Aruba Sand Dunes

Along the rugged north shore of Aruba, you will find some of the finest sand on the island, in a snowy landscape of rolling hills. This desert like environment offers a great day trip opportunity from your villa in Aruba, as although you can’t drive on the dunes, they can fully be explored on foot.

The dunes are known as the Californian Dunes, named after the ship ‘California’, whose wreck lies just off of the shore. Further along the shore, you will find the beautiful dines of Wariruri and Arikok National Park. Expect to find Aloe, Cacti and Divi Divi trees scattered across the environment creating a truly desert like scene.

If you are up for a trek, then this part of the island is definitely worth a visit, regardless of whether or not your villa rental is nearby. For a good vantage point, head to the California Lighthouse, situated at the northern tip of Aruba. The lighthouse is one of the island’s premier landmarks, and is a great place to visit day or night to take in the 360 degree views that it offers.

If you don’t fancy making the trip yourself, there are many tour companies that offer a guided tour of California Lighthouse from you Aruba house rental. With a tour, you will get the added benefit of a complete historic description by an informative guide.

For a full day out, why not finish of your day trip with a visit to the restaurant of La Trattoria El Faro Blanco, located at the base of the lighthouse? It is here you can tuck in to some delicious Italian fare. Alternatively, head to Simply Fish, where you can try some delicious Arubian dishes and enjoy the culture of the island before heading back to your Caribbean vacation home.


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.


Family-friendly attractions in Havana

Holidays in Cuba are often very busy, very colourful, and very lively, but the island still manages to be a great destination for families. One reason is because there are a lot of fantastic family villas in the Caribbean that are spacious and easily accessible, and plenty of family-friendly attractions that are ideal for people of all ages. Here are three excellent family-friendly attractions in Havana which are perfect for kids and adults!

Havana National Zoo

For kids who love animals, there’s nowhere better than the Havana Zoo. You’ll board a small bus which takes you through the African plains and then onto the real highlight — the lions (just remember to shut your windows!). There’s even a special treat at the end, when the kids can pet the friendly donkeys. A cafe and a playground are both on-site, so you can make this visit into a full day trip. The zoo is located a decent distance from most central Havana accommodations, but regular buses make the journey throughout the day.

Havana Aquarium

Havana National Aquarium

Another great place for animal lovers is the Havana Aquarium, which features a wide range of tropical and subtropical sea life, including sea turtles. The main attraction here, however, is definitely the large amphitheater where you can sit down, relax, and take in a live show starring the aquarium’s resident dolphins. There’s a nice restaurant overlooking the dolphin tank, as well as a fun pool/splash pad for the kids. Located in the historic Miramar residential district of the city, the aquarium is very easy to get to.

Parque Almendares

A part of Cuba’s ‘Urban Forest’, Parque Almendares features a playground, pony rides, mini golf… and dinosaurs! There’s even a peaceful walkway down by the river which is a great way to take a bit of time away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park is located outside the centre of Havana, but getting there is half the fun, with roadside stands selling drinks in coconut shells to passing motorists. It’s best to set off from your Havana villa early, before the park gets hot in the middle of the day.


Where to stay in the Dominican Republic

Where should you rent a house in the Dominican Republic? The answer depends on what you’re looking for from your Dominican Republic holiday. This Caribbean country offers everything from untouched beaches to busy and bustling city centres. See below for a brief look at a few of the different neighbourhoods.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo is the capital of the country, so the city is naturally very active and lively, and serves as a great place for shopping, nightlife, and experiencing the ‘real’ Dominican Republic. The historic Zona Colonial district is bursting with culture, featuring plenty of museums, sights, and attractions to keep you busy. Rather than staying at big resorts, the vacation rental homes in Santo Domingo are quite personal and private.

Punta Cana and Puerto Plata

Want to stay in a luxury villa with private pool in the Dominican Republic with quick and easy access to the beach? Consider staying in Punta Cana or Puerto Plata, which are two of the country’s best loved resort towns. Ideal for sunbathing, water sports, and resort-style nightlife, Punta Cana and Puerto Plata can provide a typical Caribbean island vacation, full of golden sands, cocktails, and a chilled vibe.

