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!


Celebrity spotting in the Dominican Republic

There is a valid reason why so many tourists flee to the Dominican Republic every year. In addition to the golden beaches and sunny weather, there is also an abundance of things to do and see. As such, it is hardly surprising that many celebrities are also attracted to the Caribbean shores of the Dominican Republic.

Casa Q in Puerto Plata

The country’s proximity the United States has helped create a constant stream of celebs arriving throughout the years. Being just a short 1.5-hour flight from Florida, and 3.5 hours from New York, it is easily accessible.

The main attraction for celebs seems to be that it offers an ideal escape from their hectic everyday lives. They enjoy a villa with a private pool in the Dominican Republic just as much as the rest of us do.

Stars seem to count on the fact that they won’t be mobbed by reporters and photographers the minute that they step off the plane, and the many ultra-lavish, exclusive hideaways ensure that they will get this sort of privacy. Even real estate has been catching the eyes of many celebs, from seafront villas in the Dominican Republic to country estates, this Caribbean island has become a playground for the rich and famous in recent years.

Luxurious villa views

Singers like Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, and Shakira have all come to see what the Dominican Republic has to offer. Actors such as Vanessa Williams, Vin Diesel, Angelina Jolie, Matt Dillon, Mimi Rogers, Marcia Gray, and many more have also been spotted walking along the island’s beaches and streets.

Additionally, even politicians and royalty seem to enjoy the Caribbean way of life, with former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush frequently jumping on a plane to the island, and the King of Morocco is known to have thrown a lavish party on the island.

If you want to live a life like the rich and famous, rent a house in the Dominican Republic and enjoy the high life for a few weeks!


Havana’s ‘Golden Mile’

While there are many wonderful locations to rent a house in Havana, many long to stay as close as possible to the Golden Mile, right in the heart of the city’s historic centre. The Golden Mile is located at the Paseo del Prado end of the Obispo, a busy pedestrianised street that’s a true hub of activity. 

The Golden Mile is where you’ll find some of Havana’s best restaurants, most lively bars, and even the Tourist Information Office, which can be useful if you can’t remember how to get back to your Havana accommodation. It’s arguably one of the best preserved parts of the Old Town.

When you picture Havana in your head, you picture the Golden Mile. This is a place of old, cobbled streets that feel uneven underfoot, it’s a place of colonial architecture of days gone by, and it’s a place where the  Havana holiday home waits to welcome visitors to Cuba.

Street musicians fill the Golden Mile with soft music, and flower sellers add a touch of colour and vibrancy. Cuba is very much a country where old meets new, and that’s exactly what you get when you stroll along the Golden Mile.

But the Old Town isn’t just about the Golden Mile. In fact, there are many reasons to rent a villa in Cuba in this part of Havana. Not only are you near the city’s cultural district by the Paseo del Prado, which features a number of museums, but you’re also just a stone’s throw from the grand El Capitolio building.

Although there are some travellers who enjoy staying close to The Malecón, others prefer being close to the Obispo, and the Golden Mile. However, whatever location in Havana you choose, it’s hard to go wrong. The city is such a fascinating place, with something new to see around every corner!

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Whale-watching in the Dominican Republic

People from all over the globe rent a vacation villa in the Dominican Republic in the hopes of spotting the beautiful humpback whales during their mating season, which falls between mid-December and the end of March. A boat trip out to witness these magnificent animals is one of the most popular excursions that the country offers.

For the best chance to see a whale, arrange to rent a villa in the Dominican Republic in Samana Bay and the Silver Bank, in the northwest region of the country. Each year more than 2,000 humpbacks come to these waters to mate due to the warmer temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean. A recent study has shown that all populations in the Atlantic come from Iceland, Greenland, Canada and North America, to these waters, so it is likely that you will be able to spot a few whales during your visit.

