. The disposition of the houses on the hillside is magnificent, allowing superb views for all while preserving a remarkable degree of privacy for all; we of course thought the the view from the Castara deck was the best of all – it was a perpetual inspiration to us. The house itself was well designed , beautifully built of lovely wood and very comfortable, but the best thing of all was the wonderful through ventilation which kept us cool and comfortable at all times – very necessary in the very hot conditions we encountered. We kept the windows and door slats as open as possible all the time, a great treat. Congratulations and all the best for the future,
(Sir ) Russell Hillhouse
David and Avril Coopper
Visited: Hummingbird 2 - March 2010
We would like to record our thoughts with others after staying at Castara Retreats. We were there for only a week from 3rd March 2010. Far too short a time, in Hummingbird 2. The apartment met all our expectations of a Caribbean island, all the staff were great, the birds were very tame, so keep feeding them! The view of the bay from the bed in the morning was just magic. If you want to chill out this the best place in the world.
Location : brilliant, Castara is by far and away the best location on Tobago, we looked at about half a dozen places to stay before choosing Castara. We made a point of ³casing the other joints² whist we were there, and at the end of the day, we were convinced we made the right decision.
Castara is very laid back, the locals were delightful and always ready for a chat. The whole island is very clean (almost no litter), little traffic, the roads had less pot holes than here in the UK (Feb/March 2010). The beach is out of this world and again very clean, it appears to be raked every day and there were very few people on it. Watching the sting rays from the balcony was an experience not to forget. The snorkeling at the far end of the beach was excellent, and every time we went there we saw different fish, just like an aquarium, and coming face to face with a sting ray! Even the fish were friendly! The fresh fish from the market was reasonable, BUT do not stand and watch them cleaning the fish, they don¹t like it, and told me so.
The rest of the island : Great up the north end, and the rain forest road, Englishman¹s bay was great to look at but was rough the day we went and difficult to get into the water. Argyle falls, were just about worth a visit, we went in the dry season, and we both achieved 60 mosquito bites each, in less than an hour. In the apartment we only got a few the whole time were there. Do take a glass bottom boat from Speyside and the hike up Little Tobago, saw sea bird chicks in nest only 3ft away, forgotten name, but red bill.?
Would we go again? YES!
Alistair and Fleur Mackie
Visited: Hummingbird 2 - February 2010
People say that February is a good time of year to get away from England, but we've learnt this week that it's also an awful time of year to return!! I don't know if this is always the case, or simply because we loved Castara & Castara Retreats as much as we did (since being back I've bought three new pairs of shorts in anticipation of our next trip!).
Castara Retreats is everything the reviews say - it sits on a hill on the edge of the village with stunning views looking over & out to sea and surrounded by rainforest. The place is low-key in the best way, as is the village & hopefully it will stay that way. It took us 3 or 4 days to de-shy & wind down to the local pace at which point we started to get a real feel for the place.
The locals could not have been sweeter, leaving us to mix in with village life as much or as little as we liked. Porridge, Jeanell, and all associated with the Retreats were great and helped to make our time stress free & easy.
We swam, snorkeled, fished, walked, explored, ate, drank, danced, and generally limed around - quietly at the Retreats or with the locals in the village.
Not a place for people who can't do without mod-cons. Expect chickens, insects, birds, bats, and all that comes with simple village life - can't wait to go back.
Visited: Fisherman's - February 2010
We had been looking forward to our stay at Castara Retreats for quite some time and it still managed to surpass our lofty expectations. Right from the moment we stepped off the plane and met Porridge who greeted us with a couple Caribs, we were well taken care of. Our lodge, Fisherman's, was fantastic. The views were exactly as shown on the website. You could hear and see the ocean from everywhere in the lodge. The deck space was great for enjoying a few drinks, reading, napping in the hammock, or eating a freshly cooked seafood dinner. The kitchen was well stocked with everything one could want/need for cooking. The lodge itself was very modern.
As for the staff, Porridge really does know everyone and he takes the time each day to make sure there isn't something that you need that you're not getting. Porridge always manages to stop by at the right time. He got us fish two days, cooked it for us one night. He took us on a tour of the northern part of Tobago to Charlotteville, Speyside, Little Tobago, and Argyle Falls, all of which were beautiful.
The local people are some of the friendliest we've come across in our travels. Sherwin, Marguerite, Cheno, and so many others that we met along the way made us feel at home. Staying in Castara, you really feel like you are part of the village and not stuck in a touristy area in the least bit.
You're definitely experiencing the authentic Caribbean here, something that you can't do on most of the other islands which are overrun with Americanized resorts.
It's also worth noting that we walked all around Castara, many times late at night after dark, and we did not encounter any issues at all. We felt safe walking everywhere at all times.
The food is basic, but very good. Our favorite restaurants were:
Coffee House (Cheno's) for breakfast with the superb coconut bake along with fish or bacon, eggs, and fruit.
Marguerite's, where Sherwin and Marguerite team to do some ridiculously good cooking. The pizzas, which you must order in advance, are outstanding. Also, the goat was best here.
But, buying some fish from the co-op or from Porridge and Sherwin and cooking it at your place is one of the best things about staying here. You don't feel guilty eating in because the lodges are located up on the hill with the ocean just below.
Going to Englishman's Bay, a decent hike or short ride north of Castara, is well worth it.
Book a stay here and head to Tobago knowing you've made a great decision.
Mike and Sue Bailey
Visited: Birdsong - January/February 2010
We stayed at Castara Retreats in Jan/Feb 2009 and 2010 and found our holiday, comfortable, relaxing and delightful. We loved the houses, so very airy and versatile and perfect for the climate. They are as described, well equipped and comfortable and beautifully positioned on a hill overlooking the bay; wonderful for birds, seascape and sunsets.
Porridge and his wife Jeanell organise the running of the Retreats; they are around most days and they go out of their way to meet the needs of each of the guests. And they are excellent mentors and guides with regard to all things Tobagan. Nothing seems to be too much trouble and they make a big contribution to the feeling of security and ease when staying at the Retreats.
All the people who work at the retreats are friendly and helpful. It’s of interest to us anyway that many of them have worked at the Retreats for many years. Some of the things we loved: fireflies over the bed, the evening perfume of the flowers, sharing breakfast with the birds,
Some of the small things we appreciated – the kitchen equipment included a very good garlic crusher and a stove top coffee pot. The knives were sharp and there was a knife sharpener. There was a hammock.
We found Castara village untroubled by the excesses of modern tourism and local people friendly and accepting of visitors. There was none of the constant hustling to buy that can beset tourists in so many places.
The bay was fine for swimming. When we were there visibility for snorkelling was not great. The showers and changing facilities on the beach make going for a swim more comfortable. Castara does lack a good beachside bar for local people and visitors. There was, and maybe will be again, we gather, a beachside restaurant, and there are a handful of places to eat around the village. The village shops can provide for basic provisions.
And fish, fresh every day at the market on the beach, a joy.
Vittorio Lupi and Eleanora Agricola
Visited: Hummingbird 1 - January 2010
We stayed in Castara retreats for 10 days.The location is amazing and the apartments are perfectly integrated with the surrounding environment. From our balcony we saw unforgettable sunsets and the view of Castara bay was breathtaking at any time. The retreat is a 5 minute walk from the fishermen’s village. There I spent hours observing the rhythm of their simple life.
The beach is even closer down the hill and if you want to relax in a really secluded beach just go to the village and ask for someone to give you a ride to Englishman’s Bay, a 10 minute drive from Castara. We will never forget that place.
Visited: Birdsong - December 2009
This was our third stay in Tobago in 3 years and our 2nd, three week stay at Castara Retreats. Previously, Birdsong lodge was under construction and wonderfully aromatic from the insect resistant hardwoods it’s built from. Now the years had mellowed it – beautifully – and the surrounding gardens were lush and colourful, alive with native birds, including dozens of darting hummingbirds. Birdsong is spacious with 4 sun decks plus a large roofed veranda/general living space. Open 3 sides (with storm shutters, if needed) it overlooks Castara Bay (watch for stingrays feeding.) There’s a dining table, chairs and a suite of comfortable upholstered wicker sofas. No TV (not missed). The master bedroom (en suite bathroom) is to the side and rear of the well equipped kitchen. The beds were comfortable with efficient, frame mosquito nets, essential in the green season. The lower deck contains the second good sized bedroom (en suite.) A minor complaint is that the room was a bit stuffy at night, requiring a fan most times.
Don’t expect peaceful nights, however. Cockerels start crowing in the wee hours while chachalacas start their gabbling calls. Remember, Castara’s a working village, that’s its charm, and people start early; strimming at 5am to the accompaniment of trucks grinding up the hill. Consequently few folks have late workday nights and are often in bed by 11pm. The obvious exceptions are Friday’s Limin’ sessions and Saturday night. ‘Sunday School’ is a different matter, mainly staged for tourists – we avoid it, it can get a bit too rumbustious after the rum’s flowed a while. Daylight in Castara sees a small truck tooting its way through the village. The goats in the back, wide eyed in innocent anticipation of a holiday, are, sadly for them, off to the abattoir. Note also that the cute animal tethered at the road side is likely your dinner the following evening at Marguerite’s or one of the village’s other no frills eateries. But please put your qualms away – this is real food and Tobago goat curry or a roti is one of life’s pleasures. NOTE: The cafe/restaurant opposite Marguerite’s is especially recommended – excellent value and the owner couldn’t be more helpful. His breakfasts are terrific – try his salt fish & coconut bake.
You can’t mention Castara Retreats without including Porridge, their local man on the ground. He’s a legend; super helpful, down to earth and your best friend while you’re there. If you want it, he’ll get it – nothing’s too much trouble. He has vehicles for hire and if you don’t fancy driving he’ll take you wherever you want to go; trips & excursions. Janelle (Mrs Porridge) looks after everything domestic at the Retreats, along with her staff, many of whom are family. We’ve never had any cause for complaint re cleanliness or any aspect of housekeeping. Excellent!
