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“Unique Diving Experience”
Review of Manta Lodge

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Manta Lodge
Ranked #3 of 5 Speyside B&B and Inns
Auburn, CA
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Unique Diving Experience”
Reviewed 6 May 2013

This was our second trip to Tobago for scuba diving. This time, my wife and I wanted to spend some of our time staying in Speyside to experience the dives there. We selected Manta Lodge and Tobago Dive Experience. On our first trip to Tobago, we spent almost all of time in the Crown Point Area and on this trip we wanted to spend more time in Speyside.

The diving was fantastic, and the stay at Manta Lodge very pleasant and relaxing. The staff was very friendly and accommodating, and the food was quite good. The accommodations at Manta Lodge are basic and the Lodge is an older property. That said, it is quite clean and comfortable with daily maid service. Our favorite meal was a dinner of King Mackerel caught that day. Excellent! Free wireless internet is available (in the lobby area). The bar situation is interesting. Someone was usually around to assist us, but if no one is around, you just walked behind the bar, selected a beverage, and wrote down your choice in the spiral notebook.

What made this trip very special for us was diving with Sean Robinson (Tobago Dive Experience has a shop located at Manta Lodge). For several of our dives, my wife and I were the only divers with Sean. Even on busier days, the groups on the boats are small (which we prefer). Sean has made over 25,000 dives and has a wealth of knowledge on Tobago dive sites as well as scuba diving techniques. Sean was always offering pointers on how to improve our diving.

The currents at some Tobago dive sites can be challenging, and divers should be comfortable with drift dives. With Sean, we did negative entries with BC deflated. This type of entry allows a group begin decent immediately and stay together even in stronger currents. The staff at Tobago Dive Experience was very skilled at helping (and tracking) divers during drift dives.

On the dives, Sean was always hunting for sea life to show us, and he was always looking for the animals that are more uncommon. My wife and I have both logged over 500 dives. Many of these have been in the Caribbean. Tobago offers a great opportunity to see things not easily found elsewhere in the Caribbean. On this trip, some of the special sightings were a Whitenose Pipefish, a Tobaccofish, and a couple of Cherubfish (a member of the Angelfish family). Sean was also hunting for a Flameback Angelfish, but we didn't see one of these on this trip; maybe next time. I am an (amateur) underwater photographer and Sean also gave me a few tips on photography including how I should approach Garden Eels for a close up shot. I need more practice at this.

In my opinion, most of the dive sites around Speyside are superior to the Crown Point area. On this trip, Sean also took us to St. Giles island, and the Sisters. Diving the Sisters was arguably the best dive of the entire trip. St. Giles is also interesting above water for its huge colony of nesting Frigate Birds.

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Dennis M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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154 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (21)
Date | Rating
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English first
Port of Spain, Trinidad
1 review
Reviewed 6 May 2013

Whether you're a diver or not the Manta Lodge is the perfect break. Took a 3-day weekend for myself and finished up my PADI certification with Sean Robinson, local dive guru and someone who I deeply respect. Privileged to have trained with him and his extremely professional staff. Food was fresh from the sea (I know this because I caught it on my surface interval) and prepped/cooked the moment I got back to the lodge. The staff were very friendly and knowing that I could just walk behind the bar and fix up myself was great. Laid back, ultra relaxing, bess vibes, disconnect from the world for a bit kinda place :) Can't wait to head back.

Room Tip: If the room(s) have residents, especially in the gallery area don't stress yourself out - they n...
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled solo
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Helpful?
Thank BStodart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lafayette, Louisiana
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 May 2013

For a unique get-away experience, take a trip to Speyside,Tobago. The people are very kind and treat you like royalty at the Manta Lodge.
Fresh seafood cooked to order, scuba diving shop and masterdiver on site. Simple island accommodations, so take a break from the business world.
No TV's in the rooms so you can really clear your mind or spend quality time.
Simply excellent!
When you go, Shawn & Kathleen and the staff will treat you well.
Shawn & Kathleen may even sit down and have a beverage with you!!! Great people!!!! Do it!
Check out Tobago Diving its NICE!!!!

