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Travel Report: Coche Island Venezuela

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tiger20
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Travel Report: Coche Island Venezuela

Postby tiger20 » Tue Mar 07, 2006 4:06 am

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The island of Coche is the kind of spot you almost don’t want to tell anyone about. It’s so remote and low key very few people know about the beauty and kiting potential. Every year when the PKRA stops by to host an event, the word spreads a little more about this flat water kiting paradise. Coche is becoming a world class kite spot and the word is spreading fast!


Location
The tranquil island of Coche is located 24 miles off the coast of Venezuela and just a short 20 minute ferry ride across from the larger island of Margarita. (See Map)

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Getting There
With direct flights to Margarita from Europe now, traveling with overstuffed gear bags is becoming easier. Most major airlines will fly into Caracas, Venezuela. From there a short 30 minute flight will take you to Porlamar. These quick flights leave every two or three hours and cost around $60-80US each way. Kites and board bags are usually allowed at no extra charge. From the Porlamar airport, hop a taxi to El Yaque for 25,000 Bolivars ($12US) then head to the Yaque Paradise Hotel to check the ferry schedule and buy a ticket for the next boat to Coche. The ferry from El Yaque Paradise Hotel services Coche island almost every 2 hours of the day from sunrise to sunset. The cost each way is 15,000 Bolivars ($8US).


Wind Conditions
The dependable South Eastern trade wind blows constantly and is much stronger in the daytime when accompanied by the thermal winds which start around 2.00pm. In peak season the average is around 18 knots and winds regularly exceeds 25 knots in the afternoon. The peak season for wind is December through June. On the "average" day you can expect to be flying a 12 meter kite.

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The Scene
UK pro rider Christian Valentine owns and operates a cabana right in front of the launch called Coche Kite Sports. (Don’t let his warm personality and outgoing island spirit fool you – on a kite, he rips!) It’s a beach oasis stocked with bean bag chairs, lounge tables and a back-ache saving air compressor. Serving up snacks, cold beers and smooth music, this truly is the center of the Coche kite scene. (Pic Below)

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Winds don’t usually kick up until the mid afternoon allowing local riders to sleep off their late hangovers. 12-16 meter kites fill the sky for much of the mornings and then around 2pm you realize why Coche is a world class draw. The thermals kick up and the fun begins. It’s a given that there are usually a couple pros riding around for added inspiration. Pro riders Cesar Portas, Leo Estredo and Bertrand Fleury put on a clinic right in front of me, going huge and making it look effortless. Afterwards, they can be found chilling at the kite shack recharging while waiting for another epic session.

The buttery flat water combined with a reliable offshore wind attracts professional riders from all over the world. During my 2 week stay I meet five pro riders and I’m sure there were more that I never noticed. How many people can make that claim at their local spot? Even the local kids from El Yaque that are barely 16 years of age are boosting ultra smooth 20 foot spins and board offs. Even the women were ripping. Bertrand is building a slider park on the far end of the bay in Punta Playa for the PKRA event in the end of April. The sliders and kickers will remain out in the bay until the event culminates the first of May. (Pending coast guard intervention.)

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Instruction
After enduring too many windless months in California I decided on Coche as the best place to break into this sport. There a few choices for kiteboard lessons on the island. I chose Sky Riders (http://www.myskyriders.com) located on the beach right next to Coche Paradise Hotel. Three quick sessions with a young energetic girl named Celia and I was up riding both ways. A quick 30 minute session pushed me a few hundred meters offshore. Luckily, local fishing boats trail riders in the outer waters and fish out newbies that can’t yet stay upwind. For a $5 fee they bring you back to the launch saving you an impossible swim. Offshore winds make learning a tough task and unlike the local mantra, Coche is not an ideal place for beginners. To take advantage of the flat waters Coche is renowned for, you must stay upwind near the shore. However, seasoned riders with upwind ability will be spoiled like no other. It’s basically a kiteboard wet dream come to life.