We’ve stayed on Tobago during the dry and the green (wet) seasons. The latter sees more insect life; mozzies of course, so apply repellent with min 50% Deet at night. Other ‘scary’ looking critters include stick insects, praying mantis, huge crickets and locusts; but leave ‘em alone, they’re harmless. Useful house lizards live in Birdsong’s eaves helping control the bugs, so be careful how much insecticide you spray. Tiny fruit bats are regular evening visitors, attracted to the bird feeders, which should be topped up with brown sugar for the banana quits, tanagers and mot mots. You’ll likely only see their flitting shadows but it’s fun trying to photograph them.
Re-exploring Castara this time we found it had hardly changed; the school appeared to sport a new roof, and the old ladies from the village still baked delicious bread and cakes twice weekly in the clay oven in the school's grounds. Every church (a dozen last count) was full on Sundays. The grog shop sold the cheapest rum and beer and the ground provision shop still opened erratically. There’s a largish supermarket, which is big on shelf space but not on stock. The ultimate shopping experience, though, is Maxi’s down by the fishing co-op’s shelter. He has everything you need; and if it’s not in stock – you simply don’t need it! Call in on during Friday afternoon’s limin’ and you might be offered a rum – or two.
Down on the beach the fishermen land their catch, twice daily, gutting and preparing it mainly for hotels down the coast. Take the initiative, ask what’s available and take your own bag to carry away your purchases. If you don’t, you’ll be sent to Maxi's to buy them a bottle of Guinness, in a carrier bag. Tip: take extra bags and make a gift of them; you might get another couple fillets – gratis! Top tip: Flash your tuna fillets in a little oil; roughly a minute each side. Finish with a good squeeze of the lime or lemon that you’ve just picked in the Retreats’ garden: Fantastic with a fresh green mango, lime and chilli salsa.
Rain Forest. Seek out Darlington Chance, a terrific guide. He’s a Rasta with a delightful sense of humour. You’ll learn a new word too; ‘weelies’ – they’re highly recommended btw.
Argyle Falls is on everyone’s list but also discover rarely visited Hillsborough Dam and Greenhills Waterfalls, going the ‘wrong’ way, north-south, from Mason Hall; 4x4 essential.
From Bateaux Bay visit Little Tobago by glass bottomed boat. Guides show you red billed tropic and frigate birds. Back on the mainland, walk (take water) the old sugar road, rear of Blue Waters Hotel, following it round to deserted, secluded Belmont Bay.
Drive old North Coast (rainforest) Rd to Charlottesville – gorgeous views of secret bays.
Take a day trip with Castara’s Alibaba; snorkel Buccoo Reef, (BBQ at No Man’s Land), glide through mangroves and relax...
Visited: Hummingbird 2 - November 2009
We stayed at Castara Retreats for our honeymoon in November. It was more that we expected! It was one of the most beautiful experiences we have ever experienced. The birds performed a symphony of magical music every morning. We even saw some agouti(s), which were a big surprise for us. We witnessed daily the stingrays floating close to shore, but most of all we interacted with the engaging residents of Castara.
What a wonderful experience!!!!!
Nick and Lisa De Cosemo
Visited: Birdsong - November 2009
Just wanted to drop you a quick line to say hi and let you know we had a wonderful stay at Castara Retreats. Birdsong was amazing (what a sunset view! what a kitchen!) and Tobago just kept conjuring new wonders for us on a daily basis – dolphins, electrical storms, close encounters with pelicans, man-o-wars and boobies, fresh lobster and some amazing pan music. We have been singing the praises of Castara to all of our friends so we imagine some of them will pay a visit at some point. As, hopefully, will we – whenever we can wangle two weeks off work again!
Visited: Hummingbird 1 Apartment - October 2009
We went to Castara looking for a complete break from our crazily busy lives, and chose it because of good reviews, the privacy and the amazing looking views. Every box ticked, we had the most relaxing week of our lives. The apartment was gorgeous, we stayed in Hummingbird 1 which was spacious, simple, beautiful craftsmanship with carved wooden shutters that opened out onto a long verandah, which became our home for the next 7 days. Us, two comfy chairs, candles, rum and cokes plus fruit to feed the birds and bats and we were in paradise.
We left our sanctuary occasionally - we went on a fantastic boat trip organised by Porridge where we snorkeled, fished for Dorado and BBQd on the beach. We also went to a food festival at nearby Bloody Bay, where we made complete fools of ourselves dancing to the local Soca bands and stopped off at a rum store on the way home to find a dance party in full swing by the side of the road! We spent a perfect afternoon singing in Chino's coffee shop, they made up a calypso about us and in return we sang Bob Marley badly while they passed round the rum...again!
The people were great, Castara is stunning in an unspoilt, rustic, slightly tumbledown kind of way - and the beauty of the Retreats meant we came home from the beach and our very occasional trips out to somewhere that immediately had felt like home. It was hard to drag ourselves away so mainly we cooked fish we'd bought from the guys on the beach, asked one of the local ladies (Veronica) to cook for us (pumpkin soup, coconut curried fish, plaintain - all delicious) and we spent hours watching the bats swoop in and the stars pop out of the sky and having time to talk.
Practical points - there's an ATM in the village, the restaurants are all good if basic, don't expect menus, they just serve fish, shrimp or chicken cooked however they feel like it, and many are unlicensed. Buy your beers, water, anything heavy from the supermarket on the way from the airport, the hill up from the village and beach is a killer in the heat! Have a mango smoothie from the juice bar on the beach, and make sure you book to have Veronica come and cook for you. She'll buy your ingredients too - this is a good idea as it's hard to find specific items in the village (there's plenty to buy but don't go with a shopping list, just buy what you see!)Take lots of strong insect repellant and don't get caught out in the evenings without it - it's too easy to stay in the Boat House drinking Caribs while the sun sets and they'll eat you alive if you do! And don't scratch your bites - that's a tip from my other half who is still paying the price a week later! Porridge knows everyone and everything so if there's anything you need just ask him, he's also hilarious and you should ask him about his Tobagan stag party.
If this sounds good to you, then book it in and go - it was the perfect antidote to modern life and while we usually make a rule to always look for somewhere new, Castara has seriously challenged that and we'd love to go back.
Visited: Rainforest - October 2009
Despite the fact that I had been on the website looking at Castara from the day I booked, I had not dared to hope that it would be as amazing as described. Well, it was. From our arrival at the airport, looking out for Porridge and knowing immediately it must be him from his happy smiling face to him taking us back 10 days later with hugs and kisses and beers all round, everything was wonderful. Rainforest was perfect, it felt as though we were living in a tree house, and we managed to idle away many an hour just watching the beach and the birds and butterflies. The beach was endlessly fascinating; watching the fishermen go out to sea early in the mornings, the children playing in the shallows, the sting rays and the pelicans diving for fish. Good snorkelling from Little Bay, and lovely warm swimming.
We bought fish from the fisherman, and both Marieta and Veronica cooked for us. We ate roti at Da Almond Tree, pizza and curries at the Boat House, fresh fish at Margueret’s, and bacon and eggs at Cheno’s coffee shop. Sherwin took us out fishing and then barbequed our fish in the pouring rain! We had an interesting rainforest trip with Darren Henry. But most of the time we just limed!
Our two young adult children had a great time. They enjoyed being part of the village and being in such an uncommercialised holiday destination, we loved the fact the local people seemed to accept visitors so easily and so many people wanted to chat and be friendly.
Our thanks to Jean at the other end of the emails and telephone for being so helpful and kind from the start, and to Porridge, Jeanelle and all the team in Tobago who were so welcoming and made us feel so accepted. And of course to Sue and Steve for creating such an amazing place.
Visited: Rainforest - August 2009
We have recently returned from a 2 week stay at Castara Retreats and we had a simply wonderful time. It would be very easy to repeat all the passionately written compliments and reviews posted here and elsewhere, but all we shall say is: believe them because they are true and correct. The owners website is commendably honest and accurate and we felt fully prepared for our visit in all respects, except one - because nothing can really prepare you for the sheer beauty of the setting of these marvellous accomodations. We stayed in the 2 bedroom 'Rainforest' apartment and the 'wow' factor is definitely there from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave.
If anything though, what really made this holiday for us was the care, help and welcome given by the fantastic team of people at Castara Retreats. Famously led by the terrific Porridge and Jeanelle, they are simply outstanding: not only at what they do, but how they make you feel. We left Castara genuinely feeling that we were leaving a whole gang of new friends behind. We were also fortunate to meet the lovely owners whilst there, and talking to them it is obvious how much thought, care and sheer hard work has gone into creating this little bit of paradise.
Finally, we need to say that Castara itself is a beautiful, unspoilt and friendly village. Travelling with teenage daughters (who utterly loved it too: no chance of boredom for them), we are always conscious and aware of any possible safety issues. However here we had no concerns whatsoever. Being such a small village it feels safe, secure and welcoming. On our final day we walked back from the beach through the village - and the shouts and waves goodbye from so many local people in the shops, bars and fishing co-op will be a memory that will live with us forever. Go to Castara. Stay at 'The Retreats'. You'll see what we mean and you won't be disappointed.
Visited: Rainforest - June 2009
We are just back from our trip to the Caribbean and this is a brief note to let you know that we were more than happy with the accommodations, service and surroundings. Castara was truly a retreat and we came away refreshed and awed.
Thank you and everyone involved for all you help in making our vacation a very special one.
Shelly, Dave and Kai
Visited: Coasthanger - June 2009
The most memorable part of the holiday was arriving at Coasthanger to find it exactly as advertised. It was superb and in a magnificent location. We enjoyed swimming in the sea before breakfast with Sting Rays in the bay.
