Photo Credit: Berrucomons

Venezuela may not top many travelers' South American bucket lists, but take one look at Los Roques, and you just may change your mind. Sandwiched between the country’s northern coast and the clear waters of the Caribbean, if you’ve ever pictured paradise, then these magical islands just may turn the thought into reality. Los Roques boasts 350 uninhabited islands, atolls, lagoons, barrier reefs, coral reefs, and coral cays. A Venezuelan archipelago, it has been designated a national park since the early 70’s.

What To Do

Los Roques is where people come to relax, either alone or with their partners. The good thing about these idyllic islands is that they are very well-kept. There are some activities here and there, but sizzling in the sun and taking a dip in the azure water is mostly what's on people's minds. If you do want to take advantage of the ocean, most posadas (guesthouses) will organize snorkeling excursions where you can see an array of fish close to the shore or coral further afield. Scuba diving is also popular if you want to explore a little deeper, with plenty of wrecks to swim through. There are a variety of packages to choose from, which depend what islands you visit. Popular ones include Cayo de Agua, Cayo Crasqui and Cayo Francisqui.

Photo Credit: Marcos Lana

Getting There

To reach Los Roques, you must fly from either Caracas (40 minutes) or Porlamar (1 hour) on Margarita Island to Gran Roque, which is the only inhabited island within the Los Roques cluster. Unless you have a private yacht with permission to sail, boats are not allowed. Maiquetia, Caracas' airport is over an hour outside the main city, so plan accordingly if you have an early morning flight. Once you arrive on Gran Roque, you'll see the posadas, along with some bars, restaurants, boutiques, and dive shops.

What to Expect

You'll see the glowing islands and turquoise waters as you begin your descent. Try get a window seat as it is definitely worth the snap. On arrival everyone must pay an entrance fee which differs depending if you are a national (76 Bolivars) or a foreigner (152 Bolivars, about $19 USD). After you've left the small airstrip, Gran Roque can be walked in just ten minutes. Finding things won't take long, and you'll soon stumble across an internet cafe and a few ATMs. There are no vehicles aside from a few trucks and golf carts. Most people staying in Los Roques arrange an all-inclusive deal, which includes flights, accommodation, boat transfers, food, and snorkel kits. Normally, journeys begin around 9:30 am and commence around 4 pm. You can try to book things on your own, but because of the islands' structure, it could be risky and more trouble than it’s worth. You'll want to enjoy your time here without having to worry about potentially not having a room on the other islands or a spot on the boat transfer. Either way, make sure you plan well in advance as Los Roques does fill up quickly during high season.