Aruba Donkey Sanctuary!

Donkeys have a long-standing history with the island of Aruba. Locally known as ‘burico’, up until recently, these gentle creatures served the people of Aruba in a number of ways. They used to be the primary form of transportation, while also working with farmers and tradesmen. Although many were kept by owners, some also ran free in the Aruba countryside. At the end of the 20th century, there were over 1400 donkeys living on the island.

Learn more about the tradition of `burico` while enjoying your time at your Aruba vacation rental.

As the use of technology grew and Aruba become more developed, cars and machinery began to replace the humble donkey. As people no longer had any use for then, many were lost or killed, and by the 1970s, there were only around 20 donkeys left.

In 1997, ‘Stichting Salba Nos Burico’ was established, which translates as ‘Foundation Save Our Donkeys’, and quickly became a place where injured or displaced donkeys could go and live in safety.

Today, the burico of Aruba have over 40,000 square metres to roam freely, near Arikok National Park and Mount Jamanota. Annually, 26,000 visitors come to the visit the donkeys that live in the sanctuary to not only fawn over the creatures, but also make the most of Aruba’s countryside. Many love to be petted, and all love to be fed, making it a great day trip from your luxury villa rental in Aruba.

Local businesses are also keen to help the project, making generous, regular donations of money, transportation and resources, or simply buying products from the gift shop.

There is no admission fee for visiting the sanctuary, although of course donations are greatly appreciated, and allows for continual care of the gentle creatures. If you are feeling up for it, you can even hep with the daily chores that go with caring for the donkeys before heading back to your accommodation in Aruba.

The future of Arubian Donkeys is still uncertain, but one thing is for sure, the Donkey population on the island is making a fast turn around, thanks mostly to the work of the volunteers at the Donkey Sanctuary.


The Holiday Season is Nearly Here in Aruba!

You may picture the holiday season to be cold and snowy, but many people choose to enjoy the Christmas seasons on the Caribbean island of Aruba. Aruba holidays are celebrated with music, events and great food, and it is a great place to rent a villa in Aruba!

Christmas Trees

Every single year, real pine trees are imported down from North America for businesses and individuals to purchase. There will certainly be something strange about driving along in the sun and seeing pop up Christmas tree shops, but the locals would not be without them at this time of year.

House of Lights

Although many families will decorate their homes with lights, the main ‘House of Lights’ is located in Seroe Preto, and is a sight to behold! You could even dress your Aruba accommodation up to match.

Gaita Music

Although Gaitas originate in Venezula, people in Aruba have customised this holiday tradition to make it their own, and Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without it. Popular bands will play at restaurants and bars, and will likely also play on the radio so you can dance along in one of our Aruba vacation rentals. The distinctive sound is often made from instruments such as the maracas, cuatro, charrasca and tambura.

Street Decorations

The first sign that the holiday season is approaching in Aruba is when the streets themselves start to become festive. The roads come to life with lights, garlands, poinsettia and more. In the town of Oranjestad you will likely see life-sized figures from the nativity, while roundabouts also undergo a complete festive makeover. Every year, local businesses are assigned a roundabout to decorate, which can turn slightly competitive!

Shopping

Downtown Oranjestad is a popular shopping location around the Christmas period thanks to the range of stores to choose from. Many shops are open late on select nights over this period, with Main Street, Renaissance Mall, Renaissance Marketplace and Royal Plaza Mall all being great places to start.

Food

Like in most countries, food plays a huge part of the Christmas festivities. Many restaurants will put together special holiday menus. A popular Aruban holiday dish is the ayaca, which consists of corn dough filled with pork, chicken or beef wrapped in plantain leaf and boiled. Why not try making one in your own kitchen in your Aruba holiday rental?
There is always some festival taking place on the island, meaning it is a great place to visit all year round.


Rainbow Architecture of Curacao!

One thing will strike you as you walk the streets of Curacao is its brightly coloured building. Imagine bright pinks, yellows, blues and greens greeting you down almost every street. Chances are, your Curacao accommodation will also be brightly coloured, or at the very least will be surrounded by a range of rainbow coloured buildings.Think Caribbean paint colours with Spanish and African influences, and you will get a picture of what the architecture is like in Aruba. The capital city of Willemstad is the main hub of the rainbow buildings, and is well worth a visit from your Caribbean villa.