Also, we felt our holiday benefited local people because within Castara village there is the opportunity to buy in the local stores, fish market etc. There is no real need to hire a car (we did only for one day). If we went north or south we used the local bus.
This is one of the best holidays we have had and I would not hesitate to recommend it.
Visited: Hummingbird 1 - May/June 2009
We stayed at Castara Retreats in Hummingbird 1 for two weeks in May / June 2009. The apartment itself was perfect with the most beautiful view of the bay and surrounding hills. There was a lovely breeze at all times which kept it very comfortable and we enjoyed seeing so much wildlife from our verandah. The staff at Castara Retreats couldn't have been better and were extremely helpful at all times with anything that we needed or wanted to organise (such as car hire, boat trip, airport pick up and food on arrival etc). All in all, we would thoroughly recommend staying here and can't wait to return!
Visited: Birdsong - May/June 2009
Just wanted to write a quick email to you to say we had an absolutely wonderful two weeks in Birdsong. It was everything we hoped for - relaxing, friendly, and absolutely gorgeous!
Visited: Fisherman's - April 2009
I just wanted to let you know that Castara, and Castara Retreats, met all our expectations. We had a great time. What a beautiful place. Everyone, from Porridge to the villagers, was friendly and helpful. We hope to go back again, perhaps as soon as next year. Next time, I want to row out with the fishermen…
Thanks ever so much.
Visited: Hummingbird 2 - April 2009
We stayed ten nights at Castara Retreats from 16 to 26th of April and we had a wonderful vacation. We were in the Hummingbird 2 apartment and it was very nice and comfortable.
The managment of Jeanell and porridge was perfect, the garden awesome, the room always clean and nice...what more?? Go there if you want a completely relaxing location....here you can really relax from the beginning of the holiday..
Don't go there if you look for night life or things like that as it is a very quiet place..
Visited: Rainforest - April 2009
We need to say it straight away: It was perfect and hard to beat! Castara Retreats is one of the most wonderful places we have ever been to.
There are various things that make Castara Retreats special. First of all the small fishing village of Castara in our opinion is the lovliest place on the whole island; people there are very friendly and warm and as a guest you feel personally welcomed by the whole village.
Second, Porridge and Jeanell, who are running Castara Retreats are the perfect care takers. They both have a very natural and friendly way of treating each guest as if he were the only or most important person currently staying at their place. They find solutions for everything and offer you to participate in trips but in a way that you never feel obliged.
And last, but not least, the apartments (we stayed in Rainforest) are simply wonderful. For us this kind of open living was a completely new experience, being in the fresh air for 24h a day, cooking in our own open kitchen with a view to the sea and waking up by a tender sea breeze or some birds. We loved the place so much that at times we didn't want to leave the apartment any more. You have the perfect climate there at each time of the day and the lovely view to the village and the beach makes you feel as if you were in the middle of everything while being very private on your own balcony. Cooking our own fish (which we bought freshly from the fishermen's cooperative in the afternoon) with some fresh bread (baked by the women of Castara) while watching the sunset was one of the best experiences ever. Thanks to the lovely people and the wonderful place we had a perfect stay at Castara Retreats.
Visited: Fisherman's - March/April 2009
A huge thank you to you Jean and all involved in Castara Retreats. We had such a wonderful time there - it was just perfect in every way. Never knew that such a view existed - it was just stunning and we spent many happy times just at Fisherman's, lazing the days away , bolstered by rum punch and our own food prepared from ingredients sourced only from the village. The fish was unreal and we had some every day. I must say a word for all the staff there and especially to Porridge whose charm and character gave us a feeling of being at home immediately. His presence made us feel very safe and secure and we didn`t want to come home. I truly hope that we will be able to visit again one day.
Sonia Moriceau and Ad Brugman
Visited: Fisherman's & Birdsong - February/March 2009
We had a truly wonderful and restful time. We loved the place and Castara village itself. The people are honestly friendly and nice. We took a few trips to explore the island and were struck by its beauty and peacefulness.
It became a home, a place where we could "just be".
Thank you also for your support in making everything so easy!
Mike & Sue Bailey
Visited: Birdsong - January/February 2009
Well, what can I say!! We have just about got our feet back here in Yorkshire, it has taken a while. Everything could not have been more perfect, an absolutely wonderful holiday in the most perfect setting, (not many places left like Castara!!), perfect home to live in, beautifully fitted and furnished and lovely people to drift around and chat to, everyone so kind and helpful.
I could relate many, many tales, like my Dear Wife getting locked in the beach changing room only to be 'saved' by an enormous life guard (never did get his name sadly) who lifted her over a wall and into the men’s side, which was NOT locked!! The talk of Castara for a while!!
Many thanks and congratulations to all involved with Castara Retreats, we are keeping an eye on the booking pages, I have a strong feeling this is the one holiday we would like to repeat.
Kind regards, Mike & Sue.
Visited: Rainforest - January/February 2009
We were a bit apprehensive about booking our entire holiday on the internet but I have to say our worries completely evaporated on entering our apartment at Castara - many people say that the web site doesn't do it justice and I would just like to reiterate that! To sleep with the sounds of the waves, to cook with a breeze from the ocean in your face, to have breakfast with the beautiful tropical birds on your balcony, to have an unspoilt view of the beach and ocean from your living area is only going part way to describe this accomodation.
Porridge is wonderful - and he makes you feel like you are the only guests staying there. We will definitely be returning.
Gael and Julian Witor and family
Visited: Hummingbird 2 - December 2008
After a wonderful vacation last year in Castara Retreats, we returned this winter for a repeat experience. Once again, we were met by friendly, helpful staff, obliging residents and that incredibly wonderful view from our living quarters. Our accommodation, Hummingbird II, is the smallest on the premises but more than spacious enough for my husband and I. It was spotlessly clean, thanks to Jeanelle and her team, and extremely well equipped. The plants and flowers, careful workmanship and integration into the existing environment make Castara Retreats blend serenely into the landscape.
Birds and animals also love Castara. While we had an abundance of multi-coloured birds at our feeder every day, we also saw a flock of bright green and orange parrots one morning - amazing! We also saw the little agouti playing regularly on the path.
Vacationing in Castara is truly a restorative experience. We rented beach chairs from Taharka, who lives in the little cottage on the beach. He is full of local knowledge and a friendly swimming companion. Dinners were mostly at Margarite's (try the boneless goat) but we also tried CasCreole and had an equally delicious meal. My husband went on a very interesting rainforest hike with a student from a village closeby. There were many other things we intended to do but somehow one day melted into another and the beach prevailed. Special thanks to Milk for his superb driving skills - we will be back!
Phil and Vicky Shaw
Visited: Rainforest - December 2008
There is little to add to previous reviews, which have all described Castara Retreats and its delights in enthusiastic detail. We stayed in Rainforest Apartment for one week, and although we had a good idea of what to expect, nothing can really prepare you for the unique experience of living so comfortably in what is essentially the open air, with fabulous panoramic views. We were "wowed" on arrival - and spent almost the whole week idling around the apartment and immediate environs of Castara, there being no need to seek out other experiences. It was enough for us in itself. We ate out and about sometimes, but our best meal was one we cooked for ourselves - with fresh fish bought directly from the local fishermen and baked in tinfoil with some lemon and garlic.
Before arrival, our only fear had been that the village sounds (music, cars etc.) might be intrusive, but mostly they were not. Some strange, quite loud, banging one night turned out to be local youths trying out their home-made bamboo fireworks in the approach to Christmas. Once we knew what it was, it didn't disturb us. By far the loudest sound is the crashing of the waves at night, amplified by the acoustics of the bay. It can wake you up sometimes.....but once you get used to it, it is delightful. Finally, it is probably worth repeating that if you are not comfortable with small, winged visitors and their inevitable droppings, then this is not the accommodation for you!
Porridge called daily to make sure we were OK, but was never intrusive. Tours and trips are never pushed on to you - it is up to you to ask. We found this very refreshing. Our one trip out, a guided walk in Cuffie River Nature Retreat, was pleasant but seriously overpriced, so make sure to ask about prices upfront. This place ticked all our boxes - we chose carefully and were not disappointed.
Visited: Coasthanger - December 2008
Jean, OMG we are still there . . .It was PARADISE. Just arrived back last night by midnight. It was windy and snowing off & on today, and we wished we were able to hear those magnificent waves crashing once more! We are already having friends who can't wait to see pictures and get on the website, as it is almost unbelievable there is still such an untouched and untouristy place left on the planet! It was safe, we never had a problem, always felt safe even walking the streets at night and had a great time at the Community Center Christmas Jubilee! The Santa was a little "randy", very comical, and we even won a dance contest and won a Caribbean music CD fron Bentley B! We have been home less than 24 hours and want to be back again ASAP!
Porridge was so personable and a GREAT asset to Castara Retreats. He was not shy to tell us that we were on the best place on the island, and people go see the rest, but always are ready to come "home". Within 24 hours, we knew exactly what he said was purely the truth!
Visited: Coasthanger - November 2008
Very atttractive, spacious and well appointed accommodation and we were very well looked after by Porridge who knows everyone and everything! Only down side that ought to be mentioned is that there is quite a bit of noise from the traffic on the road below. But I would certainly recommend Castara Reteats - we did have a lot of rain but hardly Tobago's fault!
Visited: Birdsong - November 2008
All the Castara Retreats accommodation are well thought out and are set up high in the hillside with brilliant views over the bay. We stayed in Birdsong, which has such a lovely setting that we did not go out of the village for the first 5 days. We were lucky on our second day to see dolphins in the bay. Everything about Castara Retreats was perfect. Porridge, who manages the accommodation, was excellent, he visits daily and goes out of his way to help. Jeanell and the staff there were also very friendly and nothing is too much trouble for them. The gardens are beautiful with trees and flowers attracting lots of colourful birds, which just have to be photographed. The village is quiet with loads of interesting friendly people and has not as yet been taken over by tourism and you get the feeling that this is the true Tobago. It remains a fishing village and a lot of life there revolves around a hut on the front where the fisherman congregate. The local bread cooked in a clay oven is a must – pumpkin bread especially!
The snorkeling was good and on a day trip out on Porridge & Sherwin’s boat we were in the water with a large Stingray swimming around us so that you could touch it. A brilliant experience. The barbecued fish we had could not have been fresher.
We travelled the Island which is great but really loved returning to Castara. Whilst there we were discussing coming back sometime. Already booked we will be back in a few months time.
Lloyd, Gwyneth & Sammy
Bart de Visser
Visited: Hummingbird 1 & Hummingbird 2 - November 2008
We stayed at Castara Retreats for two weeks and were delighted about the beauty of the lodges and the garden. Staff were very friendly and always helpful. Lots of birds visit the garden and the view from the bedroom and balcony is wonderful.
With help from the manager we got married under the pagoda at Castara Retreats and all we had to do was 10 minutes of paperwork in Scarborough. The ceremony was lovely with nice ocean and rainforest views, a good meal and at night some drinks with local people from Castara.
Visited: Birdsong - September/October 2008
My family & I had a great time! The staff and service is outstanding, and Birdsong is a delightful place to stay. The wildlife in the gardens was fantastic. We particularly liked the candle flies (fireflies). We will be returning to Tobago, and if it's not booked we'll be staying at Castara Retreats.
Julie and Morten Claen
Visited: Hummingbird 1 and 2 - August 2008
We had the most wonderful stay at Castara Retreats!
Before our arrival we didn’t really know what to expect, since neither of us had ever been in the Caribbean. But we were both positively astounded by our entire experience at Castara Retreats. We had arranged to be picked up in the airport by Porridge before we arrived, which we are glad we did – we would probably not have found our way ourselves. Despite our 2 hour delay we got the opportunity to stop and shop for the most basic products before shops closed.
We arrived at Castara Retreats in the late evening and we really appreciated the quality of the apartment (Hummingbird 1+2). We had clean white sheets, a nice well functioning toilet and kitchen – and most importantly – it was all very clean.
When we woke up the first morning, we woke up to the most exceptional view of the entire Castara bay. We could see sting rays cruising up and down the coast in their search for food – really amazing. Porridge had invited us on his weekly boat trip, where we also got the chance to meet some of the other residents including Steve and Sue who owns Castara Retreats. We spend the entire day snorkeling in various areas and we had a grill party on the beach where we also got the chance to feed the sting ray Nemo.
We participated in most of the events (almost one every day) arranged by Porridge, Steve and Sue. Examples are: the yearly boat race, fishing with Steve (thanks Steve), barbecue in the newlyweds Americans’ apartment, barbecue in Steve and Sue’s apartment, and calypso dinner in the little boat house. But we also explored the island ourselves in one of Porridge’s rental cars and spent time snorkeling in the bay.
All in all, we are very pleased that we chose to stay in Castara Retreats. One night we stayed in another place, also in Castara, and the quality was significantly low compared to Castara Retreats. There is a very positive correlation between price and quality in Castara Retreats!
A special thank to Steve and Sue for making our stay unforgettable. They really care about their guests and make people feel welcome. Every visitor should have the pleasure to meet them!
Also a warm thank to Porridge, Shaq and Sherman who all spread a good atmosphere and joy!
We will definitely recommend Castara Retreats to all who are thinking of going. A little hidden paradise…
Morten & Julie
Visited: Hummingbird 2 - July 2008
The whole world I had to travel to before I met this! I never-nevvvver-nevvver had lived in such a wonderful paradise place like this. From morning to darkness you have the best, biggest Tele screen in front of you: The view to the blue sea, the light colored beach of Castara and the fine green of the luscious plants in the garden. There can't be more relaxation at all! Addicted to the waves sounds I even left my bedroom door open to hear the sound all night.
Also the house, the equipment itself is perfectly in best condition. The houses have atmosphere and a soul. The soul of the vast, wide and big heart of the owners and their friends who take care of the amenities. Very big congratulations to such a perfect realisation of a dream!
Visited: Rainforest/Hummingbird 2 - May/June 2008
We had a truly wonderful time at Castara, easily the most beautiful location on the island. It's a sleepy fishing village and if relaxation is what you are looking for then don't bother finding anywhere else. What makes it stand out is that they have a fantastic manager who can provide whatever bespoke trip you want, whether that be by boat, hiring a jeep hire, going turtle watching or anything else. Just ask for 'Porridge' and I bet he will be able to facilitate that. The apartments are lovely and well looked after. But it is the location and unrivalled view that really make the stay memorable.
Visited: Fisherman's - May/June 2008
We had a terrific time in Castara Retreats - thanks for everything at the booking stage, and all your helpful and speedy replies to my emails. Back in the grimness of London, I'm imagining the whining of the fridge is the chirping of the cicadas... Castara truly is a paradise on earth, the locals are unbelievably friendly, and I hope it stays that way.
With all best wishes
Visited: Hummingbird 1 Apartment - May 2008
We had a brilliant two weeks at Castara Retreats in May.
Hummingbird 1 has a wonderful view of the bay and beach and we spent a great deal of time watching the boats go in and out, the stingrays crossing the bay, the birds coming to feed or the sun go down over the sea. The apartment had everything we needed, including an outdoor as well as an indoor shower. Every few days it was cleaned and the sheets and towels changed, which was great given the climate. Porridge, Jeanelle, and their team made sure we knew how to get anything we needed, including food and excursions, and Carrington the gardener was lovely in supplying fruit fresh from the garden.
We especially appreciated Porridge taking the time one evening to come let us all know that a leatherback turtle had come up to nest on the beach. Not everywhere cares about its guests that much. On the final day, having shower and changing facilities made all the difference after the beach when preparing for the long flight home.
Castara itself is a lovely location – the beach and snorkelling are great and the people very friendly in the nicest way. We travelled the island but could happily have spent most of our time just in the village.
We will definitely be back as soon as possible.
Christian, Sara and Peter(5)
Visited: Hummingbird Apartment - May 2008
We stayed at the Hummingbird apartment at Castara Retreats for 10 days and would have liked to have stayed longer. The apartment was well equipped and we especially appreciated the little welcoming touches (cold beers in the 'frig ). The view from Hummingbird was fantastic , hard to imagine a better aspect. The birds were a constant delight and the gardens colourful. We were well looked after by Porridge and Jeanell , nothing was too much trouble. We liked the transit showers and lockers which were ideal for the period between checking out and leaving for the airport.
For a laid-back , relaxing but never boring holiday Castara Bay is hard to beat and Castara Retreats the perfect place to stay.
Visited: Rainforest & Coasthanger - May 2008
We can't thank everyone enough....
We have just returned from 3 weeks stay at Castara Retreats (from 1st May 2008) and are now truly chilled and grilled! We had an amazing time and quickly bedded into village life. Castara Retreats offers outstanding accommodation in a fantastic location away from the tourist thing allowing you to experience the real Tobago. The entire team at Castara Retreats are fantastic and you will feel welcome and at home from the minute you arrive in Tobago. Porridge is 'The Man', a fantastic host who can help you with anything you need during your stay. We stayed in both Rainforest and Coasthanger during our visit and both were superb - a true tree house experience with breathtaking views of the bay and village.
We enjoyed Porridge & Sherwin's boat trip and beach BBQs which included catching your lunch, meeting the resident Sting Ray, and fantastic snorkeling along the coast. The locals also made our stay truly memorable with their happy go lucky charm and laidback attitudes which left us really appreciating the simple things in life...... It has been quite difficult adjusting to the rat race of being back in London when we have been used to rush hour on Castara Beach which included us and a few stray chickens.
I have been to other islands in the West Indies BUT this was the first time I felt truly at home (part of the community) and even after 3 weeks didn't want to leave!!!!
Steve & Sue - you have created something very unique and special which runs seamlessly with Porridge at the helm to integrate and look after your guests.
We certainly look forward to returning in the future.
Thanks a million!
Lesley & Wayne
Visited: Birdsong - February 2008
We had a wonderful stay at Castara in Birdsong. We thought you had constructed it perfectly - so natural, but so comfortable. I am sure you must have worked very hard to achieve such an idyllic place, but it was well worth it.
We would love to come back, but it is clear from your website we will need to think well ahead.
Heather and Barry Ford
Visited: Hummingbird 2 - January/February 2008
We have just returned from a fantastic 2 weeks staying at Castara Retreats and as many previous visitors have said the accommodation was great and truly up to expectations, the website was correct in every way, everything needed was there, the fabulous views, the wonderful birds and the beautiful gardens, Porridge and Jeanell were great, very attentive and helpful, as all working at Castara Retreats.
We enjoyed very much our days spent in the village and on the beach meeting the locals and having a lime with them ( l even managed to make the ladies that bake the bread laugh!). We had some lovely meals at Marguerite's cooked by Sherwin, the shrimps were lovely, the crab and dumplings were a bit more of a challenge but very tasty. Had a great time at Scarborough Carnival with Porridge, a bit of an experience but great fun.
Please pass on our congratulations to Sue and Steve, we wouldn't hesitate in recommending Castara Retreats, they have made a wonderful haven for us holiday makers who appreciate very much the hard work that has been put into building a "Heaven on a Hill".
