A February 2004 trip
to Isla de Margarita by getawayguy
Quote: We were here for the first time in June 2002. We were excited to return to explore this tropical paradise above and below the water. We were able to spend time with old friends and make a few new ones too. We learned some new things about ourselves in the process.
The resort opened in July 1993, and has over 70 hectares, with 22 hectares already developed and about another 50 to be developed. The beach is 2.5km of calcareous sand. There are three pools, two for adults only and one for small children. The children's area has an activities room, a child play park, and an area with surveillance for smaller children. There are seven tennis courts, five game courts and two practice courts.
Three restaurants are on-site. La Cachama, the main restaurant, with buffet style service, is located on the first floor, beside the main banquet hall, and has a capacity for 200 people. Luciana’s, an á la carte Italian specialty restaurant, is located on the lower floor next to the general manager’s offices. It calls for semiformal wear and has a capacity for 80 people. El Caney Beach Restaurant, offering buffet and snack service, is located on the beach and has a capacity for 160 people.
The game area has two pool tables, two Ping-Pong tables, table soccer, and assorted table games. The gym has a wide variety of equipments and a steam bath area, with service available for a fee. The on-site stores offer jewelry, bathing suits, and souvenirs; a travel agency; a mini market; a personal articles store; and Internet service. There are also four bars, a theatre, and a disco with a capacity for 100 people. The resort provides live musical entertainment nightly. There are daily water aerobics exercises and volleyball games. Local PADI instructors provide on-site scuba diving lessons (in the pool) and certification (including off-site open water dives).
This is truly a Gold Crown resort in every way. We recommend it enthusiastically.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 13, 2005
Dunes Hotel and Beach Resort
Valle de Pedro Gonzalez
Isla de Margarita, Venezuela
There are three restaurants on the property: Luciano's, an "a la carte" specialty Italian restaurant; El Chaney Beach Restaurant, located on the beach, with buffet and snack service; and our favorite, La Cachama, the main restaurant, with buffet-style service, located on the first floor beside the main banquet hall, with a capacity for 200 people. Each day of the week, the menu changes to feature different varieties of food, including Hawaiian, Venezuelan, Mexican, Italian, BBQ, and "International". The food was always freshly made, artistically prepared, and extremely tasty.
Each meal, the hostess greets you and asks how many are in your party. Sometimes we had prearranged to eat with friends and other times we arrived early, and took a large enough table to be able to invite others to join us. The staff always encouraged us to take our time and enjoy ourselves. The service was excellent. Each evening as we arrived at the restaurant, we were serenated by hundreds of small black birds singing in the nearby trees. Local artists often displayed their craftwork at tables along the walkways leading to the restaurant. La Cachama is open for breakfast 7am-11:30am, for lunch 12:30pm-2:30pm, and for dinner 6:30pm-10pm.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 6, 2005
Dunes Hotel and Beach Resort
Isla de Margarita, Venezuela
Then we arrived at the Dunes Resort and Beach Club and discovered that PADI instructors from Aquanaughts offered training and certification for resort guests. We both signed up and eagerly began the classes. Most vacationers are only at the resort for a week to 10 days. That doesn't give much time to accomplish all that is required to earn certification. Most of the people trying to get certified are much younger than my wife and I. I was fortunate to be able to finish the training, do six dives, and pass the tests before we ran out of vacation time. My wife completed all but two of the exercises in the pool and some of the open-water exercises, but will have to finish in our hometown.
I can honestly say that I feel safer now when I dive and more confident of my scuba-diving skills. I'm glad I took the time to learn the right way to enjoy the sport. I recommend it to everyone.
That same trip, we met and made friends with a local tour guide named Ricky. He introduced us to La Restinga, El Valle, Porlamar, Pampatar, and many more areas of the island he proudly called his home. If you're interested in knowing more about that first trip, you can see my journal entitled "Isla Margarita."
The only problem we had was that we ran out of time and had to leave. Ricky gave us his card with his phone numbers when he took us to the airport for our return flight. We said all the usual things tourists say, like "we'll be back", "we'll recommend you to all our friends," and "we'll call you when we come back next time." When we got home, we went on with our lives, visiting other countries and looking for new adventures. Then one day, we were talking about past vacations and agreed that Margarita Island had been one of the most fun destinations we'd been to. We decided to see if we could return. This time we wanted to take more time and really enjoy the peaceful, laid-back atmosphere and try for our scuba-diving certifications. It had been 2 years since our last visit, and I had no idea where I had mislaid Ricky's card.
With RCI's help, we booked the Dunes Resort and Beach Club for 3 weeks. We had met Ricky when we arrived at the airport on our first visit and hoped to find him there this trip. No such luck. However, when we asked around, one of the other local drivers told us he was Ricky's cousin and he would have him call us at our hotel. That evening Ricky called, and we arranged to see him the next day to make plans for more tours. During this trip, we met several other guests at the resort and introduced them to Ricky. We revisited some of our favorite areas with new friends and enjoyed seeing everything again through their eyes. We were able to scuba dive several times and further our training, too. Having an extremely knowledgeable guide who was most accommodating, and who took so much pride in his country and his chosen profession, made our tours unforgettable. The political atmosphere in Caracas, on the mainland, was a little unstable both times while we were on Isla Margarita, but we never felt worried for our safety. We had a wonderful time again and look forward to returning in the future.
Los Gatos, California