67km from east to west and 33km north to south, Margarita is made up of two arid islands linked by a narrow spit of land behind which lies the Restinga Lagoon National Park.
South = busy
Almost all the commercial activity and mainstream tourism takes place on the eastern part, mostly in the south around Porlamar, the principal town, and nearby Pampatar.
North = quiet
A quieter part of the island is the north coast, near the small town of Juangriego, where there is a lovely sandy beach at Playa Caribe with just a few low-key beach bars and cafes -- perfect for a relaxing few days. Juangriego itself has a small fishing harbour, shops, a few modest restaurants and sunsets over the bay.
We also recommend the northeast coast which has the loveliest beaches but is rather more commercialised (but less so than the south of the island). At Playa El Agua, for example, hotels are low rise, and there is a good selection of places to eat, ranging from relaxed beach bars and cafés to seafront restaurants. The beach is wide and long. There is plenty going on, including a jolly succession of beach vendors selling everything from shellfish to gin and tonic! There is a surf here so bathers are advised to stay in their depth.
There are not too many all-inclusive resort hotels in this area, and there is a scattering of smaller properties with a little more character. When you are taking a break from the beach there are pleasant villages and scenery to explore locally, by taxi or hired motorbike (not for the inexperienced as roads are busy).
Nature enthusiasts should take the boat trip through the mangrove 'tunnels' of the Restinga Lagoon.
Day trips and excursions
For a taste of other parts of the country there are day trips and longer excursions from Margarita to Canaima and Angel Falls, Los Roques, and the Orinoco Delta.