5 must see sights in St Barts

The beautiful island of St Barts holds many attractions, therefore it is no wonder that thousands of people year after year come looking for a St Barts luxury villa rental. Here are some of the must see sights.

Saline Marshes

Although the beaches of this area of the island are some of the best in the world, the marshes are also an attraction in itself. This magical wildlife habitat is often overlooked, yet it is the home of a huge array of rare bird species, and truly is a nature lover’s dream.

The Port of Gustavia

If you were to visit one place in all of St Barts, then let it be the Port of Gustavia, a perfect example of how the island manages to merge history with modern luxuries. Superyachts glide in and out of the harbour, and the colourful colonial building now house a range of designer stores and restaurants. Come here to shop, dine or people watch on a day trip from your St Barts accommodation. Alternatively, you could look for some vacation rentals in the direct area, the options are endless.

Columbier Orientation Table

This viewpoint is located on the outskirts of Columbier Village, and offers some spectacular sights from Flamands all the way to Gustavia. If you want to see almost the whole island from a bird’s eye view, then this is the place to head, you may even spot your villa in St Barts! Once you are done looking, take the short 20 minute hike down to the beautiful Colombier Beach and enjoy the soft sand and surf.

Toiny Coast

Escape bustling city life and head to the beautiful views of Toiny Coast. Although this is a popular spot for many people, surfers are particularly fond of it due to the windswept headlands. If you don’t want to hit the waves, then there are plenty of walks along the rocky coastline where you really will feel the wild in your hair.

Gouverneur Beach

This is one of the most popular beaches on the island, and for good reason! It is unspoilt and picture perfect, yet the fact that it is a little out the way means that it is rarely crowded like some of the bigger beaches.

 


Beneath Barbados waters.

There is no question that the waters around the island of Barbados are simply teeming with life, bringing people form all over the world to get a Caribbean vacation rental and enjoy the waters, either by snorkelling or scuba diving. There are two hot spots for seeing the life beneath the waves.

Carlisle Bay Marine Park

This marine park is located in St. Micheal, so likely to be just a short drive from your Barbados holiday rental. With calm waters, a sunken shipwreck and the chance of seeing turtles in their natural habitat, it is a very popular snorkelling spot. Ruined boats are strewn across the sea floor, so it is not uncommon to see rusting cannonballs and old anchors resting on the sea bed. If you opt to take a guided snorkelling tour, you may also get the chance to feed the fish, and have them flock around you while you swim. Guided tours also come with the benefit of transport to and from your Barbados accommodation.

Folkestone Marine Park

At Folkestone Marine Park, located in St James, you can explore an artificial reef that is simply teeming with a variety of sea life. The reef has been created by the sinking of the Stavronikita ship, which now rests in 120 ft of water less than half a mile out to sea, which is best seen by an organised scuba tour. Again, you can be picked up from your holiday rental and taken directly to the dive site.

If you fancy staying a little closer to shore, then simply put on a snorkel and swim around the inshore reef, about one third of a mile from the coast, and home to fish, anemones, sea lilies, corals and sponges.

Once you have seen all there is to see in the water, then be sure to take a walk around the informative museum which is full of information about all the creatures that you may have just witnessed under the water.


Exploring Christoffel National Park in Curacao

When thinking about vacationing in the tropical paradise that is Curacao, the first thing that comes to mind is not likely to be rock hiking. However, the island is so full of beautiful landscapes, it would be a shame not to experience at least some of it on foot.

One of the most popular places to explore is in Christoffel National Park, likely to be easily accessible from your Curacao holiday rental. The west side of the island is where the most rain falls throughout the year, creating a truly lush landscape. There are a number of things to do in the park, some of which can’t be missed.

Hike to the highest point

Seasoned hikers can take the two hour climb to the top of the highest point of the island, Mt. Christoffel, reaching 1,227 feet. The views from the summit are simply stunning, and you may even be able to spot your Curacao accommodation.

