Margarita Island (Isla de Margarita, Spanish
pronunciation: [marɣaˈɾita]) is the largest island in the
Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta, situated off the northeastern coast
of the country, in the Caribbean Sea. The capital city of Nueva
Esparta, La Asunción, is located on the island. Primary industries
are tourism, fishing and construction.
4.1 La Asunción
4.4 Juan Griego
8 Natural Heritage
8.1 Las Tetas de María Guevara
10 See also
12 External links
1840 map by Agustín Codazzi.
Christopher Columbus was the first European to arrive on Margarita
Island in 1498. The local natives were the
Guaiqueries people. The
coast of the island was abundant in pearls, which represented almost a
third of all New World tribute to the Spanish Crown. Margarita Island
was fortified against the increasing threat of pirate attacks, and
some fortifications remain today. It was the center of Spanish
colonial Margarita Province, established in 1525.
In 1561, the island was seized by Lope de Aguirre, a notoriously
violent and rebellious conquistador. Around 1675, the island was
captured again, this time by Red Legs Greaves,  a pirate known for
his humanity and morality. He captured a fleet of Spanish ships off
port, before turning the guns on the forts which he stormed and
claimed a large booty of pearls and gold.
Construction of the fort Santa Rosa was ordered by the governor, Juan
Muñoz de Gadea, after the French buccaneer Marquis de Maintenon
attacked the island in early 1676.
The island gained independence from the Spanish in 1814 after the
collapse of the First Republic of Venezuela. It became the first
permanently free territory in Venezuela. In the same year, Luisa
Cáceres de Arismendi was detained for over three years in a dungeon
of the Fortress of Santa Rosa on the island in an attempt to put
pressure on her husband Juan Bautista Arismendi, who was fighting for
Simón Bolívar was confirmed as Commander in Chief of
Second Republic of Venezuela
Second Republic of Venezuela on the island in 1816. From there he
started a nine-year campaign to free Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador,
Peru, and Bolivia from the Spanish Crown.
Nueva Esparta map
Located in the
Caribbean Sea between latitudes 10°52'N and 11°11'N
and longitudes 63°48'W and 64°23'W, the island, along with the
islands of Coche and Cubagua, comprises the state of Nueva Esparta.
The island is split into two peninsulas joined by an 18 kilometres
(11 mi) long isthmus and covers an area of 1,020 km². It is
78 kilometres (48 mi) long and measures roughly 20 kilometres
(12 mi) at its widest. The climate is sunny and dry with average
temperatures ranging from 24 to 37 °C.
Most of the island's 420,000 residents live in the more developed
eastern part of the island, which includes the large cities of
Pampatar along with the state capital of La Asunción.
The island can be reached by direct flights from Caracas or ferries
from Puerto La Cruz, Cumaná, and La Guaira. There are no
international flights to the island at present.
Las Tetas de María Guevara (twin mountains)
Macanao peninsula to the west has a central mountain range in the
east-west direction. The highest altitude is 760 metres
(2,493 ft) at Pico de Macanao. Several smaller ranges derive from
this axis following a north-south orientation with deep valleys
between them. The most notable of these valleys is San Francisco in
the north-central part of the peninsula. The Paraguachoa peninsula to
the East is formed by a mountain range in the north-south direction
Porlamar to Cabo Negro. The highest peaks are San Juan or Cerro
Grande at 920 metres (3,018 ft) and El Copey 890 metres
(2,920 ft). The peninsulas are connected by the La Restinga
isthmus, on which the La Restinga lagoon is located. There are also
two breast-shaped hills known as
Tetas de Maria Guevara
Tetas de Maria Guevara on the
Macanao peninsula consists of mountainous spine of the central
west-east, with several culminations, including Macanao Peak, which is
the highest, with an altitude of 760 meters above sea level stands.
This axial region several side brackets oriented north-south off,
including deep valleys are dissected, the most important is San
Francisco in the north central of Margarita. The central massif is
surrounded by foothills forming a more or less continuous, narrow
strip and north and south of the peninsula reaches almost to the
Isla Margarita eastern is formed by a mountain range which runs
roughly north-south direction, from northern
Porlamar to Cabo Negro;
north from the town of El Espinal the massif rises steeply to the
culminations of San Juan and Copey hill, showing heights of 960 and
890 m respectively. The hills are Matasite and Guayamurí Los Andes
foothills. To the north stands the Tragaplata hill.
