How many times have you seen illuminated water? (And I’m not talking by the light of the moon.) There are only a handful of Bioluminescent Bays in the world, and Puerto Rico is home to three of them. It’s not difficult to find a tour company that offers the kayaking trip into the bay for this eerie, nighttime experience. Plan your Puerto Rican, family adventures vacation to Fajardo, La Parguera, or the island of Vieques to make the special trip with your children.
You will get wet
The beginning of the experience isn’t so glamorous. After listening to the rules and strapping on your lifejacket, hop into a two-person kayak and paddle past the inlet between the ocean and the bay. Warning: you will get wet, which the kids will probably enjoy. There’s no way around it, but it’s worth the soggy shorts you’ll be sporting on the way back to the hotel. It might be wise to bring some dry clothes and leave it with the tour operators who stay behind at the beach. Be wary of taking your camera out to snap shots unless you have a waterproof device.
The adventure part
It takes about 45 minutes to navigate all the way to the bay (in Fajardo) and there is plenty to see as you make the trip. You and your partner will likely slap paddles more than once and knock into the kayak in front of you more than twice—that’s ok, it’s all part of the fun! The inlet weaves back and forth through a mangrove forest and the roots reach out into the water for the rich minerals there. It is sometimes hard to see as the sun begins to set beyond the canopy, but if you stay super aware, you and your child can catch a glimpse of the fish, which jump out of the water. It is pitch black out there, so shadows are all you will see.
After some time you start to feel a bit delirious. Is it me or is the water starting to shimmer? Encourage your child to watch as your paddles make contact with the water; the closer you get to the bay, the more recognizable the phenomenon becomes.
The water really glows
Before long you will realize that you aren’t going crazy. The single-cell organisms that live in this bay light up as a defense mechanism, and when you put a paddle, hand or foot in the bay, the water lights up momentarily in a brilliant neon display. You and your child will sit in your kayak contentedly splashing around for at least 20 minutes enjoying the spectacle.
Unfortunately, you must return at some point. Fortunately, the current will be working with you, so the return trip only takes about 15 minutes. You will emerge from the inlet into the open ocean and will paddle back to the beach as the moonlight bounces playfully off of the waves.
Shauna Armitage is a parenting blogger, a freelance travel writer and the co-founder of Pure Wander Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @CarpeCalamus