Parque Nacional Mochima

Beyond the cities of Barcelona and Puerto La Cruz, the main focus is the Mochima national park, one of the country's most beautiful regions. Hundreds of tiny Caribbean islands, a seemingly endless series of beaches backed by some of Venezuela's most beautiful scenery and tiny coves tucked into bays, all offer excellent snorkelling, fishing and swimming.

Best time to visit

At Christmas, Carnival and Easter this part of the coast becomes extremely congested so patience is needed as long queues of traffic can develop. Accommodation is very hard to find. It can also become littered and polluted, especially on the islands. Robbery may be a problem, but if you take care and use common sense the risk is minimal. Camping on the islands in Parque Nacional Mochima is not advisable.

Around the park

Starting east from Puerto La Cruz is the Costa Azul, with the islands of the Parque Nacional Mochima offshore. Highway 9 follows the shore for much of the 85 km to Cumaná. The road is spectacular but if driving take great care between Playa Colorada and Cumaná. It passes the 'paradise-like' beaches of
. Further along is
Playa Arapito
. Here boats can be hired to
La Piscina
, a beautiful coral reef near some small islands, for good snorkelling (with lots of dolphins).

Playa Colorada
is a popular beach (Km 32) with beautiful red sands and palm trees. Nearby are
Playa Vallecito
Playa Santa Cruz
. At
Playa Los Hicacos
is a lovely coral reef.
Robberies have been reported on the empty beach at the west end of Playa Colorada.

In Sucre State 40 km from Puerto La Cruz is
Santa Fe
, larger and noisier than Mochima, but a good place to relax. The attractive beach is cleaned daily. It has a market on Saturday. Jeep, boat or diving tours available. Fishermen offer trips but their prices are usually high.

The little village of
beyond Santa Fe, is 4 km off the main road (hitching difficult). It's busy at weekends but almost deserted through the week. The sea is dirty near the town. Boats take tourists to nearby beaches, such as Playa Marita and Playa Blanca (excellent snorkelling, take own equipment). Both have restaurants, but bring food and water to be safe.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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