Imagine swimming or kayaking through inky black water that lights up in a million sparks every time you touch it. Visiting the bioluminescent bay Puerto Rico is a one-of-a-kind experience and has been on our bucket list for a long time. You can see bioluminescence in many places around the world on moonless nights, but there are only 5 permanent bio bays in the world that have enough bioluminescence to light up at every touch, and 3 of them are in Puerto Rico.
Read below for everything you need to know about visiting a bio bay in Puerto Rico, and even more details on swimming in the La Parguera Bioluminescent Bay. You can find information on the bio bay in Fajardo, the best Vieques bio bay tour, when is the best time to visit a bio bay, and what we think is the best bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico.
If you’re looking for more information on visiting Puerto Rico, check out our 7-day Puerto Rico Adventure Itinerary.
Some of the links below may be affiliate links and if you purchase something through them I may receive compensation.
What is a Bioluminescent Bay?
Bioluminescence occurs when a chemical reaction inside an organism’s body produces light energy. In the ocean, this occurs in several different organisms, but for the purpose of a bioluminescence bay, when single-celled plankton, called dinoflagellates, are disturbed, the glow in a flash of light and blue-green color.
Dinoflagellates live throughout the ocean and you can see bioluminescence around the world on beaches, in harbors, and in crashing waves. What makes a bioluminescent bay amazing is the sheer number of plankton in one place as a result of a number of ecological factors. These bays are FULL of bioluminescence – so much so that every time you touch the water you create a firework of glowing light.
Where are the Bioluminescent Bays Puerto Rico?
There are 5 recognized bioluminescent bays in the world and you can find 3 of the best bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico. This is why a Puerto Rico bioluminescent bay tour should be at the top of your list on your visit to this beautiful island. The 5 bioluminescent bays are Luminous Lagoon in Jamaica, Halong Bay in Vietnam, and in Puerto Rica, Laguna Grande (Fajardo), La Parguera, and Mosquito Bay (Vieques).
You can see the location of the 3 Puerto Rican Bio bays on the map below. Each of the bioluminescent bays offers something a little different in the terms of experience and logistics. We researched the options extensively and will share everything about Puerto Rico bio bay options below.
Where else in the world can you see bioluminescence? The answer is many, many places. There are many locations around the world that have seasonal bioluminescence. The magic of the glowing bays of bioluminescent Puerto Rico is that they are bright and consistent!
When is the Best Time to Visit a Bioluminescent Bay Puerto Rico?
The best time to visit a bioluminescent bay for a bio bay kayak or other tour is when it is dark. This means you will obviously visit at night, but more importantly, you will want to avoid the full moon. When the moon is full, it rises around sunset and the light will decrease the bioluminescence in the water. Most tour operators won’t operate during the full moon (and even if they do, you won’t get the best experience).
When we visited Puerto Rico, the first day of our trip was a full moon. We adjusted our entire itinerary so that we could visit the bio bay without the extra light from the moon.
The time of year you visit one of Puerto Rico’s Bio bays is less important as you will have a wonderful experience at any time of year. If you are really looking for the best time to visit, you should plan your visit during the dry season (Dec – April). The water during this time is clearer making it easy to see the light.
Another consideration is that the most crowded time tends to be in March when lots of people are on vacation, so if you can avoid these times you are more likely to enjoy the experience. We visited Puerto Rico in February which turned out to be a perfect time for a visit.
Which is the Best Bioluminescent Bay Puerto Rico?
The question of which is the best Bioluminescent Bay – Puerto Rico is not a straightforward question, as it depends on many factors. All 3 locations can be considered the best bioluminescent bay Puerto Rico for different reasons. There are 2 considerations when you are choosing the best bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico to visit: how easy is it to get there and what is the experience like in the bay itself. You can read more details below to figure out which bio bay is right for you.
Kayak Laguna Grande, Bioluminescent Bay Fajardo
This is the easiest bio bay to get to from San Juan and many of the other popular parts of Puerto Rico, making it the best Bio Bay in Puerto Rico for someone without a lot of time, or without a car. There are lots of tour operators that will take you out to kayak Bioluminescent Bay Fajardo.
Kayaking is the best way to see Laguna Grande since we are not permitted to swim here. The best Fajardo bio bay tour operators will also give you general information about the bay and the bioluminescence.
