Water and nature activities are one of the most demanded attractions among Caribbean tourists. There are many choices to pick from, with a huge range of adrenaline. But one combines the wonders of sports, tranquillity, and peace: kayaking.
When asking the locals, most Puerto Ricans agree that kayaking is one of the best ways to discover the island, its beaches, mangroves, and lagoons. There are many sites with offerings that range from scenic to unforgettable experiences to do with it.
Kayaking in the Bioluminescent Bays
Puerto Rico offers one of the unique moments for kayaking worldwide, which is only available when the sun goes down. Located at the bioluminescent bays in Fajardo, Vieques, and Lajas, they are part of a magical scenario where visitors can watch the ocean glow in the dark thanks to bioluminescent plankton.
These “bio bays” are bodies of water where organisms grow in large quantities, producing a glowing effect called bioluminescence. Any paddle or splash of water makes these organisms shine neon blue-green as if lit by a glowing star.
There are only five types of these ecosystems worldwide, and Puerto Rico is home to three of them, with the most locations.
Vieques, Mosquito Bay
This place was recognized in 2006 by the World Guinness Records as the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, captivating many with its beauty. Its record is explained by the number of dinoflagellates found on it, which inexplicably doubled after Hurricane María, going from one million to two.
Also, the lack of light pollution surrounding the Natural Reserve of Mosquito Bay allows this spectacle and its magic to be seen clearly without issues.
Fajardo, Laguna Grande
It is one of the most visited bio-bays in Puerto Rico because of one simple reason: its proximity to the island’s capital, San Juan. Also, it’s the only one that is not technically a bay since the long narrow canal with glowing water is a big lagoon.
Pretty similar to Mosquito Bay, there are many kayaking options and tours all around the place to discover and enjoy.
Lajas, La Parguera
Located in La Parguera, Lajas, at the southwestern corner of the island, the only bioluminescent bay where motorboats can come in and out. In addition, it is also the only one that permits visitors to swim in it; meanwhile, guided tours provide the necessary equipment for diving and swimming at night.
Taking a glass-bottom boat ride in order to spend the night and contemplate the organisms glowing below in the bay is another very frequent and solicited option.
Tips to Enjoy Kayaking in a Bio Bay
While both locations with bio bays worldwide are only seasonal, the ones found in Puerto Rico are year-round. This means that anyone can visit it during all year, but it’s important to keep some things in mind if doing so in order to ensure a relaxing and safe experience for everyone:
The less light, the better experience you can get. To enjoy luminescence, avoid full moon nights. It doesn’t mean it can prevent water from glowing, but the darker it is, the easier it can be to enjoy its effects on single-cell organisms.
Tides Affect the Spectacle
Water temperature and tides are two of the main reasons affecting the bay’s brightness. To ensure you have a good spectacle, call the tour leader a couple of days in advance to confirm that the bay’s brightness is above 30% for a good experience.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
Kayaking is a physical activity that requires you to wear comfortable clothing to paddle correctly. Swimming at the lagoon and bays isn’t allowed for conservation purposes except for La Parguera. Motorboats are also prohibited.
Avoid Using Creams
It’s requested to avoid using creams, bug repellants, and any other lotions since they could potentially harm the organisms living in the water. Use towels, sunglasses, or hats to protect yourself from the sun.
Don’t Bring Cameras
Normal camera devices aren’t capable of capturing the glow of the water as you see it. That is why it is recommended to immerse yourself in the experience instead while avoiding risking your electronic machines getting wet.
Other Amazing Places for Kayaking
Besides bio bays, the Caribbean island offers other interesting places to enjoy during daylight. These are some of the places every kayaker should try out:
San Juan City
The capital city of Puerto Rico offers many kayaking and paddle-boarding opportunities, mostly concentrated in the Condado and Isla Verde neighborhoods. A very famous spot for it is the Laguna del Condado, with a very calm environment.
Visitors can paddle and get a tan under the sunny sky during the day or do it guided by the stars on a night excursion. This well-maintained bayou lets you spot fishes, turtles, and even manatees that roam the lagoon in a glass-bottom raft.
Meanwhile, Isla Verde is the seaside backdrop ideal for sharpening your kayaking skills. Many kayak and paddleboard rentals are suitable for peaceful tourists who want to learn more about these water sports.
Luis Peña Reserve
Located in Culebra, this reserve is all about reaching secluded reefs, cays, and islets. Also, it is home to the place with the highest coral cover on the island. Visitors can paddle through crystal-clear waters with imposing mountains as a scenario, along with colorful tropical fish underneath.
You can also visit pristine beaches like Tamarindo, Playa Melones, Flamenco, and Carlos Rosario. All of them have stunning panoramic views with soft waves for inexperienced paddlers. If you bring snorkeling gear, you can enjoy the magic it offers underwater.
Secluded from Cabo Rojo, tourists can find Isla Ratones, an amazing place for family trips. It’s one of the islands that its only route to get there is by boat, but it is worth taking. White-sand beaches and clear waters with soft waves are part of the welcoming wagon once there.
Although the marine life is not as active as in some other locations near Cabo Rojo, there are some mangroves, coral reefs, and many other amazing things to discover when kayaking around the place.
It’s ideal for a full-day getaway, and there are many picnic stations with BBQ pits, showers, and restrooms. Many places also rent out kayaking equipment for the day and diving items to enjoy the submarine life.
Puerto Rican Interior
The waters of Puerto Rico aren’t limited to the ocean and sea. There are many rivers and lakes all around the island, and most of them offer a variety of kayak excursions and adventures. At Hacienda Carabalí, for example, you can enjoy a kayak trip that crosses El Yunque all the way down to the Atlantic Ocean.
Some spots also allow you to rent kayaks or take tours in Lake Guajataca, Lake Dos Bocas in Utuado and Lake Matrullas in the Toro Negro Forest, among with many other renowed lakes found close by.
Kayaking Puerto Rico adventures are very interesting activities every tourist should try at least once when visiting “La Isla del Encanto.” From more skill-demanding spots to family-friendly tours through calm waters, anyone can paddle around with a beautiful submarine scenario underneath.
In addition, some bays offer “extra features,” such as the bioluminescent bays, where visitors can enjoy one of the unique wonders of the world during nighttime. To enjoy this activity, remember to follow every instructions and guideline to protect yourself and the life underwater.