Find hidden beaches

When headed for the beach, most people will head to those that are found in the resort towns. Two of the island’s best beaches however are found just outside of the park, and truly are a hidden gem. Knip and Klein Knip, both pristine coves with fine white sands and lush blue waters.

Take a scenic drive

The Mountain Route is one of the most scenic drives on Curacao, as it winds through the green hills and provides you with stunning views of the former plantation estates below. The route is 7.5 miles long, so you could easily bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it from your villa in Curacao.

Learn about the history of the island

A lot of the island’s history can be found within the park in the form of the plantations that still lie within its grounds. By visiting Savonet, Zorgvliet and Zevenbergen you can learn more about the Atlantic slave trade.


The Curacao Art Scene

The people of Curacao have always fully embraced their colourful surroundings and rich culture, and this couldn’t be seen any more clearly than in their art scene. The island has inspired a huge number of artists, housing over 30 artists from both Curacao and all over the world. It is hardly surprising therefore, that there are many art galleries dotted around the island, all of which are worth exploring as a day trip or a short visit from your Caribbean vacation rental.

Chichi Curacao Serena’s Art Factory

Located in the vibrant city of Punda, the Art Factory is an explosion of colour. You can see how these incredible sculptures are made by the team free of charge, pick up a souvenir to take back to your holiday rental, or even paint your own sculpture. The sculptures are created by 60 local women, and are beautiful to witness.

Gallery Alma Blou

This is the oldest gallery in Curacao, and also the largest, holding a huge amount of authentic Caribbean art. Even where the gallery is housed is stunning, in a beautiful 18th century mansion. The collection is made up of mostly local artists, inspired by their home’s nature and culture.

Ritz Gallery

The Ritz Gallery is housed in a former ice cream factory, which served the island for 70 long years. On a visit from your Curacao villa, not only can you experience its distinctly village like feel, but also an interesting collection of stone statues from Indonesia, and an exposition of the renovation of the factory.

Jean Girigory Gallery

This gallery is dedicated to displaying the works of Jean Girigory. Jean works in a number of mediums, from paintings, sculpture, ceramics, glassworks and more. Although relatively small, there is a lot of talent on show.

Nana Sanchez Gallery

The artist Nana Sanchez draws her inspiration from her surroundings, recreating the bright colours and scenes that draws people to get a Curacao house rental year after year. Not only can her work be seen on the island, but also all across Europe and North and South America.


The Incredible Curacao Carnival

At the start of the year, Curacao plays host to a very special event, the annual Carnival. This carnival is one of the longest-lasting Carnival spectacles in the whole Caribbean, and is one of the best times to look for a holiday rental in Curacao.

The founding of the Carnival dates back many years, and began as a Catholic rite to represent the Christian practice of ‘Carne Levale’, which means that people would give up meat for the period of Lent. To celebrate the occasion, a series of parties would take place. However, it was not until 1969 that it began to gain in popularity as an island wide event.

The first day of the event is known as Jump In/Jump Up. Various dance troupes and groups assemble, and over the following few weeks will organise jump ups and jump ins to raise money for them to participate in The Grand Parade, also known as the Gran Marcha.

This incredible spectacle takes place in either February or March, and are a culmination of costumes, floats, characters and the winners of beauty contents, who take on the role as ‘Carnival Royalty’. The Gran Marcha takes place on Sunday, and the Marcha di Despedida, the Farewell March, is always on a Tuesday evening. This final parade usually takes place in the dark, and the streets come alive with sparkling lights and fires.

If you manage to get a Caribbean vacation home at the time of the Carnival, be sure to take a camera! The route always starts at Santa Maria, and winds its way through Otrobanda, so you should try and get there early to get the very best viewing spot.

While there, don’t forget to check out the Tumba Festival, which is a four-day musical extravaganza, where local musicians compete to have their music selected as the year’s official Carnival Tumba song. Usually it is quite a party, filled with laughter, drinking and music, and th elikelyhood is, you won’t be returning to your villa in Curacao until the early hours!


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.


Cuba or the Dominican Republic: Which is best for you?

