The untouched spots of Venezuela
If you are reading this article it is because you have already heard about kitesurfing in Venezuela and its paradisiacal spots, and perhaps even the dangers of visiting this country.
For this reason I decided to write an article with all the important information to keep in mind when organizing a kitesurfing trip to Venezuela.
But there is something I’ve to tell you before to start: In Venezuela everything changes quickly and it’s not sure that what you know today it’s gonna last tomorrow. So I do advice you to check all my guideline before to plan your trip.
I went on my Venezuela kite trip between jannuary and march 2016.
Below is a list of the article’s contents that allows you to focus on what you really need.
But If you are looking for another spots to visit around the world click here, you’ll see some of the best country to go kitesurfing in and a detailed spot guide for each one.
PRO AND CONS
Wild and semi-private spots
Perfect freestyle conditions
Kitesurf in swimsuit
Few no wind activities
Not much to do during nighttime
Difficult organisation (cash, facilities schedules, etc..)
Dangerous (non in the kite areas)
Lots of cash to carry around
The winds blows almost all the year-round. The best period is between october and june (I’ve been there from january till march and I had some wind each day execpt 3 no windy days).
Normally the wind starts in the morning and get stronger in the afternoon.
The wind direction is pretty much the same all the year-round, ENE ESE.
The water temperature is perfect to kite in swimsuite. Only a lycra is adviced due to the sunlight.
The average temperature are between 20° – 30°.
The water temperature is between 26°-29°.
In venezuela the wind blows stronger than in the north part of the Caribbean Sea. If you have to chose I advice you to take smaller kites. A good combination could be a 7m and 9m (for a 70kg person). In some case, like Coche or Los Roques, a bigger kite in the morning could be useful.
The wind blows often over 25-30 knots.
The stronger wind is in Margarita island. In Los Roques the wind is a bit more random and it’s better to check the forecast before to go there.
June – October is the rainy season.
It doesn’t rain a lot in the most common kitesurf spots, but if it does it can be an heavy rain.
During two monthe I had just 1 or 2 rainy days.
SPOTS WHERE I’VE BEEN
ISLA DE COCHE
The kite spot of Coche’s island is a paradise for freestyle. The sea is flat as a lagoon which is perfect for this discipline. Here you can also enjoy a simple freeride, in fact it’s possible to come here doing a dwonwind from Margarita’s island or just sail around the island.
During the afternoon the wind get stronger, which is nice to try some big air and some old school tricks.
This spot isn’t not for wavering lovers. It’s possible to find some waves while you sail around the island but it’s better you get more informations from the kite school on the spot.
Off – Side off
The off-shore wind make the water super flat. unfortunately this is not adviced for beginners because it can be dangerous. On the other hand you can find a good kite school on the spot as well as a “lancia” to take care abut your safety.
Facilities : there is a kite school on the main spot, Coche Kite Sports center. You can store you kite gear in their lockers, pump your kite with a compressor and use a internet wifi for 5€ per day. They also offer beverage service.
Danger : the wind blows always off-shore.Normally there is a “lancia” (boat) who check the area to assure the reiders’ safety. Each rescue it costs you 2€. This servic is provided from 10am to 5.30pm but it can happen that the boat take a break during lunch time.
Warning : Coche is a beautiful and wild island which seems to be forgotten by Venezuelan government. Indeed, many boat don’t reach Coche to deliver the goods and you can be for few days without essential goods as water.
Coche island and it’s “flat spot” has been my home for almost two months .. I’m looking forward to come back.
PLAYA EL YAQUE – Isla Margarita
Playa el Yaque is a famous international spot. During the windy season the wind blows realy hard each day. In the afternoon the wind can be easily blow over 30 knots. The ocean is rough and choppy and the wind pretty gusty which is not the best to practice freestyle. If you do want to freestyle there is a lagoon not far from El Yaque.
The best way to enjoy in El Yaque is practising freeride or big air due to the strong wind or the possibility to go downwind to coche and back.
You dont have any wave in El Yaque but you can do some waveriding in the northern part of the island. Check it with locals.
On – Side on
Off – Side off
In El Yaque the wind can blows either side shore or off shore due to the shape of the beach. When it’s off shore it become dangerous for beginners. Moreover you don’t have any safety system on the spots.
The sea is always rough and the wind really gusty which isn’t the best for people who need to pregress or begins.
You have a take off area on the beach. I do advice you to pay attention about tourists because they came pretty close to take pictures, or just staring at the kite, and they do not understand how dangerous it could be. Furthermore I don’t advice you to get closer to the cliff cause the take off is even more risky.
Facilities : Playa El Yaque is the touristic area in Margarita and you have a good choice either to sleep or to eat. You have some locals that teach kitesurf or a couple of european kite schools. The biggest school is Jack Sparrow Kitesurfing School which offers the kite gear storage.
Dangers : the kite areagoes from the pier to the cliff. You have a kite take off area but pay attention about tourists. Be careful when the wind blow off-shore.
Warining : Anything special.
Playa el Yaque is a famous internation spot. Personally I didn’t like it due to choppy water and gusty wind.
