Margarita Island - Venezuela
Isla Margarita lies close enough (25 miles) to the Venezuelan coast to have imported a vibrant hint of Latin America to its relaxed island mood. You may land at El Guamache on the northern coast or Polamar on the southeastern coast. El Guamache has a only single pier so you may tender in and there is little here except a row of souvenir and craft shops and a sandy beach with calm shallow water - you will need a tour or taxi to explore the island. Porlamar, founded in 1536 and centre of the island's long-established pearl industry, is the largest town on the island and good for shopping. It also has the beautiful Inglesia San Nicolas de Bari church, the Mercado Viejo (Old Market) and a sandy beach with calm shallow water. Isla Margarita is in fact two islands linked by an 18km sandbar of broken seashells called La Restinga behind which lies a wetland lagoon and mangroves National Park containing over 100 species of birds, turtles, dolphins, deer, ocelots, seahorses and oysters. The western island, known as the Peninsula de Macanao, is barren and hot but has some good deserted beaches and a few small settlements. The eastern island has wooded areas and fertile valleys and most of the population and facilities. The tiny colonial capital of La Asuncion is filled with architectural gems including colonial buildings, the magnificent Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion and the Castillo de Santa Rosa. At Pampatar see the star-shaped fort of San Carlos de Borromeo and the church of Cristo del Buen Viaje. There are good beaches on the east coast but the best beaches are on the north coast of the island. Christopher Columbus landed here in 1498; the island was settled by the Spanish in the 1520s. Since 1969 it has gained prominence as a free port and tourist centre. Visit the lovely La Restinga National Park, take a four-wheel drive along the Peninsula of Macanao or the island's interior, enjoy the interesting Tacuantar Village From here you can also reach see the Canaima National Park on the mainland. Here more than a hundred forest-shrouded tepuis, table mountains, form the upper reaches of Venezuela's Orinoco River Basin. Much of the park's flora and fauna on the tepuis is endemic, and the secluded mesas soar more than 5,000 feet above the surrounding forest forming a backdrop to the fantastic Angel Falls, which can be viewed by plane. The following 1 cruises call at Margarita Island. Discover more by clicking the cruise name or ship or click the Enquire button if you want to check availability and pricing.