Exploring Puerto Rico’s Bioluminescent Bays

On the island of Puerto Rico hides a natural wonder ready to be discovered by locals and tourists. Bioluminescence is one of the most amazing natural phenomena in the Caribbean.

You may have never heard of this, but it is a natural process through which living aquatic organisms produce light and result in a chemical reaction that can be seen as a beautiful and magical natural phenomenon. 

What is bioluminescence?
Bioluminescence is a process that occurs in some living organisms, where a chemical reaction that produces light is created.

Most of the time, we can see it at night on the beaches, on the shore, where the waves break, which is when daylight does not prevent us from seeing it. Animals that have bioluminescence include bacteria, phytoplankton such as dinoflagellates, animals such as ctenophores, some fish and squid, some jellyfish, and shrimp.

Among the most emblematic are abyssopelagic fish, fish found in the oceanic zone from 3,000 to 6,000 meters deep, such as lophiformes (lanternfish). The females have glowing flesh bait that attracts prey to approach and capture them more easily.

There is also the world’s smallest shark, the 15-centimeter lantern shark, which self-promotes itself using photophores (light-producing organs) around its reproductive organs. 

Where to find bioluminescence in Puerto Rico?
You can find three different places to observe this wonder of nature, each with things for and against, so you have options to choose from according to your needs. These three locations are Laguna Grande, La Parguera, and Mosquito Bay.

Puerto Rico is one of the luckiest places in the world in terms of natural phenomena since there are only five places where bioluminescence can be observed throughout the year, and the island has three of them.

  1. Laguna Grande, Fajardo
    A short distance from the city of San Juan is Fajardo, a region known for being the center of water sports that tourists can enjoy. For this reason, it is one of the most visited places on the island, with an enormous influx of people.

  2. Mosquito Bay
    It is located on the island of Vieques and is considered the best place to appreciate the bioluminescence phenomenon. This is because it is the brightest and has adequate space to develop and illuminate its visitors.
  3. La Parguera
    It is a coastal community located in Lajas, in the southwestern part of the island of Puerto Rico. This name knows due to snappers’ abundance and good fishing. As for visiting it to observe bioluminescence, it is necessary to see that it is one of the least visited by tourists and locals because it is the least illuminated. Still, if you want to get there without using kayaks, it is the ideal place because it is the only one that allows motorboats.

When is the best time to find bioluminescence in Puerto Rico?
As mentioned above, Puerto Rico is fortunate because bioluminescence can be found throughout the year. Despite this, other factors may intervene in your visit to the natural phenomenon.

One of them is the lunar cycle since the moon’s illumination, depending on its phase, is crucial for the sighting of this phenomenon. The darker the sky, the brighter the waters will be. It is recommended to visit the place when there is a new moon. Since the mode of travel is by kayak, it is best to see when the waters are calm, as strong winds could cause accidents.

At Kayaking Puerto Rico, we provide prior notice about the weather conditions and the lagoon’s brightness; thus, we ensure that you have all the details of the Bio Bay Adventure.

How to visit the bio bay with a tour?
If it is among your priorities to take this tour and you do not want to miss it, you can hire the services of Kayaking Puerto Rico in advance through the website. If, on the other hand, it is a plan you want to do, but it is not a priority, you can arrive directly at the island and find out about it.

Depending on the operator, prices vary but range from $55 to $76 per person. The Department of Natural Resources has a list of more than 13 tour operators authorized to conduct guided tours of the bays, such as Kayaking Puerto Rico. There are usually two daily trips, one around sunset and one at 8:00 pm. The first allows you to see the mangroves and enjoy the environment as you kayak into the evening. The last trip can guarantee the complete darkness needed to know the adventure shine.

Many people wonder if it is possible to visit these bays independently. The answer is yes. But you can only do it if you have your kayak. 

It is also essential to remember that even if you have your kayak, you must be a person with experience and confidence in the sea because the waters are often tricky to navigate. It would be hazardous to do it alone if you do not have the necessary knowledge. 


Can anything else be done besides observing bioluminescence?
Many wonders if additional activities can be done on the bioluminescence kayak tour. One of the most asked questions is if you can swim. 

The answer is no. It is impossible because the priority is to take care of the ecosystem, so if someone swims, the dinoflagellates may be at risk. They are sensitive and can be damaged if exposed to personal care chemicals such as sunscreens, repellents, perfumes, or creams. Otherwise, nothing would be dangerous since the waters of these places don’t represent a risk for tourists, but remember that the priority is the care and protection of our magical nature resources. 

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are three incredible places to experience bioluminescence in Puerto Rico. One is Fajardo, where Kayaking Puerto Rico has a great spot.


Experience this extraordinary natural phenomenon on a night tour around Fajardo with Kayaking Puerto Rico
Discover a whole new world at the Laguna Grande Nature Reserve in Fajardo. It will feel like a fairy tale full of magic where the bioluminescence will envelop you with its beauty. 

Fajardo is the most popular place to observe this phenomenon because it is the closest to San Juan, making it easier to reach tourists and locals. This city is just 45 minutes from the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, where tourists arrive in search of the island’s beautiful adventures. Fajardo has dream beaches, magical natural reserves, different hotels for any budget, and exquisite cuisine that will delight every visitor. 

Always something to do here, allowing for all kinds of plans for any member of your family or group of friends. There are plans for everyone. From visiting historical sites such as the Santiago Apostle Cathedral to visiting natural places that will leave you enchanted, such as the Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve, the Bioluminescent Bay, and different nautical experiences make Fajardo a must-see destination. 

Bioluminescence exists worldwide, and the Bio Bay of Fajardo is only accessible through guided tours. We are among the best positioned on the island among the companies that offer these excursions. 

In our kayak tour, you will enjoy the bioluminescence in Fajardo Bio Bay; in addition to a kayak tour through a mangrove forest with protected fauna, you will learn about the different ecosystems of the reserve and the importance of each one of them for the planet. You will also learn about the constellations you find in the sky since the tour is at night, and you will meet the most professional and attentive guides in Puerto Rico, who will make your time unforgettable. 

There are also some details about the tour that you should keep in mind in advance. The minimum age to do this kayak tour is six years old for the safety of minors; the time has an approximate duration of 2 hours, and you must have a moderate skill level to handle the kayak; the tour is open from Monday to Saturday, and the departure is from Las Croabas Park so that you can get there in different means of transportation such as a rental car, Uber or cab. 

This tour includes snacks, insect repellent, first aid kit, among other amenities that will make your time wholly comfortable and safe. In Kayaking Puerto Rico, we look forward to your visit so that you can experience the magic of bioluminescence on your own.