Earth : South America : Venezuela : Caribbean Islands (Venezuela) : Nueva Esparta : Margarita Island
Margarita island (Isla de Margarita) is the largest island of the Nueva Esparta State of Venezuela with a total area of 934 km², mountainous terrain and a tropical Caribbean climate. It is a 35 minute flight or a couple of hours by sea using the ferry from Puerto La Cruz or Cumana as it is only a short distance off the northern coast of the mainland of Venezuela.
The Province of Margarita was founded in 1525 and was the oldest of those that in 1777 formed the Post of Captain-General of Venezuela.
The island has more than 50 beaches which are scattered along 106 miles of coastline and is blessed with an average of over 320 days a year of sun and beautiful tropical beaches lined with palm trees.
EU citizens don’t need a visa to visit Venezuela. U.S. citizens planning travel to Venezuela should plan to apply for a visa three months in advance of travel and should expect to pay $30 for a one-year, multiple-entry visa good for a 90 day stay in Venezuela. The climate is warm and pleasant with vacationers visiting Margarita all months of the year.
Del Caribe-Santiago Mariño Caribbean International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional del Caribe "Santiago Mariño") (IATA: PMV, ICAO) is located 20-25 km southwest of the city centre of Polamar and is serviced by several airlines providing flights to Europe, Canada, the United States, South America and the Caribbean. The Airport has one terminal divided into two separate sections for international and domestic flights. The two terminal are separated by a few moments walk. Primary domestic routes are to Caracas, Maturín and Ciudad Bolivar.
Via ferry from mainland Venezuela at Puerto La Cruz with Conferry . Passenger/vehicular ferries operate the route providing access to the island for motorbikes, cars, buses and trucks. The Carmen Ernestina or any express ferry is preferable.
When traveling about on the island please ensure that you carry sufficient local currency in smaller denominations so that you can make purchases without running into problems. Smaller local traders and transport operators may not be able to give you sufficient change for larger bills and will most likely be reluctant to accept foreign currency as it will be difficult and troublesome for them to exchange it later.
Taxis hire is subject to prior negotiation with the driver. Taxis can often be chartered for a day if required. Most of the taxi have fix rates and should be inexpensively priced.
The taxi painted in white with yellow license plate are often considered to be the most reliable.
Buses run to the most destinations in daytime only. Typical service hours are daily from 6AM-8PM 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.
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.
Motorbike and scooter rental are also available.
If considering making a trip to the mainland on the ferry and taking a rental vehicle with you then please ensure beforehand that your rental and insurance contract permits the vehicle traveling off the island.
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.
Many visitors enjoy the island’s duty-free shopping, and in the evening , a sparkling nightlife awaits you, full of beach bars and discos, salsa clubs and fine restaurants.
From here, you can plan a day trip to the nearby islands of Coche or Cubagua, or to other destinations on the island. Visit the islands natural wonders or venture further afield to the stunning, colorful waters of Los Roques islands, Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, Canaima, an indigenous village with breathtaking jungle, waterfalls and land formations, or the clean and crisp Andes Mountains.
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.
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.
Margarita is one of the Caribbean Islands and has many bars and club, exotic tropical drinks are a favourite here.
There are many popular tropical drinks on the island of Margarita. Just ask at the club, hotel, bar or restaurant you are visiting and the local bartender will no doubt be pleased to get things moving. Watch out, some of these drinks can be a little potent.
A limon is a cross between a lemon and a lime and is common on Margarita Island
For hotels and other places of accommodation please see the listings in the individual destination articles.
Keep in mind that the beds in many hotels (mostly up to the mid-range levels) are nothing more than mattresses on concrete slabs that resemble box springs. Depending on what your sleep preference is they may not be the most comfortable for you. Many visitors opt for a self catering condo instead of a hotel. When one compares prices a self catering condo is may be a good option to a hotel. Also, when staying in a self catering condo one has the option of eating in or eating out.
Avoid drinking too much and dancing too late.
Like most areas of the world it is best in Margarita to use caution late at night and try not to walk about alone in unfamiliar areas unless in a larger group of people who are familiar with the locality. Leave your jewelry at home, you will not need it here. A cheap watch is all one may need.
There are several public and private medical clinics on Margarita.
Dental work is normally quite reasonably priced on Margarita Island. Many dentists have modern facilities and have trained in the US or EU.