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  • Local Attractions

Los Roques Destination Guide

The qualities that make Los Roques so lovable are its peaceful atmosphere and the beauty of the colourful sea. Apart from innumerable lagoons, there are more than fifty tiny islands and nearly 300 sand banks with white coral sands - most of them uninhabited. Los Roques not only has breathtaking views but also lots of fun activities to indulge in. Sports like windsurfing, kite surfing, kayaking, bone fishing, snorkelling and diving let you experience adventure while admiring nature’s beauty.

Christopher Columbus called Los Roques a “True Paradise on Earth” when he discovered it in the 15th century. This place is now known to be the world’s third largest coral reef.

Use this Los Roques Destination Guide to find out what there is to see and do while you are in the archipelago. Our Los Roques tours page lists some great tours which are the ideal way of exploring this beautiful destination. More general information about things to do around the country can be found in our Venezuela Country Guide.

Los Roques Destination Guide

Los Roques is around 80 nautical miles north of Caracas. Located only 11 degrees above the equator, this archipelago is made up of 42 coral reef islands and a hundred little islets known as keys. In the year 1972, the government of Venezuela took a great step to protect the large number of species of birds and aquatic creatures found on this reef by declaring Los Roques a National Park. Thankfully, till now, there has been no major commercialisation and this place still retains its natural charm.

Though this reef is known as ‘The Rocks’ or Los Roques, one cannot find many rocks here, other than the El Gran Roque cliffs. The islands have powdery sand everywhere. The weather is very dry as there are not many rain-causing mountains. The only vegetation that thrives well is cacti, leafy plants at the ground level and mangroves though the trade winds blowing all year act as coolants.

Follow the links to the right or scroll further down the page for details on some of the many interesting tourist attractions in Los Roques:


National ParkTop

Before 1972, when Los Roques was a National Park, there was just one town, the Gran Roque and the all the fisher folk from 200-odd tiny Caribbean islands and the 40 named islands, lived here. It is surprising that even today Gran Roque is the only village in the Los Roques National Park. The Park Commission has taken commendable efforts to ban new constructions and also has strict rules about how many visitors the archipelago can take at a time. What we have now are quiet and peaceful islands and not the typically overcrowded tourist destination.

You can find a lot of iguanas and turtles safely living on the protected cays. The fishing bat is the only mammal here, apart from the domestic animals. This protected park has an enormous array of bird species like the pelicans, laughing gulls, blue-eyed brown booby, frigate birds, lapwings, plovers, great blue-and white-necked herons and terns. A majority of these migrate to North America in summer. Pink Flamingos sometimes land here from mainland Venezuela and Bonaire.

Turtle SanctuaryTop

Dos Mosquises, the Turtle Sanctuary is operated by the Fundacion Cientifica Los Roques. A Los Roques tour around the research station and the Turtle Sanctuary is very interesting. The aim of the research station is to breed various species of marine turtles. The Spanish-speaking staff will take you through a presentation about their projects. Keep some change handy as there is a small entry fee charged by the Sanctuary.

PosadasTop

The pretty posadas are surely the most sought after places to stay on Gran Roques. These lively and colourful guesthouses were originally houses of the native fishermen, now renovated with modern luxuries and amenities. The cost normally includes stay, breakfast and dinner. Some posada owners also have packages that include a trip to the nearby islands, lunch, snorkelling kits and beach equipment like umbrellas and sun-beds.

Other interesting options for stay are boathouses and camping in selected points, but visitors love the posadas the most, for their quaint charm.

BeachesTop

If you have dreamt of having an entire island to yourself, this is your chance. Los Roques has nearly 300 islands so you can actually have your own beach, at least while you are there! Some great locations include a lovely island chain around 170 kilometres from mainland Venezuela, which is a great place to experience the Caribbean way of life -  doing nothing but relaxing on beaches with a bit of diving and snorkelling thrown in.

If you are interested in snorkelling, Francisqui Island is ideal. The Crasqui is a beautiful combination of powder white sand against the deep blue sea – something akin to Robinson Crusoe’s island. For some mystery, go to Cayo Pirata or Agustin. Try to spot pirates or fishermen still believed to be living amidst the thick mangroves by the locals.

The Isla Margarita is another great beach but if you are looking for some peace and calm, it is best avoided as it is becoming commercialised due to the flow of the tourists on package trips from North America and Europe.

HikingTop

Gran Roque gets its name from the volcanic hump at its peak. The best time to walk up to the top would be early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Though the height is not much, just 500 feet, the view is beautiful and it is an interesting area for sailing. At the far end of the island, there is a lighthouse that is still functional – another must-see.

Scuba DivingTop

The Los Roques National Park is a wonderful place for diving. The archipelago, bordered by the huge barrier reefs, provides a perfect setting for expert divers as well as enthusiastic beginners. The options range from incredible night dives to vertical walls, shallow waters to caves filled with flora and fauna. The water is clean and pure, the temperature perfect, at around 80 degrees and plenty of sea life to marvel at.

Windsurfing and Kite SurfingTop

This is the place to try adventurous windsurfing or kite surfing. You can arrange for assisted downwinder or kite surfing trips - most of which have a straight downwind time of a minimum of four hours.

BonefishingTop

Los Roques is believed to have the largest number of Bonefish in the world. Undoubtedly the greatest place to fish, it not only has an incredibly large number of fish but also the largest fish in terms of size. You can do most of the fishing by just wading on the flats, which by itself can be a wonderful experience. You can also do mudding at more depths if you are game for more fish. Bonefish is the main draw here but you can also look out for the fish such as permits, tarpons and snooks. For lovers of trawling, it is great fun catching the barracuda on a fly rod. The perfect conditions of the wind, water and weather make this place the most loved fishing spot all through the year.

SailingTop

The boatmen here love their boats and the water, so they offer plenty of chartered boating services. A day trip can be arranged at just a day’s notice. The waters are usually flat and calm. Stronger winds will aid in covering more distance and enjoying more exploration.

Local AttractionsTop

The island of El Gran Roque is made of just three sandy streets and all the action takes place here. This is where the entire population lives in its colourful houses. All shops and posadas or local inns are also located here. The hub of activity is the central Plaza Bolivar, which plays host to the all the lively gatherings and festivities. On weekends and holidays, a turntable is brought in and this place becomes the local discotheque. The natives and tourists dance together to a medley of salsa, tango, rock-n-roll and popular numbers.


 

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