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,
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.
By air:The local airport services flights to and from Caracas and Porlamar.
Regular bus service to and from Caracas, Puerto La Cruz, Ciudad Bolívar and Ciudad
Guayana and Cueva del Guácharo.
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
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
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
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
Isla de Margarita
Peninsula de Araya for:
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.
- 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.
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.
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!