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.


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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