The Caribbean – Choroni – Maracay
With over 3,000km of coastline, the longest in the Caribbean, and a myriad of islands, islets, keys and coral reefs, the Venezuelan coast is home to a rich diversity of marine flora and fauna. Its countless white-sand beaches fringed with palm trees are paradise for those who just want to relax, sunbathe, swim and enjoy water-based activities.
There is so much scenery to discover: sea caves, underwater cliffs, coral reefs covered in colourful sponges, multi-coloured fish, sea urchins, sea anemones and several wrecks of old ships, some dating back to the 17th century.
Even though the deep sea fishing here has an international reputation, there are other vital species near the coast such as Sabalo, Barracuda, raton or macabi fish, Robalo, Anjova, Carite or Sierra, Peto, Jurel and Yellow-fin tuna.
Mangrove swamps grow all along the coast as well as in the river deltas. The mangrove swamps are home to a huge number of sea birds such as Tijereta de Mar, Gannet, Flamingo and the Borrega and Marron Boba.
The Venezuelan Caribbean is equally as interesting culturally and historically. The region was the scene of many important Venezuelan historical events and here there are many restored colonial fortifications and some of the oldest and best preserved churches in the country. In addition, there is a huge variety of traditional festivals that take place all along the coast. The blend of religions in Venezuela is highlighted in the elaborate traditional festivals, many with their roots in indigenous and African religions.
On the other side of Caracas, Choroni is a very popular destination. Located between the mountains of the Henri Pittier National Park, covered in cloud forest, and the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean, this colonial town takes you back in time.
Many of the pastel-coloured houses in this fishing village have been completely renovated and designed to a standard to accommodate visitors.
There is a delightful local beach and many others that can be reached only by small boat. Even though it is peaceful and sleepy during the week, the town comes to life at the weekends when party lovers from Caracas and Maracay arrive to have fun on the beaches and join in the ‘drum nights’ – dances accompanies by drummers.
Nearby Ocumare de la Costa isn’t so pretty and is less visited, but it has a small area, only accessible by small boat, where you can go snorkelling, as well as get to other places of interest in the national park. Only 4 hours from Caracas by road, a stay in Choroni is an excellent idea for 3 or 4 days.
Founded by Spanish colonialists at the beginning of the 18th century, Maracay has a long history of religion as well as cacao and tobacco production. Much later, Maracay became well known for producing and exporting indigo, which brought about big changes for life in the town, from thatched roof houses to business centres. During the last 20 years Maracay has been transformed into a modern city, with high-rise buildings and apartment complexes.