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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!


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 in 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 artefacts 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 daquiri.

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


By Cruise

Both Dominican Republic and Cuba are popular cruise destinations with Cuba in particular now one of the Caribbean’s fastest growing Cruise destinations in the Caribbean and without a doubt a must-see on your cruise itinerary. Whether it’s a one night stop on your Caribbean cruise or a dedicated cruise around the island, stopping at the following ports:
Havana

Santiago de Cuba

Trinidad

Cienfuegos

La Isla de Juventud

Holguin

Experience a completely different Cuba with a cruise around the island and it’s out of the way ports, either starting or ending your journey with a few days in the cultural capital of Havana.

In the Dominican Republic there are the following cruise ports which you many want to select on your itinerary:

Amber Cove

Isla Catalina

La Romana

Punta Cana

Samana Bay

Santo Domingo

 


By Air

CUBA:

Havana Jose Marti International Airport (HAV)by-air-cuba
The most common transport to the islands is by air, of which Cuba has 10 international airports and 25 national airports. For our Havana based villas and apartments, the most common and closest arrival airport is Havana HAV. That being said, keep in mind that the entire country is less than 110,000 square km’s (42,800 square miles) in total. Cuba welcomes daily international flights from most countries in the world.

Havana HAV has 4 terminals. For the moment only Terminal 3 is dedicated to international flights.

Other International Airports and distances to Havana: 

Distance

Airport Code Distance
Varadero Juan Gualberto Gomez: VRA. Approx. 120 km’s (74 miles) to Havana.
Holgiun Frank Pais HOG Approx. 740km’s (450 miles) to Havana.
Santa Clara Abel Santamaria: SNU. Approx. 289 km’s (179 miles) to Havana.
Cayo Coco Jardines del Rey: CCC. Approx. 500 km’s (310 miles) to Havana.
Cayo Largo del Sur Vilo Acuna: CYO. Approx. 177 km’s (110 miles) to Havana.
Camaguey Ignacio Agramonte: CMW. Approx. 548 km’s (340 miles) to Havana.
Cienfuegos Jaime Gonzales: CFG. Approx. 236 km’s (146 miles) to Havana.
Santiago de Cuba Antonio Macoa: SCU. Approx. 881 km’s (547 miles) to Havana.
Manzanillo de Cuba Sierra Maestra: MZO. Approx. 627 km’s (390 miles) to Havana.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC:

Puerto Plata/Gregorio Luperón International (POP)

For our Dominican Republic based villas, the closest arrival airport is Puerto Plata POP. If your airline does not fly to this destinaton, Santiago STI is a one hour and fifteen minute drive to our villa. Please keep in mind that our car rental partners can pick you up at your arrival airport and we can also provide chauffeurs for the duration of your stay. Please see out services page here.

Other International Airports and distances to Cararete Puerto Plata: 

Airport Code Distance
Puerto Plata (Gregorio Luperón International) : POP Approx. 15 km’s (9 miles) to Cabarete.
Santiago (Ciboa Internatioal): STI Approx. 81km’s (50miles) to Cabarete.
Santo Domingo (Airport Las Americas): SDQ Approx. 250 km’s (155 miles) to Cabarete.

By Train

Cuba has a rail system that runs almost the full length of the main island – from Guane (Pinar del Río) to Caimanera, as well as various branches.

From Havana La Coubre, direct rail serves the following destinations:

Piñar del Río

Bayamo
Guantánamo

Santiago de Cuba

Matanzas

Morón

Mazanillo

Cienfuegos

Santa Clara

Camagüey

Sancti Spíritus

As per the many nuances in Cuba, the frequency can change but for most routes there is at least one train per day but your best bet is to inquire directly at the Havana train station and reconfirm 2-3 days before your expected date of travel. Be prepared for slow trains, delays, changing departure times and a very unreliable experience. Ticket prices are however very economical and can be purchased at the train stations at the ticket windows.

For travel from Havana to Matanzas, we recommend the Hershey Train (built by the Hershey Chocolate Company in the early 20th Century).  It’s a great Typical Cuban (old and slow but charming) adventure and a good way to see the Cuban countryside.

 

 


By Car

By far, the best transport option from within Cuba is by car. Renting a private car is fairly straightforward – if there is availability. Regardless of the various rental companies you will find on the internet, all private vehicle rentals are government owned and regulated – meaning whichever company you find online, they will rent for you via a government owned company such as REX or CubaCar and availability is difficult to guarantee – which makes planning your vacation difficult.

We highly recommend a chauffered car service which can be reserved directly through us. Please see our guest services page here.  Drivers are licensed, friendly, knowledgable (you have combined chauffeur,  tour guide and translator all in one!) and are available and at your service 24 hours per day. And the supplemental cost is minimal (less than 50 Cuban CUC’s more per day). We have a varied selection of vehicles available from economy to luxury.