A Travel Photography Blog

Tag: Puerto Rico Page 1 of 2

Kayaking in a Bioluminescent Bay

Fajardo Bio Bay Kayking

Some of the links below are affiliate links and as such, I earn a small commission from purchases that allow me to continue telling you my stories without costing you anything extra.

There are five bodies of water in the world where you are able to experience the magic that is bioluminescence year-round. Three of them are in Puerto Rico. The glow-in-the-dark effect known as bioluminescence is caused by microscopic organisms known as dinoflagellates that absorb energy from the sun and then will light up at night when the water is disturbed by a paddle or hand. You are not permitted to swim in these “bio-bays” because sunscreen and other products that we put on our skin will kill these organisms. Some of the bays are noticing a dimming because of this and also pollution from boats.

You are able to experience this bioluminescence in Puerto Rico on kayak tours. We regretted not being able to experience this on our first trip to Puerto Rico so it was one of the first things I booked after we had our flights. For the best experience, it is recommended that you take your tour as close to the new moon as possible. Since we had less than a week in Puerto Rico, we picked a day that fit best in our schedule and the tour organizers covered us up with tarps so we could best experience the glowing.

Since we were staying in Fajardo, we chose a tour of Laguna Grande. We met at a beach near the bio bay where we got a brief safety demonstration and basic kayak instructions before loading into our kayaks and getting a paddle-away picture taken (top). At the beginning of the tour, we paddled along the beach until we came to the opening of the lagoon and we waited for the groups ahead of us to paddle through. The sun was setting at this point, and paddling through the mangroves was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It is probably silly to compare a real-life experience to a Disney ride, but it made me think of the Jungle Cruise. I kept waiting to see the backside of water.

When we got through the mangroves, we huddled our kayaks together for an explanation of what we were about to see as our guides searched for the best bioluminescent activity. When we re-grouped where the light could be seen the most, the guides passed out tarps for us to huddle around so we could experience the glow-in-the-dark activity without the light from the moon interfering. It was not super comfortable under the tarp, so I didn’t stay under very long. This phenomenon is not easy to photograph so I didn’t even attempt it. I left my phone in the car and just enjoyed the experience. That is why the only picture I have is the one they took for me.

Laguna Grande is not the most active bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico but it is very convenient if you are staying near San Juan. If you want the best experience, you have to go to the island of Vieques. Honestly, the bioluminescence was not the highlight of this experience for me. I really enjoyed the paddle through the mangroves at dusk. It made me realize that I need to figure out how to go night kayaking at home when the weather warms up.

We chose Yokahu Kayak Tours on Viator and I would recommend them to anyone considering a bio bay tour from Fajardo. One thing to note is that most of these tours only have tandem kayaks. For seasoned tandem kayakers like us, this is not a problem, but my mother-in-law was traveling with us and as an odd number, she got paired off with a teenager she didn’t know and had never kayaked with before. She had more of a challenge with this tour and did not enjoy it as much as we did. In hindsight, one of us probably should’ve stayed with her and one of us stronger kayakers should’ve been paired up with someone else.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Returning to Puerto Rico Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Love PR

I heart PR

La Ruta de Lechon: Puerto Rico’s Pork Highway

Lechonera Los Pinos

After our first visit to Puerto Rico seeing the tourist highlights, this trip we wanted to get off the beaten path and see where the locals hang out. The answer is Guavate and La Ruta de Lechon, AKA The Pork Highway. Guavate is about an hour and a quarter’s drive from Fajardo or an hour from San Juan. The drive was through some of the most scenic parts of the island. Unlike our drive the day before, our rickety rental car made it to the lechoneras just fine.

After much research, we decided to visit Lechonera Los Pinos (above). When you arrive at the open-air lechonera, you get in line and there are signs in both English and Spanish of what food they have. The food is served cafeteria style: You order at the counter and then pay when your name is called. There is a separate bar so if you are traveling with several people, it is a good idea to send one person to order food and another to order drinks. There was live music playing and the vibe was unlike anything I have ever experienced anywhere else.

Food at Los Pinos

The food at Los Pinos

Of course, the food was fabulous! The pork, lechon, is a whole suckling pig roasted over an open flame until the skin is nice and crispy. The rice with pigeon peas (or loafers as the English menu said) and pink beans were a great compliment. All of this wonderful food and a mojito to wash it down. Honestly, as simple as this meal was, it is probably one of my favorites of the trip and one I think back to often.