The Dutch have been on Curacao since 1634, which is why a lot of the architecture resembles that of Dutch cities like Amsterdam. Fairly recently, the island changed from being part of the Netherland Antilles, and is now actually its own country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The buildings don’t just maintain themselves however, and require a lot of work to keep them as sparkly and bright. It is not an uncommon sight to see a local up a ladder topping up the paintwork of their home.

The entire city of Willemstad has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997 due to the fact that the town showed significant town planning and architecture as well as the organic growth of a multi-cultural community.

The most photographed area of the city is Handelskade Punda, and for good reason. The colourful European style buildings are reflected in the waters of the harbour, and is a great place to witness the exuberant mix of cultures, language, history and beauty of such a small island.

But what is the reason for such colourful buildings? In 1817, Governor-general Albert Kikkert got plagued with recurring headaches, which he blamed on light that was glaring off of the white buildings. He passed a law that all buildings must be painted in pastel colours, leading to the rainbow colour explosion of the city. Be sure to visit the streets of Willemstad on your Aruba holiday.


Cheapside Market!

If you are looking for a truly local shopping experience in Barbados, then look no further than the many town markets that can be found all over the island. No matter where your Barbados villa is located, there is sure to be a market nearby. In these markets you will find locals selling everything from fresh, exotic fruits to homemade, authentic gifts that you will struggle to find anywhere else.

What’s more, it can be great fun talking to and haggling with the stall owners as they try to convince you to purchase some of their wares.

Cheapside market is likely to be one of the most popular markets in Barbados. It is an area that the government has designated to local artisans to display and sell their produce, as well as plenty of fresh local foods. The market is located in a large open building in Bridgetown, and is filled with rows and rows of market vendors selling jewellery, crafts, meat, vegetables and more. It is also a great place to look for your next clothing purchase thanks to the vintage stalls upstairs.

As the name of the market suggests, everything is very reasonably priced, so you are sure to bag a bargain. The majority of the stall owners will be willing to haggle, and are more likely to slash their prices if you want to buy in bulk.

The best time to visit the market is on the Saturday, when the area really seems to come to life with colour and people. This tends to be when the locals come out to do their shopping, so you’ll get a real sense of the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Just opposite the market is an area that is known as Temple Yard, which is dedicated to local artisans who are not only selling their wares, but they also create them. Expect to see leather goods, foods, carvings, art and more, and makes a great spot to grab a bite to eat after a long day shopping.

It is an excellent place for you to witness Barbadian culture at its finest, and is also the ideal spot to find and buy a unique and genuine souvenir to take back to your villa in Barbados.


Aruba Festival!

There is always something going on in Aruba, from its lively nightlife to its busy shopping scene. It is no wonder people flock to the island year after year to stay in one of the many Aruba villas on offer.

One of the busiest and most popular towns to stay in is the town of San Nicolas. Although there is likely to be something going on all through the week, Thursday nights in San Nicolas are when the streets really come alive, thanks to the Carubbian Festival. San Nicolas is an old refinery town which the locals lovingly call Sunrise City, and is a great place book accommodation in Aruba.

The festival is a celebration of the culture and heritage on the island and features plenty of dancing and live music shows as well as a colourful parade as part of the finale, where all the spectators are asked to join in and participate.

As well as tradition carnival activities, there are also a range of arts and crafts set up around town, as well as specially organised events for the children. Once you have had your fill of the festivities, there are plenty of food and drink stalls where you can try some of the island’s tastiest delicacies. Local artisans have stalls selling their wares, such as delicious coconut candles whose scent fills the air throughout the entertainment.

The ticket price allows you access to seats for the show, which overall will last around 4 hours, as well as a meal token.

Since its beginning, the festival has been held once a week on a Thursday, but from now on it is set to only take place once a month. If you have not booked a villa in Aruba during the dates of the annual festival, then this makes for a great, smaller scale alternative.


The Natural Wonder of Shete Boka National Park!

