We were heading out east to visit friends and the Castalia Marsh Retreat (CMR) was one of the main reasons we decided to visit Grand Manan Island. I had found the place online rather by chance and dialed into its funkiness right away. The property on Castalia Marsh is ramshackle and makeshift -- partly why we loved it so -- the price was good, and the owner, James, was terrific to meet and for my kids. The boys got to feed the free range chickens on several occassions and really enjoyed the whole vibe of the CMR.
We had first booked Larch Grove, which looks like a really awesome place, but had to delay and wound up in the Birdhouse. This meant that we had to split between the box up top and the little futon space below, but it was fine for our family of four. As a biologist, I would pick the Birdhouse first next time, as the view to the marsh was unbelievable. The kitchen was small but well-thought out and appointed, and we enjoyed cooking there. We could also have used the BBQ and the true chef's kitchen at the Gathering Place if we had wanted to, but we were happy in the BH.
The BH has a composting toilet, which my wife and I enjoyed using for the novelty and ecological benefits. Our kids tried it, but they found the height (or something) bothersome and wound up going to the Gathering Place toilet. The CMR is nice in that it allows such choices. I LOVED the outdoor solar shower at the BH, as did the kids.
All around this was a memorable and enjoyable place to stay. I don't think most tourists would agree with my rating, but it is their job to read my review, research me, and understand what the place is about in that light. I say EXCELLENT. A lot of fun and really beautiful.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Retreat site is seven acres of forested land overlooking Swallowtail Lighthouse, the saltwater marsh, the fishing village of North Head and picturesque islands in the Bay of Fundy. It is a safe, warm, and dry environment where one can relax and be surrounded by nature. There is a network of nature trails connecting four small fish and frog ponds and the various cabins and tent site. We try to create a supportive environment where people who want to share what they have learned can be actively involved in increasing their knowledge of personal, spiritual, and environmental health or just relax and enjoy the natural beauty. We have a facility ideally suited for hosting workshops or facilitating gatherings focused on personal, spiritual, and environmental health. ... more less