I wrote this article in March 2016 – so my opinions and evaluations were made at the time being there. However, the political and social situation is changing daily so please make sure to check at the official Foreign Office of your country before you are planning a trip to Venezuela.
Los Roques.. all I ever heard before I came here sounded magical. I couldn’t really believe it, I thought it couldn’t be true that this is such a kitesurfer’s paradise and it’s so little known and visited. But what I saw here and where I kited was beyond any imagination and it truly was the trip of a lifetime for me.
A little piece of kitesurf heaven
Imagine kiting in crystal clear, turquoise water, with perfect wind and you’re the only one on the water – with your kite buddies of course! This was everything I ever dreamed of and I wouldn’t have expected it to really be SO damn good.
Best Wind / When to go
The most stable wind can be found in-between February and May. Although when we watched the wind forecast, it was always windy for around 4-5 days, then not so windy, then windy again. We were quite flexible in booking the flight (since it’s always 250 US Dollars, no matter if you book it a day or a month before) so we checked the wind forecast, which is quite accurate for the next days up until a week, and then spontaneously booked a flight a few days before, when the wind went up. So we had wind there the whole 6 days and I used my 12 and 9, although my 7 would have been better for the last 2 days.
About Los Roques
Just a 30-min-flight from Caracas you will find Los Roques, which is actually the biggest Marine Nature Park in the Caribbean. Over 40 islands create an endless amount of paradise spots with stable wind, which makes it a huge playground for kitesurfers. All of the spots are unique and beautiful in their own way and surely every single one of them will have the most beautiful turquoise blue-ish colors you will ever see, combined with shimmering sandy white beaches. You can reach them all from the main island, Gran Roque, which will take you around 10 to 60 minutes by boat, depending on which spot you go. In the 6 days I had I managed to visit 6 different islands to kitesurf, which I all listed beyond.
The main island: Gran Roque
This is the main island, where you fly to and where you will sleep. Kitesurfing is not allowed here due to the air traffic. The cooperativa boats depart from right across the airport or if you want to ask for a private boat you can check at the beach next to the church, there are usually some boats there as well. Life during the day here is pretty much non-existent, since all the tourists depart around 9 to 10 pm in the morning to one of the other islands and only come back around 4 or 5 pm. In the evenings there is a bit more life in Gran Roque, restaurants open and you can see people strolling around. There is free Wifi on the main square, which is slow but works.
The Kitesurf islands of Los Roques
1. Saki Saki
Saki Saki, one of the closest islands to Gran Roque, is a tiny island or basically a strip of sand, surrounded by corals upwind of the island and a big area with shallow water downwind of the island. With low tide you have to be a bit careful with trying your new tricks, as the water is not too deep and there can be some coral rests on the sand. The wind is offshore so close to the island it’s super flat and not gusty as there is nothing blocking the wind.
The island has a small tent which gives you enough shadow to relax a bit in-between your kite sessions. Bring your own food, you can get e.g. Arepas filled with meat or cheese in the hut right next to the airport or you ask your posada if they do a lunchbox for you.
A bit further than Saki Saki you will find this little gem. This island is a bit bigger, you have a few restaurants that serve fresh fish and cold beer. We kited at the outer edge of the island, where the wind blows through and the water is a bit choppy. But you can kite the whole strip of the island, which can get a bit gusty as the wind is offshore, but has perfectly flat conditions. The water has a million of different shades of blue, it’s incredibly beautiful.
When we arrived we ordered some fresh fish already in the morning and told them what time we wanted to eat. So we didn’t loose any time waiting for the food, which can sometimes take quite long ?
The second time we went there, we had some Venezuelan friends who talked to our boat guys, so they went a bit around the island, and got us some fresh oysters and octopus, which they prepared on Kraski in a hut for lunch. Incredibly delicious!