Kindest regardsHeather and Barry Ford
Jenny and Per Bernstrom
Visited: Hummingbird 1 - January/February 2008
Just wanted to let you know that we had a wonderful vacation in Castara and three days in the "tourist district". Everything was perfect, our accommodation in Hummingbird 1 was, as I see it, the best option by far! That private outdoor terrace where we had breakfast every morning was absolutely gorgeous and the view fantastic! If we decide to return in a couple of years I hope we'll be able to rent it again! We visited more or less the entire island and went for wonderful walks in the rain forest, on boat trips etc...
All the people we met at the Retreats were VERY nice people! We are really hoping to see them all again!
Best wishes again fromJenny and Per Richard Bernstrom, Sweden
Visited: Coasthanger - January 2008
We first stayed at Castara Retreats (in Coasthanger) in January 2006, and liked it so well that we came back again in January 2008. We are booked to return yet again in January 2009, and on that occasion will be joined by American friends who have booked another apartment in the same complex. This history should give some idea of our opinion of the place, which we found to be absolutely delightful, managed by delightful people, in a location that would be hard to match for beauty, unpretentiousness and all round charm. I hesitate to recommend it only for fear of its being "discovered".
Jacqui and Maurice Dougan
Visited: Fisherman's - January 2008
We stayed in Fisherman's lodge on our honeymoon. When we landed in Tobago after an nine hour flight and already delayed by Xcel Airways for one day, we were tired and pretty fed up. But as we walked out the door of the airport we were greeted by Porridge and Milk (both smiling), the stress lifted and thoughts of our businesses back home just drifted away. The area surrounding the airport is off putting and you do wonder where you have come to on holidays, but then Milk takes you off towards Castara and you see the real island, the non tourist side and we can easily say one of the best sights in the world.
We stayed in Fisherman's lodge and we feel after our two weeks it was the best one to stay in. If you like relaxing on the deck (two of them) with iced rum punch, good food and local nature, you will love this lodge. We met many of the locals and I can say we have made many friends. The area is just beautiful, the beach, the green hills and the local people make this a worthwhile stop in the world.
Marieta provided a home cooked meal on our first night. We unfortunately missed her famous bust up shut dish- there needs to be enough people ordering so check with her in advance, her food is great.
Veronica, just a lovely woman cooked a one month anniversary dinner for us in the lodge, she will buy food in advance (you provide money) and she will cook for you. We just loved her, she is great woman and we hope that we will see her when we go back. We got big hugs on our departure.
Some advice- beware sandflies, we got eaten alive. Speak to the locals, do not ignore them!! Buy bread from the local ladies on Thursday and Saturday! Keep everything in the fridge or you will be overun with ants- Buy local rum and have cool punches on the deck- Bring LED tealights for the decks outside rather than burning tealights- Watch the sun-it is really intensive so wear high factor- there were a few people on the beach who resembled a rotisserie chicken- come for longer than a week- if you love chocolate bring it with you! - always tip people- its just rude not to
Was this an Eco Responsible holiday- absolutely- but you have to engage with the community- buy local food and drink.
We love Tobago and will be going back next year
We love you all!
Maurice and Jacqui XXXXXXXX
Visited: January 2008
Our whole holiday was memorable and exciting - particularly realising the accommodation in Rainforest was better than anticipated. Stay longer than one week! We also felt our holiday benefited local people because we ate out in the village, bought fish from the fishermen and products from the shops. We would rate our holiday as absolutely excellent – 4 stars – we have some wonderful memories and would not hesitate to recommend Castara Retreats to a friend.
Visited: December 07/January 08
My husband I stayed in Castara recently for a few nights and enjoyed our visit immensely. This was our first holiday in Tobago and, since we relied heavily on visitor reports in planning our trip, I felt we should add a report of our own. Firstly, all the positive comments about Castara Retreats turned out to be absolutely true. The village is a friendly community with a lovely sand beach and several good eating establishments including The Almond tree and Marguerite’s.
Our accommodation at Castara Retreats was everything we could have hoped for and more. Our cottage included a large, covered balcony with a fantastic view of the beach and comfortable seating where we spent hours and hours bird-watching, reading, eating and limin’, also a fully-equipped kitchen, comfortable bed, and a clean, insect-free environment. We were in paradise!
As Canadians, we found the driving quite challenging and will definitely use the services of Porridge on our return visit. However, there's lots to see and do around the village. Do walk up to the waterfalls for a fresh-water dip. Also, explore the stock of the many little storefronts. We were surprised to find some interesting wine, wonderful produce and even bread fresh from the oven at 8 pm.
Thanks so much to Sue, Steve and Freya for your warm welcome and hospitality and to Porridge and Jeanell for organizing New Year’s Eve and the snorkeling excursion. We will see you all again next year.
Visited: December 2007
We had an absolutely wonderful wedding. It was everything we had hoped and dreamt of. Porridge was so great (like everyone has said) he couldn’t do enough for us and was great fun to be around. The only thing that couldn’t be fixed was the weather. It was very rainy. On the wedding day the sun shone but clouded over by the afternoon. When I walked down the beach to meet Mark the sun came out again and held out until the end of the ceremony where we had a shower. By then it did not even matter…..
It truly was perfect and we have so many happy memories and some beautiful pictures.
Tobago was lovely - the local people are so friendly and Castara was the perfect holiday destination for us.Love Laura x
Suzanne and Dan Wheeler
Visited: November/December 07
We visited Castara Nov/Dec 2007, taking our family and friends with us to celebrate our wedding.....
We simply could not have found a more perfect place to get married or indeed, a more able team to assist us than that of Porridge and Jeanelle.
The retreats are fantastic, the island is fantastic and the people the warmest, kindest people you will ever meet.
Unfortunately we are unable to return in 2008 as we had already booked our holiday, but will definately return in 2009.
Thanks to Sue and Steve for creating a truly special place, huge thanks to Porridge and Jeanelle for making this the best two weeks of our lives so far.........
Suzanne and Dan Wheeler
Becky & Chris Carroll
Visited: November 2007
Chris and I recently returned from 2 wonderful weeks at Castara. We stayed the first week in Fishersmans, which is fabulous and then moved to Osprey, which again is wonderful accommodation.
We wanted to pass on our thanks to everyone at Castara.....particularly Porridge and Jeanell who are amazing hosts. Nothing was ever too much trouble. They were incredibly helpful and really made the holiday enjoyable and relaxing, safe in the knowledge that if we needed anything, they were always happy to help. Chris and I spent a lovely morning with Jeanell at Argyll Falls, which was the only time we left Castara in 2 weeks. It really wasn't necessary. It was great to just sit back on the veranda and watch the life go by (especially the birdlife!).
Becky & Chris Carroll
Visited: October 2007
Peter & I would just like to pass on to all concerned what a wonderful holiday we had in Osprey! We are just back and wish we were still in Castara. It was nice to meet Steve if only briefly and put a face to the name. Porridge, Jeanell, Sherman and all the team are just fantastic. The new boat "Sun Arise" is brilliant We will definitely be back--maybe Steve is rethinking the plan to amalgamate Osprey & Pelican now he has seen for himself how secluded and perfect Osprey is!
Thanks to all
Rosy & Roger Dickinson
Visited: July/August 2007
Well Castara certainly worked its magic on us. We had a glorious time, made even more wonderful by the fact that we were able to meet Sue, Steve and the lovely Freya and spend some time with them. We were fascinated with how Castara Retreats has developed over the years and we loved Coasthanger, especially the new deck where we breakfasted every morning with the humming birds for company. We hired one of Porridge's jeeps for a couple of days and covered the whole of the island and came to the conclusion that Castara is the prettiest place on the island. We loved our boat trip, we went up to Parlatuvier waterfall with Sue and Steve one afternoon and loved it there, we went to Sunday School and I danced with the old men and Porridge (isn't he adorable?). We joined the big party on the beach for Emancipation Day celebrations, we 'limed' with Porridge and the locals, Rog went fishing with Steve on his newly acquired dingy with engine and generally had a great time and now we are back to reality but trying to keep the spirit alive with copious amounts of rum!! Thank you Jean for always being at the other end of my e-mails and answering all my questions so promptly. You have been wonderful and you certainly reflect the concept of Castara Retreats. Thanks again.
Visited: Rainforest - July 2007
Lovely apartment with fantastic views over Castara Bay. Simply equipped but perfect for our family. All the staff friendly and helpful. Wouldn't recommend for those with walking difficulties or young children as the apartments are set on a hill side and it's quite a steep climb down to the beach. Do not choose Castara if you want busy night life, air conditioning, and all mod coms. Do choose if you want to fall asleep to the sound of the waves on the beach, wake to a view you'll never tire of and want to enjoy a little slice of Tobagan paradise. Only criticism is that we could have done with more than one hammock - there was always a bunfight for it!
Visited: July 2007
Well, what can we say guys?
Thanks for the fantastic accommodation and hospitality that you all provided. We all certainly had the holiday of a lifetime on Tobago and especially at Castara. We're all missing it very much and are all definitely coming back to visit. We all feel that we've made some good friends there.
Matt, Kaja, Lene and Kristen.
Visited: June 2007
The apartment was lovely, absolutely lovely, and we had a wonderful time.
The view was extraordinary, and far exceeded our expectations. Very hard to come back, though. The village was perfect and the people were friendly.
The food was incredible -I didn't have a single bad meal on the island, or even a mediocre one for that matter.
Daniel and Amanda Irons
Visited: May-June 2007
After having spent the most 2 perfect weeks of our lives at fishermans lodge cant begin to tell you how much we fell in love with the place, Its the most friendliest place and nothing is too much trouble for anyone. Everything was perfect, views were fantastic and the trips with jeanell were fun,
The boat trips are not to be missed.
Porridge what can we say, perfect gent and cant thank you enough for organising our wedding from flowers down to photographs.
You made our day perfect
Dan is still determined to set up a business out there and has been furiously working hard to try and find out all that he can.
