Brewing Beer in Aruba

There are many thongs to love about the island of Aruba, but one thing that is particularly loved by tourists and locals alike its only home grown beer, Balashi. There is no better way to relax in an Aruba vacation rental than sipping on an ice cold beer around the pool, or with stunning views of the ocean. The beer is brewed from imported Scottish malt and hops, and tastes and looks like your typical Caribbean beer, but there is certainly something special about knowing it was brewed on the island.

Its name was derived from ‘Bala Bala’ and ‘Balana’, which are words from the language of the original inhabitants of the island. Both of these terms mean ‘near the sea’, and is a name that was voted for by the people of Aruba.

If you have accommodation in Aruba, a trip to the Balashi Brewery is a great day out. The ‘Brouwerij Nacional Balashi’, was only built in 1998, and is a state of the art lab that utilises the power of computer software to make sure that the brewing process is of the highest quality. This high tech lab lies in stark contrast to many of the other factories on the island, making it a popular tourist attraction.

On your visit you will be able to see the entire bottling operation, and from a walk way you can see down into various areas such as labelling and packing. The factory also bottles a range of well known soft drinks, and can bottle up to 15,000 an hour!

In order to brew its famous beer, the company uses desalinated and treated ocean water, as well as a range of other imported ingredients. They strive to be eco-friendly by using less plastic in their packaging and sending the old grain to farmers to feed their pigs.

After the tour, you can head out into the picturesque garden for a well-earned and complimentary brew.

No matter where you are on the island, you will be able to pick up a can or a bottle of this light and refreshing beer which can be enjoyed at a pub or around the pool side of one of the many luxury villa rentals.


Eco-Tourism in the Dominican Republic

There are so many natural wonders to explore in Punta Cana and all throughout the Dominican Republic that it can be hard to know where to start during your vacation in the Dominican Republic. Many resorts offer an array of eco-tourism adventures, including (but not limited to) the following.

Zip Lining

One of the best ways to see the rainforests of the Caribbean in style is by flying through them in one of the many zip lining adventures available. Buckle up and zoom through the trees in style. Why not see if you can find one near your Dominican Republic vacation rental.

Natura Sinkholes

A unique experience in the Dominican Republic is to take tip into a secluded cenote, which is essentially a natural sinkhole. With a guide, you can take a hike along a nature trail, before jumping off a cliff into the clear, turquoise waters below.

Safari Adventure

Taking a safari tour is a great way to learn more about the country where you are visiting. You are likely to be picked up from near your villa in the Dominican Republic in an open top truck, and be taken deep into the Dominican countryside to learn about the local produce and local customs.

Horseback Riding

If you have been looking for a new and exciting way to explore the shores of Punta Cana, then horse riding could be your answer. Whether you are an experienced rider or a complete novice, horseback riding offers you a unique way to explore your surroundings.

Cable Cars

A ride in a cable car doesn’t have to be just for skiing holidays. You can take a ride up to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres and enjoy the view from the top. You might even be able to see your Caribbean villa. The park is also home to a great botanical garden so you can make a full day of your visit.

El Limon

If you are looking for a trip that will take your breath away, you should book a trip to the El Limon waterfall. The mountains in this region reach an incredible 2100 feet and are full of vegetation. You are able to swim in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall or just take in the amazing sites.


Spas in Aruba

When looking for an idyllic Caribbean vacation, the first thing that often springs to mind is relaxation. Aruba is a hotspot for sunbathing, sipping drinks at a beach bar or lazing round a pool at your luxury villa rental.

What many people don’t know however, is just how many locations there are on this small island to be pampered from head to toe. Whether it is for a couple’s beach massage or a speciality treatment, Aruba has it all.

Okeanos Spa

This spa offers a huge range of services from its two locations on the island. They have both and indoor spa and a beach spa, which is often referred to as Spa Cove. While there, why not take a few photos with the world famous pink flamingos that also call it their home? Imagine breath-taking beauty as you relax with some healing treatments, some of which include the native aloe vera.

Zoia Spa

This new Spa concept was introduced back in 2012 and specialises in a range of spa treatments. The design of the spa incorporates sustainable products and materials throughout the space, and offers both indoor and outdoor treatments.

Larimar Spa

Under a beach side cabana, this spa really knows how to pamper its guests. Lots of visitors opt for the rum and aloe vera massage, the spa’s speciality inspired by ingenious ingredients. After the treatment, you will be heading back to your accommodation in Aruba in ultimate bliss.

Spa del Sol

Spa del Sol has taken full advantage of Aruba’s beaches when it chose its location. The spa is located under a few gazebos on the beach and offers a range of treatments such as massages, manicures and pedicures. What makes it even better, is there is even a steam room and whirl pool. Seeing as the island is so small, no matter where your vacation rental is location, it is easy to reach Spa del Sol.


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.


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 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 artifacts 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 daiquiri.

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 daiquiri 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 daiquiri 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 ‘daiquiri natural’, perfect to be enjoyed in your Cuban private villa with a pool.


Where to view Havana’s world-famous street art

The city of Havana has been known to give off a slightly old-fashioned vibe with its classic cars, colonial architecture, and remnants of history wherever you look. But these features don’t stop Havana from having many modern elements dotted throughout the city, especially when it comes to the art scene.The street art in Havana is exploding with ingenuity, and you can find some spectacular pieces so long as you know where to look. Let’s take a look at three great examples, all of which are easily accessible from your Cuba accommodation.

Muraleando

This particular piece of street art is located just 10 minutes outside of the city in a community called Lawton. The project started as a workshop for local children who were interested in the art scene, but in 2001 when there was no room for them in the only community hall, they had no choice but to move to the streets. The drab concrete walls seemed like the perfect blank canvas, and it wasn’t long before they were covered in colourful murals that captured many elements of Cuban life.

Fusterlandia

This is likely to be the most well-known project of street art in the city. Funderlandia was created by Jose Fuster in the early 90s. The artist started with his own home in Jaimanitas neighbourhood, decorating the entrance to his house with colourful mosaics. It wasn’t long before others started requesting the same for their own homes. From there the idea spread, and Fuster and numerous other artist friends transformed the once rather drab neighbourhood into a mosaic-covered wonderland. Even if your vacation rental in Havana is the other side of the city, this is something you don’t want to miss.

Callejon de Hamel

Located in the very heart of the city, this example of Cuban street art will be the easiest of the three to visit if your Havana holiday rental is more centrally located. The project was started in the 90s by artist Salvador Gonzalez and features not only brightly coloured murals, but also a number of sculptures made from a range of items such as bathtubs, hand pumps, and pinwheels. The artist described his style as a mix of cubism, surrealism, and abstract art.

 

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