Cumaná is the capital of the state of Sucre in Venezuela.
Cumaná is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited city by Europeans in South America and, to that end, one of the first in all of mainland America, starting as a settlement by Franciscan friars in 1515 with the name Nuevo Toledo. It saw a volatile history of military engagement between the indigenous Cumanagoto people and the Spanish conquistadors until the former were finally routed in a not-so-innocuous way at which point Cumaná became a viceroyalty of Spain. The city has a distinguished claim of being the birthplace of Antonio José de Sucre - the ‘Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho’ - a leading general and President of Bolivia, plus the home of poets and politicians and scientists such as Alexander von Humboldt. Unfortunately, it has seen a fair share of earthquakes, too, necessitating rebuilding over the years.
Today, sitting across an inlet of the Caribbean from the Araya Peninsula, Cumaná is regarded for its large tuna industry and proximity to the prized Caribbean destination Mochima National Park.
Being about 400 km east of Caracas, Cumaná is about a 6 hour drive from the national capital along Trunk Road 9. There is also infrequent flight service, mostly to/from Caracas, with limited amenities like money exchange and food service, out of Cumaná's
Ferry service to/from Punta de Piedras (Araya Peninsula of Sucre State) is provided by:
- 1 . The quality of their vessels and docks can be a little sketchy.
For intra-city bus service, try Bus Cumaná Sucre.
- 1 San Antonio de la Eminencia Castle. Old Spanish fort, with a small museum and dungeon. Try to be a little careful due to the insecurity of the area.
- 2 Santa Maria de la Cabeza Castle. This fortification was meant to serve as a replacement for San Antonio de la Eminencia Castle, which was seen to have defense limitations, and to serve as a viceroyalty residence, but it was wracked by a severe earthquake in 1684 and then decimated by another in 1929.
- 3 Cumaná Museum of Contemporary Art, ☏ . Little artistic odds and ends here.
- 4 Casa Natal de Andrés Eloy Blanco. Birthplace/home of a famous poet from Cumaná.
- 5 Museo Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho, ☏ . 08:00-18:00 M-F, 14:00-19:00 Sa-Su. Birthplace and museum about the man, Antonio Jose de Sucre (El Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho), the hero of Venezuela, in that his efforts were seen pivotal in winning the fight for independence from imperial Spain. He also served as the country's first president.
- 6 Cumaná Cathedral. Archdiocese of Cumana, originally constructed in 18th century but present structure is from 1936 due to an earthquake. It has a lot of wood in the interior.
- 7 Plaza Bolivar. Cumaná's compulsory Bolivar statue and plaza, with the state capital building sitting adjacent.
- 8 Iglesia Santa Ines. The oldest cathedral in Cumaná, restored in 1853. External blue hue is like that of a baby bird egg.
- 9 Ruinas del Convento de San Francisco. A place of historic significance to Cumana and its Catholic heritage.
- 10 Museo del Mar, Calle Sta Ines, ☏ . 10:00-17:00 M-Sa, closed Su. This natural history museum mostly focuses on exhibits relating to marine science and the nautical field. You might see a Coelacanth.
- 11 Monumento De Los 500 Años. Here you can find an array of seaside monuments, one of which will allow you to get your photo taken next to a Franciscan missionary and hapless indigenous man. But also here you'll find some excellent sunsets.
- 12 Castillo de Araya (to get here, either take the ferry from Cumana docks or prepare for a long drive!). This Spanish fort's particular purpose was to protect noisome competitors from messing with the pearl beds in the area. Then the salt pans were noticed and that became a source of contention for a while.
- 1 Playa San Luis, Avenida Universidad, ☏ . Relaxing beach.
- 2 Playa El Castillo. This beach is right below the Castillo de Araya. The flora is considerably more xerophytic on the peninsular portion of Sucre.
- 1 Restaurant Vino Bar Cafe, in Marina Plaza Shopping Mall. Here's a chance to eat some local seafood and watch the local fishing trade go in and out.
- 2 Puerto Escondido II, ☏ . 10:00-18:00 T-Su, closed M. More seafood.
- 3 Restaurante El Teide. 11:00-22:00 daily. Venezuelan regional/seafood cuisine, with bar.
Hopefully the tourist beat will be back someday.
- 1 Hotel Venetur Cumaná, Avenida Universidad, ☏ . Has all the makings of a fine beach resort. Pool, spa, beach, free breakfast. Things must have been great prior to the current state of the country.
- 2 Hotel Los Bordones, ☏ . Pools, beaches, palm trees blowing in the seaside breeze, what's not to like?
- 3 Posada San Francisco, Calle Sucre, ☏ . A cozy villa with wifi and bar where you will feel like you are in Latin America.
You can also find some cozy posadas for accommodation on the Araya Peninsula across from Cumaná, a fairly short ferry ride away.
If possible, a visit to Mochima National Park would be a good option while you're in the area. It is recognized for its landscapes and, of course, beaches.