If you don’t visit any of the bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico, can you even say you were here?
Bioluminescence is a rare phenomenon around the world. Luckily, Puerto Rico is home to three bioluminescent bays you can visit in a short trip from the United States.
I’m a local that has experienced this captivating phenomenon and I can tell you that it’s definitely one of the top things to do in Puerto Rico and a one-lifetime experience you can’t miss.
Here is everything you need to know to visit the Puerto Rico bioluminescent bays.
Table of Contents
- 3 Best Bioluminescent Bays in Puerto Rico
- Tips For Bioluminescent Bays in Puerto Rico
- FAQs about Bioluminescent Bays in Puerto Rico
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3 Best Bioluminescent Bays in Puerto Rico
Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay
Mosquito Bay water is the brightest in the world
Mosquito bio bay is one of the three bio bays in Puerto Rico, and it holds the Guinness Record for the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Mosquito Bay’s dinoflagellates reach up to 70,000 per gallon of water.
But, Mosquito Bay is harder to visit than other bioluminescent bays, as traveling from San Juan to Vieques means leaving the main island of Puerto Rico.
Almost every night, a kayak tour enters the bay to appreciate the natural glow. It’s said both Puerto Mosquito and Mosquito bay got their names from the ship “El Mosquito” which belonged to the famous Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresí.
How to Get There
To get from Puerto Rico to Mosquito Bay, travelers have multiple options:
✈️ Airplane – The first and simplest way to get to Mosquito Bay is to fly from San Juan airport to Vieques and take a bio bay tour from La Esperanza, where most tours meet.
🚗 Driving – Another option to get to Mosquito Bay includes renting a car at San Juan Airport, driving up to the Ceiba ferry terminal, and taking the ferry to Vieques.
🚕 Taxi/Shuttle – Travelers that don’t want to rent a car can opt for renting a taxi/shuttle from San Juan to the Ceiba terminal, and from there take the ferry to Vieques.
🚌 Tour – Some bio bay tour operators offer transportation once you arrive at the ferry terminal. If you stay in Vieques, you can also choose to rent a car to explore all the great things to do in Vieques.
Many tour operators offer bioluminescent bay tours in Vieques. Here are some of the most popular bio bay tours in Vieques:
Where to Stay Nearby
The best area to stay in Vieques nearby Mosquito Bay is La Esperanza. This area is centrally located and it’s home to bars, restaurants, and beaches. Here are some of the best hotels you can find in the area:
- 💵 Budget – The Vieques Guesthouse
- ✨ Mid-Range – Great Escape and Breakfast Inn
- 💠 Luxury – Blue Horizon Boutique Resort
- 💑 For Couples – El Blok
Pros and Cons
Although Mosquito Bay is the most popular bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico, here are some things you should consider before visiting:
- Brightest bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico and the world
- Less crowded than bio bays on the mainland
- Tours on electric boats available in high season
- Outside mainland Puerto Rico
- Having to stay overnight in Vieques
La Parguera Bioluminescent Bay
Visit the only Puerto Rican bio bay you can swim in
La Parguera Bioluminescent Bay is located on the southern shore of Puerto Rico in the city of Lajas. La Parguera refers to a small fishing village in Lajas, popular not only for hosting a bio bay on its coasts but for having great seafood.
Out of the three Puerto Rico’s bio bays, the Lajas bioluminescent bay is the only bio bay you can swim in. Visitors can also appreciate the Puerto Rico glowing water via boat tours, which is more simple for visiting with kids. Depending on the boat tour, you can either watch from the boat or jump in the water.
This bay is more like a blue green glow than bright blue, and the best time to visit is on a new moon night.
How to Get There
There are three main ways to get to Lajas:
🚗 Driving – The simplest way to get to La Parguera is by renting a car and driving from San Juan. This method also provides flexibility and allows passengers to make as many stops as they want on the way to Lajas.
✈️ Airplane + Driving – Travelers coming from the United States can choose to arrive directly at Mercedita International Airport in Ponce, which is an hour away from the bio bay. You can also choose to take a plane from SJU to Mayagüez with Cape Air. After reaching either city, travelers can rent a car to reach La Parguera.
🚕 Taxi/Shuttle – It’s possible to take a taxi/shuttle from San Juan to Lajas, but the route is both time-consuming and expensive, with rates over $150.