If you have the time during your trip to Puerto Rico, definitely make a stop in Guavate and the Pork Highway. It is a food and cultural experience that you won’t find anywhere else. Of course, I recommend Los Pinos, but I’m sure the other lechoneras along the road are good too. For more information about the Pork Highway, visit Discover Puerto Rico.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Returning to Puerto Rico Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.


Puerto Rico Road Trip

After a wonderful day in Old San Juan, we slept in the next morning and returned to Cafe Mallorca for breakfast. After enjoying a Cafe con Leche, we went back to the hotel, packed up, and picked up the car. We had a day of driving ahead of us.

We had booked a coffee tour through Airbnb Experiences. Puerto Rico used to be dotted with coffee plantations, but after the U.S gained control of Puerto Rico, sugarcane became the cash crop on the island instead. There are still a few coffee farms operating around the island that offer tours on select days of the week. This one had tours operating most days of the week and it was located in the middle of the island in the mountains of Adjuntas.

Our rental car was a 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage with low miles but the thing had no suspension. You felt every single bump and in Puerto Rico, there are a lot of bumps. For most of the drive, the car handled it fine, but when we got close to the coffee farm the roads turned to dirt and got steeper and we weren’t sure if our regular mid-size car could handle it. We ended up having to turn around and skip our tour. Once we got back to the land of cell signal, I reached out to Airbnb and they didn’t reply for a week. When they did they were very demanding that I talk to them even though I was back at work and not able to talk during work hours. After going back and forth with them for days and then getting lectured about using Google Maps, not Apple Maps (I never use Apple Maps so that lecture wasn’t necessary) they did refund my money, but it made me question booking experiences through Airbnb again. There is a reason this tour wasn’t on Viator or a more reputable site.

After deciding to bail on our coffee tour, we headed to Ponce, the second biggest city in Puerto Rico and the city hit hardest in 2022 by Hurricane Fiona. Many of the attractions in Ponce haven’t opened back up since hurricane Maria in 2017, but the architecture is just as beautiful as Old San Juan. We found a delicious spot for dinner at Rincon Argentino, an Argentinian restaurant. This is when I realized that if you get away from the tourist areas of San Juan, there is a good chance you will interact with someone who only has limited English. Luckily, my husband has been taking Spanish lessons for a while and he got to practice ordering for us.

After driving dinner and a little drive through town, we headed to our Airbnb in Fajardo. It was dark by the time we got in, but we were able to sit out on the balcony and listen to the waves before bed. Even though we didn’t make it to the coffee farm, we got to explore parts of the island that most people don’t get to see. I would say that while I probably wouldn’t attempt it again, I am glad we tried. Maybe on our next trip to the island, we will find a coffee farm that is a little easier to get to. Be sure to check back next week as I detail our experience at La Ruta de Lechon (AKA The Pork Highway).

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Returning to Puerto Rico Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Cristobal Bell

Bell in Castillo San Crisoball

Wordless Wednesday: Old San Juan

Old San Juan

Returning to Puerto Rico

Old San Juan from the fort

Last spring we visited Puerto Rico as the embarkation port for our Southern Caribbean cruise and fell in love with the beautiful island. Ever since we got home we have been watching flight prices just waiting to return. When we started brainstorming ideas for a Christmas trip with my mother-in-law, we were looking at a few warm-weather destinations and we were shocked to find flights to San Juan for less than Florida or New Orleans. I’m not going to lie, the flights were awful. They had overnight layovers in both directions at some of the largest and busiest airports that were made even busier thanks to Southwest’s meltdown before Christmas. But, we made the best of it because we got to return to sunny Puerto Rico!

The first leg of our journey had an overnight layover in Orlando and we left security and slept in the Hyatt Regency at the airport knowing we would have to go through TSA again. There were so many people trying to get to their flights in the morning that the sign advertised a 65-minute wait to get through TSA. I am very glad I checked the airport’s website when I got up because we got ready quickly and got in line. At one point, the line stopped moving completely and we thought we were going to miss our flight, but we got to the gate right as they started boarding. We were told it was a full flight but there were only half of the seats filled. I’m guessing we left some people behind in that TSA line. If you have an early flight (I think this one left at 5:55 am), don’t assume the airport will be empty. Most airport websites will tell you how long the TSA wait currently is and if you’re checking a bag, remember to add on time for that line too. Since this was a layover, we didn’t have to worry about that line.

