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Los Roques

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Travel Guide South America Venezuela Los Roques

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Introduction

A beautiful island archipelago, Los Roques is one of the main attractions of Venezuela. Oscars Shop near the gate to the airport organises all boat trips to nearby islands, day trips, and the hire of chairs, umbrellas, and snorkelling gear. Two dive shops in the town rent diving gear. There is little shade on the islands and the sun is strong. You must take plenty of liquid and sun cream, or at least hire an umbrella.

The islands are busy at weekends and during the peak periods of July, August, Christmas & Easter. There is reasonable snorkelling and diving off most islands. Oscars Shop will organise trips to the 'best' sites. The furthest islands take about 45 minutes to reach by high speed boat and usually require a minimum of 6 people to run.

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History

The islands were sighted by early European navigators, and in 1589 the governor of the Venezuelan province ordered the formal takeover of these islands on behalf of the colony. The Dutch considered Los Roques to belong to their island territory of Curaçao because of its proximity to Bonaire which also belonged to the Dutch. The author M.D. Teenstra in 1836 still writes (in his book The Dutch West Indies): "The Government of Curaçao also includes the uninhabited islets and rocks Little Curaçao, Aves, Roques and Orchilla." In 1871 the Venezuelan president Antonio Guzmán Blanco created by decree the Territorio Colón (Columbus Territory) which included Los Roques and other adjacent islands. The island of Gran Roque was named as the center of territorial government.

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Geography

The archipelago is sparsely populated, having about 1,500 permanent inhabitants. The major islands of the archipelago have an atoll structure, with two external barriers formed by coral communities, and an inner lagoon and sandy shallows. The park consists of 40.61 km², 1,500 km² of coral reefs, 42 coral cays surrounding a shallow central lagoon of 400 km², two barrier reefs (24 kilometres east and 32 kilometres south) and 300 sand banks, islands and cays, ranging in size from Cayo Grande (15.1 km²) to the Gran Roque (1.7 km²). Other important islands are Francisqui, Nordisqui, Madrisqui, and Crasqui.

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Sights and Activities

Activities include fishing (bonefish, barracuda, tarpon, jack, and Spanish mackerel), birding, snorkeling, diving, paddling, windsurfing, and kitesurfing, and there is a sea turtle research center located on Dos Mosquises.

Los Roques National Park

The islands' pristine coral reef attracts many wealthy visitors, especially from Europe, some of whom come in their own yachts and anchor in the inner, protected shallow waters. Development and tourism are controlled. Because of the wide variety of seabirds and rich aquatic life, the Venezuelan government declared Los Roques a National Park in 1972.

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Getting There

By Plane

Unless you have your own boat, all visitors arrive at the tiny Gran Roque airport (no facilities, just a runway and gate) where a park entrance fee applies. Aerotuy (or LTA tours) organise one day trips, all inclusive from Caracas. This includes return flight, a tour on a catamaran, all food etc (but not local taxes).

Chapiair runs flights only from Caracas to Gran Roque. Flights and day trips also exist from Margarita Island. All flights are considerably cheaper mid-week (Monday-Thursday).

There are no cars on the island.

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Eat

There are few options for eating out in Los Roques as most posadas cater only for their guests and most guests eat at their posada...

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Drink

There are a few pleasant bars on Gran Roque: all can be found by walking along the street which leads to the airport and Oscars Shop.

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Sleep

Almost all accommodation and services are concentrated on the main island, Gran Roque. There is (as yet) no large scale development or hotel complexes. That said, there are over 60 posadas (small hotels) on the island, blending in among the colourful, 1-2 storey buildings and streets of sand. Accommodations include Pez Raton Lodge, a property primarily used to host fishing guests, Posada Mediterraneo, a five-room inn which accommodates non-fishing guests, and dozens more like El Canto de la Ballena and Posada La Gaviota.

If you have not organised anything in advance, you will be approached on arrival with offers of accommodation. Outside high season there are more beds than there is demand and it should be possible to bargain. Most accommodation offers half board or at least bed and breakfast.

Camping is possible on most islands. You will need a permit from the office beside the airport. Be aware that you will need to take all provisions with you, and also that lizards on the islands can be pests.

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Cost

Los Roques is prohibitively expensive for most Venezuelans - which keeps it generally clean and relatively quiet outside high season (July, August - at this time you must book accommodation in advance). Unless you exchange black market bolivars, it will be moderately expensive for most visitors too.

There is only one bank on the island (Banesco), and most card machines on the island use the same bank. Sometimes these machines and cash points do not work, so take plenty of cash just in case.

Accommodation in Los Roques

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Los Roques searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Los Roques and areas nearby.

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This is version 5. Last edited at 9:02 on May 2, 17 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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