From Playa El Yaque To Isla de Coche. There are some expert kiter who does that often in the morning and they come back by boat in the afternoon. If you are not sure about it you can ask to a fisherman to come with you and you can let him all you valuables objects (wallet and camera).
The brvest can go to circumnavigate Coche’s island to discover new spots.
Those spots are wave spots for who loves waveriding. You need to get some informations from locals to know the best period to go.
It’s the best flat spot if isla Margarita. you can get there just by boat and come back in downwind to Playa el Yaque.
There is a lagoon 15 min away in downwind from Playa El Yaque. The sea is flat and the wind less gusty. You have to pay attention about the sea level because it’s pretty shallow and full of seaweeds. You can land your kite in El Yaque motion, or come back to El Yaque going upwind.
Cubagua island is located south from Isla Margarita and west from Isla de Coche and it offers some amazing and stunning spots. the best way to get there it’s with locals. You need to arrange a boat with more people and you can have the spot for yourself. Be careful about the ocean conditions because in the late afternoon the sea can become pretty rough. The fishermen know it and they can wisely advice you.
Adicora is one of the best that most of the locals adviced me, but unfortunately I couldn’t get there. You do not have to expect Adicora to be a white sandy beach a crystal clear water. It’s not beautiful but it’s meant to be pretty good to kitesurf. The biggetst probleme is that is located in the mainland and it’s not easy to reach it, especially because you need to cross all the north part from Caracas with all your kite gear…
HOW TO GET THERE, TRANSPORTS AND ACCOMMODATION
HOW TO GET THERE
If you want to go to Venezuela you have to fly to Caracas. Some years agos youd could go directely to the islands but now this is not possible anymore. Many airlines don’t offer this service anymore due to the political instability.
- The easiest to get is Isla Margarita, just 45 min flight from the capital. The airlines thats provide this service can change daily, so it’s better to ask before to go. If you buy your ticket in Venezuela it’s gonna costs you just 5$, but if you buy it from Europe or internet you can pay up to 150€. How can you buy it at the airport ? You need to love adventure because you jave to go to the airline desk and ask gently to some locals to pay your ticket by venezuelan card and you are gonna give him the money back in cash. This is because you can only pay the ticket by credit card and if you pay with an foreigner card it’s madness. Once in Porlamar you can catch a taxi to go to Playa El Yaque just few kilometers away.
- If you want to go to Coche you need to go through Margarita. There is an hotel wich provide this service from playa El Yaque. But you need to be careful because the hotel give priority to its custumers, so if there are not ny place available anymore you are not sure to go to Coche. It happens to me to be stucked in margarita and I payed a fisherman to go back to Coche, but it wasn’t easy. The normal “lancia” cost you between 1$ and 2$, depends on the day, while the fishermen cwill charge you up to 40-50$.
Venezuela is extremely cheap so it’s often a good and safe idea to catch a taxi to go around. This is true especially for isla Margarita when you head to Porlamar city.
To get around the islands you need to take the “lancia”, typical venezuelan boat. The ticket price is cheap, around 1$ or 2$ but everyday the price can change due to the country’s long-term inflation.
Normally you have a good choice where to sleep unless you go during some special holiday. On the other hand it’s not always easy to find a good variety of food due to the country’s crisis. Most of the basic products are missing and in some smaller island, as Coche, they can’t be delivered. You have to get used to do not have a large food’s choice.
- In Isla Margarita I do advice you to go to Shark, either to sleep or to eat. It is well located and it offers competitive prices. Otherwise you can go to sleep to Posada Iguana, which is a bit further but it is a really peaceful place for a low budget.
In Isla de Coche I do advice you to go to sleep in Hotel Brisas del Mar. Big rooms, swimming pool and a little family -style restaurant. But if you want to pay more than 10 times the price to go in one of the two all inclusive resorts, as Coche paradise and SUNSOL Punta Blanca,go ahead. Keep in mind that even if you pay 100$ per night you can stay without water or electricity due to the island’s problems… You have the same option to eat, either you stay in Brisas del Mar (you have always the same two fresh dishes) or go to the buffet in Coche paradise. Sometime you can even go to the San Pedro de Coche village and try to find a restaurant over there.
OTHER USEFUL INFOS
Cost of living
Such a good question. Why ? Because there any price can change from day to day or from hour to hour due to the economic inflation. You don’t think it to be possible ?! I didn’t believe it as well. But once there I was shoked. In two months I payed 4 differents prices for the same boat, I drunk beer in a bar and the day after they asked me the double of the price, I went for a massage and 2 weeks later I had to pay 3 times more.. This is because the dollar fluctuates constantly on the black market, and the traders adapt their price to it. But YOU, as ME, can’t find the best exchange rate so we lose always a bit.Here I list you some prices about cost of living in Venezuela between january and march 2016:You can sleep for 5$ per night and find a little apartment for 60$ – 100$ per month. A beer costs around 0,40$. You can eat with 2$ – 4$. A taxi ride it costs you between 0,30$ and 3$ according on the distance. The domestic flight cost around 5$. As you can see I’m speaking about a really cheap price. If you have a normal life you can spend around 10$ per day, 20$-30$ if you wanna have fun, unless you go to tourists hotel and you pay more than 50$ per night.
