Puerto La Cruz is a city in Venezuela's Northeast, in the state of Anzoátegui. In some ways, it's kind of like the beachside resort area for Barcelona nearby, although it is tainted a bit by the fact that it's also the home of the Puerto La Cruz refinery, one of the largest in the country, along with a fossil fuel processing plant. Cough. But, all things considered, the local still has some very pleasing beaches surrounding it, and borders on the natural realm of Mochima National Park. It is the embarkation point for ferries to this park and even more significantly, to Margarita Island.
Flying in to Puerto La Cruz can be very expensive. Domestic flights from Caracas can go for US$150 one way per person for the 40-minute flight. Like all airlines, if you book early aad outside of peak holiday times, they can be much cheaper, e.g. US$55 one way If you take a cab from the airport make sure you take one of the airport "official cabs" as there are many "piratas" (unofficial) cabs which can be dangerous.
If you fly to Puerto La Cruz the nearest airport is in Barcelona which is the capital of the state Anzoategui. From here you have to take a 30-min cab ride to Puerto La Cruz. Make sure you have your hotel info before you get there, as cab drivers are not too good at suggesting what will be the best hotel for you.
While flying is the safest option, if you feel adventurous you can take a bus to Puerto La Cruz from Caracas.
The best option for routes to the east of the capital, including Puerto La Cruz, is the bus line called Rodovias de Venezuela for about US$20. Bus leaves every hour or so until 10:30PM. Any local will be able to direct you to the closest terminal. You can also take the Metro (subway) and get off at "Colegios de Ingenieros" station. Once you go upstairs you will see the bus terminal. Is very obvious.
The bus ride is 6 hours and the temperature in the bus is kept pretty chilly, so take a sweatshirt.
If you went for the bus you will arrive at the bus terminal right in downtown Puerto La Cruz. This is not the best part of town, so standard warnings apply.
So you made it to Puerto La Cruz and now you are ready to do some tourism. The best, fastest and safest way to get around in Puerto La Cruz is by taxi. A fare can go for US$5-10, which is ten times more expensive than the local bus, but it will save you time and the hassle of trying to figure out which bus to take to go where. Many times even the locals have a hard time trying to figure it out. Plus most of the buses are really old and uncomfortable.
When taking a taxi, always make sure you use "legal" taxis. They are usually marked with the name of the cab company. Illegal taxis will look like any other car and they are usually really beat up. These cars are not only mecahnically unsafe but there have been reports of kidnappings and robbery when riding these Piratas.
Bargaining is part of the Venezuelan culture, so make sure you ask your taxi driver for a discount.
If you are going out of town, then you will need to head back to the bus terminal where you can take a car or a bus to your destination. The bus terminal is not tourist friendly, so it is not easy to find out where to buy your ticket but all the counters have their destination literally "painted" in their windows, and most likely you will have more than one person around you trying to help you out.
Puerto La Cruz boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. You can get to many different beaches by land and by boat. Is all a matter of personal preference. The islands have white-sand-clear-water beaches, land-side beaches have brown-sand-clear-water beaches.
To go to the islands you need to go to Paseo Colon where you will see the boat stations, one on the west end and one on east end of Paseo Colon. Prices change every year and they supposedly leave every 30 min. Sometimes you have to be a little bit pushy because they will wait as long as possible trying to get more customers.
- Paseo Colon
- Andres Eloy Bianco Park
- Laguna Natural Maguey
- La Toma
- 1 Mirador El Morro. 04ː00-21ː00 daily. This great vantage point on the arid Isla El Morro peninsula replete with a virgin Mary monument will give you a chance to view the mainland of Venezuela as well as some of the islands of Parque Mochima. You can also walk out to the tip of the peninsula or ride a bike on various trails, visit El Morro beach below the mirador, or take in a sunrise/sunset.
- 2 Fortin Doña Magdalena (El Morro de Lechería). Fort of colonial Spain's built around 1799 to defend against English, French, Dutch intruders and no-good pirates seeking to pillage the new colony of Barcelona or occupy this prized location next to the Neveri River. The grounds are somewhat interesting, and the views and photo opportunities are also worthwhile. Might be better not to hang out for too long after dark.
Also perhaps most significant of all, check out Mochima National Park for an array of ecotourism or just recreational options. The park consists of a mainland portion and 32 islands and features arid scrub-like topography, dolphins, monkeys, and secluded beaches. Much of it necessitates marine transportation, Puerto de la Cruz harbor being one origin for securing this through various tour operators.
Beach, party, girls, guys, ... what else do you need?
Spanish Language Schools. Playa Colorada, 30 minutes along the coast, is a famous Venzuelan beach (photo in many of the guide books) and a good location to learn Spanish. Jakera runs a highly recommended Spanish school at Playa Colorada.  [dead link]
- 1 Playa Muerta (Beach of Death). Not the most inviting name, but this is a popular beach and another good place to watch the sunset.
- 2 Playa Punta La Cruz. A pretty alluring beach that is part of Parque Nacional Mochima that requires taking a boat to reach. One possible transport option is with Paraiso Angostura Tours.
- 3 Playa Puinare. Another great beach requiring marine transport since it's on Chimana Grande Island.
