Our Friday consisted of being picked up in the hotel lobby for a Jeep Tour we had signed up for (www.roadunlimitedtours.com)We chose it from a guy on the beach, but he didn't want paid until we were being picked up. The cost of ours was $35 USD each. If you are asked for a deposit, steer clear, unless it is a travel/tour operator with a fixed building.
We had an amazing day. The Tour started by going to a Spanish citadel (ho-hum) and then a church (double ho-hum). After than we went off to the national park for a boat ride in the lagoons with mangrove trees everywhere. Attached to the roots are many things - orange, red, blue, black sponges, oysters, starfish and seahorses to name a few. We saw an eagle and a pelican. We were very happy with this part of our tour and tipped the boat operator 10 000 Bolivar ~ the trip is included in the Jeep tour. His English was rough, but he was funny, informative and did very well.
After the boat trip we made our way further along the western side of the island. Our tour stopped at a remote restaurant on a beautiful stretch of beach. The food was fantastic!!! I had the fish and Rob had the steak. All of us on the tour were pleased with the fare. After lunch it was off to the western most beach of the island. There were a couple of thatched roof restaurants where other jeep tours had stopped and another beautiful beach where we were to stop for 2 hours. If we hadn’t have spent the day before on the beach this might have been alright, but we sat in the shade counting the minutes to departure. I think it was just filler to make a fuller day, but I would prefer if they had picked us up at 11 instead.
After the beach our driver took us along the northern part of the island and then we went off-roading. YEEHAAA!! That was fun. Standing up through the open roof as you’re tossed about, adrenaline running high wondering if you will tip – lots of fun.
Long drive back to the scenic lookout for the sunset – well worth having your day last until 6:30 so you can get some great pics.
A town not far from Porlamar. There's a small cathdral on the edge of Plaza Bolivar which was built in the 16th century and one of the oldest colonial churches in the country. There's also a museum on the northern side displaying some of the region's history.
A 10 minute walk away from the plaza of Castillo de Santa Rosa, built to protect from pirate attacks. You can still see some of the cells and old armoury on display. Great views from the top and free to get in.
This small town is home to the island's patroness - Virgen del Valle. A big plaza at one end a sweet looking church, reminisent of something in a Disney fairy tale. The statue of the virgin sits in this church surrounded by a number devotees.
We arrived in El Valle 3 days after the Virgin's Day 8th September and was still full of visiters and stalls selling souveniers and statues of the virgin. I'm not sure what it would be like during the rest of the year - still pretty busy I think.
There's lots of stalls around selling empanadas, doughnuts and drinks. In the plaza there was a band playing music. Great atmosphere, a beautiful place.
Playa Caribe was the best beach we found on the island, with the right vibe for us. It was less busy than El Agua and much more chilled out. There are a few beach bars along the beach which charge around 10 bolivars for sunbeds and no hulking hotels in sight. The best of the beach bars is probably the biggest run by the Argentinean Carlos. He his really friendly and the food is some of the best I've had on the island.
About 15/20 min taxi ride from El Agua for around 35 bolivar and around 5 minute taxi ride from Jaun Griego.
We'd heard about this trip last year and looked forward to including it in our plans for this year.
Another full day tour that included transfers to and from your hotel to a small port on the south end of the island, a morning snack as soon as we cast off, fresh fruit tray mid-morning, a swim/snorkel stop along the way, travelling around the entire Isla Croche within visual distance of the Venezuelan mainland, lunch at the beach and refreshments. Whew!!
There were two choices of vessel - sail/motor catamaran or just motor. The sail/motor option was what we opted for, which was a few dollars more but was more intimate and comfortable. Our cost was $45 each.
There is shade available on board, as well as washroom facilities.
Bring a water-proof bag to protect any electronics in case of rough weather (it was a little rough on the way home).
If I have left any information out, please feel free to message me.
If you are not staying at Playa El Agua and would like to get information, Rudi at Isabela Tours would be more than happy to help you or give you direction.
