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I had heard from friends that this is one of the top attractions in Puerto Rico and I wasn't disappointed. Pick-up at the hotel worked great, although I had to call them myself to find out the exact time of pick-up. Originally I had been told that I would get a notification with exact details, but this never happened. But that is the only bad thing I can say about this trip. Transport to the bay worked fine, where we were teamed up in pairs for the kayaking. You have to find the right rhythm with your partner, but then it was a great experience to paddle through the dark mangrove forest and slowly seeing the glimmer appear when the paddle gets in the water. When we reached the bay, it was glowing everywhere. When you put your hand in the hand and took it out again, it looked like stars sparkling in your palm. Amazing experience!
This excursion is terrible. There is not enough time to take photos while you paddle. Also, you have to go to many other places to pick people up so you spend a lot of time in the bus. When you do arrive at the bioluminescence part, they throw a tarp over all the kayaks and people even though it's pitch black already and you drag your arm in the water. There was moon to interfere with the luminescence on the date we went so we should have seen it all well without the suffocating tarp. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY..
It was fun a fun trip and definitely worth doing. I preferred the early tour time so that we could kayak into the bay during daylight. Having seen the mangroves in one direction during daylight definitely made it easier to paddle our way back out of the bay in the pitch dark. It's easier if you have some kayak/canoe skills, but even an experienced kayaker will have a difficult time because other people on the tour who can't control their kayaks will be tipping over, blocking the channel, going off course, tipping you over, etc.
Our hotel pickup was great. The van was comfortable and we had good conversations with the other people on our tour. The amount of time the drive takes depends on whether you are the first or last person being picked up.
Because I am too heavy for the glass-bottom kayak, we had the regular kayaks. In fact, the entire group in our van had regular kayaks so I think that they separate out the two sets of people into two different tour groups. This was actually nicer this way because there wasn't any confusion about who gets into which kayak and nobody in the tour felt like they were getting a different experience.
At the kayak launch, the kayak introduction was very brief. In the bay our kayak guide was very informative. He showed us different constellations with a laser pointer while we waited for it to get dark and for our eyes to adjust.
The bioluminescent plankton is... different than I expected. The long-shutter photographs that you see make it look like big blue swirls. But in person it's really more like a lot of sparkles around your hands or paddles. Kind of like magic wand sparkles or pixie dust in cartoons. The bay is still recovering from the hurricane, and it's still very neat, it's just not like what you expect when you are preparing for the trip.
We put on bug spray and didn't get bitten except for one single mosquito bite on my ear. Although we did wear a long sleeve shirt, so that probably helped. but we had bare legs and those didn't get bitten.
Bring a towel because you will get wet from the waist down even if you don't tip over. The driver had towels for people to sit on, but it was nice to have our own towel in addition. The bathroom at the bay is only two stalls so don't plan on being able to change in the bathroom because there is a very long line. Everyone was better off not switching back into day clothes and just sitting on towels to dry off during the drive back to San Juan.
The snack that is provided is at the very end of the tour, and is just chips, so have a more substantial snack on your own before you leave on the tour and plan to have a late-evening dinner back in Jan Juan after the tour. You won't have enough time to eat from anyplace at the bay.
Agency has superb customer service, they asked me questions and established that I have booked a tour to wrong place since we wanted to swim in water, not only kayak. Alex was amazing, picked us up from Old San Juan, drove to the other end of the island, waited for us to finish dinner and then we had the most amazing experience inside bioluminescent bay.It is a must for all visiting Caribbean, this world wonder is hard to find. Absolutely fantastic!!! Highly recommend!
I don't recommend the company that operated the tour. They were very rude,insulting by making unnecessary commitments and showed lack of patients towards first timers, which made our experience very bad. I found sort of dangerous because we ended up bumping into another group on the way out
Having visited Puerto Rico only once before for one evening, to catch a cruise the following day, I learned of the bioluminescent experience and I wanted to avail myself of it the next time I was in PR. Fast forward five or six years and another cruise departing from PR was on my itinerary. Thus, I made it a point to enjoy 48 hours prior to our voyage and book this tour through Viator, because I used them last summer in Europe and adored the professionalism and the experience.
There are two departures, one near sunset and one after sunset. I think the earlier trip is more desirable, in spite of the incessant mosquitoes. My daughter and I took the earlier departure and were blessed to see all of the landscape as we paddled on our way to the bay, as well as the sunset. Paddling back in the darkness was fun, but the folks that were paddling out at the hour weren't able to see the lush scenery that we did.
Viator, to its credit, had copious amounts of insect repellent available for use. I forgot such areas as the back of my neck under my hair, arm pits, elbows, back of hands, and of course, that's where the mosquitos were able to drink and dine! Water socks are a plus, use the insect repellent, and enjoy! I don't have any photos as I didn't dare take any technology with me on the water.
The four tour guides were very informative and did the best they could with the size and inexperience of our group in pitch darkness navigating through the mangroves to the bay. They were upbeat even when we were second guessing our excursion! Paddling back against the current was difficult at times for most kayaks. We ended up having an adventurous time, and ALL laughed and complained about our experiences on the ride back!
Terrible! The guides were more concerned with making jokes and telling everyone they were the best guides for leading tours on the bay than in helping the participants. At one point, we had to ask a guide three times for assistance - and yes, the guide did hear us, it was just more fun to keep asking if we really wanted help - three times, before offering assistance. Just awful. As for what you will see - it's nothing like the photos you see online. You'll see some light in the the water from the organisms, but it's really equivalent to a pin prick - not glowing and not over a large amount of space. Do yourself a favor and don't book this tour. I've never left a review this bad before, and I wouldn't if it wasn't such a lousy experience.