Joshua Surtees, The Guardian, October 1, 2013
Kariwak Village Holistic Haven, Crown Point
Kariwak is a tranquil foodie's paradise, down a quiet lane but less than a mile from the airport. Canadian-born owner Cynthia Clovis has been cooking here for the past 31 years and recently published a book of her most popular dishes, such as sautéed shrimps with green-fig salad. The "village", designed by her husband, Allan, is laid out to instil calm: 18 cabanas surround the ozonated, chlorine-free pool; six larger rooms are reached by a path winding through herb gardens and past fishponds. There are yoga and t'ai chi classes every morning and evening, while massage, shiatsu and aromatherapy complete the holistic experience. If you're not already unwound, lounge music and creamy piña coladas will have you moving from bar to bed in a state of total Zen.
• Store Bay Local Road, +1868 639 8442, kariwak.com. Doubles from £86 per night B&B
Cuffie River Nature Retreat, near Mason Hall
Situated on the eastern fringe of the Main Ridge Forest Reserve, this eco-lodge is surrounded by rainforest. Built in colonial-villa style, it has 10 bedrooms and is as cosy as guesthouses come – but with nature right on your doorstep. Wildlife even comes inside, with birds such as the blue-grey tanager flying in and out through the open windows. Each room has a balcony from which to gaze into the forest and listen to jungle sounds by night, and the dawn chorus at sunrise. Hummingbirds almost the size of swallows hover around the garden, flitting from sugar-water feeders to nectar-rich flowers (bright-pink bleeding hearts, orangey-red trumpet creepers). Owner Regina Dumas arranges hikes for guests wishing to venture into the surrounding blanket of green.
• cuffie-river.com – for enquiries from the UK email [email protected]. Rooms from £75 (self-catering, low season) to £250 (full board, high season)
Castara Retreats, Castara
These seven, wood-built apartments are in lush hillside gardens with exquisite views of Castara Bay. Set high above the beach, they are filled with delightful sea breezes by day and enjoy cooler nights. The Rainforest penthouse, with more than 150 square metres of cypress-wood decking, covered by a vaulted ceiling, is equipped with all mod cons, yet has a really organic feel. The smaller apartments are charming, too, offering hammocks strung up on terraces with spectacular views. Every aspect is expertly detailed: iPod docks, dimmer switches, and kitchens with top-of-the-range pans and utensils.
• Northside Road – for enquiries from the UK call 01497 831 505, castararetreats.com. £85-£200 per room per night
Man-O-War Bay Cottages, Charlotteville
Set in colourful landscaped gardens – with mango, breadfruit, banana, papaya and almond trees providing much needed shade, as well as fruit – are 10 basic, self-catering chalets. Some of them were built in the 1950s, when writers and painters came seeking a quiet haven, and can accommodate single travellers to groups of eight. The cottages are perfect for beach lovers: a fence with a gate is all that separates you from Hermitage Bay, part of the larger Man-O-War Bay that spans the picturesque fishing village of Charlotteville. Spend lazy days lolling in the garden or on the sand. At night, you'll be lulled to sleep by the sound of waves breaking on the shore.
• +1868 660 4327, man-o-warbaycottages.com. Doubles from £42 per night
Blue Waters Inn, Batteaux Bay
This family-oriented guesthouse is close to the Atlantic coast fishing village of Speyside – you'll pass the village's historic, rusting iron waterwheel before arriving here. Blue Waters Inn is by the calm, blue sea of Batteaux Bay, which is fringed with golden sands. All of the 38 rooms face the sea and overlook the beach. It's a warm, ocean paradise, where you could spend all day simply floating in the water or sitting on a recliner by the pool, watching the ocean change colour from azure to turquoise as the shadows lengthen. But there's also a good choice of activities, with a tennis court, table tennis and birdwatching in the surrounding forest.
