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Isla Margarita

Photo © Aksol6

Travel Guide South America Venezuela Isla Margarita

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Introduction

Isla Margarita is an island located off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. It is the largest island of the Nueva Esparta State, the other islands being Coche and Cubagua. The capital is La Asuncion and the total population of the island is well over 400,000. The capital is Porlamar.

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Geography

Located in the Caribbean Sea between latitudes 10°52'N and 11°11'N and longitudes 63°48'W and 64°23'W, the island, along with the islands of Coche and Cubagua, comprises the state of Nueva Esparta. The island is split into two peninsulas joined by an 18 kilometres long isthmus and covers an area of 1,020 km². It is 78 kilometres long and measures roughly 20 kilometres at its widest.

The Macanao peninsula to the west has a central mountain range in the east-west direction. The highest altitude is 760 metres at Pico de Macanao. Several smaller ranges derive from this axis following a north-south orientation with deep valleys between them. The most notable of these valleys is San Francisco in the north-central part of the peninsula. The Paraguachoa peninsula to the East is formed by a mountain range in the north-south direction from Porlamar to Cabo Negro. The highest peaks are San Juan or Cerro Grande at 920 metres and El Copey 890 metres. The peninsulas are connected by the La Restinga isthmus, on which the La Restinga lagoon is located. There are also two breast shaped hills known as Tetas de Maria Guevara on the isthmus.

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Cities

  • Porlamar - the largest city with about 85,000 inhabitants
  • La Asuncion - the capital.

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Sights and Activities

Margarita Island is often called the Pearl of the Caribbean. Dozens of beautiful beaches await you, from pristine, isolated beaches on the west side of the island, to long, tropical beaches full of interesting people including local artisans, surfers, golfers, fishermen, businessmen, locals and visitors. The east side of the island is full of tropical trees and flowers; the west side is an isolated desert that contains several breathtaking beaches.

Whether it’s for hiking in the mountains, exploring the mangroves of La Restinga National Park, visiting Spanish Colonial historical sites, swimming with dolphins, horseback riding, exquisite spa treatment, a shopping trip to buy a hammock made on the island, a visit to a charming maritime museum, fishing or sailing, you will find it quite easy to arrange your daytrips. You will enjoy the calm pace of the island’s inhabitants, the lively stories of those who have moved here from other countries, and the intellectual stimulation of those Venezuelans who have moved here from the mainland to live a more peaceful life.

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Weather

The average temperature is 27 °C with minimum ranging between 22° and 23 °C and maximum that can easily exceed 34 °C. Rainfall is common in the winter months or rainy season that begins around July-October (although the rain is usually quite rare).

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Getting There

By Plane

Del Caribe "Santiago Mariño" International Airport (PMV) is located near Porlamar. Close to 20 airlines serve the island with the main destinations being Caracas, Bogota, Medellin, Milan, Warsaw, Madrid, Montreal, Toronto, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, Aruba, Curacao, Fort-de-France, Port of Spain, Frankfurt, Roseau, Oslo, Stockholm, Manaus and Santiago de Chile.

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Getting Around

By Car

Rental cars are available from major chains such as Avis, Budget and Hertz, as well as local operators. Look for established operators with an identifiable operating base. Outlets are to be found in the main city of Porlamar, at Playa El Yaque, and there are several offices and kiosks at the islands airport. Always use common sense when renting and make sure to check for any hidden costs and levies that may appear when you return the car. To rent a car you will need a current driver’s license and a passport. Make sure you have adequate insurance to cover any loss/damage or purchase a Collision Damage Waiver and do not leave your passport, drivers licence, or any other important documentation with the rental company as a security deposit. Since in most cases the contract will be in Spanish, make sure you understand what you are signing. Do not take the rental agents word in translating it, you are signing a legally binding contract. Thoroughly check over the vehicle including the glass and all panels for any damage and have the salesperson initial a damage record. If in doubt at all photograph the vehicle from all sides prior to taking delivery. Make sure that the vehicle is registered with the municipality as a rental car, there will be a sticker on the drivers side windshield. Check the vehicle over thoroughly before you leave the depot to ensure everything is functioning on the vehicle and that it is roadworthy. Fuel is cheap so most companies do not require the car be returned full.

By Bus

Buses run to the most destinations in daytime only. Typical service hours are daily from 6:00am-8:00pm with reasonably priced fares. Flag the bus down if you are on the side of the road and want it to stop. Check the rate to your destination with the driver as you board the bus and pay when you arrive. The local buses may be a little too rustic for some visitors used to more modern transportation systems but they are a good inexpensive way to get about and to meet the local people.

Buseta (mini-buses) offer an opportunity to travel cheaply and to get in touch with the locals. Trip times will depend on distance and traffic conditions. Knowing a little Spanish is always helpful to get through, but some locals will be pleased to practice their English with you. Fares are inexpensive and depend on the length of your travel. Before boarding a mini-bus, ask the driver how much the fare is to your specific destination to ensure there are no misunderstandings.

Por puesto service most of the island. These are a little like a shared taxi having much more flexibility than a conventional bus service. Many locals use the Por Puesto services which normally travel a fixed route offering a cheap and safe alternative to a taxi. The journey can sometimes be a little slow however, as they often stop to pick up and discharge passengers at frustratingly short intervals and this may draw a trip out considerably.

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Eat

The island of Margarita has a wide range of restaurants and local eating houses to cater for all budgets and styles. It is customary for a 10% service charge to be added to your bill. While your server may receive a small portion of this, it is not a tip for your server. In most cases part of it goes to the "house" for breakage and incidentals, with maybe a small portion split between the help. If you received good service, it is customary to tip your server. Some go as far as rewarding the bartender separately when eating out and their service was exceptional. Don't be surprised if you order a mixed drink and the bartender brings the bottle of liquor, glasses of ice and mixer to your table. A bartender pouring a triple shot of liquor for the price of a single is not unusual.

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Drink

Margarita is one of the Caribbean Islands and has many bars and club, exotic tropical drinks are a favourite here.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Hotel PatrickCalle el Fuerte Juan GriegoHotel58
Posada Cerquita del Mar InnPlaya El Agua, Isla Margarita La Mira, Main Street #4Guesthouse-
Posada del CapitanAve. Carabobo 57Guesthouse-
Posada Villa del SolCalle La Canoa - Playa El AguaGuesthouse98
Villa SerenaCalle Margarita, El Tirano Antolin Del CampoGuesthouse-
Casa Perla PensionPlaya El Yaque CalleGuesthouse-
El Caney Hotel17 Calle GuevaraHotel-
Hotel el Fuerte7 calle el fuerteHotel-
GuestHouse Posada Casa El PozoCalle Viejo de AguaGuesthouse-
Posada Los Mangos,Isla de Margarita.Calle Principal El CardónGUESTHOUSE-
Posada Casa RosaCalle Mira Linda Playa el AquaGUESTHOUSE-
Posada AnandaIsla de Margarita PampatarGUESTHOUSE-
Los MangosMain streetHostel-
Posada Sotavento BeachPlaya el Agua - Isla de MargaritaHOTEL-

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This is version 14. Last edited at 14:05 on Aug 22, 16 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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