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LOS ROQUES "In The News"

Los Roques: Seeing stars on the sleepy lagoon, continued...
Fish fights apart, what really gives the islands their charm is the lack of development and paucity of visitor numbers. The whole of Los Roques is a National Marine Park, with only the northeast corner given over to tourism and allowed to accommodate overnight visitors. Even on Gran Roque, the only island with anything approaching a town the building work is minimal. Unlike on the ghastly Margarita Island, closer to the Venezuelan mainland, no Los Roques structure is allowed any more than two floors.

As a result, all accommodation is in posadas are converted family homes with simple but stylish rooms based around breezy courtyards. So it's an island free from monster resort hotels + the vast majority of posadas have fewer than 10 rooms and some have just two. In fact, there are fewer than 498 visitor beds in the entire archipelago. This is as personal as service gets.

HOWEVER CARIBBEAN the islands feel, there's something European to them too. The main square on Gran Roque has the feel of a French Boules terrace, while many of the posadas are run and catered by southern Europeans in search of the ultimate climate. My hostess was Liana, an Italian-Venezuelan with a windswept tan and a laugh like a runaway train. Italians, she said, are like parsley, and they're everywhere. The analogy was an appropriate one: An Italian cooking with the ingredients of the Caribbean is an unbeatable combination. As well as lobster, I ate fish Carpaccio, a wonderfully dressed Italian sashimi and kebabs of bonefish and barracuda. Depending on mood and time, meals would be washed down with Italian wines, killer Caipirinha cocktails or equally powerful espressos. For up to date price and online reservation!

My final night on Gran Roque was spent at the Lobster Party, a celebration of the end of the lobster-fishing season. On a stage in the main square, old men gesticulated and performed like conviction politicians or charismatic preachers. All eyes were on them, but my attention was diverted by a lad in dungarees sauntering between the performers and the crowd. Hips swaying and chest puffed out, he had a bravado and a swagger that suggested he could have any girl in town. On Los Roques, everyone's a star. >> Start... The London Times.

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