Every year Carúpano Carnaval is an extravaganza of music and movement attracting over 400,000 visitors. If you’re making a trip here for the festival then expect pulsating steel drums, rhythmic salsa beats and plenty of rum in every direction. Recently declared an official Event of Regional Tourist Interest in 2014, the celebration is held 40 days before Easter, for four whole days. Characterized by flamboyant floats and street parties, the women here in bright and beautifully decorated costumes steal the show.
Monday to Thursday, 40 days before Lent
Playa Medina is a tranquil bay of beach bliss, with its calm, crystal water, coconut trees, golden sands and rustic reed huts quite rightly earning it the unofficial title of Venezuela’s “most perfect beach”. More of a tourist spot than local hang out, the sandy stretch sits 25 km to the east of Carúpano and boasts some of the best empanada vendors in the region. The beach is protected by the local authorities in order to preserve all of its natural and wild beauty, and offers visitors a picturesque accommodation option in the form of beachfront “cabañas”.
Carúpano is renowned for its locally cured sausages, chorizos carupaneros, handmade tasty treats which can be found all over Venezuela. For visitors seeking to eat at the restaurant where these sausages were first discovered, head to El Fogon de la Petaca, where a delicious variety of garlic, smoked and creole sausages are served among the quaint, colonial decor of its dining room. It’s one of the top-rated restaurants in town and offers beautiful views of the main plaza.
Just a block from the beach in Carúpano you’ll find many historic and interesting homes. A particular favorite is the La Casa del Cable, the house where the first telegraph cable linking Europe and South America was laid in 1896. The building later housed the first computer with internet access in the Paria region, and now uses its reputation as a place of technological advancement to gain support from the local community, and operate as a popular culture center. It focuses on supporting environmental education and hosts self-help programs for rural communities in the region.
Originally the home of British merchant J M Imery, the Museo de Historia de Carúpano served as an important clinic and teaching school before it transformed into a popular regional museum. Stop by here to see the small but enthralling collection of early Venezuelan artifacts, documents, antiques and furniture it exhibits. The museum provides visitors with an engaging look at the country’s past in the charming setting of an old colonial house.
Río Caribe is a colorful fishing town located 22 kilometers from Carúpano, home to a vibrant atmosphere and incredibly friendly locals. Once the dynamic heart of the cacao trade, the old seaside fishing port still attracts a number of visitors to the region every year. Remnants of the town’s colonial past are everywhere, with rustic haciendas lining the southern slopes and Gothic architecture marking where the old center plaza used to be. There is the option to take a tour of the local coffee plantations to learn how coffee is created, an enthralling activity taking visitors on a journey through the picturesque Venezuelan cacao fields.
The Paria Peninsula is a breathtaking stretch of land separating the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Paria, and there is no better way to see it than by boat. Glide along the water to view a number of beautiful coastal beaches, and if you look hard enough, you may even be able to see the tip of Trinidad. Many guesthouses in Carúpano offer affordable tours, and a number of operators handily leave from nearby Río Caribe and Playa Medina. Plan to be sailing the sea at sunset, if you can, as the views are stunning.
One amazing new museum is the Museo de Cacao Pariano. In a small village called Chacaracual sits the chocolate lover’s paradise. This free admission museum celebrates everything to do with chocolate, from the harvest, to the melting process, to the flavoring techniques used. An interesting look at the production, try not to get too distracted by the tasting session where you can eat homemade bon bons, hot chocolate, and even more gluttonous liquid chocolate. If you want to change your perception of chocolate, or you’re a connoisseur looking to expand your knowledge this is the place to go.
If you’re looking for a secluded beach off the beaten path then head about 11 km east of the Medina to the beach of Pui-Puy. This large stretch is full of golden sand and shady palm trees. Here you’ll get a chance to see a bit of marine life; the area is a protected region for sea turtles and they’re known to come around in July to bury their eggs in the sand. You won’t much here besides a few local fisherman lazily casting their nets and sleeping in the sun, perfect for travelers seeking peace and tranquility on their Venezuelan trip.
For visitors seeking local Carúpano culture, then this is the place to be. The Ateneo de Carúpano is a community center serving as a gallery, theater and musical school. It welcomes over 600 local youths and teaches them painting, stagecraft, modern dance and ballet. There is a theater festival that the Ateneo sponsors and a number of local fiestas that make this a hub of local activity.