Curacao is not all just about the stunning beaches, great shopping and warm weather. There are also some great places to get a true sense of nature’s power. If you have hired a car, then be sure to take the drive from your Aruba accommodation, up to the northern most point of the island to Shete Boka National Park.
If you enjoy escaping off the beaten track and out into the countryside, then Shete Boka is for you. The landscape is sparse and volcanic, and you are likely to hear the roar of the sea before you see it.
The name Shete Boka literally translates as ‘seven inlets’, which is named for a series of coves carved directly out of the limestone cliffs along the 10km coastline. You are able to walk and drive between coves, with the starting point being the impressive Boka Tabla, where unpredictable waves crash into the hidden cave below.
A second inlet worth stopping at is Boka Pistol, which is a very narrow inlet where every time the sea rolls in, you can witness the startling explosion of waves that follow.
Three species of turtle nest in the area, making it a very protected piece of land. Visitors are able to stroll comfortably along the well-marked trial that hugs the coastline and take in the incredible views of the sea. You are also likely to see some of the area’s most common inhabitants, the green iguanas.
Two of the most popular hiking trails include:
Boka Pistol Trail- This is a one hour walk that will lead you through the area of Boka Brown, which is a known area where sea turtles come on land to lay their eggs. Boka Pistol is a landmark where the waves roll through cracks in the rock, causing an explosion like gun fire.
Boka Wandomi Trail- Again, this one hour walk will take you through the rolling lava hills of Curacao, down to Boka Wandomi. The limestone bluffs create a natural bridge which is a real sight to behold.
After a long day of hiking, a cocktail back at you Aruba villa will be very well deserved!


Picnic Spots in Barbados!

When on holiday, you may not always want to splash out on lavish meals at posh restaurants. Sometimes, it is far nicer to pack your own basket of local goodies in your villa in Barbados and find that ultimate picnic spot. The stunning island of Barbados has its fair share of these picturesque spots that make an ideal place to lay down a rug and spend some quality time in the Caribbean air with friends and family.

A few requirements for a good picnic spot includes ample shade, parking, and easy access. It is also handy if there is a nearby shop or deli where you can pick up supplies if there is anything that you have forgotten.

Miami Beach- Miami Beach is a stunning beach on the south coast which is has many trees to supply shade and picnic benches and public facilities. The water is calm and great for swimming on one side, and deeper with more waves on the other.
Bottom Bay- This is a picture perfect image of tropical paradise, and is often used in films due to its natural beauty. There is plenty of shade and refreshments for sale, including fresh green water coconuts, picked from the surrounding trees. The steps down can be a little challenging, but the view is worth the walk.

Bathsheba- A popular surfing spot, Bathsheba offers lunch and a show, with many eager surfers hitting the wave throughout the year. There are plenty of picnic tables and public facilities, as well as parking nearby. In addition to sand, there is also a wide expanse of grass and the surrounding areas provide some lovely walks once you have finished eating.

Mount Hillaby- If you are up for a bit of a challenge, Mount Hillaby is the highest point of the island, standing at 343m above sea level. From this picnic vantage point you will be rewarded with stunning views of Barbados and the coastline. You may even be able to spot your Barbados accommodation.
Cherry Tree Hill – The road leading up Cherry Tree Hill is lined with mahogany trees and offer an excellent view of the ‘Scotland District’. Once you have filled yourself up with picnic goodies, be sure to explore the St. Nicholas Abbey Plantation and the on-site run distillery.


St Nicholas Abbey!

