Isla Margarita, Venezuela


Route Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela – Juan Griego, Isla Margarita, Venezuela (16,Ferry)
Distance 428 Km
Travel Time 7 hours ride + 5 hour ferry
Road Conditions Mostly good tarmac
Weather Good
Terrain Flat oil country, Pine forest, Coastal Hills
Food and Petrol Pto.O., El Tigre, Anaco, Pto La Cruz
Accommodation Hostal El Vaney, Isla Margarita

Leaving Puerto Ordaz for the second time, our initial intention is to head back via El Tigre and Puerto La Cruz to the village of Mochima, where we already know of accommodation options. However we reach Puerto La Cruz fairly early in the afternoon, so we go straight back to the ferry terminal to see whether there’s a boat we can catch to Isla Margarita the same afternoon.

(Note: After leaving Puerto Ordaz there is no fuel until El Tigre – about 220Km – so make sure you fill up before leaving.)


We meet a Brazilian couple there on a BMW GS1200. He’s interested in doing the BR319 – his wife less so – on his way back South… definitely NOT the right time! I don’t want to discourage anyone who feels called to this adventure, but a 1200GS, two-up… ouch! With the slightest bit of rain…. you’re in for a serious nightmare!


Things work out conveniently and we book ourselves on to the 18:00 Conferry Express boat which will supposedly get us across in 3 hours. The cost is approximately 125VEF per person and 155VEF for the motorbike. We also need to provide a photocopy of the motorbike registration paper. (Copier service available in the terminal.)

For more information we found out about the Puerto La Cruz to Isla Margarita ferries, read this post.
– It may be handy to have a ratchet strap or rope with you for securing your bike on the ferry.


Well I am no seaman, but I dare say that there were no stormy seas this night, but the ferry arrives at the port of Punta de Piedras of Isla Margarita at 23:00 – that means the journey took us about 5 hours!

Thus it seems that there is no benefit to paying the premium on an afternoon “Express” ferry, almost double the price of the “Tradicional”, because even the Express journey takes 5 hours, which is the same stated time for the Tradicional. (Unless of course the Tradicional in reality takes much longer than that.)

However, the Tradiconal ferries leave at less hospitable hours like 2AM, which could be a problem for some. On the other hand, if you consider you’ll save a night’s accommodation and not arrive in the middle of the night and drive around Isla Margarita to find your hotel (which could be dangerous), this may be a preferable option.

Either way if you opt for an Express service, probably best to take a morning departure.


We spend over an hour driving the streets of Isla Margarita before we finally land in the town of Juan Griego, where we intend to check in at Hostal El Caney (Calle Guevara #17, 250VEF/dbl; Tel:530359). Luckily we have the phone number in the Lonely Planet so we call them up to let them know we’re trying to find them at this late hour.

The hostel is quite nice and well situated. The Canadian couple that runs it is friendly and helpful. It’s got a small kitchen and a smaller bike can park in the courtyard without issue. Oh and they have a huge black cat to guard the bike at night. We chose the area of Juan Griego because it seems to be less main-stream and therefore a bit calmer. We chose well, it even has a braai, which we give a thorough using!


Over the next few days we explore the various beaches accessible along the northern coast from Juan Griego. They’re all pretty nice, some more built up and popular, others more bamboo-shack style, but beer and cocktails are available everywhere (should have left that motorbike at the hostel;)). But to us we’re not getting a great amount of enjoyment. Maybe there’s a lack of atmosphere or maybe the constant safety paranoia in Venezuela has got to us.

There’s a lady and her son staying here from a city on the mainland. She’s looking to move to the island, she says, because she’s worried for their safety because of the crime. Anyone visiting Venezuela at this time will be aware to some degree of the risk and of Venezuela’s current status as “Crime Capital” of the world. (They stole it from South Africa… Should I be jealous?) Those few people we did meet travelling through had either a very quick and direct route in one end and out the other. On biker blogs I’ve read people, plan to cross in under a week, no hanging around for the scenery. (As with South Africa,) it’s a shame!


I try my hand at fishing in a few spots and obviously I don’t catch anything, which is as always a grave disappointment. Once again I consider acknowledging the statistics and giving it up.

O.C.D. …

In the town of Juan Griego there are many restaurants and shops, and a sort of market place in the centre where you can find most of your fresh produce at the best prices, as well as some more eccentric things like aromatic oils and various witches’ remedies for those who know what to do with them. Just up the street from El Caney is a fantastic bakery / delicatessen.

Maybe something like this?…

During the time we’re there many things are in shortage, especially the staple food, Arepa (Maize flour used to make bread patties). We witness a number of incidents where irate crowds were standing in front of supermarket entrances, apparently waiting for new stock to arrive or be released. No arepa, no Venezuela.



One day trip we take Falconita for a spin to the west side of the island. It’s a deserted place and it’s mostly dry desert. We’re not overly impressed but we get some nice views and enjoy a drink at a small sea-front restaurant in one of the small villages.

Emotional moment: time to part with my flops (stitched and re-stitched) which lasted since Laos!

All in all, for us Isla Margaita was not the Caribbean island-paradise some people described it as, but is was a nice experience.


Back at the port town of Punta de Piedras we buy our ferry tickets to return to the mainland. However we choose not to return to Puerto La Cruz, but the shorter trip to Cumana. These cost us 180VEF per person and 109VEF for the motorbike. The journey time of 3 hours is more or less accurate.


Cumana is close to Mochima so we head there for an easy night stop. As we drive into the town we recognize two people walking on the road side – they’re Max and Erica whom we journeyed with from Brazil. They’re going to head to Isla Margarita soon as well.