Paseo Colon at night becomes a very busy spot for locals to walk and for craftmen to sell their stuff. This will be your best option to find cheap, locally hand-made souvenirs. Lately there have been a big influx of Made In China mass produced items, but you should still be able to find local souvenirs.
During the daytime there are a few souvenir shops along Paseo Colon but prices can be inflated for tourists. If you go to El Acuario and ask for Mario, he can get you a good deal depending on how much you spend.
If you like malls then you need to check out the Caribbean Mall and Plaza Mayor, which are the biggest mall/shopping center in Puerto La Cruz and you can pretty much find anything you may need. You will find many brand name stores and good restaurants.
For the risky ones, you can go during business hours to downtown Puerto La Cruz and you will find a lot of street vendors and shopping.
Venezuelan food is really good and flavorful, nothing spicy. Make sure you try everything. You can also find really good authentic Italian, Mediterranean, Spanish, Chinese restaurants. Mexican food is not very popular so eat your burrito when you go back home. Among the most popular Venezuela meal or dishes you should try:
Empanadas: These are made of corn flour based dough and are deep fried. The stuffing varies according to the region; most common are the cheese and ground beef empanadas. Other types use fish, "caraotas" or black beans, oyster, clams and other types of seafood popular in the coastal areas.
Arepas: The arepa is a corn-based dish from the northern Andes in South America, now spread to other areas in modern Latin American countries. It is basically a flat (the flatness varies) cake of cornmeal which is then grilled, baked or fried. It is often split in half and filled with cheese, deli meats, and a great variety of fillings, in which case it is known as arepa rellena. This more elaborate version may be eaten closed like a sandwich, or dressed with toppings and eaten open-faced. This is the most frequent form it adopts in Venezuela.
Pabellon Criollo: Pabellón criollo is a traditional Venezuelan dish. It is a plate of rice, shredded beef and stewed black beans. Optionally, one may request Tajadas (fried plantain slices) or a fried egg as additions. Because of the frequency of these requests, they have both gained name in Venezuelan slang. A Pabellón con barandas (Baranda is Spanish for guard rail) is served with tajadas because the long plantain slices placed on the sides are humorously considered as keeping the food from falling out of the plate. A Pabellón a caballo (a caballo is Spanish for horseback riding) means with a fried egg on top, as if "riding" the dish. So most waiters understand inmediately what a Pabellón con barandas y a caballo means.
The shredded beef can be replaced by Chigüire (capybara) Caimán (Alligator) shredded meat or even freshwater fish, depending on particular tastes, region or time of the year (beef consumption is prohibited by the Catholic church during easter time, however Chigüire or fish is approved).
It is widely considered by many as the Venezuelan national dish.
Cachapa: Cachapas are a part of traditional Venezuelan cuisine. They are made of maize in the form of masa. They are made as fresh corn is ground and then mixed into a batter of the consistency of pancakes, yet slightly thicker and lumpier. It is then cooked like a pancake. It is served with many toppings, but traditionally with butter or margarine and white cheese (queso blanco) on top. Cachapas are generally eaten instead of bread, but they can be also prepared as an appetizer or a full breakfast, depending on the size. Cachapas could be very elaborate, some including different kinds of cheese, milky cream, and jam.
Tequeno: A tequeño is prepared with a bread dough with white cheese (queso blanco) in the middle. It is formed into a bread stick and then fried. It is one of the most popular Venezuelan snack foods in parties, especially weddings. It is said that a party is not a true Venezuelan party without tequeños.
Toston: Tostones are a dish made from sliced green plantain(s) which are cut either length-wise or width-wise and are twice fried. The first step is to heat the oil on medium for a few minutes. Once it's hot enough, one cooks both sides for 1-2 minutes each side until they are golden brown in color. One then removes them, pat dry excess oil, pounds them flat with one's fist or any kitchen utensil that has a flat surface, and fry them once again until they are lightly crisp and somewhat brown in color. They are salted and eaten much like potato chips. You can have them with a side of Cubed Steak in Onions, and also a Side Salad
Don't miss the opportunity of drinking real fruit juice. Whether you go to a restaurant or in the streets is always safe and healthier to drink juice. There are many options. Just ask for your favorite tropical fruit.
There is also Malta. Malta is a type of soft drink. It is a carbonated malt beverage, meaning it is brewed from barley and hops much like beer. However, malta is non-alcoholic. It is similar in color to stout (dark brown) but is very sweet, generally described as tasting like molasses. Unlike beer, ice is often added to malta when consumed. Malta is high in B vitamins.
Venezuela is also recognized for its high quality rum. The best brands are Santa Teresa and Pampero Aniversario.
A great barto stop by in Puerto La Cruz or its neighboring mini city Lecherias is Bambuda bar its a great Sushi bar with a huge variety of drinks to try.Bambuda is great to visit anytime of day and is a main attraction for clubbers as it has its lounge area and a dance area.
Manssion is a great nightclub located in, El Morro area of lecheria.
- 1 Hotel Rasil. Sea views. Recommended. From US$60..
- 2 Punta Palma Hotel & Marina, Avenida La Costa, Lechería, ☏ . This one seems like it could fit in with the Cancun crowd.
- 3 Hotel Venetur Maremares, Av R-17, ☏ . Sprawling across spacious and verdant grounds, with a lovely pool, this is the business hotel and 5-star hotel of choice in Puerto La Cruz.