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Lodging
At this stage you have some decisions to make. Do you want convenience or luxury. Lodging in Margarita offers numerous high end all inclusive hotels, while Coche offers convenience and localized tranquility. Decide accordingly. I chose a spot one mile up the beach from the launch in the town of San Pedro. Alex Battistini runs a kite hostel for travelers and kiters looking for the rustic Coche experience. $20 a night will get you a home cooked breakfast, dinner, and all the cold beer you can guzzle. In addition to running the hostel with his wife Maria, Alex is a tour guide and knows nearly everyone on the island. If you have questions about the area, he has the answers.

Lodging Resources:
http://kitesurf.wtfe.com/
http://www.caribbeanwinds.com/
http://www.planetwindsurf.com/destinati ... hotels.asp

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Vibe
The vibe on Coche is laid back and mellow. It’s the perfect place for either a ride-every-day-until-your-arms-fall-off session, or just to bring the wife or girl friend and enjoy a few mellow days while you share quality time. If you arrive with the right attitude, ready to absorb all the local flavors, your visit will be unforgettable.


Local Knowledge / Tips
- Store all of your kite gear in a locker at the Coche Kite Center cabana right on kite beach. Lockers rent for 10,000 Bolivars per day ($5) but will save you the hassle of lugging your gear to and from the beach, especially if you stay in El Yaque.
- The only internet access on Coche island is atop the hill at the police office. It’s free to use for 30 minutes.
- Bring your own waterproof sunblock and mosquito repellent.
- No need to bring Booties or foot protection. Unlike neighboring Caribbean islands, there are no coral reefs in Coche. The ocean floor is soft squishy sand.
- Learn some basic Spanish phrases and words before you leave. The locals are very friends yet many don’t speak any English.
- Bring enough money for your entire trip. Getting to the bank in Porlamar from Coche will cost you around $50. The cash machines in the airport and in the city will most likely be empty or out of order. If you need cash, you need to go to a bank. Bring cash and travelers checks (preferably in US dollars). Currency can be exchanged in nearly all the hotels in El Yaque and at the Coche Paradise Hotel.
Last edited by tiger20 on Fri May 12, 2006 8:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

morae
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Postby morae » Tue Mar 07, 2006 11:11 am

Hi Tiger20,

How are you? Your report is very nice, very complete. :thumb:
I'm Romain from France, I hope the end of your vacation was great. Maybe I will see you in Brazil or in Hawai the next time?....
Thank you for the Liquid Force Board. I have some pictures of you if you want, give me your email...

Adios...

Romain :bye:

walter592
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Postby walter592 » Thu Mar 09, 2006 2:34 am

All the reviews mention bring mosquito repellent is it that bad? Can you expect to be eaten alive at night?

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tiger20
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Postby tiger20 » Thu Mar 09, 2006 9:08 am

No. It's not that bad. But it will help. I used to live in South Carolina and Florida and it's not nearly as bad as those places.

kitesurfvenezuela
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Postby kitesurfvenezuela » Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:00 pm

thanks tiger20! hola romain, very windy here! lots of pro kiters training, the house has 2 new rooms and one new bathroom, so total is 5 rooms 3 bathrooms, scooter rental very soon. hope to have you guys here again soon. gracias, mucho exito y adios

Alex

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Coche

Postby Michell K » Sun Mar 19, 2006 1:06 pm

Hi Alex,

Im planning a trip to Coche from 22 april to 14 of may. Do you have any vaccant rooms at that time?
Is it possible to ride somewhere on Coche, even in the period of the PKRA from the 25th april to 1th may.
Can you write me your email adress for more info?

Thanx Michell K 8)

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aprok
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Postby aprok » Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:46 am

Is car hire necessary for staying in Coche or Margarita? What's the current attitude/political situation to Americans traveling there?

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Kite Adventures
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Postby Kite Adventures » Tue Jan 16, 2007 6:53 am

We're going in March. See you then Alex!

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Postby ICrider » Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:41 am

thanks for the post! you compiled so much solid information that I could digest in a couple of minutes...super helpful.

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Postby jaylonious » Tue Sep 18, 2007 9:04 pm

Nice post, thanks. Is the wind ~reliable in april? Are there any good beginner spots for the kids/wife? Can you also kite on Margarita island?


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