It is no wonder that some many people rent a house in the Dominican Republic at this time of year as the show is an impressive one. A fairly common sighting is a 40-ton male who jumps out of the water to win the female’s attraction, or sings a long and monotonous song that the other whales can hear up to 30 kilometres away.

Samana

Samana became a sanctuary for the protection of the whales in 1986, and is considered one of the best places in the world for humpback whale-watching. As mammals, the whales have to come up to the surface fairly regularly to breathe, and can be on the surface for up to 20 minutes. During their long trip to the Samana Bay area, the whales do not feed, and even while spending the winter on the shores of the Dominican Republic, they still go without eating. In this time, many will lose up to one-fifth of their original weight.

Samana

The whales need warmer waters because when they are born, they only have a very thin layer of fat, which makes it hard to withstand the cold waters. To form this protective layer, the young will consume approximately 200 litres of breast milk a day.

Safety

Due to the increased popularity of whale-watching in the area, The Dominican government enforces strict whale protection laws and guidelines to ensure the protection of these incredible creatures. It can be an amazing experience for anyone renting a villa in the Dominican Republic, but their protection comes first, and tour companies will not do anything that could potentially harm these creatures.

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Celebrate Easter in the Dominican Republic

Easter in the Dominican Republic is one of the of the most celebrated holidays of the year. The majority of people who live on the island are Catholic, so it is considered a time of both reflection and significance. Whenever Easter falls, it is a lovely time to rent a vacation villa in the Dominican Republic and take part in the festivities.

Easter week is also known as Semana Santa and is the perfect time to sample some traditional foods of the area. Habichuelas (sweet cream of beans) is a delicious dessert typical of this time of year, and it is one of the most loved and distinctive treats of the country. No matter where your Dominican Republic vacation rental is located, you are sure to find somewhere that serves this delicious dessert.

Habichuelas con dulce

Good Friday is often referred to as the calm before the storm. Many of the locals retire to their homes to spend time with friends and family. Loud music is frowned upon and if possible, motorsports are also limited. The sales of alcohol near beaches and public spaces is prohibited as part of religious tradition.

On the north coast, it is best to book a Dominican Republic vacation villa well in advance as accommodations fill up fairly quickly. Roads and beaches can be packed with people enjoying the season’s sunshine. As the weekend continues, expect picnics and music and a celebratory atmosphere as at night, with stages set up on the beach and music blasting until the early hours of the morning.

Church Convento de los Dominicos, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Many local churches take part in a religious theatre piece to commemorate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Cool off from the heat and excitement by retiring in your Dominican Republic villa with a private pool. Additionally in cities like Santo Domingo, it is not unusual to find many streets scattered with inflatable pools!

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Must-try foods from the Dominican Republic

If you’re heading to the Dominican Republic for your next vacation, there are a lot of traditional foods that you are sure to love! Vacations are about taking a break from what you normally do at home, so treat yourself to restaurant-quality meals and time with family and friends around a dinner table. What are the foods that are traditional to the Dominican Republic, and what restaurants should you check out to try them?

Goat

Goat is actually a very popular meat in the Caribbean and is usually served stewed. If you want to try it, check out El Meson De La Cava and Restaurant Vizcaya.

Ceviche

Ceviche is a seafood dish typically served cold with fish, lime, lemon, onion, and chili pepper. There are a lot of restaurants in the Dominican Republic that serve a delicious ceviche, including (but not limited to) Pat’e Palo European Brasserie and Muelle 47 Seafood Culture.

Croquetas

Don’t be alarmed, croquetas are simply croquettes in Spanish, which are fried foods dipped in breadcrumbs. This can be anything from cheese to potatoes, to meats and even seafood. If you want to try croquetas for yourself, check out Pura Tasca and Jalao.

 

Paella

You’ve probably heard of paella as it’s mentioned on nearly every Spanish and Mexican menu. It’s a Valencian rice dish that has made its way around the world, including the Dominican Republic. It can be served in many ways with different meats and vegetables, so just choose the one that looks best to you. Two restaurants that serve some of the best paellas on the island are Cafeteria Restaurant Manolo and Don Pepe Restaurante.

