Isla Margarita

Isla Margarita, off the northern coast of Venezuela, is a major tourist destination for sun worshippers worldwide. With wide spans of palm-lined white beaches, clear water, and excellent water sports like windsurfing, scuba diving, snorkelling and more, Isla Margarita is mostly made up of national parks. The north and west of the island is mostly wetland or hot, dry sand dunes which require a four-wheel-drive to explore. The east and southeast hosts most of the population, some nice colonial villages, some interesting forts and, of course, great beaches, restaurants and nightlife.

Porlamar, to the southeast of the island and 20 km (12.5 miles) from the airport, is the hub. It offers the best shopping and nightlife on Isla Margarita. Some of the most popular beaches are a short bus ride from Porlamar. Just inland from Porlamar is La Asunción, the capital of the island. It features some lovely colonial architecture, a cathedral and a fort with a famous dungeon. The closest beach to La Asunción is Playa Guacuco, which faces the open sea and offers great windsurfing and clear, unpolluted water. Playa El Yaque is another hot spot for windsurfing and other water sports like sailing, kite surfing, and kayaking. Lodging tends to be a bit pricier there as most hotels work off package deals. Playa El Agua is a 45-minute bus ride north of Porlamar and has white, stone-free beaches that fill with tourists and a good selection of restaurants.

To get to Isla Margarita, fly from Caracas or take a ferry from Puerto La Cruz or Cumaná. Once on the island, renting a car is a good option as rates are reasonable and roads are well-paved.