Among the higher elevations found on the island, are cited:
San Juan Hill 960 meters above mean sea level
Copey Hill 890m amsl
Cocheima 810m amsl
Tragaplata Hill 640m amsl
El Cacho Hill 510m amsl
Península de Macanao:
Macanao Hill 750m amsl
Los Cedros Hill 745m amsl
Risco Blanco Hill 680m amsl
Guaraguao Hill 660m amsl
Soledad Hill 540m amsl
Piedra Lisa Hill 500m amsl
El Castillo Hill 380m amsl
Copey Hill - view from San Juan downtown
The average temperature is 27 ° C with minimum ranging between 22 °
and 23 ° C and maximum that can easily exceed 34 ° C. Rainfall is
common in the winter months or rainy season that begins around
July-October (although the rain is usually quite rare). Being located
Caribbean Sea near the Earth's equator, solar rays fall
perpendicularly on the island and therefore it is advisable to always
use some sort of sunscreen when visiting its beaches.
Isla de Margarita
Isla de Cubagua
Isla de Coche
Boca del Río
Punta de Piedras
San Juan Bautista
Political Territorial Division of Nueva Esparta
Antolín del Campo
La Plaza de Paraguachí
San Juan Bautista
El Valle del Espíritu Santo
Península de Macanao1)
Boca del Río
Punta de Piedras
San Pedro de Coche
La Asunción from Santa Rosa Castle
La Asunción is the capital of the Federal State of
Nueva Esparta with
a population of around 28,500. It is the seat of the regional
government. The city is overlooked by the Santa Rosa Castle of La
Beach near Pampatar
The urban area of
Pampatar has a population of around 50,000. A number
of the island's larger shopping malls are located in the city, namely
Sambil Margarita, Rattan Depot, Centro Comercial La Vela, Centro
Comercial Costa Azul, Centro Comercial AB (Avenida Bolivar) and La
Redoma. The Royal Fortress of San Carlos Borromeo, constructed in the
late 17th century, is located in Pampatar. The city also has several
The largest city on
Margarita Island is Porlamar. The population can
reach 125,000 in the high season, while in the low season, the
population is about 85,000. Two beaches are located within the city.
Juan Griego is a city on the northern side of Isla Margarita, and is
the most northern port in Venezuela. It has a population of 28,256
inhabitants (as per census of 2001) and is capital of the Marcano
municipality of the
Nueva Esparta state. Its church of gothic styling,
constructed in 1850 by Fray Nicholas de Igualdad, is still, along with
the lovely bay, the symbol of the city. The La Galera fortress, where
in the early 1820s a fierce battle for independence was fought, is
located near the city centre. In 1973, the island become a free port
and the city once again become the second city in sequence of
importance in the commercial activities after Porlamar.
Playa El Agua
Margarita Hilton at Puerto Cruz beach
The island's status as a duty-free port and proximity to the mainland
make it a popular vacation spot for Venezuelans. It sees a large
number of tourists around
Easter week, and from July
to mid-September. Whiskey, cheese, chocolate, and electrical
appliances, among other goods, can be purchased less expensively than
on the mainland.
There are at least 50 beaches on the island, which has a 106 miles
(171 km) coastline.
Playa El Yaque
Playa El Yaque is popular as a windsurfing
and kitesurffing location. Playa Parguito, Playa Caribe, Playa Punta
Playa El Agua
Playa El Agua and
Playa Puerto Cruz
Playa Puerto Cruz are also popular beaches.
Margarita Island was the venue for the 2014 Caribbean Series. It was
the second time it hosted the Series; 2010 was the first. It is
expected that the development of the tourism industry on the island
will be boosted by the influence of predominantly Dominican, Mexican,
Puerto Rican, and Venezuelan sports enthusiast who arrived for the
A typical house in San Juan Bautista
View of Margarita island at night.
The demonym for islanders is Margariteños/as and Neoespartanos/as.
Ethnic minority populations of some significance include Lebanese,
Syrian, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian,
Danish, Portuguese, Argentine, Chilean, Uruguayan, Colombian, and
Chinese. Immigrants from mainland Venezuela are colloquially called
navegaos by islanders.
A little less than 25% of the Neoespartanian population live in
Porlamar. Margarita's population is just under 440,000, although this
tends to fluctuate during holiday periods and the festive season.
Front facade of
La Asunción Cathedral
The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism. Other Christian
denominations are also present. Of the churches that present in the
Neospartan entity, among the most important are: Basílica de la
Virgen del Valle
Virgen del Valle (in the Valley of the Espíritu Santo), Cathedral of
La Asunción, Iglesia San Juan Evangelista (Juangriego), Iglesia
parroquial de San Juan (San Juan Bautista), Iglesia de San Nicolás de
Bari (Porlamar), of the San José de Paraguachi and other churches and
chapels minor located in populations of Santa Ana, Punta de Piedras,
Pampatar and virtually all the towns of the island. There
are also small populations of Jews and Muslims.
