After a great time in the Dorado/San Juan area, we packed up and drove East to the town of Fajardo. Fajardo is a coastal village with an "old town", the ferry docks and a more modern developed neighbourhood. We stayed at the Fajardo Inn which is high up on a mountain top with views of tropical rainforest and the ocean.
Our first adventure on this side of the island was to visit El Yunque rainforest. We headed inland and drove up a lush, humid, very tropical mountain. Sounds of frogs and tropical birds filled the air and there were so many colours of green! We checked in at the visitors' centre and the drove up a bit to our first stop at Coca Falls.
We then hiked to Mira Falls, a good 30 minute hike in, up and down terrain. The boys said swimming under the waterfall was one of the highlights of their trip. After watching two adults have bad falls on the rocks, I decided with my shoulder that it wasn't worth the risk. Adam helped splash me with some of the cool refreshing water though!
We hiked back out and stopped for some yummy pinchos and snacks on the way down before heading back to our hotel.
The next day we made our way to Luquillo Beach, a quintessential Caribbean beach with white sand, turquoise waters and coconut palms providing shade. The water was incredibly warm and clear, perfect for swimming.
We ate at the beach kiosks having delicious (virgin) pina coladas, pinchos and empanadillas. And the boys added some ginormous frappes for dessert.
One of the things I knew that I wanted to do in Puerto Rico was to kayak out to the bioluminescent bay. I had read several reviews online and the reviews were mixed. My analysis of the poor reviews was that people often had a combination of false expectations around what bioluminescence is and had little experience kayaking. We had an amazing experience. I booked a kayak tour before we left and was happy to have a marine biologist as one of our guides. We learned a lot about the area before we headed out. We kayaked through a mangrove-lined canal and then came into Laguna Grande, the bay or lagoon that would become bioluminescent upon darkness.
The bioluminescence is caused by plankton in the water that when moved or agitated, glow. The effect was magical and sparkly. A light blue glow surrounded our hands and paddles when they moved in the water and beads of water sparkled as they fell from our fingertips. Paddling back throught the darkness was an interesting experience. The boys got stuck in a mangrove tree's roots for a bit and it was easy to get disoriented. The overall experience was amazing and was a highlight of the trip for us.
For our last full day in Puerto Rico, we enjoyed the sun, the sand and the water. We went to Seven Seas beach and hung out at the hotel pools.
We had a very long travel day on Thursday...driving to the airport, flying to DC, making our connection and flying to Seattle and then driving home. We got in at 1am exhausted (4am PR time) and just dropped our bags in the foyer and headed to bed.
I love the days after a trip, reliving the memories and things we did together, talking about our favourite adventures and feeling so connected as a family. We've already started a list of places we might like to explore next spring break...