The Samaná Peninsula

In recent years, the Dominican Republic has solidified its place as one of the best destinations for ecotourism, and the Samaná Peninsula is a real ecotourism hotspot. With many local tour operators observing the code of conduct of the Center for the Conservation and Eco-Development of Samaná Bay and its surroundings, this is a great place to explore and do your part for the environment.

At the end of the day, however, it really doesn’t matter where your vacation rental in the Dominican Republic is located. The whole country has something wonderful to offer, from great scenery, history, and culture, to beaches, water sports, or shopping. Why not take a trip and see for yourself!


The mansions of Miramar

Just a few years ago, if you had asked anyone for the best place for a visitor to stay in Havana, they would have said the Old Town (Havana Vieja) or Habana Centro districts. Today, while these districts are still excellent choices, there are a few other options to consider, which are becoming increasingly popular with tourists. Miramar is one such neighbourhood in Havana, and it is the perfect destination to explore during your holiday in Cuba.

Casa Melodia in Havana Miramar

Luxurious Miramar 

Miramar is one of Havana’s most opulent districts. Previously a wealthy suburb, Miramar eventually became absorbed by the city, leading to some degradation. However, the mansions of the wealthy families–which were some of the finest homes in the Caribbean–remained, and they still stand today upon what has become known locally as ‘Mansion Row’, with sprawling lawns and stunning architecture.

A Diverse District

The fates of Miramar’s mansions have been diverse and varied, with some being converted into luxury accommodations in Havana, others being transformed into embassies, and some now in a state of disrepair. Some say that this is the Cuba they remember from the 1950s and 1960s, and that there is a definite sort of romance in the area, highlighting the nation’s heyday and keeping it alive.

Great for Families 

If you’re looking for a family villa in Havana, be sure to consider accommodations in Miramar. With wide, spacious, tree-lined avenues and fewer crowds compared to central Havana, Miramar may be a much easier place to visit with young children, especially if you’ve got a buggy to navigate around the streets. The kids will love looking at the mansions, too, which appear like fairy-tale castles! Upscale living with a truly international vibe? There’s no better way to spend your family holiday in Cuba!


Visiting Havana with children

When thoughts of Cuba arise, a wandering mind can picture many things: a place with great villas in Havana, a place with a gorgeous coastline, and a place with amazing weather. It’s not often thought of as being a top family holiday destination, but Havana actually has lots to offer families, especially those with young children!

Where to Stay

In searching for accommodation, consider a casa particular in Havana that’s child-friendly. More like a B&B than a hotel, a casa particular in Havana is your home away from home, with all the amenities you’d expect to find in a house. This can make your vacation seem a little easier if you’re travelling with very young children. Some hosts even prepare home-cooked meals for an additional fee, so you don’t have to worry about finding a place to eat.

What to Do

One of the best ways for families to spend a day in Havana is to visit the National Aquarium of Cuba, which is an education and research facility with turtles, dolphins, and lots of other sea life. Alternatively, visit Old Havana/Havana Vieja on a weekend when there are salsa dancers performing in streets. If your kids love chocolate, stop in at the Chocolate Museum to see how the candy is made (and you can even enjoy a big glass of liquid chocolate in the cafe!). Wherever you go, be sure to get there using a ‘cocotaxi’, a coconut-shaped, rickshaw-style taxi that the kids will love — and it’s cheaper than a real taxi!

Where to Eat

Food in Havana is remarkably child-friendly. In fact, there are quite a number of Italian restaurants in the area, so there is always a good supply of pizzas and pastas for the little ones. Otherwise, roast meats tend to dominate the menus, and you can’t miss out on an authentic Cuban sandwich with ham and cheese. If your kids are particularly fussy, speak to the host of your casa particular in Havana who may be happy to whip up some kid-friendly cuisine to satisfy your little ones’ tummies.

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