Do you have enough cash ?
In Venezuela you can’t pay with a foreigner credit card or withdraw money from an ATM cause you are gonna lose a lot of money, due to the black market and the economic inflation. If you use your credit card it means you accept the “real” exchange rate rather than the one estabilished on the black market. But everyone makes the price related to the black market so you can easily understand that it doesn’t worth it ! So I do advice you to take with you enough cash for all your holiday !
How many dollars you have to take ? This answer depends on what you want to do. Consider that if you have a low budget you can spend around 10$-20$ per day but if you want to go to a 5 stars hotel you can spend even 45$ per night.
Euro or dollar ?
It’s more advantageous to take dollars because you can get a better exchange rate. But everyone will accept euro and you are not going to lose that much money considering how cheap is the country
Small or large banknotes ? Normally they are going to give a better exchange rate for small banknotes but it can happen the opposite. In two months it happend once to me but it’s not a big deal. Keep in mind that Venezuela it’s unpredictable sometimes.
The black market currency
In venezuela it doesn’t exist a stable exchange rate between Venezuelan Bolívar and another currency. You have two rates, the first one is the “real” one and the second one it’s the rate you find on the black market. To give you an idea I arrive in Venezuela on january 2016 and the “real” exchange rate was 1$ per 200Bs while at the black market you could get 750Bs. At the end of march the “real” exchange rate eas more or less stable, on the other hand at the black market you could get more than 1.000 Bs per 1$. That’s insane how big and fast it’s the fluctuation.
Where to change your money ? You need to find someone who you can trust, some locals or some european that have already changed their money. it’s always better to have a worst exchange rate but be safe in Venezuela because the country is extremely cheap.
Keep an eye on the website DollarToday.com to understand how the currency fluctuate on the market. At the price you see on the website you have to take off 10% or 100 points to see the best deal you can get.
Do not change lots of money at the airport because you are going to have the worst rate possible. If you do have to do it I advice you to go to a “reliable shop” and ask to the owner if it can change few dollars for you.
The wifi it’s not always really good. The best way to have unlimited call and internet it’s to make a local SIM card. DIGIGET is one of the best company. I payed 730BS (less tha 1€) and I had 1.500 minutes calls, 1.000 message and 1GB of internet. Than I could recharge up to 10GB per month directly by my phone. Each GB extra cost me 250BS (0,25€). You can even have some internation calls for 5BS per minute.
There is just one problem to make it : you need a local that come with you or buy it for you (at Prolamar mall), otherwise you don’t have lots of chances to get the card.
Do you speak spanish ?
There are not a lot of people who speak english so it’s really important to know some spanish.
Essential thing to take with you
Venezueal is going through a really tough period. In the country it’s hard to get what for us it’s normal, as the hygienic products. Shampoo, feminine products, deodorant and toothpast are just few exemples. I do advice you to take with you all what you need for your holiday.
Airlines companies and kite luggage
You need to go through Caracas if you want to kite in Venezuela . The flight is not the cheapest one but you can find some good deal. I payed less than 700€ from Paris to Caracas by Air France. Air France allow you carry your kite gear if it respect the size and weight limit. So if you are able to make just one luggage which is less than 23kg heavy, you are not going to pay anyt extra. Otherwise you have to pay one more bag which costs you 80€ per way if you pay online and 100€ per way if you pay at the desk.
I have never seen a cheaper flight ticket in my life, it costs less than a european bus ride. The average price is between 5$ and 10$. Considering that it can be tricky to buy the ticket the airlines always try to let you pay much more than the real cost. But if you go at the airport you are going to pay the real price directley at the airline desk. Keep in mind that you need a venezuelan card to pay it, so you can ask somebody to pay it for you and you give him some cash back (and perpahs a tips).
Dangerous.. not in the kite areas
I think that when you travel in a foreigner country you need to watch out, and Venezuela is certainly no exception. BUt where you can be 100% safe ? in Paris where therea has been three terrorist attacks in the last year?! Perhaps in Rome where the only news you have at the television is about girls raped or alcool and drugs accidents ?! I think that you can’t be dafe anywhere. Well everywhere we go we can’t be too careful.
Now.. in Venezuela it’s really dangerous go in the mainland and especially in Caracas. But when you go to the islands, especially Los Roques or Coche, it’s completely different. I have been in both places for a while and I’ve never felt in danger. the only island which it can be dangerous is isla Margarita and especially it’s capital city, Porlamar.
Recommended for ?
If you like adventure and kite in some wild and uncrowded spots Venezuela is made for you.
Extra activities ?
- Surf in the north-west part of the isla margarita. Talk with locals to have more informations.
- Go snorkeling especially in Los Frailes archipelago, in the north-east part of isal margarita.
- Trekking at Cerro Copey.
- Isla Margarita has been famous for its nightlife, party and clubs. For many years all the rich people who wante to break out from Cracas for a week end. Now it’s a little bit less “crazy” but it can be nice to see Porlamar by night. I advice you to go and come back by a reliable taxi !
- Isla de Coche … go to sleep early 😜