If you’re looking for a unique experience in nature, you can’t leave Puerto Rico without visiting the magnificent bioluminescent bays. As you move through a bioluminescent bay you’ll notice how the water shimmers as if floating in a star-filled galaxy. There is no experience that compares in terms of beauty and rareness, making it impossible to be missed. There are only five bioluminescent bays in the world and Puerto Rico is home to three of them. So, here’s all you need to know about these natural wonders for your next Puerto Rico bio bay tours.
Bio bays are rare ecosystems that appear when microscopic, organisms called dinoflagellates grow in quantities big enough to produce a glowing effect when they are stimulated by movement. As you paddle or swim, these organisms light up leaving a trace of neon blue color.
Dinoflagellates can be found throughout the ocean, but it is very rare for them to be live in concentrations high enough to be noticeable by humans. There are various factors that create the necessary conditions for bioluminescence in Puerto Rico: red mangrove trees that surround the water, a lack of modern development around the bay, temperature and depth of water and small channels to the ocean that keep the single-celled organisms in the bay.
The three bio bays in Puerto Rico are Mosquito Bay in Vieques, Laguna Grande in Fajardo and La Parguera in Lajas.
Mosquito Bay is considered one of the best examples of a bioluminescent bay in the world, due to the great concentration of dinoflagellates. It was even recognized by the Guinness World Record in 2006 as the brightest bio bay in the world. This bay takes everyone’s breath away with its stunning setting and lack of pollution, making it one of Puerto Rico’s best eco-tourism attractions.
This bay is technically a lagoon and it is the most visited in Puerto Rico due to its proximity to San Juan. You get to go through a narrow canal surrounded by mangroves until it slowly opens out into an open sky and into the glowing lagoon, making it an unforgettable experience.
La Parguera is located in the southwest of Puerto Rico and unlike the other two bio bays, La Parguera is the only one were swimming in the vibrant waters is allowed. You can also kayak or take a glass-bottom boat ride to admire the dazzling glow of the organisms in the bay.
After Hurricane Maria, the bays were devastated as well as for the rest of the Island. The hurricane disrupted their delicate ecosystems and they, unfortunately, went dark. However, Puerto Rico is known for its resilience and nature followed suit. After some time, they have slowly recovered and today they are glowing better than ever and accepting visitors every day for their amazing Puerto Rico bio bay tours.
The Bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico glow all year round, but if you want to see the bay at its brightest it’s a good idea to check a moon calendar. The less light the better for these bio bay tours, so the best days to book are when the moon is in its “new moon” phase. Even if it is a full moon the water will glow, but you’ll be able to notice the effect that movement has on these planktons if it’s darker.
Most Puerto Rico bio bay tours are made in kayaks, so wear comfortable clothing and be ready to paddle through the glowing waters. There are also other tours like our La Parguera Tour where you can take a boat ride and get to swim in the magical bay.
Everyone is usually allowed on these trips including children. However, some tours have different levels of physical activity, so be sure to check if it’s appropriate for you. In any case, be ready to paddle or swim on these tours.
To help protect this rare ecosystem, avoid using hand creams, bug repellant, and any other products with harmful chemicals so future generations can also enjoy this stunning experience.