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The Araya Peninsula and the Gulf of Cariaco, one of the trips I miss the most in Venezuela

golfo de cariaco

Embarking on a journey through the Araya Peninsula and Golfo de Cariaco, starting from the quaint Peñon Town near Cumana City in Venezuela, is an experience that weaves together the beauty of the sea, the thrill of adventure, and the resilience of local fishermen. In small boats known as peñeros, these trips offer extraordinary adventures, taking you across calm waters and through stormy seas. Let's dive into the captivating tales of my unforgettable excursions, where every voyage was filled with unique encounters and cherished memories.

Sailing in Peñero
Sailing in Peñero

  • The Allure of Peñon Town. Peñon Town, with its vibrant coastal charm and picturesque surroundings, serves as the gateway to the Golfo de Cariaco. As you board the peñero and leave the tranquil shores behind, anticipation builds for the wonders that await you in the vast expanse of the gulf.

View of the Gulf of Cariaco from the town of El Peñon
View of the Gulf of Cariaco from the town of El Peñon

  • A Dance with the Sea. The journeys on the peñero are intimately connected to the sea, and its moods dictate the nature of your adventure. Calm days offer smooth sailing, where the rhythmic waves gently carry you towards your destination. The sun glistens on the water's surface, creating a mesmerizing spectacle.

  • Nature's Fury. Yet, the sea is a tempestuous force, and its capricious nature can transform your voyage into an exhilarating escapade. Rainstorms may unexpectedly drench the boat, but it only adds to the thrill of the adventure. The peñeros, guided by skilled fishermen, skillfully navigate the enraged sea, riding the waves with a daring spirit.

  • Encounters with Marine Life. The Golfo de Cariaco is teeming with marine life, offering enchanting encounters along the way. Dolphins playfully swim alongside the peñero, leaping out of the water, their graceful movements captivating all onboard. Flocks of pelicans follow in your wake, adding a touch of whimsy to the journey.

  • Exploring Hidden Gems. As the peñero ventures deeper into the gulf, you'll discover hidden treasures that dot the coastline. Remote beaches with powdery white sands and crystal-clear waters beckon you to step ashore and bask in their untouched beauty. These idyllic spots provide the perfect setting for relaxation and reflection amidst nature's tranquility.

  • Fishing Expeditions. The peñeros are not only vessels of exploration but also integral to the livelihood of local fishermen. Joining them on a fishing expedition adds an authentic touch to your journey. Witness their expertise as they cast their nets, skillfully hauling in their catch of the day. Sharing stories and camaraderie with these fishermen offers a glimpse into their way of life and their deep connection with the sea.

laguna grande golfo de cariaco
Big lagoon Gulf of Gariaco


The Peninsula of Araya is a long, narrow strip of land located on the northeastern coast of Venezuela, in the state of Sucre. It is surrounded by the Gulf of Cariaco to the west, the Gulf of Paria to the north, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.


The peninsula has a rich history and is known for its salt flats, which have been exploited since pre-Columbian times. Indigenous people from the region used to collect salt from the lagoons in the area, and the tradition continued during the colonial era when the salt was extracted and shipped to Europe.

During the 19th century, the Peninsula of Araya was an important site for pearl fishing, which attracted many European and Venezuelan entrepreneurs to the region. The pearl industry thrived for several decades, but it eventually declined due to overfishing and the discovery of cheaper cultured pearls in Asia.

Today, the Peninsula of Araya is a popular tourist destination, known for its scenic landscapes, beaches, and historical landmarks. Visitors can explore the salt flats, visit the colonial-era fortresses that once protected the region from pirates, and enjoy the local cuisine, which features seafood and other regional specialties.

The word "Araya" is believed to have indigenous origins and its exact meaning is uncertain. Some scholars suggest that it may be derived from the Cumanagoto language, spoken by the indigenous people of the region, and could mean "place of the macaws" or "place of the salt."

Remains of the extinct salt plant in Araya
Remains of the extinct salt plant in Araya

Others suggest that it may be related to the Arawak language and could mean "cave" or "place of stones." The exact meaning of the word remains a subject of debate among linguists and historians.

The memories forged through the peñero adventures in the Golfo de Cariaco and Araya will forever hold a special place in my heart. From the peaceful moments where the sea mirrors the sky to the thrilling encounters with nature's fury, each trip is a testament to the resilience of the fishermen and the allure of the sea. Embark on these extraordinary journeys, and let the peñeros guide you through a realm where beauty, adventure, and the spirit of exploration converge.

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