Isla Maragarita, Venezuela
Just off the coast of Venezuela you’ll find three islands, the biggest of which is Margarita Island and if you’ve chosen it as your holiday destination, you’re in for a treat of non-stop watersports, entertainment and a nightlife that will have your friends and family back home green with envy. You’ll find yourself transported to an island paradise with some of the best beaches in the world. The combination of its adventure-tourist character and its charming people, make it possible to offer you the best from this enchanting sunkissed Caribbean island. Rich in history, it was known as the “Pearl of the Caribbean” (La Margarita means ‘pearl) after explorer Christopher Columbus noticed that the island’s seabed was laden with pearls. The legend says that there once upon time existed pearls as big as eggs from a dove on this island. Isla Margarita has a unique personality. It’s laid-back spirit permeates the lifestyle while the high mountains and white beaches offer dramatic backdrops to picturesque villages. On Isla Margarita there are 50 magnificent beaches each with its own character and because taxis are extremely cheap and reliable, you can easily rent a taxi for a whole day to explore waterfront restaurants and cafes.
Things To Do
- Visit Angel Falls and take a helicopter flip over the world’s highest waterfall.
- Go on a boat ride along Canaima’s Lagoon.
- Play golf at one of the 18-hole golf courses.
- Go horse-riding.
- Get a birds’ eye view as you parasail over the turquoise waters.
- Climb the mountain at Cerro El Copey and get fantastic views of the island.
Catch the Sevillana – a flamenco dance which has its origins in Seville (Spain). The dancers will perform different kinds of this dance, from the Sevillana Tirana to the Sevillana Moderna. Make time to hear the haunting rhythms and melodies of the Gypsies and Andalusians, the Tablao Flamenco and a Live Orchestra. There are sportsbars, lounges and bars and clubs where you can dance to new wave, disco music, merengue, salsa, and reggae music.
Margarita is a duty-free port which means no tax, which means great shopping opportunities. Porlamar is full of shops and stores with an array of shops to make sure you’ll find whatever your heart desires. If you’d like to stroll the markets, make your way to Los Conejeros or Guevara Boulevard both of which offer a great variety of goods at reasonable prices. Keep going until you reach the Old Porlamar Harbourside Market where locals sell their goods. At upmarket malls you can buy American and European clothes brands, expensive perfume and watches at a fraction of their normal prices and, of course, pearl necklaces are a speciality.
Around the island, you will come across locally produced jewellery and ceramic wares or why not pick up a hand-made hammock? On 4 de Mayo, the city’s main avenue, you’ll find the fanciest and more expensive stores selling duty free, imported goods from all over world. Then take home a Cuban cigar or two and some aromatic Venezulan coffee.
The food in Venezuela today is a mixture of African, native Indian and European cuisines which has evolved over the centuries. It also shares many Caribbean influences in its flavours, techniques and ingredients. When it comes to going out, you won’t beat the freshness and taste of the fish and shellfish. Beer and South American wines are cheap. If you’re feeling adventurous try the national dish, pabellon (stewed meat accompanied by rice, black beans and banana) together with some good South American wine. You’ll also find Arepas, a special kind of bread that can be topped with almost anything from cheese and jam to ham and chicken.
Despite the fact that the island is small it is rich in history. The colonial houses, which recall a Spanish past, are architecturally interesting and are now the homes of local residents. There are various historical sites and places of interest to visit. These include: The Nueva Cadiz Museum and Library which are now situated in the same building and which house interesting pre- Columbian artifacts, religious sculptures from the churches, antiquated diving gear and a model of one of the Guipuzcoana Company ships.
On the patio there is a statue of the Lope de Aguirre and a large concrete scale map of Margarita. Castillo San Carlos De Borromeo, the island’s largest fort was built between 1664 and 1684 out of coral rock. Porlamar lighthouse (El Faro de la Puntilla) is the city’s most impressive historical landmark and if you go there in the late afternoon you’ll be assured of a great sunset and the spectacle of seeing hundreds of pelicans coming to roost. Caranta Fort, with its original Spanish cannons, overlooks the sea and offers the photographer wonderful panoramic views of Porlamar city and the Pampatar harbour. Fondene is a pink neoclassical building which was the seat of the transitory Republican Government during the independence war. Jester’s Cave (Cueva del Bufon) is where, legend has it, that smugglers used to hide their treasure. Iglesia Cristo del Buen Viaje (The Holiest Christ of Good Voyages) is a white-washed church which houses a wooden sculpture of Christ venerated by fishermen and boatmen