I wrote this article in March 2016 – so my opinions and evaluations were made at the time being there. However, the political and social situation is changing daily so please make sure to check at the official Foreign Office of your country before you are planning a trip to Venezuela.
Venezuela surely might be a bit of a controversial spot. I heard always the same when I asked people about it: amazing wind, beautiful spots, but way too dangerous and most of the expats that lived there for years moved out of the country. Still, I was tempted, mainly because of the stunning pictures I had seen from the spots. Enough reasons to just go for it and see it for myself!
And I must say, now that I have been there, those have been the best and most beautiful spots I have ever been to in my life – and the least crowded!!! My absolute favorite are Isla de Coche and Los Roques, both are, what I would call, flatwater heaven.
- First things first
- Pros & Cons at a glance
- General Infos (Wind, Water Temperature and Water Condition)
- Isla Margerita
- Spots on Isla Margerita
- Where to stay in El Yaque
- Where to eat in El Yaque
- Isla de Coche
- Where to stay in Coche
- Where to eat in Coche
- Some last advice on Venezuela
- The downsides of Venezuela and how to deal with them
- Why it’s definitely worth going anyway
First things first
All the information I’m writing here are from my trip in March 2016. Things in Venezuela can change daily, sometimes prices double within a week, the inflation keeps on going and you have to bring a little bit of time and patience with you for anything you do. But you will be rewarded with, what were to me, some of the most stunning and empty (!!) kitesurf spots I have ever seen, and live there quite cheaply. Locals are usually super friendly an open-minded and if you trust your gut feeling and look out a bit who seems trustworthy, you will be pretty safe. I didn’t get even close to a dangerous situation the whole month I have been there.
Pros & Cons at a glance
+ very reliable wind
+ empty spots
+ perfect flatwater due to offshore wind
+ beautiful white beaches and blue water (especially in Isla de Coche and Los Roques)
+ super cheap
+ kiting in boardshorts
– little no-wind activities
– not a lot of nightlife
– some organization seems a bit complicated in the beginning (like changing money, getting certain food)
– Caracas is quite dangerous, so inform yourself beforehand (all the spots are pretty safe though)
General Infos (Wind, Water Temperature and Water Condition)
Best Wind: January – June
January til June are the windiest months, although locals said it is windy all year round, just not that constant. I was there in March for a whole month and except for 2 days, it was windy every day. It starts blowing in the late morning, getting stronger around lunch time and blowing constantly until sunset, although the wind is going slightly down again around 5 pm.
Generally the wind is a bit stronger in El Yaque on Isla Margarita, all the other spots around Isla Margerita have a bit weaker wind. Isla de Coche has a bit weaker wind as well, but it was on of my favorite spots and I was mainly on my 9.
Water Temperature: mainly boardshort weather
In January and February you might still need a wetsuit, but from March on it’s warm enough for boardshorts. I would really recommend taking a lycra with you because the sun is very strong.
Water Condition: flatwater paradise
Mainly you will find perfect flatwater or sometimes a slight chop, there are some wave spots in the Northern, North-Western and North-Eastern part of Isla Margerita, but it’s mainly only worth going to those spots if the wave forecast is good.
I flew from Caracas to Isla Margerita, make sure to stay inside the airport tunnel from the international to the national airport, you don’t have to walk outside on the street. There are several airlines going to Isla Margerita and flight costs are around 5 Euros if you buy them at the airport directly. You can’t pay the tickets cash so you need to find someone to borrow the credit card from and you give them the money in cash. Don’t use your foreign credit card because you will pay an insane amount of money since the official exchange rate will make it very expensive for you. We never had any problem finding someone to pay with their credit card for us, people are super friendly and helpful.
When coming from abroad the easiest solution is to buy the ticket via a Venezuelan travel agent beforehand (just for the first flight cause you will probably be quite tired from the long flight) which will cost you around 15 – 25 Euros, but you’re all set. There are a lot of daily scheduled flights from Caracas to Isla Margerita and the flight time is just around 30 minutes. I booked my first local flight with Hike Venezuela, they are fast and reliable.
You mostly have 30 kgs of free luggage, the extra fee for too much luggage or kite luggage is ridicolously small.
About a 15-minute taxi ride from the airport of Isla Margerita and you’re in El Yaque. It’s probably better to let the hotel you are staying in organizing the taxi as it’s mostly cheaper than getting one at the airport.
