Beaches, Stars, and Luminescent Bays in Puerto Rico

On day three, I made myself some breakfast, and then set off from home. I bought a mango pineapple smoothie from McDonald’s for something like $3 and then took the T9 from Rio Piedras to drop me near Escambron beach. It’s not exactly pristine, because it’s quite well-known. Also, a lot of families had showed up with their kids. You can swim in this beach because the waves are controlled by rocks. You can do snorkeling too. On a good sunny day, it can be nice. But the area around is pretty commercialized. I relaxed there, and then thought of going to the nearby Condado beach. But I instead kept walking to old San Juan. Other famous and good beaches are Ocean Park, and Isla Verde.

Escambron Beach

Escambron Beach

On the way I stopped by a gas station to buy beer worth $.95, had it outside the station. I also bought some chocolates and almonds to give me good company. It was under $5. Next stop immediately was Capitol of Puerto Rico. There is no entry fee, and it’s worth all the no money you have to pay. I kept walking around, and then went to the San Juan food court for coconut pina colada and mojito. It cost me $10. I left a tip of $1. Then I went to Punto de Vista, a rooftop restaurant, and had vegetarian mofongo. It was amazing! I also had a beer with it. It cost me around $20 with tip. (Food in old San Juan can be expensive. It is a very touristy place.) After that I had another beer from the food court for $2 and then took a cab back home. That cost me $20.

Capitol de Puerto Rico

Capitol de Puerto Rico

Mural work on the way toward old San Juan

Mural work on the way toward old San Juan

View from Posada hostel

View from Posada hostel

Next day, Géne, my host and I went to the supermarket and I bought some stuff for the house. I spent around $25. Stuff is really cheap here. I also bought some things for myself. Then we came home and I cooked Lo Mein noodles for myself, Géne, her sister, and a tour guide, Peter, who was going to come pick me up for a biobay tour.

This tour happens only at night, and it’s best to go for it on no moon days. Unfortunately it was just the day after full moon. Peter is Géne’s friend and he works as a tour guide in Fajardo. San Juan to Fajardo taxi one way will cost you $70. There are buses that go there too, but I had no patience to either find that out or to wait for one. Also, I got my ride for free. I just had to pay for the biobay tour. It was $75. There are several groups who do these tours. Peter’s group is called Puerto Rico Tour Desk. Peter is very knowledgeable and he has a sense of humor that resonates with nature. He is a very good tour guide.

There are very few bioluminescent bays on Earth and three of them are in Puerto Rico. Actually there are luminescent plankton in many bays, but the sheer number of them in these bays makes them observable. I wanted to go to the one in Vieques, but I was not in a position to do that easily. In Fajardo, you have to kayak for quite some time with your partner to get to the bay. Make sure you are fit and in good shape to be able to do this easily. Either way the guides are around to help. The bay is in the north-eastern peninsula of Puerto Rico. You also hear a lot of fauna like the cookie frog, crickets, nocturnal birds, etc. Everyone in my group was paired because they were couples. I travelled first class with Peter. There are more benefits than you can imagine to travelling alone. We did a very good job kayaking in sync, and I am not going to describe the rest of the experience in much detail. What you see on internet are completely fake pictures because it is almost impossible to capture this phenomenon on camera. All I will say is that you get a 180 degree view of stars and planets above, and there’s plankton glowing in the waters. You are in the middle of nowhere. Peter said to all the couples that they could “make love to the plankton” and go skinny-dipping but it had to be a quickie. I was the first one to jump out of my kayak. A couple jumped after me and made love in that water I guess. They were cool.

I came back with another tour guide. He dropped several groups in Marriott, one in Hyatt, and then said he wanted to say “hi” to a friend in a bar. I was cool with it. He asked me if I wanted drinks. Ideally I would have said no, but I knew he worked with Peter so I went ahead. I had a passion fruit mojito in a hole-in-the-wall bar. It was really very good. It was free for me because the bartender was tour guide’s friend. I tipped the tour guide $6 (I tipped Peter too with $10) and told him that I wanted to head back home. Then I slept like a baby.

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