What does a mermaid do when she is taken out of the water for long periods of time? She dehydrates! That’s what has happened to me, living in a desert. I love New Mexico, but there is just no water here and my inner mermaid seems to be slowly going away. That’s why I have to have bi-yearly beach trips…to rehydrate. So, my trip to Puerto Rico was just that, a beach trip to rehydrate my inner mermaid (kinda funny but my travel friend this trip was Ariel, hahaha, like the litter mermaid.)
Ariel and I decided that the best way to actually see this beautiful island and water was to do a Stand Up Paddle-boarding (SUP) tour. So, without having a reservation we took to the internet, TripAdvisor has not failed me yet. I placed a call and could immediately tell that this SUP was going to be a highlight of my trip. Our guide was Michael. He arranged to pick us up and drive us to the location, Seven Seas in Fajardo, for our tour. It was nice having personal transportation and a local to be with. Michael gave us an experience that locals have. We were no longer tourists; we were his friends going on an adventure.
He gave us training on how to paddle and off we went. He also brought snorkeling gear for us to explore a reef! While snorkeling, he gave us a lesson on how to relax and hold your breath for longer. He spends a lot of his spare time free diving so he has the know-how and experience to actually teach us the techniques that he has paid money to learn. And he just shared this information with us, to help us snorkel better.
We came to a little area where some little waves were breaking, and I attempted to surf on my board. I fell more than I surfed, but I was able to catch one wave 🙂 (Surfing has always been on my bucket list, and now, more than ever, I REALLY want to do an actual surf lesson.) A little further out there was an amazing channel that he took me too. The channel was intense. The waves were breaking all around us, but never on us. You could see the walls of deep water surrounded by the shallow parts. Going out to the channel was easy, the water took you. However, coming back was a different story. You had to be very strong to go against the current and against the wind to make it back to the shore, or you could be taken out to sea. In fact, I ended up partly being towed back by Michael. I felt extremely safe with him and knew that he would watch out for me. I am grateful that he took me out there to see the channel and have that experience. I was even told that what I had just done, paddling out to the channel, was something that very experienced SUPers did, not novices (and trust me, I’d definitely consider myself more of a novice). On our way back to our launch spot, I finally realized just how far we had actually paddled. The view was amazing. The water was so blue and you could see up the coast to how beautiful this island really was. That’s what I came to do, see the beauty of Puerto Rico.
After our tour we went across the street to a restaurant (really more of a side-of-the-street food vendor) and Michael ordered food and drinks for us. This was amazing! We had an assortment of Puerto Rican food (Conch salad, empanadas, chicken) and I had my first local beer. This is what I was wanting, an experience that locals have! Ariel and I would NOT have stopped at this type of restaurant by ourselves. But this was exactly the Puerto Rico that I wanted to experience. I wanted to eat the food the locals ate, stop where the locals swim, and enjoy my experiences that day, like a local. We ate outside, barefoot, and this is the epitome of islander life.
Next, we headed to the rain forest, El Yunque, where Michael showed us the wonders of the only recognized rain forest as part of the US. The road going up El Yunque was a little sketchy and I was so glad to have someone else driving. We paused to look at what should have been glorious waterfalls, but because of the drought they were in, was more of a mere trickle. Finally, we reached the peak of the mountain. There was a tower that you climb many, many, many steps and when you reach the top, you have an amazing view of all sides of the rain forest encompassing you. It was truly glorious looking out at the lush greenery and the many different plant life/trees that were in every direction. Being in a rain forest was a dream come true. It was gorgeous.
I went into this tour thinking I was getting a few hours of SUP and I walked away with a new friend. In fact, I even texted Michael throughout the remainder of our trip for food recommendations and questions. He really is so much more than just a tour guide. If you are looking for an adventure that will provide you memories and experiences that you will take with you forever, call Michael, he is your guy!!! He became so much more than just the guy who took us on an SUP tour. Most tours you get what you pay for; with Michael, you get sooooo much more!!!
Company: SUP Tours PR
Cost: Approx. $80 USD
Useful Notes: I brought a rash-guard, long sleeve shirt to wear, as we were going to be in the sun, on the water, for a few hours. If you prefer to only wear your bathing suit, make sure to put lots of sunscreen on so you don’t burn. Also, I brought a little travel cooler with water bottles. Michael carried this on his board so it wouldn’t fall in the water. This was a great idea and we were glad to have the water on the trip.