Spots on Isla Margerita
The most famous spot on Isla Margerita surely is El Yaque. It was once a windsurf mecca and even now you can feel this place is more dominated by windsurfers – since the conditions are simply not that ideal for kitesurfers. The town is small, you have some restaurants, the beach, some hotels and that’s it. There is not too much nightlife going on but there might be something going on on the weekends in some of the beach bars.
Personally, I didn’t like the kitesurf conditions in El Yaque that much, if you have seen and tried Isla de Coche with the way better conditions right next door, you will know what I mean. It’s gusty, the beach is small, there is a lot of windsurfers and the water is choppy. The beach is still beautiful, I liked the atmosphere and whenever I needed a change from Coche, some different food, different people, a great sports massage at Surf Paradise (very recommended!) or a tiny bit of nightlife, I came here for a day or two.
Lagoon (downwind from El Yaque)
There is a lagoon downwind from El Yaque, around a 15-min ride by kite. The lagoon is nice and flat and the wind is more steady and way less gusty than in El Yaque. But there is a lot of seaweed and the water is not really deep, so I hated crashing my jumps there. You should look out for jellyfish, that are at the end – downwind – of the lagoon (I didn’t see any but also didn’t go that much downwind but I was told by some people to watch out for them). You can take some money with you and eat some delicious and cheap fresh fish at the restaurant there, and then head back upwind, which is a bit draining if you have to go all the way back to El Yaque. We stayed in the Posada Iguana, a nice little hotel at the edge of town of El Yaque, so we didn’t have to go all the way back upwind and could land our kites in El Yaque Motion, which is really really tricky as the wind dies close to shore since it is blocked by the house, it’s only suited for experienced kitesurfers.
La Restinga, Macanao (Funeral Point), Playa Caribe, Playa La Cruz
Isla Margerita has also some wave spots that you will probably be riding alone, but we didn’t go there because we were told they were only good if some swell was coming in and the wind in El Yaque was really strong, since the wind is weaker there. It is not recommended to go alone, rather find a local or kitesurf school to join you to the spots.
Downwinder from island to island
You can also do a downwinder from El Yaque, Isla Margerita, to Isla de Coche. I didn’t manage to do it out of a lack of time, but I heard it’s a nice option. I would advise you to go with someone who did it before or have a boat follow you/show you the way, just to be safe.
Where to stay in El Yaque
I totally loved the Posada Iguana, which is an idyllic posada run by a Venezuelan family. The rooms are simple but clean, with aircon, and you can jump into the ocean right before your breakfast. Breakfast is mostly typical Venezuelan food (black coffee, fresh juice, arepa with meat) and it takes around 10 minutes to walk into El Yaque, which didn’t really bother me. Prices were around 6 Euros/night per room with breakfast.
If you want to stay right in El Yaque, I would recommend the hotel which belongs to Sharks, mainly because they have the best breakfast in town (juices, coffee with milk (milk is a very rare thing in Venezuela at the moment 😉 )pancakes, omelettes, cheese, ham, fruits). At the time I was there it was around 27 Euros/night for a room with breakfast. We mostly went there just for breakfast or dinner.
Where to eat in El Yaque
Sharks is a really good option for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We also liked going to Delira’s, which is on the left side of the road when walking out of town towards the airport, where some new buildings are. They have yummy burgers and I really liked their starters, especially the salad and the buffalo wings, and the green juices. There is also a Pizzeria (with quite good Cappuccino) and a place with Arepas in that house block.
If you want to go for something different after a few weeks of always the same, go to the Shopping Center Sambil , which is about a 25 min ride by Taxi, and get some amazing Thai and Japanese food at e.g. Bonsai, go to the movies (for around 70 Cents, most of them are English with Spanish subtitles) or go for some shopping.
Isla de Coche
The kitespot at Coche consists of white powder sand, a few all-inclusive-hotels, a chilled out kite station, a few bodegons (small mini markets) and that’s pretty much it. It is the perfect flatwater spot but if you want to anything else but kiting or chilling at the beach, it’s the wrong spot for you. You have about 2 – 3 dinner options and that’s it, not even a beach bar 🙂 Which didn’t bother me too much because I was pretty much exhausted every night from the kiting in those great conditions. It’s pretty much the lifestyle “eat-kite-sleep-repeat” in perfect conditions.