  • Stayed May 2013
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank fdturnerjr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto
2 reviews
Reviewed 28 April 2013

Great spot, right on the beach. Good dive shop, knowledgeable staff. It's an older property but great hospitality and staff. The dive master was flexible and low stress which is why you want or a great experience. Would come again.

  • Stayed April 2013
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Bpowerweb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Southampton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 25 March 2013

I have stayed at Manta Lodge over a dozen times over the last 10 years. It has become a home from home for my whole family. Where else can you kick off your shoes and become part of the family without the hassle or expense of owning your own villa?
Whether its diving or fishing or cooking your own lobster on the beach you could not ask for a more friendly and unique place to stay. We all love it!!

  • Stayed July 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Nigel H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
North Vancouver, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 24 March 2013

My girlfriend and I showed up sometime in the afternoon at Manta Lodge with no reservations anywhere. We decided to stop and ask if there was any availability. We were instantly befriended by Kathleen who made us feel extremely welcome, and sure enough, showed us a lovely room with a patio looking out into the bay and little tobago island. Everyone was soo nice and accomodating, We even got the local pricing. The bar seemed to be on the honour system and the staff drinks with you and plays guitar. Breakfast was really good and so is dinner. Everything is so casual and relaxing and everything u buy there gets put on a tab, its great not having to break out your wallet at every meal or extra little purchase! One night we were drinking with one of the staff members who helps run the scuba department and I asked if he could take us scuba diving one of the days we were there. "How about tomorrow?" he replied. Well, the next morning we were fitted for scuba gear and taken to the practise pool, and within a few hours were in the atlantic scuba diving for the first time! What an amazing experience, we had so much fun diving little tobago! I can't believe this place got a couple bad reviews lately, dont let it detour you. Sure, the bathroom could use a lil updating, but how much time do you plan on spending on the toilet during your vacay? If you want elegance and extreme fine dining, cut off your arm and go to blue waters, by the way we had a look there, it had a real snobby atmosphere. Manta Lodge really MADE our stay in Speyside and we want to thank everyone again for their hospitality!
-Eric/Maggie

  • Stayed February 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank eric w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
14 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 March 2013