This may have been our first visit to Tobago but it wont be the last
Once again many many thanks
Daniel and Amanda Irons
ps:I hope your improving your poker game porridge :o)
Visited: April-May 2007
Well what a beautiful place, lovely people, and Mr Fixit (Porridge) - what a character, he gets thing done and I got on very well with him and his family.
Penny, my wife, has had her breath taken away by the sheer level of welcome from the old men sitting in the village right through to Porridge and his team. I have to say people in Tobago, such as King David and a most marvellous man by the name of Harold at Argyll are world class people in their knowledge of the subjects and the way they put them over. It’s not often these days one meets such interesting and committed people.
Visited: April 2007
We just wanted to let you know what an absolutely wonderful trip we had to Tobago, I didn't quite realise what an amazing place it was and we both fell desperately in love with the country and the people.
Porridge and Jeanelle and his team couldn't have been more welcoming and friendly, we couldn't have been better looked after. We went out on the boat and had another wonderful day and spent many a lazy afternoon sharing a beer with the locals at Marvins. We truly believe that Castara is the most beautiful place on the island, we went out on the boat trip and didn't see anywhere that could even get close to Castara. We even went to Englishmans Bay and didn't stay very long because we wanted to get back to the paradise of Castara!
Right, I could write about how wonderful our holiday was for ages, but thank you again and we can't wait to go back again one day.
Best Wishes Georgina, Chris and Greg
Anne, Bill & Alison
Visited: March 2007
How do you spell wonderful?? The website and Jean’s helpful answers to our questions led us to have pretty high expectations, but the reality exceeded in every way. Porridge, Jeanell- and all your relations- thank you for welcoming us to your little corner of Tobago. Thanks also to Steve and Sue - you’ve created something very special.
Birdsong is beautiful, and so relaxing. But you still need to put down your Carib once in a while and take a boat tour, and let Kelly (or his uncle King David) show you his rainforest. When you’re down at the beach ask for Kenneth for steel pan lessons.
We sampled a fair bit of the island, and clearly there is nowhere prettier and more welcoming than Castara. Other Castara guests only confirmed this. Many of them couldn’t get accommodation at Castara Retreats for all of their stay in Tobago, and were kicking themselves once they saw what they were missing.
One thing we did want to note - mosquitoes and insects. We saw a lot of comments from other visitors about this, and were sort of expecting to be battling the wildlife off with our machetes. Then we remembered that many of the visitors were from England and Europe where there are no mosquitoes. Compared to a Canadian summer, we were surprised how little bug life there was (at least in March, when we visited.) The mosquito nets at night with the fan blowing, worked for us but we did take the advice of keeping the lights on dimmers. Long pants & bug repellent suggested for the rain forest though.
On food. Cooking dinners was a challenge. Lots of ingredients if you know what to do with them. Breakfast & lunches were no problem but we tended to eat out although we’re not very adventurous, mostly stuck to chicken or vegetarian dishes. Vera cooked delicious roti. Be sure to indulge in homemade ice cream from Curtis at Englishman’s’ Bay – passion fruit was a favourite.
If you’d like a change of hair style, Claudette (close to Vera’s) will do corn braids. She charged 100 TT dollars ($20 cdn) for our daughter’s long thick hair.
We’re counting the days until we can return.
Anne, Bill & Alison,
Richard & Bev Durnham
Visited: March 2007
Despite only being at Castara in March we're looking forward to coming again already, in fact even more than last year now we know what to expect (there was always the fear of the unknown before, even with the fantastic reports!).
We wanted to sample the Tobago lifestyle as it really was, and that's exactly what we got, from meeting Porridge for the first time and being told to relax and let him deal with everything, to queuing in Pennysavers for ages as they only had one till open (despite having about half a dozen staff standing around chatting!), to the driving standards on the island (abysmal), to getting used to eating only chicken or fish, to the snorkelling, to getting bitten to death (citronella oil next time!), to the rainforest tour with Newton George, to the beautiful beaches, to the noise of horns/sea/reggae/wildlife, to the wonderful barracuda BBQ on our boat trip, and so on - it was a fantastic experience.
Richard & Bev
Kristin Foord and Howard Thomas
Visited: February 2007
We just came back from a delightful week in Fisherman's Cottage: a beautiful and superbly equipped place to stay. We are the couple who, according to Porridge, were the only people to ever complain about loud music from the Cascreole!!! However we still had a wonderful time, but are seriously looking forward to the installation of the Stannah Stair Lift!!!
My sincere congratulations on your marvellous eye(s?) for location, architecture, style and general ambience.
Tim and Lynn Morris
Visited: February 2007
Returned from Tobago yesterday - I hear we missed you by a few days, hopefully we will meet next time!!
We had such a lovely time at Castara Retreats for a second time. There is nowhere on the Island that is so stunning or of such a high standard. The people are lovely and they have now become great friends. I forsee Castara Retreats being our winter holiday destination for many years to come.
Trevor & Gaby Williams
Visited: October 2006
Wanted to write and say what a wonderful time we recently had in Coasthanger. We had quite high expectations ...but even so can honestly say the accommodation, people and of course Castara exceeded even these. We loved Coasthanger and especially the views and the 'open air' style of living it provides. Coming home to windows and closed in rooms was nearly as hard as the 20 degree drop in temperature we experienced coming back to London.
The support from Porridge and Jeanell (as well as the other staff we met) was fantastic. We had two days out on a boat and enjoyed them both immensely. Thank you very much for answering my continuous stream of questions before we went.
All the best
Trevor and Gaby Williams
Dave and Marion Hampton
Visited: October 2006
Hello Jean and all involved in Castara retreats We have just returned form a most marvellous holiday in Castara, staying in Osprey. We'd like to say thanks for the wonderful accommodation, and the outstanding services of Porridge and his team....it's a winning combination! Looking forward to the next time!! Bless up! ( as Porridge would say!)
Dave and Marion Hampton
Peter & Sally Hudson
Visited: August 2006
We had a wonderful time in August, Castara Retreats was out of this world, and I think we will enjoy it even more on our second visit in February (I'm always a bit nervous my first time in a new place) so I can't wait. I've also got a treat to look forward to - we won a meal at Adam's place in the mytobago competition. I've heard good things about it so I'm looking forward to that.
Thanks for all your work,
Visited: August 2006
We had an absolutely wonderful holiday, staying at Rainforest....we had thought August might be a bit rainy, but we had fantastic sunshine for most of the time, and the very occasional hot shower, which lasted no more than 20 mins.... the accommodation at Rainforest is superb, Castara beach is perhaps the most perfect beach we have ever experienced, great sand and swimming etc... we were made very welcome by everyone at Castara, Porridge was so generous and friendly, and we enjoyed our fishing trips enormously....
Phil, Sharon & Dylan Robinson
Visited: June 2006
Hi Steve, Sue & Jean,
We have just got back from our 2 weeks in Tobago with one week at Fisherman's Lodge and wanted to write to say a huge THANKS! Fisherman's is one of the nicest accomodation places we've ever stayed in and it was perfect for us with Dylan (17 months).
Porridge and Carrington made us feel very welcome - Carrington bought us fresh fruit (mango and banana) every morning and our boat trip was a great day out. Porridge was also fab - always turning up with a smile on his face and nothing was too much trouble.
We certainly hope to visit Castara Retreats again in the future and have already recommended it to a few friends - we will certainly be talking about it for a long time to come! Thank you also for the quick response to all of our emails and for making it so easy for us to book with you.
Thanks again - we really did have a great time and have lots of lovely memories....
Phil, Sharon & Dylan Robinson.
Chris and George Lea
Visited: May 2006
Having stayed in Fisherman Lodge earlier in the year. (We had been told 'you have to go' by our daughter, last year). I can honestly say that we have never been anywhere quite so perfect (for us) or more beautiful. We still have in our minds vivid pictures of days out in 'Blessed' with the A crew, and of the fish we caught and later ate. Vivid pictures of our wonderful early morning bird watching walk with Newton George. Vivid pictures of the colours of the flowers in the garden and of the taste of the mangoes, paw paw and bananas, that we shared with 'our' birds. Vivid pictures of bumbling around our deck and house in the early morning doing nothing much, and also evenings on the same deck, buzzing with shared laughter with all our new made friends. Unbeatable. Where shall we go next year to beat that .........I think we shall have to come back!!!
Claudia and Hugo Meier
Visited: April 2006
Dear Sue and Steve,
Just wanted to say what great place you have created with Coasthanger. The overview is just breathtaking. We enjoyed our stay very much and felt like home, as it was our third stay at Castara. Thanks to Porridge, Jeanell, Hermin, Carrington, Doris and the rest of the crew caring for us. We loved the parties with the other guests or to chat with whoever dropping in. We made some lovely friends we hope to see soon.
Lots of love
Claudia and Hugo
Fiona & Graham Smith
Visited: April 2006
Dear Sue and Steve,
We had a fab holiday in Castara, the village and people were very welcoming and friendly. Fisherman's lodge was everything we hoped it would be and more. Mrs Mot Mot together with all the other colourful birds visited us every morning for their banana and bread breakfast. Even the local chickens managed to steal some! The snorkelling was amazing, swimming with turtles, sting rays and squid among others, even being chased by a moray eel! Thank you to Porridge for all the fun times, especially the parties with the other guests, we made some lovely friends. We hope to see you again one day.
Fee & Graham
Juliet, Julian , Lewis and Oscar Silburn
Visited: April 2006
Sue and Steve,
Our stay in Rainforest was delightful. The welcome and care we received from Porridge, Jeanell, Ovita and ladies was outstanding. We fell in love with the warmth and charm of Castara, its people and its way of life. We will have many,many happy memories, especially the fantastic barbeques, boat trips and rum punches! Also partying until the early hours at Sunday School with Porridge and other guests. Thank you Sue and Steve for the wonderful experience of Castara Retreats. Thank you Porridge and Jeanell - you made our holiday so very special.
Until the next time,
J,J,L and O
Visited: December 05 - January 2006
Dear Steven and Sue,
Just wanted to drop you a line to say thanks.
We returned late last night after spending a really
wonderful week at fisherman's retreat. Castara is a great
place to spend time and we can't say enough about Porridge. Also, I wouldn't exactly say my wife and I are
avid birders, but just sitting on the terrace each morning,
taking in the view and the birds in the mango tree was
really memorable. We even saw a hawk-eagle (very close-up)
which I take it is not too common. It rained quite a bit as
well, which clouded up the snorkeling, but that's what keeps
everything so green and lush. We did manage to see the
resident squid (at the reef that is), blackfinned moray,
snake eels, a curious and large barraccuda and nice schools
of good sized tang.
Tim and Debra Elder
Visited: November/December 2005
Dear Sue and Steve,
Just thinking of the wonderful experience of staying at your Rainforest Lodge. Wow.... Porridge and his staff were gracious hosts, helping bridge the culture barrier and making us feel welcome. The rainforest lodge is a spectacular place to stay for those folks who enjoy privacy along with an amazing view of Castara village, the ocean, beaches and many fine feathered friends. If you are expecting or desiring an all inclusive resort where you seem to have never left you own country, then you may want to take your holiday elsewhere. We were married in Castara during our stay and feel as if it is a part of us now.
P.S. Thank you Porridge for arranging the delivery of our marriage certificate from the "Red House" Hope to take a holiday every year in Tobago
Tim & Debra
Visited: November 05
Dear Sue and Steve,
In our misery at leaving (or should I say
haste to catch the last few rays of sunshine after a wet
weekend!) we forgot to write in the visitors book in
Rainforest before we left so I just wanted to drop you a
line to say what a wonderful place you have created at
Castara Retreats. We had a fantastic holiday, the place is
just as you describe it in your notes (although perhaps the
photos don't do it justice!) and we couldn't have asked for
more from Porrige and Jeanelle. The only downsides
were a few rainy days but its hard to complain when we could
just lie in the hammock looking at the bay, watching the
birds and waiting for the rain to pass!
We were really well looked after, and had a great day out in a group of people on the boat. It won't surprise you to know that we didn't want to come home....
Diana, Abigail and Lucy
Visited: August 05
Dear Sue and Steve,
We loved staying in Rainforest, and miss the sound of the sea, the music drifting up from the village, the views, chickens and Chachalacas. There was something for all 3 generations to enjoy, Lucy especially had great fun swimming and playing with Freya and Darisia. Abi took instant possession of the hammock.....We all loved the swimming and snorkelling, the boat trips, Lucy is now addicted to fishing. Our holiday was made so easy thanks to the benevolent care of Porridge, Jeanell, and Ovita. We had 2 unforgettable days with the guide Newton George, who took us through the rainforest, and in the glass bottomed boat to Little Tobago. Thanks to everyone,
Di, Abi & Lucy
Visited: May 05
I wanted say what a fantastic time we had in Osprey. We have completely fallen in love with Castara. We swam in the sea every day which was clear because of the sunshine we only had two days of rain in the two weeks we were there. The view from our balcony was stunning and I am already missing waking up to sound of the birds every morning. Porridge was the best hosts ever we spent many a night liming with him and the other locals. We managed to get hold of some of our favourite local songs on CD and have brought some killer hot sauce home with us which we ate with everything. I am gutted to be sitting here at work trudging through my emails in the knowledge that less than two days ago we were swimming along with sting rays and sunning ourselves in the most magical place I have ever visited. We are already planning another trip to Castara Retreats next year even though we always said we wouldn't go to the same place twice.
Anne & Don Francis
Visited: April 05
We just returned from Castara a couple of weeks ago, and we still miss beautiful Tobago and the people of Castara. Even though we looked at the website every day (often more than once a day) we were still stunned by the amazing view from our bed in Fisherman's Lodge that first morning. Words can not fully express how wonderful everyone was to us. Carrington brought us fresh bananas from the garden every morning; We went on two wonderful boat trips (watch those rum punches); Cheryl made us delicious buss-up-shut; Jeanell's fresh bread was lovely, and Porridge was just a phone call away if we needed anything and (most importantly) when we needed a bottle of rum on a Sunday. We also had the pleasure of meeting Nigel Mills, the clever fellow who built the new deck, bedroom and awesome new table on the deck at Fisherman's. Almost every evening after returning from another beautiful beach, we would have lively cocktail hours on our deck with whomever happened by. We made sure to keep a supply of beer and rum on hand and it was a wonderful, casual, way to get to know our new friends. After a while we began to feel like we were a part of the village and its life. We miss our little house on the hill and all the kind people we met, but we will return again to beautiful Tobago and Castara.
Anne & Don Francis
Katie & Mark
Visited: March 05
I just wanted to write to say thank you so
much for the most amazing holiday we have ever ever had. We
arrived in Tobago and luckily Porridge was there to meet us
after the slight hitch of our flight from Barbados being
cancelled. We then woke up the first morning to the most
amazing views!!! Breathtaking is not the word.
Our favourite day was when we went out with the family from Rainforest on a boat and we caught 12 fish!! We then barbecued the fish at No Mans Land and we saw a Sting Ray! We came back to the Retreats to watch the sun going down from the decking brimming with all our stories. We then tucked into the remainder of our fish and a very lethal bottle of Marguerite's homemade Aloe Vera wine!!
Everyone was so great. We weren't able to book our last 2 days of our holiday in the Retreats as you were fully booked but Porridge kindly offered to put us up in his apartment on the other side of the village. That day he moved us and then enjoyed a couple of rums with us!! Jeanell then made us soup which was just so delicious (and certainly helped to soak up some of the alcohol!!)
I know that my mum and dad are planning a trip out to Tobago (and Castara Retreats - of course) for next year. I have told them that they can get as excited as physically possible because there is no way in a million years they will be disappointed!!
Jean & Tony Whieldon
Visited: December 04/January 05
We managed to set aside enough time to spend a whole month at Fisherman's in Castara and we still think often of our dear turquoise cabin on the hillside. Although the website is crammed with excellent information, NOTHING but nothing could possibly have prepared us for the reality of the place. Everything was just so INTENSE, so much larger than life somehow. It took us three days to just let go of the world as we knew it and go with the flow at Castara. We nearly fell out of bed every morning when we woke up to that incredible view and went to bed each night listening to the crashing surf and watching the cicadas, geckos and fireflies above our bed after eating fish bought on the beach served with pumpkin bread from the clay oven ladies. Wonderful garden stuffed with wildlife and birds and kindly support from Porridge, Jeanell, Carrington and Carol. We loved it - even in the wild weather of a tropical convergence - and can't wait to get back...
Rick & Tina Preece, USA
Visited: January 2005
After planning and looking forward to this trip for 10 months I had high expectations going in. They were not only met but exceeded! From Porridge meeting us as planned at that late hour to taking us back as such an early hour. Awoke the first morning to the weather going from wet to dry season over night and a fresh loaf of bread from Jeanell. Accommodations were spectacular. I do not think there is a better spot in the whole village than Fisherman's. Once in Castara, we never felt the need to leave. Ventured to Scarborough w/ Porridge and 2 other couples for $ exchange and groceries 5 days after we were there. Castara is a vacation vs. a destination. We also enjoyed our fishing trip and barbeque at "no man's land". Again, thank you so very much for all that you all have done to make Castara Retreats a truly memorable experience.
Visited: November 2004
Just back from Tobago (physically here, mentally still on the beach). Everything went smoothly with Rainforest and it goes without saying that we loved its wonderful design - fill in all the usual superlatives! Thank you both for having the vision to create such a haven with beautiful materials in a lovely position - next time I'll make sure the stay is for a bit longer.
Visited: October 2004
Christopher and I enjoyed a blissful honeymoon in Fisherman's Lodge last October. We fully intend to come back and stay again in a couple of years - but we regularly visit your website to see what has been going on. We got on so well with Porridge and with Carrington and his brother who came to do the gardening and was really entertaining! When life gets a bit stressful we now have a saying: "What would people in Castara be doing?" - which generally means, chill out, relax and everything will take care of itself. Thanks for sharing a bit of your paradise with us. We have memories that give us, as they say, "roses in December".
Richard, Angela, Rob and Emma Brook
Visited: August 2004
What a fantastic place to explore and relax. Over 50 species of birds without leaving the garden, and about the same number of fish in the reef at Little Bay. The hospitality shown by everyone we met was superb - we felt extremely safe and had a great time. The best thing was that we never really felt like tourists, being accepted as part of the Castara community almost straight away. That meant we had to work a bit harder than normal to find out where things are, for instance buying fresh fish and bread took patience and persistence, but that was all part of the fun.
I asked Porridge, looking for some inside info on where to go, 'where would you go for a special day out with your family?' He just looked at me strangely and said, quite honestly, 'Castara!'
Mel and Amanda
Visited: June 2004
We were so looking forward to our stay at
Castara Retreats - and for so many months - that as the
holiday got closer we feared we might have built up
unrealistic expectations and we desperately tried to prepare
ourselves for disappointment. We actually failed in this
attempt but it didn't matter because from the moment we
stepped out of the airport into the heat and sunshine we had
the most fabulous time - better than we could have even
We could write a novel - each - about our stay, several chapters of which would be needed to describe the beauty of Castara Retreats - and especially 'our' house, Fisherman's Lodge. Looking down over the village, the forest, the bay and the ocean - with nothing between us and the horizon - is something we could never tire of.it gave us such perspective and peace. All holiday reading was cancelled .we couldn't take our eyes off the world we'd just discovered.
