Venezuela

This South American country north of Brazil has shorelines along both the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Venezuela is home to Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall and the second longest river in South America, the Orinoco. While the mainland has plenty to offer visitors, we’re keen on the islands off Venezuela’s coast.

Take Margarita Island, for example. Situated off the northeastern coast of Venezuela, it’s about 25 miles from the mainland. It’s the largest island within the Nueva Esparta state of Venezuela, which also includes Coche Island and Cubagua.

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If you seek more tourist development, head to the east end. The island’s west end is where you’ll find lush mountains fringed with white sandy beaches. It’s ideal for surfing, snorkeling, or just being lazy by the sea.

Margarita Island is actually in two sections, and is linked by a natural lagoon that rests within the La Restinga National Park. The park is accessible only by boat, and is relatively unpeopled. Pristine beaches with natural and ecological diversity are a lure for outdoor lovers. Local women frequent the area selling their bounty of fresh seafood.

Playa El Yaque is a popular spot for kite surfing. Lots of water sports vendors, hotels and restaurants make this a lively and fun place to hang out.

Just south of Margarita Island is Coche Island. Fishing is the main economy here, so don’t expect a built up resort area. There’s a smattering of hotels for overnight guests, or you can catamaran over for the day. If you just want a low key, romantic spot, venture to Playa el Amor (Love Beach). Transparent blue waters, golden sand, and little foot traffic ensures quality time in an idyllic setting.

Even less developed, Cabagua is home to just a few fishermen, and is a beautifully secluded spot for a day trip. Empty, white sand beaches offer excellent snorkeling and sunbathing. There are also spots to enjoy a free spa treatment with natural mud therapy. Explore ruins of the ancient city of Nueva Cadiz while you’re here.

Another island we recommend is La Tortuga. Completely uninhabited with deserted beaches, this island has nothing to offer besides its jaw dropping beauty. Emerald hues bleed into the deeper blues of the water. Make sure you bring a couple of frozen chickens with you. Local fishermen will often trade you freshly caught lobster for them. Deal of the century, yes?

The fan shaped island of Blanquilla plays host to those who want to be a castaway for the day. You have to charter a boat to get here, but it’s worth the effort. Your reward is milky white beaches void of crowds (or even a small bunch of folks for that matter). Thanks to lack of tourist development, the marine life here is extremely healthy. Snorkeling reveals a variety of natural eye candy like rare black coral, flying fish, and French angelfish.

If you want to experience island life in its truest sense, we recommend these unique spots. We love them because they offer a Caribbean getaway with a South American vibe. The remoteness of these islands will give you the feeling you”ve been let in on the best secret of your life.