3. Cayo de Agua
About a 1-hour-ride, this is a stunningly beautiful island, which becomes super thin in the middle, being only connected by a small strip of sand. We kitesurfed in the right bay of the island, since the wind was less gusty, but if you want flatwater you can kite in the left bay.
With high tide and sufficient skills you can jump over the sand strip as well. Again, bring your own food and drinks and make sure to rent a parasol from the boat driver.
4. Boca de Sebastopol
About a 1-hour-ride from the island, depending on the waves, you will find one of the wildest and tiniest islands. We arrived at high tide, so it was a bit adventurous getting the lines to our kites attached since the island is so tiny. Behind the island is a long strip of reef where the waves break (almost not kiteable though because the reef is too close) and on the inside of the reef, where we kited, there is a long strip of quite shallow, light blue water. It’s wild and beautiful, as you go downwind, the water colors change, but all in very clear strips of different colors.
We were lucky enough to go with a group of Venezuelans who got along really well with the guys we chartered the boat from, who were also fishermen. So while we were kitesurfing, they went hunting for Lobsters and got us some fresh mussels, which they prepared right away on the island with a bonfire and a pot they had brought. Anyways, bring your own food and enough to drink!
In the end we did a downwinder to Sardinia, which was nothing special, I guess the part from Sardiniaonwards would have been more interesting, but it was nice to be out on the open ocean, being followed by a boat.
Quite similar to Saki Saki, this island consists of a small strip of sand and some grass-like plants. It has quite a big shallow area which is good for beginners and the wind is blowing offshore, so again, perfect flatwater close to shore. The water close to the island is even less deep than Saki Saki, though, so be careful with your jumps ?
There is a tent for shadow, again make sure to bring your own food and drinks. The grassy part is perfect for packing kites with not too much sand.
(No photos here since my GoPro was empty 😉 but imagine Saki Saki with a little bit of green)
The closest kite surf spot to Gran Roque and we were excited to have some waves upwind of the island on our last day. The disappointment was big. There were some nice waves but all the way around the island the wind was super gusty, even at the point most upwind, apparently the wind is blocked a bit by other islands further away. It was the worst session I had in my whole time in Venezuela.
There is a kite school on Franziski, although I wouldn’t recommend anyone learning kitesurfing there due to the gusts, islands like Saki Saki or Sardinia are way more suited for beginners with much better wind. We didn’t bring any parasols since we thought we could sit on the terrace of the kite school, but we weren’t allowed to sit there in the shadow and were told to rent a parasol for 10 Dollars (!). So we left quite quickly 😉
There is a nice wave spot upwind of Franziski but the reef is quite close so I would recommend it only to more advanced kitesurfers. The waves were really nice, but even here the wind is quite gusty compared to all the other islands of Los Roques.
Make sure to bring your own lunch and a sunshade.
How to get to Los Roques
Flights have a fixed price of 250 Dollars round-trip and those include only 10 kg of luggage (including the carry-on luggage). Every extra kg is charged with 1 Dollar, which is not too much, but you have to pay it each flight. Flights depart from the national airport in Caracas and after an half-an-hour-ride in a tiny propeller plane, you arrive on the main island, Gran Roque. We had to confirm our flight both directions, which we didn’t know but our hotel owner in Caracas luckily told us.
When arriving in Gran Roque, you will pay the fee for the national park, which was 350 Bolivares when we were there (which was around 40 Cents).
How to get to the islands
There are 2 ways to get to the islands: either take the boats from the cooperativa, which are kind of the public transport for tourists, or rent a private charter. Unfortunately, right before we came, they doubled the prices (we don’t know if it was due to the inflation or the Easter holidays), so the charter boat, which costed around 200 Euros a day, was out of budget for the two of us. We tried several times to approach different boats and ask them for other prices, but the cheapest we got was still 130 Euros, so quite expensive if you’re only 2 people. In the end we were lucky enough to meet a bunch of Argentinians and Venezuelans, and they got completely different prices, luckily.