But it's much more than a great view - the birds, the weather (heat and glorious rain!) the food, the forest, the sea, the beach . right up until the day we left - and still since we've been home - we can't quite believe it all. The wonder of it had a strange impact on us - it made us laugh and then become quiet and still, then laugh again. We felt close to tears a number of times. It was an intense but gentle experience. And the strange thing is, unlike when returning from other beautiful places and finding that 'real' life grates a little, that your home town looks ugly, we feel like we are carrying Castara around with us - as if something beautiful has lodged itself in our eyes and hearts.
We were amazed every day by something.mostly the people who we found, without exception, to be warm, generous, funny, gentle and really good company. We tend to enjoy solitude on holiday but from the moment we arrived we were unrecognisable to ourselves.Tobago and Castara cast a spell on us!
The sights, sounds, conversations, sensations, the connecting with people, the feel of the place combined to make a deeply relaxing, sensory overload. Who'd have thought that was possible!
We make no apology for sentimentality. Our experience in Castara was much more than a holiday. We needed to relax. We wanted an adventure. We got both.and so much more.
We miss our friends and we miss our tree house and we miss Castara but we feel so lucky to have found it all. Is it really still there, all going on as normal? What a wonderful thought.
Thanks Sue, Steve and Freya for sharing Castara Retreats. We won't forget you or our happy, happy time in Tobago.
Lots of love to you and all our new friends.
Mel and Amanda
Ruana & Mike Di Marco
Submitted: 06 July 2004 - Visited: June 04
Dear Sue & Steve,
Just a note to let you know that we had a wonderful time in Tobago and that we really enjoyed staying in Castara, finding Castara Retreats to be the best accommodation available, especially in the area. The views were so mesmerising, that we actually spent the first week just watching the comings and goings of the bay. It was really beautiful and we are regretting not having stayed another week.
Jeanell and Porridge were both lovely, and looked after us so well. Everything ran very smoothly and we have no complaints, except maybe for the CD player in Rainforest apartment, which unfortunately broke the peace on the odd occasion.
Thank you both so much for an unforgettable holiday. We are already thinking about going back in December...!
Ruana & Mike.
Andrew & Sheila Peat
Submitted: 26 June 2004 - Visited: May 04
We stayed a week at Osprey at the end of May, and we just wanted to write to say how much we had enjoyed it. The view from the balcony was all and more than we hoped for, and even when it was raining we were still able to sit out there!
Congratulations on the location and design of the flats and contents - if we could, we would give you constructive suggestions but we can't think of anything we would want to change!
We found your notes about the village very helpful as it gave us an idea what to expect as we might otherwise have taken a while to suss out where to eat out and buy food!
We were very well looked after by Porridge and Jeanell, and despite usually being bad sailors couldn't resist a boat trip, which was rewarded by being surrounded by 30+ dolphins at one stage!
We had also dipped into the myTobago website which, as you probably know, has had extensive discussions on Castara - as well as very positive reports of Castara Retreats.
We loved watching the birds and can thoroughly recommend a new bird book just published by Macmillan which you might like to suggest to future residents - it concentrates on the common birds and has lovely pictures, and we saw lots of them from the balcony and gardens. It is Birds of Trinidad and Tobago (Second Edition published 2004) by Richard ffrench ISBN 0 333 99584 8 - can't remember exactly how much but definitely under £10.
We also spent a week in Trinidad and can recommend the Mount Plaisir Hotel at Grande Riviere where we saw dozens of leatherback turtles laying their eggs each night, and a small B&B in Port of Spain called The Gingerbread House.
We really enjoyed our holiday in Tobago and hope to be back some time!
Andrew and Sheila Peat
Paul, Helen, Emily & Ben Child
Submitted: 04 May 2004 - Visited: February 04
We are just trying to work out how we can come back, fitting round GCSEs, work etc. etc. We had such a brilliant time, no other holiday has ever compared to our too short week in Castara. The company of Steve, Sue and Freya made our stay even more special. This is a place to totally chill out and not expect to stick to any deadlines. We loved the food, especially at Marguerites, it was all so fresh and just tasted delicious. Everyone was so friendly and we felt so welcome, Lodie and Porridge were lovely. Definitely an experience worth repeating.
Submitted: 27 April 2004 - Visited: April 04
Just to say thank you for making such a 'heaven on earth'
available to mere mortals! I can't tell you how much we
loved it. We loved Fisherman's, we loved the views of the
unbelievable bay, we loved Castara - and the people were
just so lovely. I miss it all so badly- it's almost physical
( well, I am still slaving at my desk as I write this) Did I
mention the birds? To die for. I spent every early morning
down at the little waterfall forest feeling that life
couldn't really get any better. What an inspired choice of
location you made. Where ever we visited on the Island,
lovely though it was, we were always happy to return to the
'little house on the hill' - perfection.
Jeanell was lovely and looked after us well. Porridge - what a character. He was so kind and so much fun - really went out of his way to take care of 'his ladies'. You are very lucky to have them. King David, Kelly, Gouti, Carrington, Overload - all so kind to us. Overload. I have promised myself that I will return one day ( are you booked next week? Perhaps I will just run away.............. we can all dream).
So, a million thanks for finding and making available such a life enhancing place. It really was the best holiday of our lives.
Very best wishes
PS The hairdryer was fabulous! Many thanks
Submitted: 10 April 2004 - Visited: April 04
We have now returned home to Scotland after a great holiday in Tobago. The time has flown past and the whole holiday exceeded our expectations.
Our time at Castara was wonderful and made all the better by the house, Porridge, Jeanell, etc etc. Our kids had a great time on the beach and Ruari, our six year old, could not believe the fish which he saw when snorkelling, and the one he caught. (I couldn't believe it either).
Your house is beautiful and so ideal for the purpose; we quickly got used to the other occupants including the bats, the birds, the cockroaches and the mosquitoes, this all being part of the great experience that we had. We will cherish the memories of sitting on the verandah drinking beer in the sunset. Marguarite's food was delicious and eating at Max's was the ultimate in informal dining (at a cost of £8.00 for four including beer!!!!)
A special thanks must go to Porridge who does a great job
for you and who was always there to advise and help; nothing
seemed too much trouble.
Thanks again for everything and maybe we'll contact you again in the future to return to Castara.
Regards, Sandy and Christine Edmond
Submitted: 16 March 2004 - Visited: February 04
I can't even begin to explain what a wonderful time we had in Castara. We want to come back next year around the same time and rent the whole place out for family. That is how much we loved it. Porridge took real good care of us.
Submitted: 12 March 2004 - Visited: 4/10/2003
Martin and I stayed in Pelican for two weeks and I would like to let you know that we had a fantastic time. The apartment itself was wonderful and the views breathtaking. We left Castara only to go fishing with Porridge for one day and for a day trip out to Pigeon Point and Buccoo Bay. Castara is such a friendly atmospheric place that you never ever want to leave. I actually shed a tear on our last day. Porridge looked after us brilliantly, so much so that he made us feel special and that we were the only people in the world he'd ever treated that way. I know this is not true and that Porridge is the same with all your guests - he's a gem.
Submitted: 21 October 2003
If I had one bad thing to say about tobago it would be that I'm not there now. In the time that I was in Tobago I fell in love, with the place the people, the views, everything. Without a doubt the best time I have ever had, and I will never forget it. Thank you Steve and thank you Sue.
Sam and Nina
Submitted: 04 August 2003
We really enjoyed it in Castara. It's the most beautiful beach we have been to (and we have travelled quite a lot). The water was lovely and the beach empty, clean and unspoilt. The people were really nice. The apartment was lovely. The view from the bed is just magic, so we when we woke up in the mornings we just sat there on the bed admiring the gorgeous view. We had a great time at the carnival.
Kathey and Don Anthony from US
Submitted: 29 July 2003
Some points from us:
- We saw more birds at your place than anywhere else in Tobago, including Little Tobago and the Rain Forest Walk;
- It was cooler there than anywhere else we stayed;
- Porridge was more than accommodating, visiting each day and helping us out;
- Fresh bread was an unexpected treat. Your place was somewhat similar to our previous all time favourite vacation spot. You had tons more birds and a much better view than our Dominica location. So we now have two all time favourite vacation spots. Thanks for a great time and glad we got in on it before the lines start forming.
Submitted: 03 March 2003
I had a wonderful time; Rainforest lodge was even better than I'd hoped, in a very pleasant location, with great views and a refreshing cooling breeze almost all the time. I'd also like to thank Porridge and Jeanell on the wonderful way they looked after me. They were always friendly and very helpful, while never seeming pushy or intrusive. They really treat people as guests rather than 'customers' or 'tourists'. I'd certainly recommend Tobago, Castara, and Rainforest Lodge to friends. Thanks again.
Submitted: 25 February 2003
We both really loved Castara and the house is truly unique. We also thought Porridge and Jeanell were absolutely lovely! We are absolutely in love with Tobago and are still utterly shocked to be back! We hope you all have many more lovely times out there - we'll definitely be back.
Submitted: 30 December 2002
In this place, after just a few days, the stress and strain of my busy life falls from me. I feel relaxed and happy. What a treat to leave my folding shutters wide open so that my bed feels to be suspended within the magnificent constantly moving landscape. Pelicans swoop and dive, the frigate birds wheel and turn, and sometimes an osprey visits. I may wake to watch the fishing boats set out in the early morning. Each day offers ocean swimming, beach combing and the possibility of snorkelling. I may choose to rest, read or just daydream on the terrace where I am entertained by the swoop of brightly coloured birds and cooled by the through breeze. From here you can see a shoal of fish enter the bay and drift into the daily net. This, and the return of the fishing boats in the late afternoon, signal the time to meander down through the village, to choose fish for supper. Some days I retreat into the cool of my beautiful room for a siesta. I am sheltered in paradise.
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