I had a wonderful time in Speyside staying at the Manta Lodge! I travel often for work but rarely for pleasure. Every place I go looks just like a Hilton or a Holiday Inn and I wanted a trip to a place that retained some of its uniqueness. When things fell into place for a short vacation, and I have long wanted to get a taste of Caribbean waters, I was reminded having seen Tobago referenced in the scuba magazines for years. I found Manta Lodge from the internet and called for a reservation. Kathrine took my information and said someone will meet me at the Tobago airport.
Houston’s Bush Intercontinental airport has a flight with United Airlines to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Caribbean Airlines has a variety of connecting flights over to Tobago. The Port of Spain airport is a nice facility and the KFC is open all night. Even though I had to ask people to repeat what they were saying a bit slower so I could understand, I found them to be very friendly and helpful. The only United flight from Houston arrived at 10pm local time (8pm Central time) and I had no issues making my connection to Tobago. Manta Lodge had a car and driver waiting for me which took the stress out of a late night arrival.
An air conditioned room was awaiting me at the Manta Lodge along with a friendly smile. I’m an early riser and found the coffee bar ready with hot water and a choice of instant blends (evidently brewed coffee is rare in the Caribbean, maybe more so here since the Nestle facility that makes and packages instant coffee is in Port of Spain). The view of the sunrise coming over Little Tobago Island from the open air veranda of the Lodge was wonderful. Gentle waves lapped the beach only a few yards away. The sound of angry chachalaca birds could be heard from the trees beyond the surf. Small fishing boats bobbed in Speyside’s crescent bay. Breakfast was eggs any style, toast, fruit and juice.
Sean Robinson was the first to open a dive shop in Tobago many years ago and he teaches scuba diving throughout both islands, Trinidad and Tobago. His boat was ready so we checked out dive gear from the shop adjacent to the Lodge and took a short ride over to the pier. As dive master for our small group, Toolie gave us a choice of world-class dive locations, and we settled on Book Ends for the first dive and Coral Gardens for the second. Coral Gardens boasts the largest brain coral specimen in the Caribbean; a dome about ten feet across in an area 50 feet deep. Between dives we fished and caught several barracuda two to three feet in length. A local fisherman pulled alongside our vessel to regale us about his morning catch of dolphin fish (mahi-mahi). During the dives I saw a small group of large tarpon, many angel fish, a jack knife, a buried stingray, but it was the hawk billed turtle that capped the event! She glided nearby for several minutes and then came to within arm’s length as if I were a long lost travel companion.
The afternoon I planned to relax poolside but could not resist wondering around Speyside. The gentle hills are covered with multicolored houses with bright gardens. Children were racing their bikes as I approached the main street near the pier which is across from the sports stadium (a large grassy area with a covered bleacher). I hiked the well paved road up the hill to the south which looped back to where I started in view of the stadium. Along the beach a group of high school aged boys were playing football (soccer) between the water and the shade trees. Past the Lodge is the remains of a waterwheel brought over from Scotland in the 1840’s to help process the sugar cane. The stone walls are covered with flowering plants which attract hummingbirds and smiles.
Supper at the Lodge promised to be a cultural event of roti (an Indian fried bread, then eaten with seasoned chicken or fish or chicory beans and a fresh salad). Delightful! The guest cook came over from Trinidad for the evening along with his crew. And together with the hotel staff we had a wonderful time. Nothing like I would expect staying at a ‘chain’ hotel, this was a ‘family’ event that I felt fortunate to be a part of.
The trip to the other end of the island over the only ‘highway’ is winding and narrow by US standards. But during the daytime is one of the most beautiful drives I have seen! After sleeping in and a leisurely morning, I said my good-byes to Sean, Kathrine and the staff who all made me feel as though I were family. I hired the same driver who brought me from the airport, Quesi, to show me around the island before I flew home. Flagstaff Hill has an outstanding view of the island end and overlooks Charlottesville, which is a beautiful little village. We turned around to take the road back through Speyside to follow the highway to Roxborough township where the beach is worth a stop to walk along and take a few pictures. The town is pleasant and easy to find a refreshing Coke or Paradise Punch fruit drink from the refrigerator of a local merchant. From there it was a short drive and a nice hike to the Argyle Falls. A multi-tiered set of falls and pools the locals enjoy year around for bathing (swimming) and limin’ (picnicking). I had hoped to stroll around Fort King George in Scarborough but was told a movie was being filmed. So I arrived at the Tobago airport earlier than I wanted to but found a Reliant Coffee Shop (similar to Starbucks) just beyond the terminal area.
I loved my time at the Manta Lodge! I WILL be back as soon as possible. I would rate the overall experience 5 out of 5. The room I would rate a 5, the bed and all the pillows and linen were fresh and comfortable. The folding doors out onto the deck are a classic Caribbean touch. The staff I would rate a 5 because they actually cared about me and everything I needed was anticipated taken care of in a timely manner. The food was excellent. The beer was cold. The facility is a bit old and in need of some things but some of that was to my liking in that it wasn’t a Holiday Inn (no offense intended). I didn’t want to find – nor pay for – a chain hotel on the edge of civilization. I want – and found – a sleepy fishing village with friendly people and some great diving. The manta rays come to this bay in numbers during the late spring and early summer months. So that may be the time I will be returning too.
Phillip Barker
Houston, Texas USA

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Phillip B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Manta Lodge

Property: Manta Lodge
Address: Windward Road, Speyside, Tobago
Region: Caribbean > Trinidad and Tobago > Tobago > Speyside
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 5 B&Bs / Inns in Speyside
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3 star — Manta Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 22
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The cozy 22 room property may be small, but it still features a number of 'big' amenities - the Green Moray Bar & Restaurant, soft sand beach, full service dive shop, freshwater swimming pool, reading nook with a multi-lingual lending library, endless hiking trails and plenty of room to relax! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Manta Hotel Speyside

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