Nature-lovers (especially marine enthusiasts) will absolutely love the Los Roques National Park – the exquisite archipelago renowned for its beautiful marine ecosystem and the extraordinary value of it’s ecosystem which contains one of the most exotic corals reefs to be found anywhere in the world.
This archipelago was made a national park in 1972 to protect its coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds. Its vast white beaches and the crystal clear waters makes Los Roques National park not only one of the most beautiful places in Venezuela, but also the largest marine park in the Caribbean Sea.
Among the more popular activities in region are sport fishing and scuba diving, and Los Roques national park is one of the best, if not the best place in the Caribbean for sports like kite surfing and wind surfing.
Thanks to its pristine waters Los Roques was an important fishing centre for a long time before it became a national park. But the fishing industry left its mark in the region in the form of the small town of Gran Roque Island (interestingly enough, this little town still produces 90% of the lobsters consumed in Venezuela today; lobster lovers, listen carefully!).
The Los Roques national park is renowned as having the largest biodiversity and lowest disease rate in the Caribbean: this biodiversity consists of over 250 species of fish, as well as around 200 types of crustacean and more than 50 species of coral. But the national park is not entirely underwater, its biodiversity on land and in the air is equally impressive. To balance out the vast underwater menagerie, there are more than 90 bird species to be seen in the park and several species of globally endangered sea turtle have their nesting grounds on these islands.
The fishing city of Gran Roques Island is now as important a tourist destination as a fishing post. Upwards of 50 thousand tourists visit the town every year pouring in precious funds into the town’s economy. The 60 inns (locally called posadas) are well equipped to provide tourists with a comfortable stay.
Most recently, with the decline in fishing, tourism has become the pillar on which Gran Roques’ economy is built on and this is only because of the Los Roques national park. the most important economic activity in the park. Although there are only around 1,200 or so permanent residents, there is a very warm community feel which pervades both the town and the park and nearly 40% of the population is in the employ of the Los Roques National Park.
For all tourists who wish to visit, there are few guidelines to follow – please remember that Los Roques is a national park so most of the plant and animal species, especially the corals, are protected.