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Cumaná, Venezuela

Oldest city in South America and gateway to fun

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Cumaná, Venezuela is the first city founded on South American soil. Founded in 1521 by Gonzalo de Ocampo on the site of a Franciscan mission on the banks of the Río Manzanares where it meets the Caribbean sea, Cumaná unfortunately has very little of its colonial origins still extant.

Earthquakes in 1684, 1765 and 1929 destroyed much of the city, but it was rebuilt each time for its location, its excellent natural harbor and sardine fishing and canning industry. The port exports coffee, cotton goods, cacao and fish, and is also the gateway to Isla de Margarita.

Getting There

By air:

  • The local airport services flights to and from Caracas and Porlamar. By land:
  • Regular bus service to and from Caracas, Puerto La Cruz, Ciudad Bolívar and Ciudad Guayana and Cueva del Guácharo. By water:
  • Ferries to and from Isla de Margarita and Araya on the Peninsula de Araya.
  • Marina Cumanagoto has facilities for motor and sail boats. When to Go

  • Venezuela is an all-season destination, so there is no "best" time, but many prefer the dry season, from December to April or May, for traveling. The dry season is northern South America's summer, since it is north of the Equator, and a favorite time for the beaches and cooler mountain areas. Keep this in mind when making reservations.
  • Check out today's weather in Cumaná.

    Things to Do and See

    In town:

  • Iglesia de Santa Inés, though built in the late 1920's, has a few items from earlier times, including the 16th century statue of the patron saint. The streets around the church retain a little of the colonial influence
  • The cathedral on Plaza Blanco is also of recent date
  • The Castillo de San Antonio de la Eminencia, with its coral wall, has survived enough for restoration. Originally constructed in the favored four-pointed star plan, the fort survived earthquakes and pirates and is now favored for the sunset views of the city and the bay, the Golfo de Cariaco
  • Casa Natal de Andrés Eloy Blanco is the home of the poet, one of Venezuela's greatest literary figues
  • Museo Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho is dedicated to native son General Antonio Jose de Sucre, hero of the Battle of Ayacucho and later the first president of Bolivia
  • Museo del Mar display marine and maritime artifacts
  • Playa San Luis Out of town:

  • Parque Nacional Mochima and Playa Colorada
  • Cueva del Guácharo is Venezuela's most spectacular cave, named for the guácharo, the batlike nocturnal fruit-eating birds that make caves their home. The cave was known by Indians long before Columbus and explored later by many Europeans, including Alexander von Humboldt. The birds inhabit only the first section of the cave, the Salon de Humboldt, but visitors may tour more of the cave, depending on water level. The area around the cave is popular with birders.
  • Isla de Margarita
  • Peninsula de Araya for:
    • Salinas - these salt pans were discovered by the Spanish in 1499 and have been continuously worked since then. They are Venezuela's greatest salt deposits and open to visitors with a free permit and a guide from ENSAL, the salt mining company. Worth seeing are the natural salinas, the artificial salinas and the processing buildings.
    • The Castillo de Araya was built on the cliffs in the early 17th century to protect the salinas. After a hurricane flooded the salt lagoon, the fort was abandoned. The Spaniards tried to explode it, but the fort, the most expensive Spanish effort to date, resisted their efforts and all the gunpowder at hand.
  • Caripe in a mountain valley up from the coast, is a pleasant respite to the coastal heat and the site of coffee and orange plantations. Visitors enjoy the waterfalls of Salto La Payla and Salto El Chorrerón, the view from El Mirador and the hike up Cerro Negro, the highest peak in the region.

    Have you been to Cumaná or anyplace in Venezuela? If so, tell us about it in a Venezuela Review.

    Enjoy your travels in Venezuela. Buen viaje!

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