We enjoyed last year's tour so much and my sister and husband were with us this time that we wanted to do the jeep tour again. This time around we booked our tour through Isabella Travel and enjoyed a similar experience with a few differences. This trip took us up through the jungle-like mountain and down into Ascenscion which was not included last year. I found our lunch location and fare much better last year (see previous tip for company).
The cost for this trip was less expensive than last ($25 USD ea) and included being picked up at your hotel, a briefing at Isabela Tours office and a tour guide.
As before we enjoyed a tour of the Lagoon National Park, seeing mangrove trees, sea sponges, starfish, sea horses and a fun boat ride. I recommend you give your boat driver a tip ~ whatever you feel comfortable with.
Our driver this year certainly sought out rougher areas for 4x4 driving, which was a little more exhilirating. He also took more scenic routes and less highway travel which was more enjoyable. We also tipped the driver and guide at the end of the day.
Feel free to message me for any information I have not thought to include.
Monday took us to our snorkeling trip. Neither of us had gone snorkeling so we were happy with what we got. I think if you have been to someplace bigger, like Cozumel, you would be disappointed. As I said, we were happy with it. Saw lots of big blue fish, black & yellow striped fish, multi-coloured fish, sea urchins, etc. The only downside to the day was the lunch – it was quite disappointing and the “Hacienda” where it was served was swarming with flies. Other than that it was great. We got some good pictures of pelicans at that spot and we saw a school (?) of dolphins go by. OH – by the way, I wish I had swam with either a t-shirt on or had a lot of water resistant sun block – yep, you guessed it, another place on my body sunburned – my back. Still – it was well worth it :D [$30 USD each]
This was our second visit to Margarita Island and the second time we used Isabela Tours for our two activities ~ Catamaran Tour and Jeep Tour. It is helpful that Rudi, the owner/operator, speaks English (and German, Spanish, ....). He has a convenient location on the Beach Road at Playa El Agua and takes pride in what he provides guests. We bought our snorkelling tour from here last year also (refer other Things to Do tip).
He can also provide you with useful information on currency exchange.
We weren't in Margarita long and so we just got off the ship and walked around the 'street' of stalls around the quayside (keyside, for some).
There was a great place to buy CDs of local; music ---just a few dollars each. We also bought some ceramic wind chimes, musical instruments, a papier mache bulls head for school, some costume jewels and some other odds and ends before sitting down for a relaxing drink.
The people were helpful and charming.
Playa El Agua and Parguito are kind of twins, very similar and pretty beaches, with good surf, full of beach restaurants and those hideous clubs that monopolize most of the sand with their shades and lounge chairs-for rent (overwhelmingly empty, yet the flood they place with them, what a waste of labor!). Anyway, there is a wide strip of sand (wider and whiter at Parguito) and they don’t cover the whole beach. Still, you can grab a spot at the edges of the beach, under the shade of a palm tree… hhhmmmm…
Parguito is a big surfer and bogey board spot, and also has more of a local/young vibe. It can be hideously crowded on holidays, but the rest of the time seemed quite empty and with a more authentic feel. Best empanadas we got on Margarita from a push-cart vendor in the south side of the beach.
El Agua has a more mainstream feel, plenty of tourist-oriented restaurants and beach clubs, and vendors that I found to be quite non-intrusive. Strip of sand is narrower and has much more of an urban feel.
El Yaque is awesome if you are meant to windsurf and/or party round the clock. Beach is narrow, there is not much of a town and beach restaurants are are piping loud (and 70ish) music. Much more of a young and foreign crowd though, as opposed to the all-inclusive stereotype people in the rest of the island.
A great secret we figured out as a plan B for rainy days is to head to El Yaque, it's always sunnier and drier, as you may conclude from the (nearly nonexistent) vegetation behind it. Never failed.
There are a couple of beaches between Manzanillo and Juan Griego, where the Dunes resort and the Hesperia Margarita are, which are in semi-enclosed coves and have a wonderful sand, very recommendable, though there is nothing there but the resorts.
Nothing to say about the rest of the beaches (Juan Griego, Punta Arenas, La Pared, etc), they have calm water, little or no waves and are generally used as fishermen pads.