Sunset from our balcony in Fajardo

Sunset from our balcony in Fajardo

This was our first time flying Frontier and overall, it was a pretty good experience. We have flown Spirit many times so we are used to budget airlines, but they are not exactly the same. Frontier has more legroom. It is not as cramped as Spirit is notorious for. Everyone we encountered was friendly and each plane has an animal mascot. We liked flying on Max the Lynx. Frontier does not have wifi on their planes. If you need to work while in the air, look for a different airline. Every single flight we had left 10-15 minutes late and they were not good about communicating the delays. When we got to our departure airport, we got a text saying our flight was delayed but when we got to the gate the board said the plane was on time and that didn’t change until after our departure time passed so there were a lot of confused people standing around. For one of the flights, we got a text saying the flight was delayed after we had already taken off. We got to the airport in San Juan early and there was no one at the Frontier desk for probably an hour. The line got very long but we got to the plane with plenty of time. It wasn’t a perfect experience, but the next cheapest flight to San Juan for the same dates was several hundred dollars per person more expensive. Personally, I will take a little bit of hassle to get where I want to go and save money.

Here is an outline of what is to come on this trip report:

Day 1: Old San Juan (San Juan National Historic Site, Christmas lights at Paseo de la Princesa)

Day 2: Drive to Adjuntas (travel fail story), Ponce, to Fajardo

Day 3: Ruta de Lechon (the Pork Highway) & Biobay Kayaking

Day 4: El Yunque National Forest

Day 5: Ron del Barillito Distillery Tour

Be sure to check back next week as I share about our time re-visiting Old San Juan!

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Pin This:

Wordless Wednesday: Del Morro Lighthouse

Lighthouse on Castillo San Felipe Del Morro

2022: Year in Review

Pitons of St. Lucia

The Pitons of St. Lucia

2022 was once again an amazing travel year for us! We spent two weeks on cruise ships, many hours in airports, and saw many amazing things! We went both the farthest south and north that I have ever been and crossed off three more National Parks. This year travel felt like it was getting back to normal.

Unlike in years past, our first travels of the year didn’t come until the end of the first quarter with our port-a-day Southern Caribbean cruise on the Explorer of the Seas. We visited some of my favorite ports of any cruise we’ve taken and I have been watching flights to St. Maarten, St. Lucia (top), and Puerto Rico since we returned (we are actually heading back to Puerto Rico in the not-too-distant future). We got to snorkel in the pristine waters of Virgin Islands National Park and explore the oldest fort in the United States (bottom). 

Ship Sailing through Fog in Tracy Arm Fjord

Cruise ship sailing through fog in Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska

Almost exactly two months after returning home, we got on another plane and headed to the Pacific Northwest. We explored Vancouver, which I have been dying to see for over ten years. From there we boarded another ship and headed north to four ports in Alaska. We got to see a glacier, bears, raptors, and whales, and ride a dog sled. It was an amazing trip but I feel like we barely scratched the surface of Alaska and I can’t wait to return and explore it some more. 

After getting off the ship, we took a bus back to Washington where we spent a week exploring all of the unique ecosystems of Olympic National Park. From the mountains of Hurricane Ridge to the Hoh Rainforest and more green than the brain can process, it was a week of exploring the outdoors. My favorite part would have to be Rialto Beach and the crazy rock formations coming out of the water. It was otherworldly.

Hoh Rainforst

One thing that ties our travels together this year is rainforests. We hiked in El Yunque in Puerto Rico and drove through the rainforest in St. Lucia and St. Kitts. We explored the temperate rainforest at Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver and visited bears in the rainforest of Sitka. We hiked through the fascinating Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park (right). Near-constant rain and lush greenery seems to be the common denominator of 2022’s travels.

Of course, we took the camper out after returning from the PNW and spent some time at some new campgrounds and some old favorites (those stories coming in the next few weeks). The highlight of the summer in Michigan would have to be kayaking Pictured Rocks. That is something I have wanted to do since my first visit to the National Lakeshore and it was an amazing experience that I recommend to anyone!

San Juan National Historic Site

Since the summer, we have been pretty much at home, but more travels are coming soon! You will have to stay tuned to the blog to see what 2023 has in store for us! If all goes to plan it should be another amazing year of exploring this beautiful world!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Old San Juan

San Juan National Historic Site

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén