If you want to get the essence of Tobago while enjoying breathtaking views and delicious dirt-oven bread, then look no further than the wonderful village of Castara.
Castara is a small fishing community on the leeward side of the island, which shows you the quainter, more relaxed side of Tobago. The authenticity of the village makes you feel like you are light years from the hectic pace of your normal life. You can’t help but adopt the laid back vibe.
The journey to Castara and the village itself definitely gets a 10/10 for gorgeous views! Whether you stop at a lookout point to gaze down at the blue-green waters of Englishman’s Bay or the fishing boats at Parlatuvier Bay, take a trek through the lush rainforests to the picturesque Castara waterfall, or sit on Castara Beach to see the fantastic sunsets, I promise they will be sights you won’t soon forget. The village itself has a very rustic look that really makes you feel like you are fully immersed in the culture and that you are even one of their own.
Castara is renowned for the beachfront bread shed and dirt ovens, where you can get many tasty breads and pastries – pumpkin bread, sweet bread, buns (or “hops bread”), coconut drops, coconut tarts and even cassava pone. The Castara Heritage Bakers’ Oven is the first you see upon arrival. The funds raised from their sales are used for the nearby Castara Government School.
It is so amazing to witness the expert bakers use the “ole-time” baking method to create these delicacies. This is, however, only available on Wednesdays and Fridays so be sure you get there early to put in your order – as you would imagine, these items would be in high demand! Collection is after lunch so you will have time to explore the culture-rich village.
If you walk a bit to the back though, you will see another dirt oven which was established in March 2018, with a younger group of bakers but with treats no less tasty! They seem to fire up the oven at lunchtime so you might just be able to put in your order if you reach around that time. It is wonderful that though these dirt ovens have become very rare, there is still hope that the tradition will be continued. I think we really “knead” it.
While you are waiting for dirt-oven treats, it is highly recommended that you take a walk on the lovely Castara Beach. Despite the variety of activities such as swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing and kayaking on the beach, there is still a very tranquil and warm aura. If you are lucky, you might see some fishermen pulling in their nets or “pulling seine” as we Trinbagonians call it.
These fishermen welcome help from locals and tourists. So don’t be shy to flex your muscles and jump in. It is quite a task but it truly makes you feel like part of the village and you can’t help but feel accomplished when the catch comes ashore. You might even get first dibs on the fresh catch or get some “fry-dry” from the grateful fishermen.
A hidden gem?
This small fishing village can almost be regarded as a hidden gem, since it really isn’t marketed like the other main tourist attractions of Tobago like Buccoo Reef and Fort King George. However, even though the village is considered remote, it continues to attract many visitors from all over the world. Once you visit, it really isn’t surprising that word would spread of its natural beauty, fun-filled activities, cultural adventures, strong community spirit and delicious eats!
So on your next Tobago trip, cast off to Castara! It is definitely worth the journey!