Can’t decide where to take a Caribbean islands vacation? Unsure whether to rent a house in Cuba or book a vacation villa in the Dominican Republic? Let us help you choose what’s best for you! See below for factors to help you compare the two Caribbean getaways,

Nightlife

No matter where you go, you’ll always find a lively atmosphere in Cuba, a country that prides itself on its music, dancing, and discos. Said to be the ‘birthplace of the Mojito’, the island’s capital city, Havana, is a true nightlife hotspot, giving the likes of New York City a real run for its money!

There is plenty of nightlife in the Dominican Republic, too, although things to be a little tamer. Santo Domingo is very much an up-and-coming destination and has swapped its dive bars for sophisticated wine bars and well-equipped concert venues. Nightlife in Punta Cana is very much resort-style entertainment.

Winner: If you really want to let your hair down, rent a house in Havana, Cuba.

Beaches 

Although you can find absolutely stunning beaches along Cuba’s Varadero Peninsula, many travellers who stick to the central city of Havana won’t have many beach options available to them unless they hire a car. While Havana does have ‘urban beaches’, these are not your classic white Caribbean sands.

If it’s beaches you’re after, the Dominican Republic won’t disappoint. Punta Cana’s airport is conveniently located close to the resort town, with easy access to the 20-plus-mile stretch of golden sands. Santo Domingo has a few decent beaches, too, including Boca Chica, Playa Caribe, and Juan Dolio.

Winner: For great Caribbean beaches, opt for a villa with private pool in the Dominican Republic.

Shopping

With very few American influences in Cuba, it’s hard to find major stores or shopping malls here, even in Havana. However, shopping in Cuba is still a very fun experience! Be sure to check out the San Jose Warehouse near Havana Port, which is home to craft stalls set up by the local arts communities.

In the Dominican Republic, you’ll find bigger shops and department stores similar to what you may have back home. You might even find some of the world’s biggest brands here! The Agora Mall in Santo Domingo, for example, is home to Armani, Calvin Klein, Forever 21, L’Occitane, and MAC Cosmetics!

Winner: It’s a tie! Choose Cuba for local, handcrafted goods, and the Dominican Republic for big brands.


Escape the noise at Cuba’s private beach resorts

When you mention Cuba to beach lovers, the first resort that springs to mind is Varadero. With 20 kilometres of white silky sand, it is home to some of the best all-inclusive hotels on the island. But what if sitting on the same beach with hundreds of other holidaymakers just isn’t your thing? This guide will give you an insight into the locations of the most tranquil and picturesque beaches outside of your Cuba accommodation.

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Cayo Coco

Cayo Coco is located on the outlying island of Jardines del Rey. The island can be accessed by boat, and although it does have many hotel resorts, there are plenty of opportunities to find a sunny spot all for yourself. Cayo Coco is known for its coral reefs and beautiful, soft white sand. It’s a great area for snorkelling, and you may even be lucky enough to see rare bird life such as the white ibis and one of the largest pink flamingo colonies in all of the Americas.

Guardalavaca

Situated on the north shore of the island, this picture-perfect stretch of beach is laid-back, sprinkled with palm trees, and home to the inviting, clear, turquoise warm waters of the Caribbean. It’s the ideal place to relax, swim, dive, and view dolphins in their natural habitat.

Cayo Largo del Sur

A small mangrove covered island, Cayo Largo del Sur seems a world away from the cities of Havana, Trinidad, and Santiago. You can access the island by boat from your Havana villa rental. The abundant coral reefs are a sight to behold and the beach and mangroves are home to fascinating wildlife such as the iguana. Don’t be surprised if one casually strolls by while you are sitting on the beach!

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Playa Ancon

One of the finest beaches on the south coast of Cuba is just a short drive from the UNESCO World Heritage city of Trinidad. It has calm, fresh azure waters and a lush tropical backdrop.

Varadero

Even though this resort is one of the most highly populated in Cuba, it’s still worth a mention due to the fact that there are 20 kilometres of beaches stretching along the coastline. Whether you wish to explore the cool caves or outlying cays, you are sure to find a secluded spot where you can live out your beach paradise dream.

 

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