A Visit to La Restinga National Park


Member Rating 5 out of 5 by getawayguy on January 24, 2004

Bridging east and west, La Restinga National Park occupies a narrow isthmus (a restinga is a sandbar) between what once were islands. Its attractions are broad: 10,700 hectares of sea, shore, lagoons, channels and tangled mangroves. A boat trip through the channels to the beach is well worthwhile. The park entrance is 36.5km from downtown Porlamar, where a por puesta line runs until 8pm. Linea La Restinga starts near the waterfront, Calle Marino between La Marina and Maneiro. Avoid going on a Sunday if possible as return transportation is scarce in the afternoon.

The embarkation pier, Embarcadero El Indio, is 350m from the road. At the pier’s entrance, you pay a park fee of $1. Scores of lanchas wait their turn here; note the name and number of yours. Each boat takes five or six passengers to the beach, via a longer or shorter tour through fascinating mangrove channels, some so narrow you can touch the trees on either side and see oysters clinging to tangled roots; the price per boat, ½ to 1 hour, is $14-$20, paid on return. At the far dock by the balneario, you set a time for the same boat to pick you up, or have the boatman wait an hour. There are clean restrooms; ask the waiter for the key. Souvenir stands sell crafts and open-sided restaurants sell food and shade, so that’s where most people go. Check prices, as the closest restaurants are reported to charge more.

Sweeping in a long crescent to either side of La Guardia Bay, the bar enclosing the lagoons forms an oceanic beach 10km long; the swimming is good. A layer of shells covers the beach and in calm season people scoop bucketfuls of guacucos at the water’s edge: good for seafood broth, as well as eating fresh oysters.

As the return trip goes straight to the Embarcadero, you might negotiate a price with your boat captain to see more mangrove channels or go out to sea via Boca de Rio (where most of the lancheros live).

Restinga National Park

Isla de Margarita, Venezuela

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