There are several boats going from El Yaque to Isla de Coche in the mornings and there are 3 different piers they could be departing from: the boats belonging to the hotel Surf Paradise, which you can reserve in the office at the beach, the boats running from the hotel Sunsol (which stopped running when we were there cause they didn’t have enough guests) and the boats departing from the last pier, run by the cooperativa, which are kind of inbetween Sunsol and El Yaque Motion. Speaking spanish will help you to find a boat easily. Usually (and I say usually because everything changes every day) boats run around 8.30/9 in the morning to Isla de Coche, then around lunch time and sometimes also in the afternoon. Coming back from Coche to Margerita, you can take the morning boats, which usually run at 8 and 9, departing from Coche Paradise, around 1 and most of the times around 3.30. However, always ask again for the times as things change quickly.
The boat ride costed us around 1 – 1,50 Euro at the time, there is also the option of getting a private boat at the cooperativa for a cost of around 15 Euros (if you desperately need to get to Isla de Coche ? )
Now we’re talking, this was what I was epecting!! When I saw this beach, I rubbed my eyes. I just couldn’t believe it: white powdery sand, the wind was up, the water was butter flat, glassy and blue due to the offshore wind, and there were only 2 persons on the water. I thought there was something wrong with the wind since the spot was so empty. But no, it wasn’t! The most crowded I saw this spot was with around 12 kitesurfers, and this was mostly on the weekends when the local riders from El Yaque came over. The conditions are stunning, although even here it’s a bit gusty sometimes due to the offshore wind. Still, this place is truly stunning and those are incredible conditions to shred in and try some new freestyle tricks!
The wind usually starts around 10 am and picks up around 12 until the afternoon, when it gets lighter again. I loved to go early with my bigger kite and have the water to myself. The wind in Coche is generally a bit lighter than Yaque, but I was still totally happy with it since I was mostly on my 9.
There is a rescue boat at the spot from around 10.30 am until 5 pm, which takes really good care of you, especially if you’re a beginner. A rescue was around 2 Euros when we stayed there.
At the spot there is a kite station, which has a nice little area to chill out. For a cost of around 1,50 Euro you can use the compressor and wifi, and for around 4 Euros you can use the lockers, which we shared with 3 people. They’re really comfortable if you’re not staying right at the beach and are too lazy to carry all your kites back and forth every day.
There is nothing much to do in Coche besides kitesurfing and walking down the white powdery sand beach. I loved to do morning runs on the beach since it its perfect for running. If you’re looking for nightlife, this is definitely the wrong place. If you’re looking for amazing kitesurf conditions at an empty spot with good wind, it’s the right spot for you.
Where to stay in Coche
We stayed in Brisas del Mar, which is just 5 minutes away from the beach. It’s super cheap, has a nice pool, the rooms are spacious and have aircon, you have your own terrace with a table and chairs. All for around 5 Euros a night per room, without food.
Where to eat in Coche
For a foodie and healthy-food-lover like me, it was a bit tough there (but you forget pretty much everything when you’re in kitesurfer’ss paradise). In the hotel I stayed in, Brisas del Mar, they offered breakfast, lunch and dinner but it’s pretty much always the same: an oily omelette with ham and bread or arepa and very sweet juice for breakfast, or unseasoned chicken or fresh fish with cabbage salad, platanos and rice for luunch and dinner. It’s not bad but after 3 days I was done with it.
Another food option is the Deli, when you arrive at the pier at the end on the right, which has ok club sandwiches. But pretty much the whole group of people I met there got food poisining there, so I don’t know if it’s the safest option.
What we loved to do was getting dinner at Coche Paradise, which will cost you around 6 Euros, all drinks included, also alcoholic beverages. The buffet is nice and if you ate a lot of basic food, it’s kind of food heaven since they have different kinds of salads, veggies, meat and fish dishes and dessert. Our favorite night was Thursday since it was Mexican night and the food was really good.
We usually went every 10 days by boat back to Isla Margerita, took a Taxi to the shopping mall Sambil in Porlamar, went to the big supermarket (next to the shopping mall, ask your taxi driver) and the 2 small bodegons inside of the shopping mall, stacked up on yoghurt, cereals, oatmeal, some fruits, nuts and cheese and went happily back to Coche.
Some last advice on Venezuela
Since I want to write a really honest article, I wanted to say everything that had to be said 😉 So down below you will find some of the difficulties you might have and how to solve them beforehand, so you won’t even feel it’s a difficulty!