• +1868 660 4341, bluewatersinn.com. Rooms from £63 half board to £115 full board
Mot Mot and Sugarmill villas, Arnos Vale
Close to the colonial town of Plymouth is an area called Arnos Vale, where country lanes lead to fabulous houses at the end of long driveways. Nestled in this peaceful area are these beautiful villas, set in undulating gardens with fruit trees. Mot Mot, the more imposing of the two, sits atop a hill with views out to sea. Designed like a plantation house, it has wooden floors, four-poster beds and a gorgeous upper-floor balcony overlooking the pool. The other house is built to look like an 18th-century sugar mill. With a spiral wooden staircase and top-floor observatory deck with spectacular views, it feels like you are staying in a lighthouse. Friendly members of staff are on hand to look after you and cook if required.
• Rental through Abraham Tobago Realty, +1868 639 3325, abrahamrealty.com. Mot Mot sleeps six to seven from £1,250 per week; Sugar Mill sleeps eight to 10 from £1,125 per week
Miller's Guesthouse, Buccoo
Located in the sleepy fishing village of Buccoo, this is the best budget accommodation on the island. It is run by Winston Pereira, a half-Arawak, half-Lebanese Tobagonian, who loves to hold court on any topic you care to mention: theology and world politics are his current favourites – get him started and you may be there some time. There are six simple, air-conditioned en suite rooms, one self-contained apartment and one dormitory with bunk beds and a kitchen. The guesthouse has a great view over Buccoo reef, with its jetty, fishing boats and pelicans plunging crazily into the sea and reappearing seconds later with bills full of fish.
• +1868 772 5609, millersguesthouse.com. Rooms from £18 per night
Villa Soleil, Arnos Vale
This stunning, enormous villa is built into the cliffs on the leeward coast of Tobago. Waves break against the rocks just underneath the two-tier pool, which feels like an extension of the ocean. An open-roofed central courtyard gives it the look of a Moroccan riad and the dining area, with sea views, has a 12-seater mahogany table. The five bedrooms are fabulously well-furnished and the master bedroom has one of the biggest four-poster beds you could hope to see. The opulence comes with excellent service – you get a housekeeper and a driver who will pick you up from the airport.
• +1868 326 0543, soleiltobago.com, sleeps up to 10 from £480 per night
Bacolet Beach Club, Scarborough
On Bacolet Street, leading out of the little capital, Scarborough, the houses take on a white-picket-fence look. Three significant hotels are situated here: The Blue Haven, a relic of the 1950s; Half Moon Blue, built in 1850 and renovated in 1996; and Bacolet Beach Club, built in 2006 by former Tobagonian model Gloria Jones-Knapp, the owner of Half Moon Blue. It's a beachside boutique hotel exuding pristine-white style. The majestic entrance dazzles you from the road, with a view right through the lobby: from there, a staircase descends to a secluded private beach. An infinity pool overlooks the sea and the 20 sleek rooms have sliding doors leading on to verandas with views over the crashing waves.
• 73 Bacolet Street, +1868 639 2357, bacoletbeachclub.com. Doubles from £122 per night
Being villa, Arnos Vale
Being villa is knowingly pretentious, a little bit cheeky and a lot of fun. This striking complex of self-consciously postmodern architecture is set in an organic orchard, perched on cliffs. The main house is a surrealist blend of Spanish hacienda and church hall, with ornate spires and a roof so curving it seems to be melting. The smaller outhouses are minimalist. Random archways and standalone structures in the garden feel like monuments – to the sun gods, perhaps. The buildings are designed to suit the weather precisely, so light pervades the living room, tiled bathrooms, wooden staircases and dining patios that overlook the infinity pool. Frigate birds cawing overhead and cicadas in the bush are the only sounds to disturb the quiet here.
• +1868 625 4443, being-tobago.com. Sleeps two to six from £320 per night
Joshua Surtees recently moved from London, where he worked for the Guardian, to Trinidad and Tobago, where he is a journalist on the Trinidad Guardian
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk