Water, Wind and Wonder in Venezuela

by Tori Allen on August 13, 2013

If you are looking for a vacation spot that will land you pretty close to paradise, think- Venezuela. Hop a 3 hour flight from Miami to Barcelona, on the coast of the Caribbean, and jump into an adventure you will never forget. The best flight deals can be found by calling Avior Airlines, directly, and booking your ticket with the agent. Ask for the “wire transfer” discount, and you usually get an even better price.

Tori Venezuela 1The adventure begins in Barcelona under the guidance of the Bahia Dive Shop. They will pick you up at the airport or meet your taxi at the gate of the complex. At the complex, there is a pool, grocery store, bar and restaurant. There you can rent a furnished apartment during your stay, for a reasonable price. The complex is home to seasonal yachters who come and stay as stop-overs on long trips or as a safe-harbor area during hurricane season. Thus, conversation around the pool and at the bar can be fascinating. You’ll meet people from all over the world during your stay.

Tori Venezuela 2With Bahia Divers you can renew an outdated dive certification, take a discovery dive, obtain advanced certification, or just add to your dive book. They even offer something for kids ages 9-11 called bubblemakers and a jr. dive certification program, check it out! You can choose from a wide variety of experiences… deep water dives (some with wrecks), cave dives, wreck dives, underwater sulphur springs dives, and more. If you book well in advance, you can even take dive/camping trips to La Tortuga Island. Nancy, the owner and dive instructor (pictured above), owns and maintains all her equipment and has the most spacious and comfortable dive boats around. Plus, the picnic lunches she brings to eat between dives are delicious!!

Tori Venezuela 3The city of Barcelona is adjacent to Mochima National Park which is basically a set of uninhabited, rocky islands. In between dives, the boat takes you to sandy beaches on deserted islands, to enjoy snorkeling, hiking and a picnic lunch. In addition, you can request to go to areas where you can do some deep water solo climbing or some cliff jumping. In this photo, I am about to jump into a deep pool of water in a cave-like hole in the rock. It was really cool…and to get out of the hole, you climb up the rock walls of the cave to the ledge. In addition to the beautiful coral reefs, fish, turtles and other sea life you see while diving, the sights above the water will not disappoint.

After you have had your fill of exploring under the water, hop on the 18 minute flight from Barcelona to Margarita Island (less than $50 round trip). You can book this once you arrive in Barcelona, or in advance, through Avior Airlines. Once you land, catch the 10 minute taxi ride to the world famous kite board and windsurf town/beach of El Yaque. It is called the “town of Champions” because so many world champion kite boarders and wind surfers have come from there. There is even a film about four of the most recent champions.

Venezuela 4There are several hotels right on the beach as well as 5-6 kite board “schools”. You can rent kite board gear and wind surfing gear just about anywhere on the beach, but need to prove experience to rent the kite board gear. A terrific place to stay, where you will meet world class boarders from all over the world, right next to you at the breakfast table/buffet, is Jump ‘n Jibe. It is a beachfront hotel but is set back from the beach a bit, boasting a grassy, shaded yard for afternoon reading and naps. Plus, the company and food can’t be beat for the price.

Tori Venezuela 6I had never kite boarded before, so my goal was to learn to control my kite, get up on my board, change directions, and even be able to do a few jumps in the air… all in 9 hours of lessons. The school I used was at the far end of the beach right in front of the previous photo (you can walk end to end of the beach in less than 14 minutes!) I highly recommend them for their level of safety, professionalism and knowledge/helpfulness. Not only did I meet my goals, I exceeded them, thanks to the instructors there. The best part is, since the town is so small, you find yourself sharing dinner or drinks, later, with your instructors and famous kite boarders or wind surfers who are their friends.

Tori Venezuela 7El Yaque has a very casual vibe. No need to even put on shoes during your visit. No place, neither stores nor restaurants, requires anything more than a bathing suit. Make sure to try the bags of mango that the girls on the beach sell and the coco-loco drink (virgin or not). Also, the “pargo” (red snapper) is caught fresh every day and it’s like nothing you have ever tasted. Do not pass it up. And, expect live music or impromptu dance parties on the beach, every night, in true Caribbean spirit.

Finally, there are some great travel and packing tips about El Yaque here, that will help in planning a successful trip!

All in all, El Yaque will make you want to quit your day job and never leave. So, take a chance on Venezuela….you won’t regret it!



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