The Top Things to Do and See in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela
Puerto La Cruz is a picturesque coastal town that lies on Venezuela’s east coast. With scenic sandy bays, idyllic islands and magnificent forests, it is one of the most visited areas in the country outside of Caracas. Strong colonial influences are evident here, as well as traditional Hispanic streets and the infectious energy characteristic of small South American towns. Visitors can explore the amazing wildlife via the two sprawling national parks in the area, and lose themselves in the stunning seascapes. Here’s our guide to the best things to do in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela.
Puerto La Cruz sunset I | © Alvaro Hernández/Flickr
Road trip from Higuerote to Puerto La Cruz
The area of Puerto La Cruz is about a five-hour drive from Higuerote, another charming coastal town of Venezuela, and a cozy spot that is home to only 25,000 people. The winding road connecting the two regions is long, but takes cars through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the country. Speed through scenic beach views and breathtaking vistas, and park the car by one of many outlooks along the way to take a break and look out across the Caribbean Sea. Upon arrival in Higuerotme, head straight to the beach, Playa la Cangrjera, a stretch of sand boasting one of the bluest bays in the area. There are plenty of places from which to rent a car and begin your road trip in Puerto La Cruz.
Address: Higuerote, Venezuela
Take a boat ride around Parque Nacional Laguna de Tacarigua
The 39,100-hectare national park of Parque Nacional Laguna de Tacarigua is one of the most important ecological reserves in the region. Home to an impressive population of flamingos, one of the best ways to experience this incredible wildlife spot is by hiring a boat, as more than two-thirds of the reserve is offshore. Visitors can hire a vessel anywhere in the park for a few dollars, and can spend an afternoon lounging on idyllic, unspoiled beaches, strolling among the lagoons and mangroves or trying their hand at fishing in the bay. It’s best to visit around early evening, when the flamingos search for food amidst the dusty pinks and oranges of the setting sun.
Address: Parque Nacional Laguna de Tacarigua, Venezuela
Stroll along Paseo de La Cruz
The former fishing village of Paseo de la Cruz is a bustling area still retaining an old-worldly charm, a winding seafront promenade with modern harbors as well as authentic architecture and aqua, glass-like waters. A major Venezuelan economic center thanks to its oil-refinery past, there are a number of popular bars and clubs set on the banks here, as well as an array of vendors selling jewelry, paintings, leather goods and intricately woven hammocks. Take a stroll here to experience a true taste of vivacious South American life by the sea.
Address: Paseo de la Cruz, Venezuela
One of the best ways to experience local life in the east of Venezuela is to participate in one of the local festivals. Every year on September 8th, the people of Puerto La Cruz celebrate the feast of the Virgen del Valle by sailing a colorful procession of boats in an out of the harbor, vessels adorned with lush palms and kaleidoscopic balloons. In the afternoon, parties are held throughout the area, where the liquor flows, the energy is infectious and the salsa never stops.
Boats Decorated for the Festival of the Virgen del Valle I | © Luigino Bracci/Flickr
Puerto La Cruz is famous for its diving hotspots. Along the main promenade, Paseo de La Cruz and El Mar, visitors will find several diving companies that run courses all year round, with excellent instructors keen to take you off the coast into an exciting underwater adventure. The warm temperatures and great visibility of the Caribbean Sea here create a likely chance of seeing an array of exotic creatures, including barracudas, angel fish and nurse sharks. And if you want to stay above water, why not try a sea kayak? One of the most reputable companies offering both diving and sea kayak excursions is Jakera, a trusted establishment boasting first-rate equipment, as well as comfortable local lodgings and affordable Spanish classes, too.
Sailing in Puerto La Cruz | © Wiki Commons
Go snorkelling and swimming in Parque Nacional Mochima
There are plenty of picturesque islands offshore in Puerto de La Cruz to entice visitors, pieces of Caribbean paradise creating a seemingly unending line of white sand on the horizon. On these islands visitors will find hundreds of tiny islets and secluded coves, which are charming spots for snorkelling and swimming. Parque Nacional Mochima is a great place to do both of these things, and is an area close to Puerto La Cruz, which boasts spectacular beaches and multiple untouched islands. Encompassed by mountains that dramatically lead into the sea, top snorkelling spots here include the Gulf of Santa Fe and the Archipelago of the Drunk. Plan a trip here with a company, or go independently, with many boats available at affordable prices.
Address: Parque Nacional Mochima
Swim with dolphins at Playa Arapito
Located right outside of Puerto de La Cruz, a short way along the Parque Nacional Mochima, lies a paradise-like beach named Playa Arapito. Here visitors can enjoy stunning red sands and an endless array of palm trees, a sublime landscape interrupted only by a few posada stands offering empanadas and other cheap eats. And this is the place in the region to see dolphins, with more than 200 said to live happily in the waters here.
Address: Playa Arapito, Venezuela