Bioluminescent Tours Puerto Rico – Fajardo
Mosquito Bay, Vieques, the Best Bioluminescent Bay for Bright Light
If you want to go bioluminescent kayaking with the brightest light, Mosquito Bay is the best bio bay in Puerto Rico for you. This bay is located on the island of Vieques off the eastern shore of Puerto Rico, making it much more difficult to get to. In order to visit the bio bay in Vieques, you will need to stay on Vieques overnight. The bioluminescent bay tours that operate here start and end on the island so you will have no way to get back to the main island of Puerto Rico.
You can get to Vieques by taking the ferry, or a flight from San Juan. There are many options of places to stay on the quiet island of Vieques.
The benefit of booking accommodations and organizing transport is that the Vieques bioluminescent bay tour tends to be less crowded and the whole bay is quieter compared to Fajardo. It is also the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. In addition, you get to visit the beautiful and quiet island of Vieques!
It’s important to note that the bioluminescent bay tours in Vieques are for kayaking, you can not swim in this bay.
The Best Puerto Rico Bio Bay Tours – Vieques
Swimming in La Parguera Bioluminescent Bay
La Parguera Bio Bay is the only bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico where you can swim, making it the best bio bay if you want to get in the water and be surrounded by glowing phosphorescence. It’s also a bit further compared to Fajardo making it slightly less crowded. After all our research and planning, this is the bay we decided to visit.
La Parguera is located in the southwest corner of Puerto Rico in a fun little town centered on exploring the marine environment. The area does not boast many beaches, but the mangroves make for rich snorkeling and diving opportunities, and of course (in our opinion) the best Bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico!
La Parguera is about 2 hours from San Juan. You can either book a tour of the bay that offers transportation from San Juan, rent a car and drive yourself back and forth in one night, or consider staying overnight in La Parguera. We spent 2 nights in La Parguera and loved exploring this part of Puerto Rico.
Many of the bioluminescent bay tours in La Parguera go out early to see the sunset and finish with the tour in La Parguera bioluminescent bay. Most tours offer bioluminescent swimming and several also offer kayaking. This is the tour we took and we highly recommend it. The boats were small and it was just our family on board. We also stayed longer at the bay than any other boat. You can read more below for the details about our experience on this tour.
La Parguera Bioluminescent Bay Tours
An Overview of our Tour at La Parguera Bioluminescent Bay Puerto Rico
Our tour started at 5:45 (this will change based on the time of sunset) and lasted just over 2 hours. The tour company had 9 people for the evening, but our family of 5 got our own boat and driver. Once we boarded, we made our way out through the mangroves towards Isla Mata. There were several other tours and we stopped at Isla Mata to watch the sunset. This tiny island has beautiful mangroves and you can take a very short walk on the boardwalks.
Back on the boat, we were offered free sodas and beer and headed on the short boat ride towards La Parguera Bioluminescent Bay. You will enter a narrow opening that opens up into the larger bay. Since we arrived right after sunset, you could easily see the other boats, but there was plenty of room for everyone and our driver found a spot to drop the anchor.
As the light dropped, he gave us information about the plankton and let us know when we could climb in to swim. It was truly an amazing experience and far exceeded our expectations. There were thousands of tiny bursts of light as we moved and swam that only got better as it got darker. Our driver pointed out some of the stars and constellations as well, but the bioluminescence was definitely the highlight. We had about 1 hour in the bay and it was the perfect amount of time.
After we got out, we made our way back to the dock in Parguera. Our tour company only offered one tour a day, but there were other boats getting ready to take out more passengers after our tour, so if you want to go later in the evening this is also possible.
We had a great time and consider this the best Puerto Rico Bioluminescent Bay tour.
Can You Visit a Bio Bay Without Going on a Tour?
When we first looked into visiting the bioluminescent bay Puerto Rico, we first looked into doing this on our own. Due to the locations of the bays, it is very difficult to do this on your own (unless you are visiting the area by boat). There was one private boat in the bay when we were in La Parguera, but there is really no way to access the bay if you don’t have a boat.
It is also potentially dangerous since the bay needs to be completely dark so you can see the bioluminescence. Since we like to skip the tour on many occasions, we were happy to have a tour booked for our visit the bio bay.
Looking for other fun things to do in beside the bioluminescent bay Puerto Rico?
- 7 Day Puerto Rico Itinerary
- Things to do in Culebra
- Exploring El Yunque National Forest
- The Best Things to do in Old San Juan
- How to Explore Canon Blanco
- 11 Things to do in Puerto Rico