Discovering the bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico

The bioluminescent bay aka « bio bay » is one of the most unique tourist attractions in Puerto Rico. A phenomenon you will only found in 5 places on earth, and 3 of them are in Puerto Rico. So if you are visiting the island, don’t miss your chance and go for a kayak tour!  

If the water glows it’s because of some microorganisms called dinoflagellates. This type of oceanic plankton create an emerald green and ultramarine hallucination illumination each time the water is physically disturbed. The simple fact of you sliding over the water with a kayak might be enough for the dinoflagellates to blow up. Periodically an upwelling happens within the sea, when deeper water containing nutrients rise to the surface. These nutrients act as fertilizer and trigger a « bloom » of photosynthetic dinoflagellates. 

Now, I would like to give you some useful tips and general information that may help you to get the best time out of this unique experience. Hope you enjoy reading.

The Bio Bay in Puerto Rico is a fragile ecosystem

Sometimes dinoflagellates blossom « Red Tides » which contain neurotoxins. Based on research this can lead to killing large amounts of fish and lead to human health risks if fishes are consumed. If so this illness is called Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning and can in some cases cause death. But no worries, kayaking on any Bio Bay is a completely safe experience. However, the tourism activities on the bio luminous bays hurt the dinoflagellates environment.

1. Laguna Grande in Fajardo is the closest to San Juan

Laguna Grande is the second most active in Puerto Rico. This bio bay located in Fajardo is only one hour driving from San Juan, which makes it the most easily accessible bioluminescent bay on the island. Exploring it you will find out amazing night scenery and thriving concentration of glowing microorganisms. Before reaching the lagoon you will have to paddle through a long and narrow canal. So if you are looking for some unique night adventure during your holiday in PR, here you go!

2. Mosquito Bay in Vieques is the most glowing bay

This is where you will found the highest concentration of dinoflagellates and our dear friends aka « mosquitos ». Now you know where the name « Mosquito Bay » comes from. It is the price to pay to enjoy the most glowing bioluminescent bay on earth. This bio bay located on the south coast of Vieques is really easy to access, no need to kayak through mangroves to get there. So if you plan to reach Vieques island during your stay in Puerto Rico you might consider putting this tour on your To-Do List.

3. La Parguera has the least luminous Bio Bay in Puerto Rico

Lajas is a southwestern municipality of Puerto Rico located between Cabo Rojo and Guánica, on the southern coast of the island facing the Caribbean Sea. La Parguera bio bay aka Bahía Fosforescente is the least most active bioluminescent bay on the island. But if you are visiting the south of the island, don’t miss your chance. Just go there you will be amazed of such natural beauty.

Protect the bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico?

Good things come to those who respect nature and if you go for a tour, please keep in my mind that bioluminescent bays can be easily damaged by toxins. Any chemicals you would apply to your skin such as bug repellent, lotions, etc.. could cause harm to the delicate and fragile balance of the bio bay. Of course, sun cream that was used to protect you during the day should be removed.

Frequent Asked Questions about the Bio Bay

Does the bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico glow all year long?

Yes, it does but because it is a natural phenomenon the intensity of the bioluminescence may change from one day to another. Good to notice, since hurricane Maria in September 2017, the bio bay in Fajardo has an intensive activity. RIP to the many deaths 🙏

How To Get Photos Like on “Bio bay tours” websites?

Don’t lose your time on the lagoon trying to catch the perfect picture, you won’t probably get it. That said here are some tips if you still wanna try. Turn your flash off, put ISO as low as you can, and use an extremely long exposure time (at least more than 10 seconds). But because you will be kayaking, you might be moving in that time-lapse. Which will make you get blurry picture with luckily some blue lights on it.