What's the plan?
I'm heading off the radar for island life on Tobago. The cooler friendlier sister of Trinidad. With acres of rainforest, amazing wildlife and hidden coves I can't wait to explore and then there's the sun. There is so much of it all year round here temperates around 30C on average so I'm also looking forward to some serious beach time.
So where are you staying ?
At Castara Retreats tucked away in its namesake bay on the north side of the island. Castara bay is sandy picture postcard and the sea dotted with brightly coloured fishing boats surrounded by lush rainforest and Castara retreats is nestled into the hillside overlooking the bay. Castara retreats is made up off 15 uniquely designed lodges and is British owned but run by a local couple Porridge and Janelle.
View of Castara Retreats from the sea. Images by Alex Treadway
What are the rooms like?
I was lucky to stay in the Birdsong lodge. Made entirely from Cyrus wood sourced locally, its spacious and cleverly designed with two sides of the lodge have large wooden shutters. It gives me a serene uninterrupted view of the sea, and a feeling of being at one with nature as I wake up to the sound of the sea and yellow banquets birds on the window ledge.
But this is no rustic tree house. The interior boasts a large living room, with polished wooden floors a bedroom with four-poster bed en-suite. There are iPod docks and lamps made from driftwood to create the perfect mood. You know someone got it right when you can imagine yourself living there!
My view from Birdsong Lodge and the interior. Images by Alex Treadway
So I'm starting to feel peckish, where to for supper?
I head to the Pavilion bar at Castara Retreats. The wooden decked terrace, which is softly candelit at night has a really stunning view of the bay. There are some great cocktails. I opted for Kenny the bar manager's signature rum punch and it doesn’t disappoint. For dinner had the fish of the day barracuda, which was absolutely mouthwatering. Desert for me was another rum, of which luckily there are loads to choose from.
Pavillon Bar at Castara Retreats, Image of Bar and Food by Alex Treadway.
After a morning dip. Where to for breakfast?
Tobago gets going early and once your used to it, a morning swim in the bay is a wonderful way to start the day. After building up an appetite we headed to Chino’s cafe for breakfast a stones throw from the beach. Good coffee, avocado & eggs and homemade coconut bread sets you up a treat for a day ahead. Days can easily be whiled away on Castara beach drinking fresh coconut water from Benjis fruit stall, or heading to the secluded waterfall a five-minute walk from the village into the jungle a beautiful hidden spot.
Benji's Fruit Stall Main image by Alex Treadway
Hang on but I fancy an adventure....
The easiest way to get around the island is by boat of course. Boat trips can be organised through Porridge at Castara, who knows all the hidden spots. We set off on our beautiful pink and blue boat and head for Cotton Bay. Unreachable by foot, Cotton bay is pure postcard paradise. We sit back and have yet another rum punch and BBQ the fish caught off the back of the boat, which is yummy. We went snorkelling and Tobago is equally colorful underwater as it is above. If the snorkel doesn't cut it then move onto deep sea diving. Tobago is renowned for it's diving whether you’re looking to do your PADI or are more experienced there's something for everyone. I would recommend staying on the pacific side of the island for diving, Blue Waters Inn, is the perfect spot, set in a small bay opposite the house of Ian Fleming it’s a great dive start point.
Castara Beach Main image by Alex Treadway
Can't get us out of the sea even at night..
Feeling adventurous I head out for a spot of moonlit paddleboarding that evening. We head out over the sea with our trusty guide Brett paddling over to a bay surrounded by mango groves, it's as if your paddling into an enchanted forest. The sea algae when lit up by the moon looks like thousands of flecks of silver in the water. Lying back and taking in the star filled sky on the beautiful lake with the sky mirrored by the sea, it really is enchanting.
After feeling at one with nature what next ?
Luckily for us Castara run weekly yoga classes in Kundalini yoga and Thai yoga massage. I decided to check out Elspeth's Sunday morning Kundalini class. Classes are held on the wooden decking with a breathtaking view. Elspeth is a Trinidad native and her experienced classes are filled with music and mantras, leaving you feeling utterly relaxed and grounded. If you fancy a mid week class its worth heading to the other side of the island to Kariwak where they hold weekly classes and retreats.
So now I'm feeling super relaxed do we really have to do anything else?
It's a Sunday, take it easy Caribbean style. If you can bear to leave Castara the head to Sunday school. This is no church however, this is where the locals meet up each week to listen to the steel pans and later dance to soca music and just general “liming” which is the local phrase for chilling out. Which is what in essence Tobago is truly about.
A one night stay at Castara Retreats is from £80 staying at Firefly (sleeps 2). To make a booking or for more information please visit www.CastaraRetreats.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org / +44 (0)7841-645238. BA/Virgin fly to Tobago from London Gatwick. Castara Retreats
The summer lead in for Blue Waters is $196 based on BB for 2 guests sharing. Blue Waters Inn