Gran Roque, Venezuela

Photo: cmpt via stock.xchng
Photo: cmpt via stock.xchng

In need of some sunshine—warm sunshine—you started looking at Caribbean beach trips a few weeks ago. The usual suspects popped up. All-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic. Massive hotels along Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Gorgeous, but terribly expensive, villas on most of the other islands. Then, while flipping through a travel magazine, you gasped when you saw a picture of Los Roques. The archipelago looked like it belonged in the Indian Ocean or the South Pacific, not the Caribbean. In a heartbeat, you were ready to change your plans to find this paradise. There was only one problem: Los Roques is part of Venezuela.

Venezuela has never been an open, welcoming country. But lately, widespread unrest has made it even less so. For months, protesters have been demanding increased security, economic stability, and the president’s resignation. Their demands have been ignored.

Los Roques is far removed from the violence. The 350 islands, cays, and islets that make up the national park are 170 kilometers from the mainland. Unfortunately, to reach the main island, Gran Roque, you have to connect in Caracas, the epicenter of the craziness.

Photo: Caracol Group
Photo: Caracol Group

It’s a 40-minute flight on an eight-seater airplane to Gran Roque, the only inhabited island in Los Roques. The island is home to fishermen, sandy roads, and cool trade winds. There are no cars and no large resorts. Small pousadas (inns) and peñeros (local fishing boats) line the beach. A lighthouse that looks like a windmill overlooks the village from the hillside. And the views—of endless turquoise water, coral reefs, and sandbanks that disappear during high tide—are beyond breathtaking.

Villa Caracol, on the west side of the island, is the ideal home away from home. Teak furniture, white linens, and comfy pillows fill the rooms, the lounges, and the terraces. Sandwiches, salads, and fresh fruit juice are boxed and loaded on a boat that will take you to the beaches on Francisqui or Madrisqui islands. Snacks and iced tea are waiting at the bar when you return. Aperitifs and finger foods are served when the sun starts to set. And seafood is the focus of the four-course dinners.

Besides the beautiful beaches, you can fly fish for 15-pound bonefish or troll for mako and barracuda. Snorkel among the coral lagoons off Crasqui. Learn to kitesurf in the trade winds. See a colony of pink flamingos and Peregrines that will start flying north in May. Visit sea turtles at the Turtle Sanctuary on the Dos Mosquises. Then return to one of the perfect beaches to sip a mojito in the powdery sand.

With a cute inn, gorgeous beaches, and amazing scenery, Los Roques sounds like the perfect beach vacation. But for now, you’ll have to wait—not so patiently—for Venezuela’s government to get its act together.

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