Puerto La Cruz: Venezuela’s second Caribbean coastal National Park is Mochima, 55 kilometres from the port of Puerto La Cruz. This city is 320 kilometres, five hours east of Caracas. It is the main commercial centre in this part of the country, especially for oil, but is also a popular holiday centre with good watersports and yachting facilities.
The park itself also includes the mainland coast between Los Altos and Cumaná. The beaches and vistas of this stretch of the coast are beautiful (although see the note about litter, below). Since both Puerto La Cruz and Cumaná are ferry terminals for Margarita, Mochima can easily be incorporated into a visit to this part of Venezuela.
Further east from Puerto La Cruz is Santa Fe, larger and noisier than Mochima, but a good place to relax. It has a market on Saturday.
The small, colourful weekend resort of Mochima, beyond Santa Fe, is four kilometres off the main road, hitching difficult. The sea is dirty near the town. Boats to nearby beaches, such as Playa Marita and Playa Blanca, and around the islands, US$8.50-11.50, depending on the distance (up to six people).
The easiest island to reach is Isla de la Plata, yet another supposed lair of the pirate Henry Morgan. It has a white sand beach, and clear waters which are ideal for snorkelling. There are food and drink stalls, but take drinking water as there is none on the island. Also take a hat and sunscreen. It’s about 10 minutes by boat to the island. Further away, and larger, are the Chimana islands with beautiful beaches (Grande, Sur, del Oeste), in the waters around which there is snorkelling and good scuba diving. The islands are very popular and consequently are badly littered. All have restaurants, snack-bars and thatched shelters for hire.
Other islands in the vicinity are Monos (also good for scuba diving), La Borracha, El Borracho and Los Borrachitos, and Caracas de Oeste and Caracas del Este. All are in sheltered waters and are easy to explore by boat.