When using the cooperativa boats, you have to pay the same amount for a kite luggage you pay as a person. So after 1 day we figured out that we could just stuff our kites and boards in one big board bag and said it was 1 kite equipment, so we only had to pay for it once. When using the cooperative boats, come around 9.15 am in the morning to make sure to get to the island you want to. The boats usually depart around 9.45 am in the end and go back around 4 to 5 pm.
If you are still a beginner or not very experienced, make sure to rent a private charter so you have someone to rescue you, since most of the islands have offshore wind and your group will pretty much be the only kitesurfer, if not people there.
You can rent sunshades, plastic chairs, snorkeling equipment and cooling boxes at the ticket office at the cooperativa. The sunshades are really important, since most of the beaches have white sand and no shadow, so you will burn like hell during your kite break.
If you want to have a really easy and individual alternative (I would have loved to do that but there was none when I was there) check out this amazing Kite Cruise Los Roques and just discover the kitesurf paradise by sailing from spot to spot! If you want to book it, simply use the discount code “wakeupstoked” to get 20 Dollars off the price! No daily hustles to find a boat for the best price and acommodation and food is included.
Where to sleep
Compared to the rest of Venezuela, Los Roques is pretty expensive, with hotel rooms around 100 Dollars a night, which usually include breakfast and dinner. (Yeah, still quite cheap compared to other Caribbean islands though) Since we had a really low budget, we chose the cheapest option that a local recommended us, which was the posada Dona Magali, at the right side of the square, which costed us around 15 Euros a night with breakfast and dinner. The rooms are very very basic but clean and the food was surprisingly good. If you’re on a tight budget, this posada is recommendable, or if it is booked out, check Posada Karlin, which offered pretty much the same for around 18 Euros a night and is a bit further in town.
Where to eat
There are a few restaurants on Gran Roque, which are open for dinner, but we mainly ate at our posada. There is one really good restaurant on the right side of the church (when coming from town) which had super good fresh fish and is a nice place to watch the sunset in the harbor while sipping on your Mojito.
Another supergood option for Sushi, fish and great starters is the Aquarena, right when entering the town on the left side. Everything they had was really tasty and even the Espresso there is quite recommendable.
There are a few Bodegons as well, where you can get some drinks, chips and cookies. Next to the airport is an Arepa hut, so in case you arrive like us with the morning flight and didn’t have breakfast yet, this is the only place you can find something in the morning (cause usually it’s included in your posada, so no one really serves breakfast for external guests).
No wind activities
We were pretty lucky because we had wind the whole time, but you have a few options if there is no wind: go snorkeling and watch seastars and turtles, I saw you could also go diving. If you find the right boat owners you can watch them catch some Lobsters or octopus. You can also go wakeboarding (simply asking the boat guy that you want to do it and they will get a rope so you can use your kiteboard to do it). Other than that, you can just visit all the islands and go swimming, eat fresh fish and relax, that’s what the majority of tourists are coming for.
Leave your credit cards at home, in Venezuela cash rules. If you pay with your credit card, Venezuela will be the most expensive country of all.
Since we came from Isla Margerita we had changed enough money to get by on Los Roques. We heard different stories from travelers, some told us they couldn’t change money at all, others said they got a better rate here than anywhere else.
We also had some Euros with us, and surprisingly we got a better exchange rate if we paid the cooperativa boats with Euros than we ever did when we changed the Euro with out hotel owners. Euros and Dollars have the same exchange rate, so it’s more clever to pay with Dollars. We always changed out money with the hotel owners, which seemed trustworthy.
Considering going to Venezuela?
Los Roques was one part of my Venezuela trip, and definitely the most exciting part. I wrote an entire article about all the spots I visited in Venezuela, what they were like and helpful infos how to get there etc.
Do you want to go to Los Roques and have the trip of a lifetime?
Check out this amazing Kite Cruise Los Roques and just discover the kitesurf paradise by sailing from spot to spot! When booking simply use the discount code “wakeupstoked” to get 20 Dollars off!