Have you ever looked up at the stars and thought about flying all the way up just so you can feel them for yourself? Well, you are not alone. Even though the chances of you hopping in a rocket and making your way up to outer space are astronomically low, Puerto Rico has an equally entrancing alternative. Yes, that’s right, bioluminescent bay!
These hypnotic waters will save you from a whole lot of neck craning just to star gaze. Why look up when your dreams are already at your feet?
The bad news is there are only five bioluminescent bays in the world. The good news? Well, Puerto Rico is home to three out of five bioluminescent bays in the whole world! These bays can be found in the cities of Lajas, Fajardo, and Vieques. The bay at Lajas is the only one you can swim in, and the one at Fajardo is the easiest to get to from San Juan.
The Science Behind Bioluminescent Bays
Bioluminescent bays are a result of microscopic, single-celled organisms that are called dinoflagellates. Dinoflagellates can be found throughout the ocean. These organisms can grow in large quantities (by large, we mean thousands and thousands) that are enough to produce a ‘glow in the dark’ effect when they are stimulated by movement. So, unlike any normal body of water, when you paddle through these bays, the organisms and everything they come into contact with are bound to light up in an enchanting neon blue-green tint. You will literally swim through stars!
The Bioluminescent Bay Boat Tour Experience
You can take a tour through the most visited Laguna Grande in Fajardo. Technically, this is the only one that is classified as more of a lagoon than a bay due to its narrow and long canal that leads to the luminescent water. Alternatively, you can enjoy a tour on a motorboat at La Parguera. You will be provided with equipment so you can dive in and swim after dark, or take a glass-bottom boat ride so you can spend the night in marvel. Vieques offers the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Enjoy a tour through these waters and be in awe of just how concentrated the water is thanks to our neon friends.
To make this experience all the more enjoyable, here are a few tips to bear in mind. It is best to avoid nights where there is a full moon. This is to ensure that the water is darker hence, intensifying the glow. It is also a good idea to call a couple of days in advance to confirm that the brightness of the bay is above 30% in the days before your tour. Dress comfortably in clothes suitable for kayaking as you will not be allowed to swim in any of the other bays apart from La Parguera. Additionally, try not to use hand creams, bug repellents or any other lotions that may pose a threat to or harm the organisms.
Depending on the bay tour operator you choose, prices may vary. However the normal price range is about $48 to $76 per person. Tour operators tend to offer two trips per day; one at sunset and the other around 7:30 pm. The sunset tour provides you with the opportunity to soak in the environment and have a look at the mangroves as you kayak. As can be expected, the later trips give you the chance to really see the glow of our new favourite micro-organisms.
Other Attractions in the Area
A good place to stay nearby is Vieques. This area is centrally located. If you are on a budget, you can stay at the Turtle Bay Inn or La Jamaca. For a small and cosy stay, you can opt for Casa Bonita Inn. If you are more accustomed to the life of luxury, or you simply want to pamper yourself, the Copamarina Beach Resort and Spa is a great option for you to consider.
If you are looking for ideas on what to do with your time, either before or after your visit to these enchanting bays, you can visit bars, restaurants, and beaches. Some good places to eat are the Biekes Bistro, Buen Provecho, Lazy Jacks, and so many others. The options are endless!
If you have opted to stay in Fajardo, some good places of accommodation are the Suenos del Mar which is budget friendly, the El Conquistador Resort which is a little more expensive, or the luxurious St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort.
Yes, you read right. A memorable night of witnessing the supernatural is yours to be had all with a simple booking. Hurry down to these beautiful bioluminescent bays and swim amongst the magical lights. Absorb the scenery, learn about the science behind the magic and be captivated. Do not miss out!