The downsides of Venezuela and how to deal with them
Depending on what you are used to and what you expect from a kitesurf trip, there might be some No-Gos. I listed all the disadvantages and uncomfortable truths on this list. And still, even if I would have known all of them beforehand, I would go to Venezuela to kitesurf, because the conditions and spots I have seen there were the best I have ever experienced. So here we go:
– It’s dangerous
Yeah, true. But I went straight from Caracas to International Airport to the National Airport, where I spent half a day and flew right to Isla Margerita. You can avoid going to Caracas if you don’t want to. If you have to spend a night in Caracas because you only arrive in the evening, you can take a hotel in the suburbs of Caracas (so you won’t even have to drive into the city), like Plazamar, which is quite safe, very basic but cheap and reliable. They also organize the taxi for you and can change money for a decent rate upon arrival.
– Cash rules
To make it very easy for you: the best is to bring Dollars as you will change it the easiest and with the best rate in most places. We only had Euros and either we got the same rate as for the Dollar or slightly better, but basically you lose when you change Euros.
It doesn’t make any sense to bring your foreign credit card because the official exchange rate is insane. Everything in Venezuela works on the black market. I had to change a little bit of money on the airport for food and got 200 Bolivares for 1 Euro. Later I got 940 Bolivares for 1 Euro. If you pay stuff with your credit card, the exchange rate will even be way worse than the rate you change money for at the official bank. Don’t do it! Better find a trustworthy person, we usually changed money with out hotel owners who knew somebody who knew somebody. It might sometimes take a day to change money (especially if you’re on Isla de Coche since they have to go to Isla Margerita) so plan ahead. If you’re not sure, ask some other tourists. And if you found someone trustworthy you might consider gathering more people who change money because you will get a better rate!
– Some necessities are hard to get
I looked for toothpaste and a normal shower gel like a crazy person for 2 weeks. I found 10 sorts of mouth wash and 30 sorts of body lotions but no toothpaste and no shower gel. I asked everywhere and I couldn’t find it! If you can, just bring all the stuff you need with you, like your shower gels, deodorants, sun protection, mosquito repellent, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner etc.
– Forget cooking your own meals
Just be prepared to eat out the whole time. It’s really cheap and in the hotels you get food you can’t find when you try to buy it yourself. Don’t even bother to start buying or cooking your own food, except for some breakfast stuff or snacks.
– An unhealthy way of living
9 out of 10 times I asked for coffee without sugar I got basically liquid sugar that at least had a color that reminded you of coffee. Also, it’s way harder to find water than getting a softdrink. It’s insane. It sometimes took me 5 or 6 Bodegons to find a bottle of water, because they only had beer and soft drinks. Usually on the kite spots you find water in the Bodegons, it was just hard to get e.g. in a huge Shopping Center in Caracas where I really asked at 30 different places and no one had water. So just take something with you. (The story behind it is that they simply don’t make money by selling water since it’s too cheap and the lid of a water bottle costs more than the water itself)
– Inflation is rising and prices change daily
Get used to carrying a stack of money to pay your 5-Euro-bill for dinner. And prices vary quite strongly. Just in the 2 weeks I was in Coche and Yaque, the prices for taxis, boats and food changed 3 times. Still really cheap for us, but those fluctuations might be weird at first.
– Water shortage
Some hotels we stayed in turned off the water during the daytime since there was a problem with water shortage at the time we were there. This meant that the shower and tab water was only running in the mornings and evenings for a fixed amount of time.
Why it’s definitely worth going anyway
Kitesurfing in Venezuela was a stunning experience and I will definitely go back there! Amazing empty spots, clear water, some of the best freestyle conditions I have ever seen, wind every day and white powder sand. Not a lot of tourists, cheap prices and simply a different experience! Sometimes it’s good to try something new and Venezuela definitely was a very fascinating adventure to me. Definitely one of the best kite experiences I had so far!
Are you tempted but rather prefer to be in a kite camp with like-minded kitesurfers?
If you want to try a kite camp and have everything comfortably organized for you, check out what bstoked has to offer on Coche. When booking simply use the discount code “wakeupstoked” to get 10 Dollars off!
Already decided you want to go to Venezuela?
Wondering why I have that much time to travel around and kite?
Trust me, it was a long way to get there, so if you’re interested you can either read the whole story on why I threw my whole life around to kitesurf more or the short version in the about me section 🙂