Margarita Island (Isla de Margarita) is located in the Caribbean Sea off the northeastern coast of Venezuela and is made up of two peninsulas joined by an narrow strip of land. Its breathtaking scenery, excellent nightlife and duty-free shopping mean that it attracts all types of visitors. The climate is normally dry and sunny, with average temperatures between 24 and 37°C. The small pretty city of La Asunción is the capital of the region.
Margarita Island was discovered by Christopher Columbus, who was made welcome by the local natives (Guaiqueries). In the past the island had to be fortified against pirate attacks and today the remaining fortifications add much charm to the island. Independence from Spain was gained in 1814, when Margarita Island was declared the first permanently free territory in Venezuela.
There are over fifty excellent beaches on the island, ranging from the very popular to the solitary, over 106 miles of gorgeous coastline. Choose from Playa El Aqua (4km and sandy) beach in the north, Playa Puerto Cruz along similar lines or Playa El Yaque for windsurfing.
Margarita Island also contains several lovely mountains with lush vegetation, which provide excellent hiking opportunities. The western Macanao peninsula has a central mountain range with a highest altitude of 760m, while the Paraguachoa (Eastern) peninsula’s highest peaks are San Juan (920m) and El Copey (890m).
The island has several pretty towns towns like Porlamar, one of the largest and best known for its commercial center, good restaurants and two beaches. Pampatar boasts most of the larger shopping malls, several beaches and the 1664 Castillo San Carlos Borromeo. Bijou Juan Griego has several shopping centres and beaches, while in La Galera’s fortress near the city centre a fierce battle for independence took place in the 1820s. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to see and participate in the June Margarita Salsa Festival taking place all over the island.
Day trips can be had by party boats to the nearby islands of Coche and Cubagua. Visit them for even more tranquil beaches and little or no development. Lunch, drinks and beach games are usually included.
Posted : Monday, February 21st, 2011 at 11:00
Karen Bryan is the founding editor of the UK based, multi author Europe a la Carte Blog which features Europe travel tips about the best places to visit in Europe.