The National Park of Morrocoy comprises hundreds of coral reefs, palm-studded islets, small cosy beaches and calm water for water-skiing, snorkelling, and skin-diving. The Park is reached from Tucacas in the S and Chichiriviche in the N. With appropriate footwear it is possible to walk between some of the islands.
The largest, cleanest and most popular of the islands is Cayo Sombrero (very busy at weekends); even so it has some deserted beaches, with trees to sling a hammock. Playuela is beautiful and better for snorkelling (beware of mosquitoes in the mangrove swamps), while Playa del Sol has no good beach and no palm trees. Bocaseca is more exposed to the open sea than other islands and thus has fewer mosquitoes. Cayo Borracho is one of the nicest islands. NB Much of the coral in the park was destroyed in 1996 and the potential for scuba diving has fallen greatly. Beginners will still get good value for money but there isn’t much to interest advanced divers.
Adjoining the park to the N is a vast nesting area for scarlet ibis, flamingoes and herons, the Cuare Wildlife Sanctuary. Most of the flamingoes are in and around the estuary next to Chichiriviche, which is too shallow for boats but you can walk there or take a taxi. Birds are best watched early morning or late afternoon.
prices per boat range from US$17 return to Paiclas to US$36 return to Cayo Sombrero (max 7 per boat). Ticket office is to the left of the car entrance to the Park. Recommended boatmen are Orlando and Pepe. From Chichiriviche: prices per boat vary according to distance; eg, US$7.50 to Cayo Muerto, US$28 to Cayo Sombrero. A 3-4 hr trip is US$42 per boat; 5-6 hr trip US$63 (maximum 8 per boat); bargaining possible. There are 2 ports; one close to the centre and Playa Sur. The latter has a ticket system which is supposed to guarantee that you will be picked up on time for return trip. NB Playa Sur is not safe after dark; muggings reported.
You may camp on the islands but must first make a reservation with Inparques (National Parks), T 800-8487, 0800-2000 Mon-Sun; reserve at least 8 working days in advance giving all details; US$2.10 pp/night, 7 nights max, pay in full in advance (very complicated procedure). Very few facilities and no fresh water; Cayo Sombrero and Paiclas have restaurants, Boca Seca has a small café (closed Mon); Sombrero, Playa Azul and Paiclas have ecological toilets. At weekends and holidays it is very crowded and litter-strewn (beware rats).