Kayaking in Puerto Rico goes beyond great exercise and a day out on the water. Kayaks are your eco-friendly passports to the island's reefs, keys, mangroves, lakes, rivers and, above all, its bioluminescent bays. Fortunately, there is no shortage of tour operators and rental outfits that will have you paddling in Puerto Rican waters in no time. Here are a few ideas on where to go, and who to go with.
Opportunities to kayak are somewhat limited in San Juan's main tourist areas. Naturally, you won't be parking your kayak next to the cruise ships in Old San Juan. However, once you reach the resort strip of Condado and Isla Verde, things get a little easier.
At the Condado lagoon, for example, you can rent kayaks and enjoy a more secluded, peaceful environment in which to test your kayak skills. You can aslo rent kayaks and other watercraft on Isla Verde Beach, just behind the El San Juan Hotel & Casino.
Vieques might be the most entertaining kayak destination in Puerto Rico. With numerous tour operators like Abe's and Island Adventures on hand (to name just a few), you can kayak out to numerous reefs and islets and snorkel in shallow waters that teem with marine life.
But the true magic of kayaking in Vieques occurs at night when you can kayak out to the most brilliant bioluminescent bay in the world. Although it is no longer permitted to swim in the biobay, it's still an unforgettable experience, especially when you see your oars glow neon green in the water.
Fajardo has a lot to offer ... even if it's just a day trip from San Juan. But for kayakers, it's got a special treat: The Fajardo biobay. Kayaking Puerto Rico and Yokahú are two companies that offer kayak trips out to the bioluminescent bay.
Beyond the biobay, Fajardo's lovely Seven Seas Beach offers opportunities for those who like to kayak and snorkel. Yokahú and Island Kayaking Adventures are two operators who offer daytime tours and snorkeling trips here.
Kayaking in Culebra is all about paddling out to secluded reefs, beaches and cayos, or keys, where you can enjoy some of the best snorkeling in Puerto Rico... particularly if you want to swim with the many species of turtles that make seasonal pit stops here. Kayaking Puerto Rico has a nifty tour, and other places rent kayaks.
Venture out of San Juan, heading east along the coast, and you'll soon arrive at Piñones, a beachfront neighborhood famed for its rustic kiosks and eateries serving all kinds of fried goodness, cheap drinks and chilled coconut water.
You'll also find the COPI cultural center, where you can either rent kayaks or take a kayak tour out into the Torrecilla Lagoon, where you can navigate mangrove tunnels and watch the planes fly overhead as they leave or arrive at Luis Muñoz Marín Airport.
The southern coast of Puerto Rico is also the Caribbean coast and comprises some of the best beaches on the island. From Cabo Rojo to Maunabo, you'll find numerous tour operators that rent kayaks or offer tours. Plus there's a biobay to explore. Here are a few choices:
- Eco Journeys Puerto Rico takes you from Bahía Salinas to Cayo Matias, which boasts the largest mangrove on the coast of Puerto Rico. Along the tour, you might spot starfish, manta rays, manatees and a variety of birds.
- Aleli Tours offer kayak excursions in La Parguera, which can include kayak and snorkeling in a coral reef, a journey through a mangrove forest, or a nighttime biobay tour.
- In Joyuda, Tourmarine rents kayaks, which you can steer toward pristine Isla Ratones.
Of course, Puerto Rico's waters aren't limited to ocean and sea. Rivers and lakes abound on the island, offering a variety of kayak excursions and adventures in the interior. At Hacienda Carabalí, for example, you can enjoy a kayak trip from the Mameyes River in the El Yunque Rainforest all the way down to the Atlantic Ocean.
You can also rent kayaks or take a kayak tour in Lake Guajataca, Lake Dos Bocas in Utuado and Lake Matrullas in the Toro Negro Forest, among other lakes around the island.