Evangelical Christian churches have had a significant growth in recent
years demonstrating their presence and impact in the population of the
island. One of the fastest-growing is the Centro Cristiano Casa de
Alabanza (CCCA), present in Porlamar, Juan Griego,
La Asunción and
Main article: Virgen del Valle
The patron saint of eastern Venezuela is the
Virgen del Valle
Virgen del Valle and in
El Valle del Espíritu Santo
El Valle del Espíritu Santo is the Basílica Menor de
Nuestra Señora del Valle, which approaching Margarita, Coche and
Cubagua Islanders visit to honor her on her feast day.
El Reino Musipán amusement park.
Las Tetas de María Guevara
Tetas de Maria Guevara
Tetas de Maria Guevara ("Maria Guevara's breasts"), located in
a coastal plain in the south of the 1,670 hectare Laguna de La
Restinga National Park, consists of two small twin hills with a height
of 135 metres (443 ft). The vegetation around the hills is
desert, with cacti, prickly pears, yaks, guamaches. The fauna is
diverse, including desert lizards, rabbits, rattlesnakes and coral.
The legend told by the inhabitants of the island goes that the name
María Guevara comes from a white young girl who was heavily involved
in the War of Independence and that upon her death, the hills rose on
her grave. One other Margaritan myth says the source of the name also
comes from the same woman, but that she was from
Cumaná and came to
the island to lead a group of men in fishing activities. As she had
small breasts, by way of derision whenever they sighted the hills
said, "there are the lady's tits" and the name was created. The area
was declared a national park on February 27, 1974.
Since 2010, there have been numerous instances of tourist murders. On
27 August 2010 an Italian tourist, Emiliano Astore, was murdered on
his boat anchored off
Margarita Island in an apparent robbery. Two
police officers and a civilian were arrested. A third officer was
implicated in the "exploitation of objects" from the crime. On 18
July 2011, 28-year-old Briton Tom Ossel was killed resisting seven
armed robbers who had tricked their way into the backpackers hotel
before they took the guests hostage and raiding rooms for
valuables. On 29 March 2011, French tourist Yves Le Bras was
murdered in a robbery at the Laguna Mar hotel while he and his wife
dined at the Guacuco restaurant. In March 2011, Belgian tourist
Bonne Philippe was murdered while eating in a fast food outlet in
Playa El Agua, Margarita. On 20 January 2012, about 30 or 35
Brazilian tourists were robbed in their hotel in Antolin del Campo,
Margarita, by a gang of between 13 and 15 armed robbers. On 3
September 2013, a Dutch sailor was killed on his yacht while resisting
armed robbers attempting to board his boat.
Starting in October 2011, the Government installed equipment that
requires everyone visiting
Margarita Island to electronically register
their fingerprints and a picture when entering Margarita Island.
The US Government has not issued any warnings of violent crime on
Margarita Island, but there is a general warning for all of
Venezuela. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office warns that
street crime in mainland Venezuela is high, and that armed muggings
and 'express kidnappings' – opportunistic abductions to extort money
from someone - are regular occurrences.
Since 1998, there have been about ten pirate attacks on or near
Margarita Island. Venezuela is now listed as a dangerous region for
pirate attacks and in many regions, including between Margarita and
Sucre, sailors should not anchor and yachts should sail in
Red Legs Greaves Pirates of the Caribbean.
^ Physical Characteristics of Isla Margarita Archived 2014-12-22 at
the Wayback Machine. (spanish)
^ "Two Cops Arrested for Murder of Italian in Venezuela". Latin
American Herald Tribune. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
^ "Suspect wanted for killing Briton 'was just out of jail'". London
^ Ana Carolina Arias (31 March 2011). "Buscan a asesino de turista en
todo el oriente del país". El Universal. Retrieved 3 March
^ "French tourist mugged and murdered at a hotel in Margarita,
Venezuela". entornointeligente.com. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 3 March
^ "Asaltan a 30 turistas brasileños en isla Margarita". El Mundo.
Retrieved 3 March 2012.
^ "Venezuela, Isla Margarita: Dutch sailor killed whilst resisting
robbery on board - September 2013".
^ "Travelers to the Island of Margarita". Archived from the original
^ "Venezuela travel warning". U.S. Department of State. 7 July
^ Andrew Levy (20 Jul 2011). "Hero British firefighter, 28, died
saving his brother from holiday robbers". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 3
^ Klaus Hympendahl. "Yacht Piracy, Information centre for bluewater
sailors". Klaus Hympendahl. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
^ Klaus Hympendahl (2010). "Registration of pirate attacks since
1996". Klaus Hympendahl. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Margarita Island travel guide from Wikivoyage
(in Spanish) Nuevaesparta.gob.ve: Official Isla de Margarita
Panorama of Margarita Island
Coordinates: 10°59′13″N 63°56′08″W / 10.98694°N
63.93556°W / 1