Isla de Margarita
Surfing in the Caribbean
Once you’ve disembarked from your MSC cruise ship on Isla de Margarita, you’re unlikely to see more than one or two low-budget tourists, as the 940-square-kilometre island is primarily visited by well-to-do Venezuelans.
While cultural authenticity has been supplanted by rampant commercialism, Isla de Margarita can still provide an entertaining taste of mainstream Venezuelan-style tourism. Isla de Margarita has innumerable beach communities and just a few developed urban centres.
Porlamar is the undisputed commercial centre of the island and rocks a distinctly more Caribbean vibe than the mainland. Ten kilometres north of Porlamar lies the more peaceful town of Pampatar. Founded in 1530, it was one of the first settlements in Venezuela, and even today it retains some of its former charm, with the remains of a Spanish fortress, Castillo de San Carlos Borromeo, completed in 1684.
A shore excursion on your MSC Grand Voyages cruise can be the opportunity to discover Macanao Peninsula, Margarita’s arid and desert-like western part, and a good chance to enjoy a sunny day on Margarita’s most famous beach, Playa El Agua, a 3km beach of white sand and palm trees, with plenty of tourists. Less rammed beaches around the island include playas Manzanillo, El Yaque, Caribe, Guayacán, Puerto Abajo and Cardón.
Families and nature-lovers may like to visit El Parque Nacional Laguna de La Restinga, Isla de Margerita’s narrowest point. This large natural lagoon is viewed by boat and filled with mangroves, sea horses, fish and many birds.