When in renting a villa in Barbados, a visit to St Nicholas Abbey is a must. Located in the parish of St Peter, the abbey was built back in 1658, and is now only one of three Jacobean mansions in the whole of the Western Hemisphere.
A trip to the mansion offers a full day out. The great house is the main attraction, built by Benjamin Berringer it is one of the finest historic sites on the island. Characterised by elaborate multi-curved gables, decorative chimneys, Tudor arches and casement windows, it is an architectural wonder. Guest can get a full tour of the property for a more in-depth view of its history, which includes antiques and artefacts that span the home’s 350-year history.
The rum distillery is another popular attraction. By embracing its longstanding traditions, the plantation aims to preserve its history while still creating a sustainable legacy for future generations. You are able to explore the steam mill and run distillery, which are currently in full operation to produce the finest St Nicholas Abbey Rum, which among other products, can be purchased at the gift shop and taken back to your Barbados accommodation.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Abbey offers rum experience tours, where guests have access to a guided tour of the Great House, a personal tour of the Factory, Steam Mill and Distillery. The best bit is, you will be invited to try a range of Nicholas Abbey Rums!
The grounds are also well worth a look, all of which are beautifully landscaped with tropical flora, with the natural gullies filled with Mahogany and Silk Cotton trees. Cherry Tree Hill is located to the northeast of the Greta House, and offers stunning views of the island’s rugged east coast. Overall, the estate of St Nicholas Abbey spans over 400 acres of undulating sugar cane fields, forests and gardens.
During opening hours, you can enjoy lunch and a drink at the Terrace Café, which overlooks the plantation and other tropical plants. So make sure you put this on your list of attractions when looking into villas in Barbados.


Best viewpoints in Barbados!

Barbados has some fantastic natural landscapes, and there is no better way to see the island in all its glory than by visiting some of its most stunning viewpoints. No matter where your luxury villa rental is located, you are sure to have one of these viewpoints nearby. As the majority of them are quite remote, they are easiest to get to if you have a hire car, so you can include them in a day trip exploring the island.

Animal Flower Cave

Located in the upper part of the island, the Animal Flower Cave offers stunning views of the wide expanse that is the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll feel on top of the world standing on the cliff edge that looks down into a foaming natural pool. You can enjoy a meal at the cliff top restaurant or take a guided tour of the caves below.

Bathsheba


This is one of the most other worldly of all the views in Barbados. Stunning boulders fill the area which are actually rock formations that have broken away from ancient coral, and add to the unique landscape. It is a must see for anyone renting a house in Barbados.

Cherry Tree Hill

Even the name of this viewpoint sounds attractive. The steep climb up the hill will be well worth when you reach the top, it as you will be rewarded with stunning views of the whole of the east coast of Barbados. The road that leads up to the hill is lined with mahogany and offers some beautiful photo opportunities.

Ragged Point Lighthouse

If you want to see the beauty of a Caribbean sunset, then Ragged Point Lighthouse is the place to be. With the sea stretching out in front of you, and the Barbados countryside all around, it should definitely be on your list of scenic viewpoints to visit on a day trip from your Barbados villa.


The Cuban Daquiri!

There are a huge range of cocktails that have found their way into the world thanks to the taste of the Cubans. The first cocktail that comes to mind when you think of the country is likely to be the Cuba Libra, simply made using the finest local rum, coke and lime. However, this is not the cocktail that is most associated with the country’s capital, that role falls to the classic daiquiri which can be enjoyed both in your Cuba accommodation, and outside of it.

Cuban rum wasn’t always as popular as it is today, in fact, it wasn’t until 1862 when different production methods were used that people really started to sit up and take note of this drink. It was at this time that Havana became one of the richest counties in the Americas.

History claims that the birth of the daiquiri came about when the American mining engineer named Jennings Cox, migrated to Cuba. Legend says that he was entertaining guests but run out of gin, and as a replacement he decided to use Bacardi, mixing it with lime juice, sugar, water and ice, naming the condition a daquiri.

Although this seems to be the story relating to the birth of the drink, the Royal Navy were drinking a very similar mix way back in 1740. Plus, there were various other similar drinks being made all over the country, all that was needed was something sweet, something sour and of course, the rum.

Although it may have been an American that gave this classic drink its name, it was a Cuban who perfected it. The bartender of ‘La Florida’, named Constantino Ribalaigua, discovered that the best way to serve a daquiri was mixing it with ice before straining it into a cold glass. Hemingway was a regular at this particular bar, and definitely enjoyed a good daquiri or two, so it is definitely worth a venture out of your Cuban vacation rental to visit.

Today, the frozen version of the drink has all but pushed out that of the original, but it can still be found if you ask for a ‘daquiri natural’, perfect to be enjoyed in your Cuban private villa with a pool.

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