Under the tropical sun, an authentic island with warm salty breeze rises from the waters of the Caribbean Sea. Margarita island maybe isn`t quite as well known across the world as Jamaica and Barbados, but it certainly has a lot to offer.
It may be tricky to find, but Margarita offers relaxed vibes many travellers are looking for. The island with soft white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and striking natural beauty is tucked away in the quiet corner of the Caribbean.
If you are keen to discover a laid-back South American vibe without the glitz and glamour, then the true Venezuela`s secret paradise island awaits you.
MARGARITA ISLAND`S LOCATION
Margarita Island is lying off the north-eastern coast of Venezuela and is the largest of the Nueva Esparta State.
Linked by a narrow stretch of land, the island comprises of two islands connected in the middle by the mangrove filled lagoon.
CLIMATE IN MARGARITA ISLAND
The Caribbean is known throughout the world for its tropical climate, hot and muggy weather all year around, and Isla Margarita is no exception. What`s more, Margarita island sits well outside the hurricane belt. For this reason, there is only a small chance of the tropical storms.
Although the best time to travel to Margarita is from late February to late March (driest months), an occasional showers can usually occur during the night.
With the low rainfall year around and the trade winds cooling off the island, Margarita Island can offer the Caribbean getaway for a fraction of the cost, compared to the neighbouring ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao).
THINGS TO DO ON THE ISLAND
While many visitors see Isla Margarita only as a beach destination, the island with thrilling landscape has turbulent period of history. High forested mountains are home to fortresses and forts which were built by Spaniards to protect theirs shores from the pirates during the colonial times.
Explore the island on a jeep safari tour, hike through the mountains and visit one of the national parks, or snorkel and get familiar with the local marine life.
WHAT NOT TO MISS ON MARGARITA ISLAND:
Out of the island`s attractions, the sun-filled beaches with white sands and an abundance of water sports are Margarita`s main draws. There are many to choose from, whether you like secluded beaches, calm waters for snorkelling or perfect waves for windsurfing.
PLAYA EL AGUA
It may be the busiest and most famous beach on the island, but Playa el Agua is big on beauty. The gold sand beach lined with palm trees, restaurants and shops is popular with the locals and visitors alike. The largest Margarita`s beach with the big waves is also renowned for the surf conditions.
PLAYA EL YAQUE
Those who are in search of extreme water sport activities should head to Playa el Yaque. The beach located just 10 minutes from the airport is ideal for surfing and kiteboarding. Playa el Yaque beach is ideal also for families because of shallow waters.
Travellers who fancy relaxation should consider visiting Paradise beach. Located on the south coast of the island, Playa Paraiso is known for its calm waters and white sand. The beach can be found only a short distance from the port terminal.
Playa Parguito, located next to the famous Playa el Agua beach is another beautiful beach. La playa with plenty of palm trees and majestic views is where the sea turtles come to lay their eggs in April and May.
ISLA DE COCHE
It might be a small island located to the south of the Margarita, but it has many activities for everyone. A quiet fishing island with some of the best Margarita`s beaches and blue seas offers many opportunities for snorkelling, diving and windsurfing. Those who don`t want to stay overnight can take a day tour to the island and enjoy a quiet atmosphere.
MARGARITA ISLAND HORSEBACK RIDING
If you need a break from the beaches, consider horseback riding. An unforgettable experience both for beginners and experts is an activity not to be missed. The visitors can choose horseback riding on the beach or over the mountains.
FORT OF SANTA ROSA, LA ASUNCION
In search of pristine mountain scenery, the cultural heritage and stunning views? Well, La Asuncion has them all.
The colonial town La Asuncion, the political capital of Margarita, is best known for its fortress. The Fort of Santa Rosa, also known as “Castillo de Santa Rosa” was for many years a symbol of independence. The fort is also one of the most important historical symbols of the island.
Built by the Spaniards to protect the island from the pirates, the colonial castle with the several cannons is a place full of history.
Positioned at the top of a hill, the fort of Santa Rosa provides beautiful panoramic views. The Fort overlooking the mountains and red-tiled houses is without doubt one of the best attractions on Isla Margarita.
