Margarita (Venezuela) was disappointing

I was lured to Margarita and specifically the kite spot El Yaque by the kite boarding travel specialist Fun & Fly. It promised 360 days of wind out of 365.

Unfortunately the spot failed to deliver on its main promise. We were only able to kite 5 hours in the first 11 days. Fortunately, we were able to kite 5 hours on the 12th and final day. It rained every single day if only briefly. While the trip itself was inexpensive, food and local purchases were extremely expensive (above New York prices) as inflation increased many prices by 50-100% in the past year. The stay would also have been much more enjoyable if the room had hot water.

We intended to spend a few days in Los Roques or Tortuga as we had heard fantastic things about both locations but all the local flights were booked. We rented a boat and spent 2 days in Las Frailes, a small set of deserted islands near Margarita instead. The highlight of that trip came before we left as my cousin and I convinced our girlfriends we were going to sail the boat ourselves, share 1 small cabin for 4 people, eat the fish we caught which they would have to clean and prepare. Unfortunately the trip did not live up to expectations. There were no scuba tanks on board, contrarily to what we expected. There were no sand beaches on Las Frailes to walk on. There were not that many fish and corals to observe and the sea was covered by small jelly fish. Moreover, the boat rental was outrageously expensive!

The trip back to New York was a disaster. Santa Barbara Airlines closed its check in early and we missed our 6 am flight. They could not find our reservation in the system despite our printed eticket confirmations and took over 2 hours to issue our boarding passes. We could not pay airport taxes by credit card and the money exchangers did not allow the withdrawal of enough money to pay the airport taxes. We missed our connection in Miami and were put on standby for the flight to New York on American. The flight we ended up getting on in Miami was delayed 5 hours and they lost my suitcase!

On the bright side security was much better than we expected and did not notice any petty crimes. We did hear to avoid Caracas at all cost and dutifully obeyed. Should you come bring cash as you get two times the amount of Bolivars on the black market than at the official rate (and credit card transactions are at the official rate). Never get money at an ATM. Not only would the rate be at the official rate, but they would steal your PIN and take all the money out of your account.

Despite all of our travails, I had a good time given the charming company, witty conversation and relaxing atmosphere. Twelve days of doing nothing were exactly what I needed.

That said, I would recommend avoiding Margarita and will probably not come back to Venezuela other than to visit Los Roques.

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  • Fabrice,
    how are you? I didn’t know you kite. I guess you’ve tried Cabarete already. I use to go there, unfortunately two summers ago I had a bad accident and I cannot kite anymore, shut!
    ciao
    g.

  • Hi Gianluca!

    I am sorry to hear about your accident. I am still a beginner at kite boarding (I kite around 20 hours total).

    I am starting to go upwind and ride toe side…

    I hope all is well!

  • Fabrice,

    I am sorry for your recent disappointing experience in Venezuela. I hope you don’t totally avoid it in the future. It’s a beautiful country and there are a lots of other interesting places for anyone.

    An ex-girlfriend of mine was from Venezuela and I have been there several times visiting different places. One of the most beautiful local place is Morrocoy national park in the Falcon state, at the northwest of Venezuela. The whole park is located part in land and part in the sea and has a large number of no-men islands. You can hire a local boat to take you island hopping on your own pace and really enjoy the wild-life and all the beautiful small deserted islands without too much money. The locals also sell their fresh catch of the day fried fish that are the best for almost nothing.

    I also had a lot of fun trips in the mountain driving across different states. La Colonia Tovar is a nice little German town in the mountain that remains the use of the German language and architecture.

    Paraguana peninsula has the most beautiful desert and sand dunes that will make you think you are in Sahara desert. Take a short 20 mins flight will get you over to the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.

    Well, don’t let your last bad experience discourage you for finding beauty in Venezuela again.

    -william

  • Hi fabrice,

    I’ve been there several times for work. Some tips:

    – Carry dollars from your country, and change them to local people to the “paraller” rate.
    – Always take the black cab (vans) on the airport. The other ones are pretty dangerous.
    – Always take a cab from the place you are staying, or ask for a cab at the place you are visiting.
    – Always always always, book everything you need before you go there. We arrived on thursday, and tried to get a car at hertz, to go to chichiribiche. We were absolutly dreaming.

    =)

  • Hi Fabrice,

    I also think that kitesurf in El Yaque is overrated. I was here in April 08 and, although we had wind 90% of the days, the spot is really not suited for people with an average level.
    The take-off zone is extremely narrow and under inconsistent wind, whereas the largest and best part of the beach is devoted to windsurfers (despite they are now a minority). This really make take-offs difficult and complicates your navigation as you need to plan to return to a small strip of beach for landing.

    We used to rent boat to go upwind and then ride downwind in deep waters until we reached the El Yaque beach; but that forces you to leave for several hours, with no break once you have taken off. And we had waves almost every day which is not best for kitesurf.

    I discovered in December a spot that is now my favorite: Dakhla, Morocco, located where the Sahara desert hits the Atlantic Ocean, near Mauritania. Completely flat, as it is a laguna, with steady wind at 4-6 Bft and almost unlimited large beaches for take off, extremely secure. Kite is just starting in Dakhla but growing fast with a huge potential.

    of course, no alcohol served and no venezuelian beauties on the beach, but, hey!, it is kitesurf you came here for no?

    Cheers

    Antoine

  • Antoine:

    I agree with you. Morocco is a bit far for me, but maybe when I am visiting my family in France.

    How warm is the water in Dakhla?

    Do you know how it compares to Essaouira?

  • Hi Fabrice

    I have not experienced Essaouira myself but, from what I know, with kilometers of beaches Dakhla offers a much less crowded spot; and flatter water thanks to the laguna. And since it is located in the southernmost part of the country, 1500 km from Essaouira and in bewteen canaria and capverde, it receives an other kind of wind current that is stronger and more consistent. The stats are better, with a 90% probability to have wind above 3Bft all year round.

    The water does not compare with El Yaque, unfortunately. it was 17°C in December and goes up only to 22°C in the summer. We were wearing 5/3 wetsuit. Shorty was recommended for summer.
    If you are interested, I copy here the link of the place where we stayed:http://www.auberge-des-nomades-du-sahara.com/

  • Hi Fabrice,

    Happy new year. I told Cyril that it was not a good idea to go there! Why make it complicated miami is such a terrific spot for kitting AND U GET TO CHECK WINDGURU BEFORE U LEAVE FROM NY AND if no wind attractions are fantastic. Just had luch with a gf who came back from kitting in exumas and said was out of this world. Im up for both and have room for u and cyril in my house. Com on down?
    Emmanuel