Isla Margarita in Venezuela

History of Isla Margarita

Isla Margarita is one of Venezuela's most popular destinations. The island's first inhabitants were the Waikeri people, an indigenous group that is thought to be related to the Warao, who still live in the Roraima area. The Waikeri called Isla Margarita Paraguachoa, which in their native language means “plentiful fishing”. In August 1498, the first European explorers arrived in the island. They were the crew of Columbus' third voyage, who were stunned at the natural beauty and the resources available in the island, especially pearls. Due to this reason, the waters near Margarita became a battleground for pirates, who repeatedly seized the island during the 16th and 17th centuries. In May 1811, the island gained independence from Spain and became the first independent province in Venezuela.

The weather in Margarita

Isla Margarita is bordered by the Caribbean Sea, and as in the case of other islands in the area, its tropical climate is characterised by warm and pleasant temperatures all year round. However, and unlike in nearby islands, humidity is not very high in Margarita, as the island has a rather dry tropical climate. There are two distinct seasons in Isla Margarita. The dry season (or summer) runs between November and May, and at this time temperatures can reach the mid 30s, although the average is 27ºC. On the other hand, the winter or rainy season runs between July and October, and during these months average temperatures stay around 24ºC. However, visitors must be aware that the interior of the island is quite rugged, with several mountains that rise more than 3,000 feet above sea level. Temperatures in the mountains are significantly lower, and they can easily drop to 14ºC.

Porlamar in Isla Margarita

With more than 200,000 inhabitants, Porlamar is the most populous city in Isla Margarita and the gateway to the island, as it is located only a 30-minute drive away from the airport. The city was built facing the seafront, as originally Porlamar was a fishing village that evolved into a popular tourist resort. The waterfront area has a modern feel with its tall apartment buildings, luxury hotels, shopping malls, and spacious parks and avenues. There are also several marinas on the way to Pampatar, which are always busy with watersports enthusiasts. Bahind the waterfront visitors will find Porlamar's old town, which is a pleasure to explore with its many markets, churches, and colonial buildings. The best beaches in Porlamar are Playa Guacuco and La Caracola. Further away, some of the most beautiful beaches are Pampatar, Parguito, El Tirano, Bellavista, Bahia del Morro, and Playa Valdes. Porlamar is also a great shopping destination, as the whole island is a duty free area.

Juan Griego in Margarita

With its expansive bay, spectacular sunsets, and laid back atmosphere, Juan Griego is very representative of Isla Margarita's beauty and charm. The town has approximately 30,000 inhabitants and is located on the northern edge of the island. The town's name (which literally means John the Greek) originates in the figure of a Spanish sailor who arrived to this part of the island in the 16th century. Because of its location, Juan Griego became an important port and trading hub during the 19th century, particularly after the island became an independent territory. The town played a key role in the Venezuelan Independence War, and several cannons and fortresses in town bear witness to that. In the early 1970s, Juan Griego began to attract large numbers of tourists, to the point that today the town is the second most visited destination in Isla Margarita. Some important landmarks include the San Juan Evangelista church, the fortress at La Galera, and the promenade along the town's quay.

Attractions in Margarita

Isla Margarita can be divided into four main areas: the Macanao peninsula, the eastern side of the island, Coche island, and Cubagua island. The Macanao peninsula is located to the west of Porlamar and is characterised by its mountainous landscapes, with the remote Cerro Macanao being the highest point in this part of the island. The peninsula can be accessed from Porlamar via the Restinga National Park, which comprises more than 26,000 acres of wetlands and which is great for those interested in eco-tours. Travelling east, visitors will come across the most developed part of the island, as towns like Porlamar, Juan Griego, and Puerto Cruz are in this area. In the southeast of the island, visitors will find El Yaque beach, which is great for banana boat rides and windsurfing. Coche and Cubagua islands are remote, sparsely visited, and perfect to get away from it all.