Bathed on its north side by the Caribbean Sea, Venezuela has a large number of beaches to satisfy all tastes. On this occasion I invite you to visit Coche Island.

Photo: La Punta beach

Along with Margarita and Cubagua, Coche is part of Nueva Esparta, the only island state of Venezuela and one of the most important tourist spots in the country.

Nueva Esparta is about 38 km from the northeast coast of Venezuela and can be reached by air to its Santiago Mariño International Airport or by sea by taking a ferry from the port of La Guaira, near the capital Caracas, or in Anzoátegui, in the east of the country.

Photo: Map edited by the Ministry of Tourism of Venezuela / Nueva Esparta: Margarita, Coche and Cubagua Islands

Most of the people who visit this state, both Venezuelans and foreigners, stay on the island of Margarita, also known as "The Pearl of the Caribbean", which in its 1150 square km has everything to spend a good vacation: beaches, mountains, historical sites, nightlife, good food, shops, etc.

A little further, to the south of Margarita, there is the option of getting to know Coche Island, much smaller with its 55 square km, quieter due to not having the typical hubbub of urban life such as shops, shopping centers, etc., but not less beautiful and interesting.

Photo: This small pier at La Punta beach receives all visitors

Initially inhabited by indigenous Guaiqueríes, its history is linked to the extraction of pearls carried out by the colonizers. Shortly after Christopher Columbus sighted the island of Cubagua in 1498, neighbor of Coche but smaller (24 square km) and the first Spanish settlement on Venezuelan lands, began this hard work at sea to which the indigenous people of the island were subjected for years. Coche was founded in 1526 and a few years later, in 1574, pearl oysters were also discovered there and exploited. Today there are no pearls left in these waters.

According to what I read, Coche means deer in the Guaiquerí indigenous language and since this animal populated the place before the Spanish colonization, the natives called it this way.

After arriving at Margarita island it is easy to go to Coche, just go to El Yaque beach and take a boat that will leave you there in less than half an hour.

The arrival point is its most popular beach: La Punta, a beautiful stretch of about 3 km of white sand and calm waters. Here, some 100 meters from the shore are some all-inclusive hotel complexes and a little further from the beach there are other cheaper accommodation options, such as inns. You don't see big buildings here, buildings with more than one floor are not allowed.

Photos: Facilities of the Coche Paradise hotel, on La Punta beach

This island is arid, with xerophytic vegetation, it rains very little and there are no permanent sources of fresh water. Almost all its territory is flat, its maximum elevations do not exceed 70 meters. It has mangroves and also some cliffs of reddish earth. It is also a privileged place for lovers of bird watching.

Most people go to the Coche Island in a day trip (round trip from Margarita), but it seems to me that this place deserves a little more time, and I say this because I was there during some carnivals, three days, and still I was wanting more. The best is to travel it by car, motorcycle or bicycle, it has roads and it is not very large, its territory is approximately 11 km long by 5 km wide.

Photos: Carnival in Coche Island

When I went, I opted more than anything to enjoy the nearby beach and take a boat ride to see marine fauna, but I would like to return to go inland to its capital San Pedro de Coche, to other towns such as El Bichar, Guinima, El Amparo, El Guamache and La Uva and other beaches such as El Coco, El Saco and El Amor.

Photo: Snorkeling

Photo: Starfish are delicate, it is better not to touch them, but if you do, do not take it out of the water

There are many recreational activities that can be done here, such as jet skiing, snorkeling, diving, excursions by land and sea, kitesurfing, windsurfing, among others.

Not many people know it, but La Punta beach is an outstanding place for sports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing, it is considered the second best destination in the world to practice these disciplines, there have been many national and international championships there and there are also several schools that teach classes to natives and foreigners.

Currently its inhabitants, about 10,000 people, live mainly on tourism and artisanal fishing. There are also a salina (salt mine) that many years ago was exploited but that nowadays apparently only the local inhabitants take advantage of.

So far this short walk through another pearl of the Venezuelan Caribbean, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.


All photos were taken by me with a Sony Cyber Shot 7.2 mp digital camera