Mofongo

Mofongo consists of fried plantains and can be served with a lot of different foods like rice, vegetables, meats, and it can even be served as a dessert. Each restaurant does something different, but you’ll find mofongo in nearly every restaurant in the Dominican Republic, including Adrian Tropical and El Conuco!


Dive into Havana’s delicious street food

In the United States and United Kingdom, street food has become a culinary trend in major cities, exposing locals to food from all over the world. However, if you’ve taken Caribbean islands vacations before, you’ll notice that in this part of the world, street food is already a very well-established concept, and that both visitors and locals alike flock to these street-side carts for tasty and filling snacks.

What is Havana Street Food?

Unlike in the United States, where traditional street food means hot dogs or gyros, street food in Havana is much more diverse and varied. If you take a walk from your Havana villa to any major attraction in the city, you’ll likely come across little stalls selling everything from pizza slices and sandwiches to fresh fruit pastries and deep fried churros. Specialities in Havana include chicharritas, which are fried plantains, frituras de malanga, which is fried malanga root, and tostones, which are twice-fried plantain slices.

Tostones are also big in the Dominican Republic. However, if you’re staying in a vacation villa in the Dominican Republic, be sure to ask for the local ‘fritos verdes’ which is the correct term for this location.

Why Street Food?

Quite simply, this is a chance to eat like a local and to try foods that you may not have tried otherwise. While there are many great restaurants in Havana (and great local markets, too, if you want to whip up something at your Havana vacation rental), there really isn’t anything that beats strolling along the Malecon with a cone full of freshly fried banana chips. Caribbean islands vacations are ideal for self-proclaimed ‘foodies’, offering a wide range of mouthwatering foods that are far different from what can be found at home.


Five Cuba venues for concerts and shows

While staying in your Cuba villa rental, you’ll most likely want to check out the many places where you can find live music, concerts, and shows throughout the island. Here are five venues worth looking into for live performances, with something for every taste!

Gran Teatro de La Habana

If you love opera, you’ll love the Gran Teatro de La Habana. This gorgeous theater is a part of Havana history, where the famous Pavlova and Alicia Alonzo once performed, and is a must-see when you’re in the Havana area. Take a tour and view the amazing architecture and art of both the exterior and the interior. The theater offers beautiful operas, ballets, and more. If you want an elegant evening on the town, you’ll want to come to this theater!

Legendarios del Guajirito

If you prefer a show with your meal, you’ll want to check out Legendarios del Guajirito, which is a fantastical dinner-theater venue! Enjoy a mojito, classic Cuban music, and even a conga line. Here you’ll get a high-energy performance coupled with delicious food and a night you’ll never forget.

Tropicana

An open-air nightclub, Tropicana is ideal if you’re seeking a show similar to something you’d see in Las Vegas. The stage is beautiful, the costumes dramatic and eye-catching, and you may even get a free cigar. Be sure you order some of their delicious rum as you enjoy one of the best shows that Havana has to offer!

Cabaret Parisien

If you like a good, old-fashioned Cabaret, you’ll love Cabaret Parisien. Located in the Hotel Nacional in Havana, this venue is like nothing you’ve ever seen! With 85 years of history, this venue is considered a symbol of history, culture, and Cuban identity. With its refined elegance and ancient splendor, you’ll want to check out the hotel itself before viewing the Cabaret.

La Zorra y el Cuervo

For the best jazz in Havana, check out La Zorra y el Cuervo. In a nightclub/bar atmosphere, you’ll hear some of the best jazz singers and bands perform live. Grab a drink at the bar, a snack, and jam the night away with amazing music! With all the performances thoroughly enjoyed, head back to your rental villa in Cuba and get a great night’s rest.


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 amphitheatre 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!

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