Known in English as “Margarita Island,” Isla Margarita is located a tiny bit off the northern shore of mainland Venezuela. This port of call is primarily popular for its pristine beaches and wonderful year-round weather; a wonderful assortment of tropical plants and animals help make it even more memorable. Outdoors types adore Isla Margarita because there are plenty of fun things to do outside – and a splendid national park in which to do many of them. Since the time that it was discovered by Christopher Columbus back in the year 1498, this Caribbean island has attracted more and more people with each passing year as they discover its many charms.
Sightseeing & Things To Do
Whether you choose to spend your time on Isla Margarita partying on the beach, riding a horse along a length of impossibly gorgeous coastline – or simply munching on a selection of delicious Venezuelan food – you’re never going to get bored while visiting. In no time flat, you will understand why this island has won over the hearts of so many Venezuelans through the years; more than likely, it will win over your own heart, as well.
Thanks to its proximity to mainland Venezuela and its delightful, tropical climate, Isla Margarita is immensely popular with cruise ships and native Venezuelans alike. It is usually fairly busy on this island year-round; fortunately, though, the many great diversions that are available help spread things out a bit. Consider one of the following:
La Restinga National Park
By being on Isla Margarita, you are naturally surrounded by exceptional beauty, nature and wildlife. However, La Restinga National Park helps you enjoy an even more compelling variety of it all. This park sits on a unique sandbar and boasts an eclectic mix of flora. One of the most picturesque aspects of this Venezuelan national park is its network of natural canals that are covered in mangroves; you simply won’t see anything else like it elsewhere.
Playa El Agua
Isla Margarita is hardly lacking in fine beaches for visitors to enjoy. However, if you want to combine lovely sand and water with a bevy of bars and a thriving nightlife, head over to Playa El Agua. Thanks to its nice assortment of dining establishments, clubs and bars – and its shimmering waters and gorgeous sand – Playa El Agua is the most popular beach on Isla Margarita.
Go Horseback Riding
While wandering around the beaches and scenic regions on Isla Margarita by foot is fine and dandy, seeing it all from atop a horse is even better. There are several places on the island where you can enjoy horseback riding along some of the most beautiful parts of the island. It’s a great way to experience the Caribbean charm and grace of this unforgettable place.
Isla de Coche
Step back in time and see how small villages once operated by heading over to the 7,000-person Isla de Coche. This small fishing island is not only charming, but it offers up some of the best windsurfing and kite surfing opportunities in this part of South America.
There are some decent stalls right at the cruise terminal on Isla Margarita, but if you want to do some serious shopping then head over to the center of town. As a duty free port, the island offers up plenty of exceptional deals on a broad range of fine goods. Whether you are looking for steeply discounted designer duds or unique, locally made artwork, you are bound to find what you need.
Best Souvenir To Bring Back To the Cruise Ship
There are plenty of great handicrafts to choose from on Isla Margarita, but a hand woven hammock might just be the best souvenir of all. They are sold in several shops and stalls on the island and make for a great way to remember this place by.
Eating – Sample the Local Cuisine
Seafood is a staple on Isla Margarita, so if you have a hankering for something delicious then you should sample some of the local seafood. Venezuelan cuisine is bold and savory, and if you want to try an exceptionally popular Venezuelan dish then make it pabellón criollo. This mouthwatering staple can be found all over the island and features rice, black beans and shredded beef.
When, Where, and How
When To Go
As with much of South America, December through May – i.e., summer – is the best time to visit Isla Margarita. Not only is it warmest during this part of the year, but it is also driest, too.
Where You’re Docked
Isla Margarita’s cruise ship terminal is called El Guamache, and it is a completely modern and pleasant facility. More than 100 vendor stalls can be found here, making it easy to pick up last minute souvenirs on your way back to the ship. The palm trees that line the way to the terminal remind visitors that they are entering a veritable tropical paradise.
Which Cruise Ships Go Here?
A large number of the major cruise lines have itineraries that include stops at Isla Margarita. A few of the most popular cruise lines that stop in Isla Margarita are P & O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America and Royal Caribbean. However, there are many other options available in terms of dates, ships, days in port and at sea when it comes to Isla Margarita.