BASILICA VIRGEN DEL VALLE
Basilica Virgen Del Valle, Isla Margarita
For the cultural experience and the traditions of Venezuela, visit Basilica Virgen del Valle.
A pink and white Basilica can be found in the historical capital town of El Valle del Espiritu Santo. A must-see attraction of the island is honouring the Virgen del Valle, who is the patron saint of Venezuela.
After exploring the basilica don`t forget to visit the local market and a museum next to the market.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Those who happen to be around in September (8th September) should not miss the festival with thousands of pilgrims coming to the town every year.
LAGUNA DE LA RESTINGA
It may be small national park, but Laguna de la Restinga is big on beauty. Located on Margarita`s northern coast, a long strip of land unites the eastern part of the island with the western Peninsula de Macanao.
The mangrove-covered national park with shallow salt lagoon is home to all kind of habitats, including sea horses, red snappers, cormorants, flamingos and many other birds.
Mazes of mangrove-covered channels
The visit to the Laguna de la Restinga includes a guided boat tour through mazes of verdant mangrove channels. It is a fabulous way to learn more about endemic species of wildlife and flora. Restinga Lagoon national park is definitely worth a visit when on Isla Margarita.
Want to experience a day in the virgin surroundings? If yes was your answer, head Punta Arenas in the most western part of the peninsula de Macanao. Enjoy the calm Caribbean waters, desert wilderness and unravel Punta Arena`s laid back charm.
Punta Arenas and La Carmela are renowned for its quaint atmosphere, plenty of cacti and fine white sand beaches. A 70 km (43 miles) long trip from busy Porlamar is definitely worth it.
Don’t` forget to visit Porlamar, the largest and the most well-known city on the island. The city offers a wide selection of shops, restaurants, has two city beaches and is the central hub of the island`s nightlife.
Discovered by Christopher Columbus, Margarita island may be significantly different from Columbus`s time.
Through the centuries, a Venezuelan island became a mecca for domestic tourism. Recently it started to be discovered by tourists especially from the countries from South America.
SAFETY IN MARGARITA ISLAND
However, crisis-wracked Venezuela with a high threat from violent crime, food and medicine shortages also affected Margarita Island, once a popular port of call for cruise ships.
For the past several years, an economic freefall and security concerns have caused the massive drop in tourism on Isla Margarita.
With no cruise ships in the port and no direct flights from America and Europe, the once-booming Margarita Island had to approach survival mode tourism.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Isla Margarita is likely safer that the mainland, though it may be best to wait until the situation in the nation cools down.
Meanwhile, those who wish to visit the island now should check for the current travel alerts and warnings before booking a trip. Try your best to blend in and stay away from danger to avoid landing yourself into any kind of trouble.
Once order is restored in Venezuela, Margarita Island will again become a great starting point on your Caribbean journey.
HOW TO GET TO ISLA MARGARITA
Not long ago it was easy to get to Isla Margarita. Thanks to the direct flights from Europe, all-inclusive holidays and a cruise ship tours, the island was getting sought-after.
Currently, getting to Margarita Island can take a little more effort. With no direct flights from North America and Europe, Margarita Island has become hard-to-get to.
To get to the island, visitors must first fly into either Caracas or Barcelona in Venezuela, or other countries where they need to catch a direct flight to Porlamar on Margarita Island. Porlamar is serviced mostly by the Venezuelan airlines (Avior or Estelar). Flights from Caracas are inexpensive during the week because the island is a popular weekend destination for the locals.
Travelers may get to Isla Margarita by the ferry service (the major “Conferry” company), if they are already on the north coast of Venezuela.
CURRENCY IN MARGARITA ISLAND
On the subject of the currency, when travelling to Isla Margarita, it`s a good idea to carry US dollars.
With widespread shortages and skyrocketing hyperinflation, prices in Venezuela are extremely vulnerable to change. The devaluation of the introduced bolivar soberano (BsS), which replaced the bolivar fuerte in 2018, caused Venezuelans now to use the US dollars for transactions and savings, despite the exchange control established by the Maduro regime.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Bring cash US dollars to Margarita Island and use a parallel market locally. The black market can provide much higher exchange rates. Never use ATMS or official exchange offices due to the low exchange rates.
It is illegal to advertise the black market exchange rates.
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