Where are the most beautiful beaches in the world? It’s a question that is constantly being asked by everyone, habitual travelers and weekend vacationers alike. Chances are you’ve never seen Los Roques on any lists… why? Well, there’s no one there. Undoubtedly, the beaches of the Caribbean are among the favorites, but precious few people seem to reach the forty one island archipelago, just a short plane or boat ride from Venezuela’s coast… Sailing in Los Roques is a must for those who love virgin beaches.
I first heard tell of this nearly untouched wonderland a year and a half ago when my friend Gabe and I became trapped in the clusterfuck that currently is Venezuela. Everyone we met there told us this was a place we had to go. At this point, I’d been to beaches around the world. From the California dreamin’ beaches of my own Los Angeles backyard to the crystalline blue Thai islands and around South America, so I was somewhat skeptical that these little heard of Venezuelan islands could knock any of those experiences out of the water. Photographs, however, convinced Gabe and I that it was, indeed, one of the most gorgeous places on the planet. Between Chavez being officially declared dead, trying to manage the black market currency, and our quickly dwindling purses, we were unable to make the journey that trip.
This time around, however, Los Roques was the first stop on the agenda… Freddy’s dad, Lito, is absolutely in love with them and rates them the best in the Caribbean. Since he’s spent the better part of several years voyaging the Caribbean and navigating a considerable part of the planet, his opinion is probably one that shouldn’t be tossed aside lightly. Only two days after we set sail from St. Lucia, we arrived in the archipelago to a setting sun. The first and only glimpses of that day were passing alongside various islands, all amidst that legendary clear aquamarine blue water we’ve all seen in photographs. No filter. It’s just that piercingly blue. We stopped at Lito’s favorite island, Sarqui (technically Uiskue – but it’s smaller and doesn’t show up on the map), where he’d apparently spent an entire month doing who knows what. There were actually some other people there. Some South Americans know about this gem and, certainly, the Venezuelans do so there was a group there with their own boat. They left quickly enough in the morning, however, and if you are a tourist without your own boat, the only place you can really get to is the big island, which has enough space for some planes to land, ships to dock, and a couple pousadas.
And likely, Los Roques will remain a secret jewel of the Caribbean when you look at the political situation in Venezuela. No one just says, ‘Hey, how about going to Venezuela for vacation?’ Rightly so, and all the better, because there was an entire island to myself. With the whitest sand beach you could wish for, looking out over the incredibly crystal water that laps onto the shore in tide pools where you can see millions of small fishes amongst the sea foliage.
I followed the diving pelicans and sea birds to the other side of the island to discover an entirely different habitat. A field of coral rocks and creeping green over a wind swept field of prickly brush where I’m sure the birds nested. Here the waves crashed onto a rocky shore and the birds plunged into the water to grab lunch. Further in I spotted a strange color amongst the few small trees, strangely pink, and approaching I discovered a dazzling lake with the unique purplish-reddish-pink that had attracted my eyes.
What it was, I’m not sure, but the sand sank when I stepped to close and even burned my feet. Better to just look than step into what probably was some kind of sulfuric substance. I clambered along the lake’s edges and found a second one to traverse before I could make my way back to the white sands and radiant shoreline.
A few more hours of wandering along the beach, peaking into the pools and admiring the graceful sweep of the birds across and into the waters, it was time to take off. Up went the sails in the setting sun and we took off, sweeping quickly through the waters. Some day I’ll have to purchase a boat to explore thoroughly, I think. One day was a blessing, but not enough to truly enjoy the wonders of this Caribbean treasure.
And now here’s a video from my adventure sailing in Los Roques: