Quick tips for a short visit: Los Roques

Yes, Venezuela is going through the worse economic, political, and social crisis we’ve ever experienced. But, if something in Venezuela has remained intact, it’s the beauty of its beaches, its mountains, its jungle. Nature still stands strong amongst the adversity and is one of the reasons why we Venezuelans continue to fight for our country.

IMG_3763And this is why I decided to share a little bit about Los Roques, one of the most beautiful places in Venezuela, and if I may say so, in the world. Los Roques Archipelago is a National Park composed of almost 300 little islands that protect a marine ecosystem of exceptional beauty and ecological value dominated by coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds. So if you want to scuba dive or snorkel in undeveloped beaches, this is the place.

We still get a lot of foreign tourists, and they say it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Caribbean. So I think it’s worth sharing with you some of my recommendations. Here they are!

  • My first suggestion is to book everything in advance. The currency situation in Venezuela is too complicated to find cash so the most you can reserve and pay before you travel, the better. Bring some cash, and ask your agency or posada to assist you with changing to Bolivares.
  • How to get there: You need to travel to Maiquetia (Simon Bolivar airport in Caracas) and from there you’ll take a short flight to the main island, Gran Roque. You can either have your travel agency or the posada where you’ll stay assist you with the connecting flight from CCS to Gran Roque. I’ve traveled with Tuy (LTA) and Albatros. You should find a connecting flight that does not require you to stay overnight in Caracas so you don’t need to leave the airport ( it’s recommended for safety).
  • Where to stay: Gran Roque has a wide variety of posadas to choose from and they are all used to working with foreign tourists so you will be in good hands. I’ve personally stayed at Ranchito Power and Aquarena. But there are many more posadas you can choose from.
  • What to do:
    • Take a day trip to one of the many islands surrounding Gran Roque (Francisqui, Crasqui, Cayo de Agua, Carenero).
    • Rent a sailboat for a day or two and live like Jacques Cousteau. Most include a chef onboard so you can eat amazing lobster, seafood, and fish caught fresh from the sea.
    • Sign up for kiteboard, paddle, or windsurf classes. My favorite is Play Los Roques, they’ll even help you book a posada if you contact them for one of their classes. The staff is very professional, friendly, and the instructors highly experienced and talented. You won’t go wrong with them.
    • Go snorkeling or scuba diving. Los Roques has one of the richest flora and img_3961fauna of the Caribbean. I mean, look at these amazing starfish!
    • Climb up  Faro Holandés (lighthouse) to catch an amazing sunset.
    • Relax and mingle with the locals. Los Roques is a friendly island that preserves that warmth and welcoming feeling of a small town.
    • Have drinks and dinner at “El Canto de la Ballena” 
    • And if you’re into photography- or just taking pics for the gram- go crazy with the beauty this paradise has to offer.
  • Things you need to know if you’re traveling to Venezuela for the first time:
    • Make sure you’re using a reputable agency or working through your posada to assist you with getting from Maiquetia to Los Roques.
    • You’ll arrive at the international terminal so you’ll need to find your way to the national terminal for your flight to Gran Roque. Once you’ve passed immigration you’ll pick up your suitcase and check your bags at customs. They will scan them and receive your customs declaration form.
    • As soon as you clear your bag and exit the scan machines, turn to your left, you will see a sign that takes you to the secure walkway to the domestic terminal. You will get there and look for your airline to Los Roques. If you’re traveling alone (without a known handler from your posada or agency) ignore all offers of help from anyone. You’ll probably have people asking you to change money, or offer you taxi, etc. Just ignore them.
    • If you need some local cash (Bolivares) it’s safer if you go to the exchange kiosk and get official rate. Just do this to have some cash for you to get to Los Roques just in case. If you need to exchange once you’re in Los Roques it will be easier and safer. It’s really important that you do not leave the terminal with anyone unknown, no matter how good of a rate they offer you.
    • Be a vigilant and awake traveler (as you would anywhere you go), keep an eye on your things, and don’t show off anything of value. Keep your cash in different places so if you need to change, you don’t show a pack of cash in public.
    • Enjoy! Don’t let paranoia ruin your trip, as long as you’re careful and follow these tips, you’ll be fine. Los Roques is a magical place and I promise you won’t regret visiting!