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Puerto Rico is one of the lesser known Caribbean islands compared to its other counterparts such as Antigua or Barbados,...

a man in a pool of waterPuerto Rico is one of the lesser known Caribbean islands compared to its other counterparts such as Antigua or Barbados, however the island is packed with adventure, there’s so much to see and do from the cobble streets of Old San Juan to adventures with nature including zip-lining and rainforest hiking.

Toro Verde Adventure Park

My absolute favourite part of my recent visit to the island, however, was kayaking in a bio bay. There are only a few of these amazing bays in the world and three of them are in Puerto Rico. In my opinion, they absolutely must be on your to-do list.

Getting into the kayak was easier than I thought, having never done it before I wasn’t sure how good or bad I would be. We set off in pairs in the early evening just before dusk, making our way into the mangroves so by the time we made it to the bay it was complete darkness.

Now, I thought with kayaking, being a complete amateur you just paddled using your oar but what I quickly learnt is there is a special technique to this, otherwise you will end up bumping into the trees on the side of the river, going the wrong way and even doing a complete 360 degree turn (we managed to achieve all three). Saved by the fantastic instruction from our guide, we eventually got into a rhythm and were on our way down the river in a vaguely straight line.

puerto rico

As darkness descended and we made our way closer to the bay, arms aching like mad. By the time we reached the open lagoon I was so excited. Aching arms aside, I knew I was about to experience something that not many people have the opportunity to do.

Bioluminescence occurs when the organisms come into contact with something (in this case my oar, or the kayak). When they come into contact they produce a blue-green glow. Unfortunately for us, there was a full moon that night which made it harder to see the glow, however the tour guides were prepared for this and they put us under a black cover to give us complete darkness.

Underneath the cover, the moment I put my hands in the water it began to glow. I wish the child-like thrill on my face could have been caught on camera. As I moved my hands through the water the strange light followed my every touch. Becoming very quickly amazed I continued this motion for a couple of minutes. I couldn’t believe the water was lighting up and glowing at me. You cannot take pictures either. The flash will not show the glow, so you have only your eyes and your memory to record this unique experience. I had no idea that Bio Bays could be so beautiful and fascinating.

A couple of useful tips: kayaking is hard work, especially when you are going against the current. Your arms will feel like they have been worked to the max. Secondly, try and avoid a night of a full moon, I know this isn’t always possible, but the darker the conditions the brighter the glow.

I will never forget my trip to Puerto Rico, now one of my favourite Caribbean islands. I wish I stayed longer as there was still so much to see and do, but I am so happy I got to kayak in one of the Bio Bays, it’s an adventure I will never forget and neither will you. 

Parque Nacional de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy

To find out more of what this paradise Caribbean island has in store for you visit our Puerto Rico pages for inspiration. 

Written by: Martyn Jones
Posted in: Into the wild

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