Rising from the blue of warm Caribbean seas, the green mountainous mass of Margarita Island slips down into sandy shores and a palm tree fringe. Whether you're on the island to make the most of long sunny hours shore-side, see historical sights or shop duty-free, a few days of languid exploration covers the bases.
Porlamar is the island's big city, the ferry port for boats over from mainland Venezuela. Tour the restored fort, Castillo de San Carlos Boromeo in Pampatar to the northeast, before heading out to sight-see the fishing villages and inland retreats that give this island ambiance. Organized tours cover the biggest attractions in a day.
Beaches abound, visitors can choose between sandy stretches with public facilities and people to more solitary shores further afield. For a beach break, try a boat tour through Restinga Lagoon National Park, a mangrove swamp intersected by waterways. Numerous operators offer horseback tours of natural island attractions. Short trail rides are available but die-hard equestrians can make a day of it.
Charter air tours provide excursions to Angel Falls or the coral islands of the Los Roques archipelago.
Margarita Island, or Isla de Margarita, is located 25 miles north of Cumana on the Venezuelan mainland.