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Ninety-two miles to the north of Caracas is Venezuela’s largest group of islands -- the Los Roques archipelago. It consists of more than 330 islets and reefs and combine to form one of the nation’s most beautiful national parks. Its main attractions are lengthy stretches of silver sand beaches, kilometers and kilometers of coral, crystal-clear water and several bird nesting sites. Unruffled and isolated, these tropical getaways call out to tired travelers looking to have a quiet time in a castaway retreat.
 
The cluster of islands is approximately 120 NM off the coast, to the north of Caracus. A majority of the region is a National park and its unspoilt reefs attract several international visitors. It is a perfect destination for cruising boats to stop on passage from the Windward Islands to the ABC-Islands.
 
Gran Roque, the capital, is the most accessible place for travelers from the mainland. All types of planes come and go at all hours, so it is not the totally the serene, remote island you might have come to expect.

However, other parts of the island cluster are hardly visited and offer several peaceful and peaceful anchorages. The Los Roques islands are a federal dependency of Venezuela, comprising about 350 islands. The archipelago is located at approximately 80 miles to the north of the La Guaira port, and is about a 40-minute flight away. This virtually untouched island attracts visitors for its coral reef.
 
Getting  around
The easiest but not the cheapest way of seeing Los Roques is by organising an all-inclusive tour from Caracas. If you arrange your own accommodation, your posada will probably find a boat that can take you out to the cays and may include it in the cost of your room. Alternatively, you can approach boat captains at the harbour area on Gran Roque at around 9:30 each morning. However you get out to the islands, almost all the boats, or lanchas, will leave you there all day and come back to pick you up around 4 pm.
On Gran Roque, the only vehicle is the rubbish cart, and everywhere can be reached by foot.
 
Turtle Sanctuary, Dos Mosquises,. Run by Fundacion Cientifica Los Roques, the research station and turtle sanctuary on Dos Mosquises is worth a visit. The Spanish-speaking staff will give an introduction to the station's work breeding several different types of marine turtle. The sanctuary charges a small entry fee, so bring some change in your swimming trunks.  

Los Roques Archipelago attracts a number of visitors that come to do many different activities. The natural beauty of the beaches attracts most tourists. Coral reefs are of special interest to professional and recreational scuba divers. Sport fishing and windsurfing are also practiced in Los Roques, and it is even possible to go for a ride in an ultralight. Among other tourist attractions are the Virgen del Valle celebrations in the second week of September, and the Lobster Festival at the beginning of the lobster-fishing season in November. Sailors and pilots also consider Los Roques to be a very interesting place due to its distance from the mainland. It is considered by many as one of the top archipelagoes in the Caribbean.
 
Things to See and Do
Snorkeling. Most of the beaches of Los Roques have some incredible snorkeling. Your posada will arrange for you to hire a mask and flippers, or try Oscar Shop just outside the airport. 

Diving. Los Roques are a paradise for scuba diving. A couple of places in Gran Roque offer trips and courses for beginners and refreshers.  

Windsurfing, Francisqui Abajo. You can hire windsurfing and kitesurfing kit from the centre on a small island in the Francisqui group, a short boat ride from Gran Roque. 

Kitesurfing. You can do kitesurfing at a couple of the islands. The sea is quite shallow around the islands so it should be easier to have an instructor with you and to get back up when you fall off.  
Hike. Take the small hike up the hill next to the 'town' on the main island for sunset/sunrise.
 
Eating Out
Wonderfully fresh lobsters are available in season.Most people go full board and eat at their posadas every night. One thing you need to know is that the other Posadas only serve dinner for their guests so you won’t be able to eat at those. There only seem to be two or three proper restaurants on the island but they are all good. The Empanada place in the town square turns into a chicken/beef burger place in the evenings.
 
There are a couple of bars on the beach at Gran Roque that serve great cocktails just inches from the sea. The atmosphere is relaxed in the extreme - just melt into a beanbag with a mojito in your hand and watch the sun go down...
 
Shopping
Do not expect Macy's or Nordstrom however they sell fresh fish at the beach each day. Fisherman come in around 12-1pm and there is a few guys cleaning and selling fish. Costs about $2 per kilo for cleaned and filleted fish. Wahoo, Mahi, Tuna, Macrel, etc etc. As far as I could tell, everything was the same price.
 
Grocery stores are hit and miss, lots of empty shelves on any given day.. If you see something you want.. Buy it right away, because they will run out at any time. Typical supply day is Wednesday, so Late Wednesday or Thursday shopping is the best. Some things are extremely inexpensive. If you want an imported item such as a bottle of Baileys, you will pay the US price. Better to buy local products.
 
Gran Roque is the main and only permanently inhabited island. The airport is here, as is the national guard, a few small grocery stores and souvenir shops, public phones (expensive internet), a bank with an ATM, medical facilities, dive shops, a few restaurants and accommodation. There is nowhere to change traveller's cheques. Park Headquarters are in the scattered fishing village. Tourist information is available free of charge from the very helpful Oscar Shop, directly in front as you leave the airstrip. Boat trips to other islands can be arranged here, which are worthwhile as you can not swim off Gran Roque. 



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