Nature works in wonderful and sometimes inexplicable ways. We experience her beauty through the myriad of colors, scents and flavors she unselfishly shares with us. Very few things in the world could be labeled as unique, the Aurora Borealis in the Poles, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Grand Canyon in Arizona… All spectacular sites and well known around the world. Although it is not nearly as famous as these, Puerto Rico holds its own unique natural treasure: bioluminescent bays.
Before getting ourselves wet, let’s take a minute to know and understand what a bioluminescent bay is. Bioluminescence is a living organisms ability to produce and emit light. Bioluminescent bays are filled with microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates. Don’t worry they’re harmless! These tiny creatures need a certain environment to flourish, such as precise water temperature and depth, red mangroves to feed on, and little-to-no manmade development nearby. When these organisms are disturbed, they let out a neon green-blue-ish glow that turns the water into a glowing pool. These ultra-specific conditions make biobays very rare, so much so that only 7 exist in the entire world. What’s more, almost half of the world’s bioluminescent bays are in Puerto Rico!
Now that we got all the science part out of the way, let’s jump right into these amazing bays. Puerto Rico has 3 bioluminescent bays: La Parguera, Fajardo and Vieques. La Parguera is a small town in the Porta del Sol city of Lajas, just 30 miles from Ponce. This quaint town is known for its fisheries, small surrounding cays and ultimately its biobay. Out of the three, this is the least bright but the cheapest to see. Years of boat traffic and some pollution have dialed down the brightness but its still a pretty nice experience for anyone. Check out these Puerto Rico Tourism Company certified tour operators and book your outing.
Moving to the other side of the island, towards the East Region, you’ll find Fajardo’s Laguna Grande. Although it is a bit more expensive that its Lajas counterpart, the biobay experience at Laguna Grande is well worth it. The area is well preserved and tours operate under very eco-friendly rules, which keeps the concentration of our glowing friends at a high level. When the moon is not full, kayak tours are an intimate way to experience the bay but require some degree of fitness and true grit. The 15-minute kayak ride through a mangrove maze in pitch-black darkness is well worth the spectacle of lights that lies ahead. For those who would rather have someone else do the driving, boat tours are available right off the docks in Las Croabas. Boat tours are usually take place in small electric vessels (better for the environment and they don’t disturb our underwater friends!) so spaces are limited. Highly knowledgeable, bilingual guides will explain everything there is to know about this unique wonder. Watch the water glow before your eyes with any of these Puerto Rico Tourism Company certified tours.
Last but certainly not least, we travel off the shores of the main island to the turquoise waters of Vieques Island. Located just 8 miles east of Fajardo, the 21-mile long island of Vieques has been deemed as one of 10 islands to vist before you die. Picture a place where you can bask in pure white sand and crystal-clear blue waters all by yourself. Aside from its postcard-like shores, Vieques has other tricks up its sleeve that constantly lands the island in many travel sites and magazines: Mosquito Bay’s Bioluminescent Bay. Mosquito Bay is the Ferrari of biobays, with more dinoflagellates per gallon of water than any other bay in the world. This inlet is as bright as they come. The reason why this bay is so bright is because the mouth of the bay is narrow enough to let water in but not out, so the fluorescent plankton stay in the bay. It is also lined with an abundance of red mangroves that provide just the right amount of food for these aquatic fireflies to feed and flourish. On a clear night, with no moon, you can see the sky above and the water below light up like a firework show on the 4th of July, compliments of your kayak paddle. Whether on a boat or kayak tour, Mosquito is a once-in-lifetime adventure…Literally!
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