Puerto Rico Night Tour
Is that girl staring at you?
I think I know her….
Kayaking Puerto Rico tl;dr
Bioluminescent bay, ever heard of it?
If not, it’s OK, there are only five in the world, and three of them are in Puerto Rico. On our most recent trip to Puerto Rico in Dec 2013, one of the activities we decided we had to do was visit the bio bay.
Unfortunately right before we went, we had read articles that for whatever reason the bio bay had stopped glowing and we were nervous that we wouldn’t be able to see it while we were there. Luckily for us, the bay recovered just in time for our night kayak tour.
When you drive out to the area where the tours occur you will see many tour companies offering the same tour. However, having booked a tour before hand and after reading the great reviews on Kayaking Puerto Rico, we pre-booked for two reasons:
- Making it easy to fit into our schedule
- Guaranteeing us a spot on these popular tours
Once you arrive, you’ll have to carefully read the instructions and/or be ready to call the tour company because it can be very confusing because of the many other kayak companies in the same area. I’d also suggest being familiar with the logo of the company to help identify them visually as you wander through the park.
It took us a while to find them since many of the different company’s color schemes were similar. We finally found the right kayak tour, where we were greeted by two ladies who registered us and ensured we were checked in/paid for. We were then handed a life vest and awaited the guide to give the group instructions. If you’re wondering what that slight wet damp odor is, it’s probably you and your lovely new friend, the semi wet life vest you’re now wearing. Don’t worry, you’ll eventually be immune to the smell soon enough.
From there you’re asked to wait in the area by a kayak on the ground (used for demonstration purposes) while you wait for others in your same tour group to arrive. Once they do, you’ll be given an overview of what to expect, how you should sit in the kayak (heaviest in the back, I sat in the front) and more about the tour before being escorted to your own personal kayak.
Having never been on a kayak tour before, from what I experienced, it seems that everyone is kept in an area until the guide shows the other kayaks (all in a straight line ideally) the way into the darkness towards the bio bay. What may potentially mess up the whole line thing is when there are those in your group who may not have ever kayaked before causing quite a mess. So just be on the lookout for those who may stray and bump you off course.
Long Lost Friend
On a random note, when we showed up, I ran into an old childhood friend from middle school on the exact same tour. I knew that she was going to be on the island country some where but we didn’t make any plans to meet up. She was there with a bunch of girlfriends and we were there for some rest and relaxation.
Seeing her was the last thing I expected but low and behold she was literally right in front of us in the line for a kayak! What are the odds!? The same night, the same kayak touring company, the same tour??? I can still remember her looking back talking to her friends till I caught her eye and we recognized each other. I didn’t see that coming but it was great to see her again and learn more about what she’s been up to since we were 12!
The tour itself takes you through a dark tree covered river into the bay itself. As you’re kayaking through the dark the only thing you can really see is the back of the kayak in front of you. The only thing you hear are people in front of you echoing the commands of the guide which turns to take and what to watch out for (for example, be careful, big tree on your left).
Fortunately for me, JM did a majority of the kayaking freeing me to really relax and take in the surrounding environment. It’s actually quite amazing when you take the time to sit back and take it all in:
- Smell the trees and the environment around you
- Hear the lap of the water against your kayak
- Have your eyes adjust to the darkness
Into the Bay
When you finally make it through the darkness, your group of kayaks will emerge into a beautiful open bay with the brightly shining star filled night sky above you and the still water under your kayak. Once your group gets into position close to each other, the magical moment comes when…(warning, don’t read this part if you don’t want to know)…you run your fingers in the water below. At that point, the water will slowly light up.
Quite the magical sight especially as the moonlight shines above you and you hear the oohs and ah’s of the other tourists around you. It’s like little fireflies but in the water. So cool!
After some time at the bay your group will be called back to start heading towards the river signaling that you are near the end of your adventure. Though as you slowly kayak back to reality, believe me when I say this, you’ll want to run your fingers through the water the whole time just to prolong seeing nature’s magical underwater light show.
While I wish the intensity of the bio luminescence was brighter, it was still a unique sight to see. I would recommend to anyone and everyone to make the reservation and witness for yourself this once in a lifetime experience.
In terms of my experience with Kayaking Puerto Rico, I had a good overall time working with them. They were fairly responsive via email and after the adventure, they provided some fruits, water and granola bars to satiate your appetite before and afterwards. Something I also appreciated is that they will call you should they think there may be inclement weather and that your tour may not be feasible.
My only gripe is that for any night tours, it’s almost impossible to get a hold of anyone from the company on the phone (which made me freak out a bit when I couldn’t locate the company at the meeting point) because they were all onsite and not at the office. But other than that, for about $50 per person, it is a worthwhile adventure everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.
F8T Tip | These items helped us out in the dark
- If you got one, bring a headlamp
- If you are a scuba diver, bring your booties
- If you’re not a scuba diver but have aqua socks, bring those instead
- Wear things you don’t mind getting wet (ie swim shorts, bathing suit)
- Bring a windbreaker if you have one, it can get windy out there
- Bio Bay 987 Carr Cabezas Fajardo, Puerto Rico, USA
- +1 787-435-1665
Have any crazy nature stories you care to share?