One of Puerto Rico’s top natural wonders, bioluminescent bays, or “bio bays,” are bodies of water that contain millions of micro-organisms that emit a fluorescent glow. Bioluminescence occurs when the micro-organisms—actually a type of marine plankton known as dinoflagellates—are agitated or disturbed causing them to illuminate. When disturbed all at once, a high concentration of dinoflagellates in the water can cause the bay to appear as if it is glowing. Kayaking in Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bay is one of the best ways to experience this fascinating natural phenomenon.
The island of Puerto Rico is home to three bioluminescent bays. The largest and most accessible of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays is Mosquito Bay on Vieques Island, a small island located off the southeast coast of Puerto Rico near the capital city, San Juan. The second-largest of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays, Laguna Grande, is located on the island’s northeast coast at Fajardo and the smallest, Bahía La Parguera, is located on the southwest coast of the island near Lajas. Each of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays can be visited on exciting kayak adventures.
It’s possible to visit Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bay at Mosquito Bay on nighttime kayak tours from the capital, San Juan. Cloudy or moonless nights provide optimum viewing conditions. Tours typically begin around sunset and your trained local guide will lead you on an eco-tour through the dark mangrove channels along the route to Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bay. As you approach the bay you’ll begin to notice a glowing effect in the water. The glowing of the dinoflagellates is a natural response to disturbances in the water and sweeping your paddles or hands through the bay will cause the glowing to intensify for a truly magical experience.