(Mis)Adventures of Yin & Yang: Tandem Kayaking in Bio Bay

View from Castillo san Cristobal

View from Castillo san Cristobal

So Hubby and I were in San Juan, and had walked through the colorful Old Town, seen Castillo San Cristóbal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro, and done the sacking on the beach.

We were ready to venture beyond the city and decided to do a half-day trip to the Bioluminescent Bay in Fajardo.

Colourful street sign in Old Town

Colourful street sign in Old Town

A bio bay is rare natural wonder. It’s a body of water that contains certain micro-organisms that glow when agitated – best viewed on warm nights. There are three in Puerto Rico, and the one at Fajardo is the closest to San Juan, though the second best in terms of the brightness.

The way to get to the lagoon would be by kayaking through a canal. Now, neither of us had ever kayaked before… but it couldn’t be too different from rowing a boat in the lake in Nainital, right?

Our car transfer dropped a bunch of us off at the bay, where we were given life jackets and instructions on how to kayak in tandem. The key was partnership and moving in rhythm. The instructor then made a joke about having seen couples get into major arguments while kayaking, and everyone enjoyed a good laugh.

A and I looked at each other – ‘That wont be us. We’ve been married for seven years! Partnership and rhythm. We GOT this!”

Unfortunately, we hadn’t ‘GOT this’.

When our hotel concierge had described kayaking as ‘relatively easy and fun’… he was, well, wrong.

It started out nicely enough with a smiley photograph and off we went, paddling with all our might.

Only to realize five minutes later that the distance between us and other kayakers of our group had increased substantially. Umm… all this while, we had essentially been ‘paddling’ in the SAME place.

Thankfully we weren’t the only ones having trouble, and kayaks of some other groups seemed to be in a similar predicament as us.

“Guys, your technique is wrong. You have to pull the paddle blades through the water. Not scoop the water”, our guide instructed us.


So, we tried again. We were moving now, slowly but surely.

“Yes! Now let’s go faster”, we said.

Soon we started zigzagging and ultimately started moving in a circle.

“Guys, remember what I told you. You have to paddle together. You, keep your eyes on her and follow what she’s doing”, he told A, pointing to me.

Picture this. Two ‘Type A’ personalities. Both hyper-competitive, high-achiever types. Put them on a kayak and ask one to follow the other. (Okay, forget personality types. Just picture this – ask a husband to follow his wife.)

You don’t need to be a genius to figure out – it doesn’t work.

While too long to recount fully, our struggle went like this –

“You are not doing what I am doing. I’m paddling left. You are paddling right. Have you forgotten what he said?”

“No! You are doing it all wrong. You’re paddling too slowly!”

“Look EVERYONE else has gone ahead. We are the only ones who can’t seem to get it right”

“I’m doing all that I can!”

“Oh my god, for once can you listen to me? Look I will give count. One – Two – One – Two…”

“Okay! One – Two – One – Two…”

We were in the narrow portion of the canal now. And stuck in the mangroves.

Our guide paddled back to our kayak, and quietly, roped it to his own and started pulling us forward. We sat in silence, till we reached the lagoon.

The sky was dark and everywhere the water was glowing – greenish blue flashes – as the kayakers ran their hands and paddles through the water. It was pretty cool.

As we got ready to leave, the guide asked us if we wanted to try kayaking on the way back.

“No please, just rope our kayak to yours”

We didn’t want to be THAT couple. Again.

P.S. I don’t have any pictures of the bay because they don’t allow you to take cameras or anything else. We bought a 10-dollar print of a photo that the tour operator had taken of the two of us as we set out kayaking. It shows us holding our paddles at a completely wrong angle.

P.P.S. That’s the time we decided that we could never participate in ‘The Amazing Race’ together. Followers of that TV series would know what I’m talking about.

P.P.P.S. Please tell me something like this has happened to some of you out there!