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Kayaking the Bays at Fajardo

Listed under Kayaking in Puerto Rico.

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Photo by Hal Peat
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If you had to make a list of the 10 most unusual kayaking experiences you can encounter on the planet, you could easily include what you find yourself surrounded by out on the water of the eastern end of the island of Puerto Rico.  The coastal community of Fajardo is often bypassed even by nature lovers visiting Puerto Rico, but kayakers will certainly not want to miss it.  Here you can paddle into the adjacent lagoons from mangrove canals as the day deepens into evening, and discover yourself in a small universe of microscopic plankton that create what is known as the Bioluminescent Bays.
In fact, there are less than a handful of such locations that are accessible to guided kayak tours, and Fajardo is the only one on Puerto Rico itself.  The scientific name of the tiny creatures that make it happen is the Pyrodinium Bahamense, and it makes its home in the many hundreds of thousands at such points locally as the Las Croabas Lagoon and Laguna Grande.  Since there are quite a few kayaking outfitters offering guided tours in the area, why not choose one that has both trained biologists leading some of their excursions as well as operating a very eco-sensitive exploration of the bioluminiscent waters, one such being Yokahu Kayaks.  

Most tours use double top-seated ocean kayaks and last about two hours, taking you at day's end through the stills of the mangrove channels into one of these bioluminescent arenas, where as you enter into the density of the dinoflagellate (plankton) presence, just the stroke of a paddle triggers a glowing blue neon greeting.  In the seconds that the depths beneath you come alight, you can even see the flash of fish darting around under the nighttime bay.  The bioluminescent phenomenon is strongest in these lagoon areas, but persists also coming and going along the connecting channels with even a touch of your hand into the water.  Aside from choosing a non-motorized kayak operator that does not endanger the micro-organism marine life here, you should also consider the need for similar non-lethal insect repellent for the often close journey past the mangrove forests -- meaning, rely on a non-DEET repellent for your comfort, and that of your new blue friends.

Written by  Hal Peat.

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