Gran Roque is the only settlement of the island of the same name, which is part of the Los Roques archipelago. This is a small village with about 1200 people.
According to Handbag Picks, the archipelago of Los Roques is located 160 km north of Caracas in the Caribbean Sea. Planes fly from Caracas to the archipelagolocal airlines. The Los Roques Islands were discovered by the Spaniards in the early 16th century. The archipelago consists of 4 large islands and several hundred smaller ones. In 1972, the archipelago was declared a national park, so a fee must be paid to enter the islands. The park includes all the islands of the archipelago, surrounding the Central Lagoon with an area of 400 square meters. km, coral reefs and two barrier reefs (on the eastern and southern sides of the archipelago), the total area of the park is 2250 sq. km. There are no roads and vehicles, large hotels and nightclubs, the main attraction of the islands is untouched nature. 92 species of birds (pelicans, gannets, terns, gulls, etc.), 4 species of turtles (caretta turtle, Byss turtle, green turtle, leatherback turtle), 61 species of corals, 60 species of sponges, 280 species of fish, 200 species of crustaceans (crabs, lobsters, etc.), 140 species of molluscs and 45 species of echinoderms.
In the northeastern part of the Los Roques National Park, a special Recreational Zone has been created for tourists to live, while most of the islands of the archipelago are closed to the public or have restrictions on the time for tourists to stay. The Recreational Zone includes the main island of the archipelago – Gran Roque (Gran Roque) – and nearby islands – Francisqui, Rasqui, Madrisqui, Cayo Pirata, Noronquises and Crasqui.
In the village of Gran Roque, there are places to accommodate tourists, which here, as in all of South America, are called “posadas” (small family hotels with several rooms), and there is an airport nearby. Of the interesting places in the village, only the remains of a lighthouse of the late 19th century can be distinguished, which is located on a small hill, from where interesting views open (on clear days you can even see Mount Avila towering over Caracas), and a local beach with many fishing boats and birds (mainly pelicans). It is better to come to the lighthouse in the evening hours from 17:30 to 18:30 in order to admire the sunset. Also in November, the village hosts a colorful lobster festival, which opens the lobster fishing season (November-April). In general, the village of Gran Roque is a place to sleep and eat, and tourists spend most of their time on the beaches, and there are no beaches on the island of Gran Roque itself, they are only on other islands. In the remote corners of the archipelago, tourists are delivered by boat, the price usually includes an umbrella and a folding plastic deck chair. About the time when you need to be taken back, it is worth agreeing with your escorts in advance, even before leaving Gran Roque.
On the island of Gran Roque there are several dive sites. At its northwestern tip is the place La Piedra de la Guasa, which is considered one of the best places for diving in the archipelago, underwater visibility ranges from 15 to 30 m. de la Guasa is more suitable for trained divers, the diving depth reaches 30 m. Here, under water, you will see underwater pillars that grow from a depth of 35 m, their tops are at a depth of 5 m. Tiger fish swim around the pillars, soles and sometimes huge barracudas. The bases of the pillars are separated by narrow channels, which are inhabited by a wide variety of marine animals. East along the coast is the place of La Cueva de los Sabalos. The diving depth varies from 8 to 20 m. It will be comfortable for both beginners and experienced divers, and this place is also suitable for night diving. The dive takes place along an underwater wall covered with corals. At a depth of about 15 m is the entrance to the cave of Los Zabalos, where many fish live. The length of the cave is 30 m.
The closest islands to Gran Roque are Madrisqui and Cayo Pirata, they are located a little to the south. The beaches on the west coast of Madriska are among the most visited by tourists. The north coast of Madriska Island has lagoons formed by coral reefs. It will be interesting for beginner divers and snorkelers, underwater visibility is 12-15 m. You will see hard corals, orange sponges, anemones and shrimps. From the island of Madriski to the island of Cayo Pirata, located to the south, there is a sand embankment. The island was “chosen” by fishermen who catch lobsters.
