Isla Margarita What is known for

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BEACHES

Let's say you've scored some waves at Parguito (the island's best surfing beach), windsurfed at El Yaque, and grazed through the beach restaurants at Playa El Agua...and it's time to kick back and, say, watch the fishing catch unloaded at beaches such Manzanillo (at the northeastern tip), or take in the sunset at nearby Juangriego. Then count your blessings, because you still have another 50 or so beaches to sample, including the more secluded strands of the western half of the island.

SAILING

More than 300 islands are scattered across Venezuelan waters, and Margarita is the perfect hub for a sailing adventure. To the south lie a pair of islands a half-day's sail away: Coche (quiet getaway with empty beaches and a couple of small hotels) and Cubague (good diving). To the northeast, Los Frailes is a group of rocky islets popular with Margarita dive shops and the tropical Los Testigos, home to a community of fishermen still living a traditional life-style who strictly control the number of visitors. And for cruising yachts heading west toward Bonaire, a stop at Los Roques is unforgettable: powdery beaches, gin-clear water, and some of the world's best bonefishing flats.

WINDSURFING

Picture this: A long sandy beach, steady sideshore winds (about 25 knots plus), and a shallow, waist-deep lagoon with water temps in the 80s. Welcome to El Yaque, one of the great year-round windsurfing spots in the world. Beginners can choose from several windsurfing schools, expert sailors can train for the international regattas held here in early summer - or take up the newest rush, kite-surfing. Oh, and after the sun goes down? Well, think of an energetic beach-bar-and-restaurant scene geared to the same windsurfing set.