Besides a boat tour, kayaking tours are also a popular way to explore the stunning blue-white glow of La Parguera Bio Bay. Check out some of the tours you can take at La Parguera:
Where to Stay Nearby
La Parguera is one of the best places to stay in Puerto Rico, and it’s something every Puerto Rico tourist should do. Here are some of the best hotels you can stay in or nearby La Parguera:
- 💵 Budget – Turtle Bay Inn
- ✨ Mid-Range – La Jamaca
- 💠 Luxury – Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa
- 💑 Small and Cozy Stays – Casa Bonita Inn
Pros and Cons
Before choosing La Parguera bio bay over the other bio bays in Puerto Rico, travelers should consider all the pros and cons of this trip. Here are some of them:
- Variety of bioluminescent bay tours
- Collective boat tours
- Located in mainland Puerto Rico
- Long trip from San Juan
- Harder to find taxis/shuttles to the city
Experience a bioluminescent bay close to San Juan’s airport
Laguna Grande bio bay is on the east coast of Puerto Rico and it’s one of the main attractions in Fajardo. This bioluminescent bay, hidden inside Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve, is the easiest to visit for travelers staying in San Juan.
Laguna Grande’s experience is charming in its own way, as you have to kayak through mangrove channels before reaching the bioluminescent lagoon. Even if the most common tour to this lagoon is by kayak, BioIsland operates an electrical boat in the bay.
Although it’s the easiest to visit, this lagoon’s ecosystem is still recovering after Hurricane Maria.
How to Get There
There are multiple ways to get from San Juan to Fajardo:
🚗 Driving – Renting a car is the most convenient way for flexibility. Although the ride from San Juan is short, having your own car will allow you to make stops at El Yunque and Luquillo on your way to Fajardo.
🚕 Taxi/Shuttle – As Fajardo is a touristy destination, you’ll find plenty of taxis and shuttles between San Juan and Fajardo.
🚌 Public Transportation – Travelers can catch a “guagua pública” in the “terminal de carros públicos” of Rio Piedras, in San Juan. For this option, you should know basic Spanish, as you’ll need to ask for directions.
You can find multiple Laguna Grande’s bio bay tours. Most tour operators in Laguna Grande offer pick-up in specific hotels in San Juan. Here are some of the top tours:
Where to Stay Nearby
Even if Fajardo is relatively close to San Juan, this city has so much to offer that it’s best to stay a night or two in it. Some of the best hotels to stay in and nearby Fajardo are:
- 💵 Budget – Sueños del Mar
- ✨ Mid-Range – El Conquistador Resort
- 💠 Luxury – St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico
Pros and Cons
Before visiting Laguna Grande in Fajardo, here are some pros and cons you should evaluate:
- Short car ride from San Juan
- Many tour operators
- Easy access
- Plenty of parking
- Glow affected by Hurricane Maria and light pollution in certain areas
- Gets crowded
Tips For Bioluminescent Bays in Puerto Rico
Tip #1 – Visit on a Moonless Night
Plan your visit to the bio bays in Puerto Rico on a night with a new moon phase. If you can’t visit during the new moon, try to avoid the full moon phase unless it’s cloudy.
The combination of natural and bright artificial light makes it almost impossible to appreciate the blue green light in the bay.
Tip #2 – If You Can, Choose Mosquito Bio Bay
If your Puerto Rico itinerary allows it, choose Mosquito Bay for your visit. Mosquito Bay water holds a high concentration of dinoflagellates, which makes it the brightest bio bay in the world according to the Guinness World Records book.
The shallow and small entrance of the bay and the mangrove trees in Puerto Mosquito keep these microscopic organisms trapped inside the bay, leaving greenish blue trails every time you move the water.
Tip #3 – Pick the Best Method for You
While the most common way to visit the bio bays is by kayaking, it’s also possible to visit on a tour boat. Para La Naturaleza also offers a walking guided tour through Laguna Grande, Fajardo. Pick the method that is the most comfortable for you.
Tip #4 – Wear Deet- Free Bug Spray
Due to the high concentration of mangrove trees in the bays, there is a high population of mosquitoes that can easily ruin your bio bay experience, so make sure you apply DEET-free repellent before your visit.
If you’re visiting la Parguera and are swimming in the water, consult with your tour operator about which chemicals you shouldn’t use during your visit.
Tip #5 – Bring an Extra Set of Clothes
Even if you’re not swimming in the water, water will enter your own kayak as a result of paddling. Bring a microfiber towel and clothes to change after you’re done with your bioluminescent bay tour.
FAQs about Bioluminescent Bays in Puerto Rico
Where are the 3 bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays are located in the cities of Lajas, Fajardo, and Vieques. La Parguera in Lajas is the only one you can swim at when visiting. Laguna Grande in Fajardo is the easiest to reach from San Juan. Mosquito Bay in Vieques is the brightest bio bay in the world.
Where is the best bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico?
The best bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico is located in Vieques. Known as Mosquito Bay, Vieques’ bioluminescent bay is not only the brightest in Puerto Rico but also the brightest in the world.
Where can you see bioluminescence in Puerto Rico?
Travelers can find bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico in the cities of Fajardo, Lajas and Vieques. Both Fajardo and Lajas are in mainland Puerto Rico and Vieques is one of the municipality islands.
Now you know how to visit the bio bays to experience this natural wonder. Continue exploring and discover Puerto Rico with my guide to the top places to visit in Puerto Rico!
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