We were at Isla Margarita in March 2008 and my husband was stopped by three policemen. He was walking along the the mainroad in Playa El Agua early in the evening. (he was not drunk)The policemen were looking for drugs and told him to spread his arms and legs and they empty his pockets. He had just two 20$bills and they took one of them. We were told by a local the day after that it was not unusual that things like that happens, because of their low incom. So I recomend you to show them everything, but keep the money in your hands. We don`t care about the money, but the way it happens.
We bought a 5blvF coconut on the beach and gave a 20bvF bill. The seller who apparently didn't have enough change went inside the restaurant we were at to supposedly make some change.... and never came back!!!!!
The coconut turned expensive :)
Be cautious. Watch what goes on around you. It's not a country that you can feel 100% comfortable walking the street, so be alert. If you are female, I would recommend that you take an escort with you. Do not even travel between the domestic and international terminals at the airport alone. People have been known to be robbed doing this.
having spent much time on Margarita, I used to ake the ferry from Cumana at least every other week, I can honestly say that" Yes", there are areas which are dangerous.
But, tjhis is true anywhere you go. Margarita is for the most part an incredibly friendly and earm place.
But as was pointed out in another tip, use common sense, don"t flash. You wish to impress, take a taxi to and from your destination.
Don't be a walking "calling Card" for tjhose who would wish to benefit by what you broadcast.
Find a good and reliable Taxi driver, there are many, treat him well and he will watch out for you!
Don't overtip, again use good common sense and check to see if the tip is included in your Bill.
Learn polite phrases in Spanish and use them, The locals don't laugh at your mistakeas, they laugh with you and are very helpful at helpingyou to get it right.
major stores have fixed prices but the flea market outside of Porlamar is a treasure trove of good buys, but as with everywhere, do not flash large anmounts of cash, chanmge your money at the Bank or Casa de Cambio for local currency.
JUST USE COMMON SENSE!
It is more dangerous in Los Angeles and Detroit than it is here!!
I wrote this in a reply to someone's question else where but felt I should add it here too.....
Card fraud yes that does happen and it has even happened to at least 2 of my close friends and it just does here or anywhere. They just get reimbursed from the Credit card companies.
Robberies are *EVERYWHERE* ...be careful and cautious always. Does that mean you can't come here and relax ... NO.
I know what streets to not just walk around without paying attention....which ones you say ...Plaza Bolivar (keep eyes peeled) aka the Walking Streets as it's called, down by the Bella Vista area..only because it's become desolate over the past two years and it has gotten run down. The bad area I am talking about is once you are past the Bella Vista Hotel. If you continued to walk in the opposite direction NOT heading toward 4 de Mayo then that is the area that I am talking about.
Don't dress to impress especially in an area that's prone to have more theft Or wear lots of jewlery or tip high in front of others....wait til your leaving and then tip big to show your appreciation.
It's all alot of common sense to me and you know what if by chance it does happen to you ....it could of actually been the person right next to you or the person who just got out of the store right ahead of you that could of been robbed and not *you*. Sometimes things in life just *happen* so take the good with the bad and enjoy your vacations as much as you can. They only happen once a year !!!!
Yes I do feel safe here or else I wouldn't be here. I just watch myself and my kids when were out. I have one trusted taxi driver who will come to pick me up at my house so I don't walk up to the bus stop to get a taxi or bus. It's safer for me to have him come get me. If I'm late in town then he will come pick me and my kids up...sometimes he even brings his lovely wife along for a ride. I never think it can't happen to me..so just always be precautionary and *think*.
Do not exchange money on the street. There are lots of people who will offer to change your money and give you a higher exchange rate. They might shortchange you, give you counterffeit money or after you exchange it, they call someone who will meet you a couple of blocks away and rob you.
There are legal money exchange houses called Casa de Cambio.
Near the nightlife places on playa el agua you will see some dark streets which may lead to your hotel. In these streets there are sometimes little bushes along the road.
In these bushes there is a possibility to have some robbers hidden in it at night. So, you should always try to walk at the other side of the street and be prepared in case someone would be hidden in there. They usually jump out and being at the other side of the road, you are then given time to react. I suggest girls to walk through these streets accompanied or in group.