The Francisqui Islands are located east of Gran Roque Island. at the northeastern tip of the archipelago. They are divided into “Upper”, “Middle” and “Lower” (northern, central and southern). The best beaches are on the western shores of the Upper and Lower Islands and on the southern coast of the Lower Island. In addition, the Franchi Islands are known for having the best conditions for windsurfing and kitesurfing. During the year, northeast winds blow here, the speed of which in the period from December to June reaches 10 m/s. On the Lower Island of Francisca there is a windsurfing center – Vela Windsurfing Center, where you can rent all the necessary equipment and use the services of instructors. Between the coral reefs of the Middle and Upper Islands, there is a quiet lagoon La Piscina, up to 5 m deep, which means “pool” in translation. The lagoon with its corals and tropical fish is a great place for snorkelling. You can also snorkel off the northeast coast of the island at Francisqui Medio, where there is a wide variety of corals. Underwater visibility reaches 20 m. Novice divers can also dive here. The depth of immersion ranges from 3 to 12 m.
The eastern barrier reef stretches southeast of the Francisca Islands, protecting the Los Roques Islands from the east. On the east side of the reef on the outer side of the archipelago there is an interesting dive site Boca del Medio. The water here is cleaner than in the Central Lagoon, located in the interior of the archipelago, because organic matter produced by the algae of the Central Lagoon does not enter here. Visibility is always kept at the level of 30 m. The reef is composed of hard corals that form small islands on the surface of the water. Depth from 10 to 20 m. In the southern part of the reef near the island of Boca de Sebastopol (Boca de Sebastopol), the diving depth reaches 40 m. Sometimes sharks appear here.
Other islands of the Recreational Zone, located west of Los Roques, are also interesting. There are three islands, united by the name of Noronquises. Snorkeling is possible in the lagoon that has formed between these islands. Here you can see turtles. Also, these places will be interesting for beginner divers. To the south is the island of Paint (Crasqui). The long beach on the western coast of the island was “chosen” by numerous pelicans. The south coast is a great place for snorkeling. Southeast of Kraski Island off the northern coast of Rabiski Island (Rabusqui) is the dive site of Solapa de Rabiski (Solapa de Rabusqui). This is a small underwater cave at a depth of 10-12 m. Under its vaults, you can see shrimps, crabs and small lobsters, and small sharks are sometimes found on the sandy bottom. There are places for snorkeling and located to the west of the islands of Sarki (Sarqui) and Karenero (Carenero).
On the western edge of the archipelago are the islands of Cayo Bequeve, Cayo de Agua and Dos Moskizes. (Dos Mosquises) with beautiful beaches. Off the south coast of Agua Island there is an interesting dive site, where from December to February you can see whole flocks of tuna and even dolphins and whale sharks. The island of Dos Mosquises is known for the fact that the remains of pre-Columbian settlements and unique clay statues of the same time depicting men and women were found here. The beaches on the west coast of the southern island of Dos Moquises are considered among the best in the archipelago. There is also a turtle nursery here. There is also a dive site La Pelona with an interesting coral reef where you can see lobsters, huge snails with impressive shells and turtles. Depth varies from 8 to 15 m, visibility reaches 20 m. Suitable for night diving.
The dive sites of the southern barrier reef are very popular. the archipelago of Los Roques, protecting the archipelago from the south. However, only trained divers can dive here. Most of them are located on the south side of the island of CayoSal. Under water at depths of 15 to 40 m stretch vertical walls covered with corals and sponges. Here you can see stingrays and large sea bass. To the east is the place Boca de Cota (Boca de Cota) – an underwater terrace, starting at a depth of 3 m, which gradually goes deeper by 50 m. The terrace is covered with fire, fan and hard corals. This place has the best underwater visibility – sometimes it exceeds 40 m. Snorkeling enthusiasts also go here. Close to Las Salinas (Las Salinas) with vertical walls, at the base of which there are caves with black corals.
In addition to beach holidays, diving, snorkeling, windsurfing and kite surfing, the archipelago will be of interest to lovers of fishing. Los Roques is one of the world’s premier fishing grounds for albula, known as the “bone fish”. In addition, tarpons, pampanos, barracudas, perches and mullets come across on the bait.
From the island of Los Roques, you can go north from the archipelago to the most remote archipelago of Venezuela – Las Aves. Las Aves is located about 400 km from Los Roques. The islands of Las Aves are uninhabited. Due to their location (away from the mainland), they are practically unaffected by human activity. It is often said that the islands of Las Aves are the same islands of Los Roques, only as they were about half a century ago before the development of tourism. Here, as in Los Roques, stretched sandy beaches washed by crystal clear water.