Puerto Rico Things to Do ⎮ Puerto Rico Bioluminescent Bays

Puerto Rico Bioluminescent Bays / Bio Bay - 2024 Guide & Tours

3 Bioluminescent Places, 3 Different Experiences

Guide to Help You Choose the Right Experience for YOU

5 Star Tour – Laguna Grande Bioluminescent Lagoon

Planning Tip:  Please take a few minutes to read about all three bioluminescent experiences in Puerto Rico; they are all unique and provide a different experience.  Our guides are honest and offer all the information you need to choose the right tour and experience for your family or group.

Puerto Rico boasts the distinction of hosting the world’s most radiant and numerous bioluminescent bays, holding the title of the ‘Brightest Bio Bay in the World,’ a prestigious recognition bestowed by the Guinness World Records.

Like water stars, these aquatic marvels cast a mesmerizing glow that transforms the bay into a celestial mirror.  You’ll glide across the water as day turns to night and surround yourself with the quiet glow of nature’s phosphorescent organisms living in the water, best experienced on a moonless night.  This world-class natural wonder is too magical to miss while you’re visiting Puerto Rico.  With three bioluminescent bodies of water, one on the east, one on the west and one in Vieques, you’ll have easy access to the magic from most tourist destinations in Puerto Rico. 

The Bioluminescent Bays & Lagoon of Puerto Rico

What is Bioluminescence and How Does it Occur?

The enchanting spectacle of glittering and gleaming life resembles the cinematic wonders depicted in films like Avatar, Nim’s Island, and Life of Pi… only real, natural and you can be the star in the experience.  You could head to Disney to be immersed in the fantasy world of Avatar’s bioluminescence, but in Puerto Rico, for a fraction of the entry ticket, you can experience the REAL magic.  

The enchanting phenomenon of bioluminescence is orchestrated by the minuscule organisms known as Pyrodinium bahamense, affectionately referred to as Dinos.   These microscopic dinoflagellates, when stimulated by contact with water or sensing movement, emit a brilliant blue light as a defensive response. The intensity of the glow correlates with the abundance of dinos in the water, creating a breathtaking display akin to tiny stars cascading down your hands when immersed in the water. As you paddle through the bioluminescent bay, the shapes of fish take on a mesmerizing blue hue, and the strokes of your kayak paddles transform the water into a magical azure spectacle. It’s important to note that the optimal experience of bioluminescence occurs on moonless nights.

There are no “beaches that glow” in Puerto Rico, there are lagoons and protected mangrove bays.  The areas that are bioluminescent are best accessed by kayak and boats. Other ways the bioluminescent bays are often called are Glowing Beaches, Luminescent, Phosphorescent Bay (Bahía Fosforescénte) & Glowing Water.

Map - Bioluminescent Bays of Puerto Rico

Nearby Places to Stay, Ferry Terminals, Tour Meeting Places

Need to Know Facts About Visiting - Puerto Rico Bioluminescent Bays & Lagoon

Dear Visitors, While the Puerto Rico Bioluminescent Bay offers a truly enchanting experience, it’s essential to be aware of certain factors that may lead to both delightful and challenging moments based on individual preferences. To ensure the optimal experience and the brightest conditions, we recommend taking a few moments to explore the advantages and disadvantages of each bio bay, along with planning tips and frequently asked questions provided below on this page, before booking a tour. This will help you make an informed decision and avoid potential disappointments.

Are you allowed to swim on the bioluminescent tour?

Like much of Nature, this biological system is fragile; no swimming is allowed and shouldn’t be allowed.  However, one bioluminescent bay allows swimming… for now, more below.

  • Mosquito Bayno swimming allowed at the bioluminescent bay.
  • Laguna Grandeno swimming allowed at the bioluminescent lagoon.
  • La Parguera – yes, swimming is allowed at the bay.  Please help protect the bays by wearing natural insect repellent.

Should You Take a Kayak or Boat Tour?

  • By Kayak – Kayaking tours are the most popular way of touring the bioluminescent bays and lagoon of Puerto Rico.  Kayaks allow a more interactive experience with the water, and the flora along the mangrove channels can be more appreciated.  The waters are calm along the bay under normal weather conditions requiring average physical ability.
  • By Boat – Various tour guides offer tours by small boat.  Families with small children should consider a boat tour for the safest conditions.  Boat tours are recommended in Lajas since they allow swimming for the ultimate experience. (see below for more information on location and tours).

Photography - Capture Memories, Not Photos

We understand the excitement that comes with this enchanting experience.  It’s only natural to want to document the moment through photos or videos, but we assure you that the essence and bioluminescence cannot be captured, especially with a phone camera.   Only very skilled photographers and videographers are able to capture bioluminescence, requiring a lot of time and a private charter.  We strongly recommend stowing away your phone (in a waterproof case if kayaking) and simply savoring the moment. With cameras ubiquitous on phones nowadays, making this experience special involves immersing yourself fully, free from the distraction of a device. Embrace the memories, safely storing them with captivating stories to share with friends.

The Moon Phase & Bioluminescence

Be sure to check the moon phase calendar.  Bioluminescence is best seen on a moonless night, so the brighter the moon the less bright the lagoon/bioluminescent bay will be.  Various tour operators will not run tours on a full moon.  Mosquito Bay is so bright, we’ve seen it very bright even in a full moon sky.

How You Can Help Us Protect the Bioluminescent Bays of Puerto Rico

Although swimming is not allowed, sadly some tour operators allow visitors to get in the water, particularly in the bio bay in Lajas.  Please do not wear sunblock lotion, or bug repellants, when in contact with the water, it will harm the delicate balance of the ecosystem.  Please consider purchasing natural insect repellent without feet, a much safer alternative both for you and the dinos.

Crowds during Bioluminescent Bay Tours

If you read reviews from tours, some people complain about crowds during kayak tours.  Following are facts to know about the bioluminescent bays and lagoon in Fajardo to help you make the best choice for the most enjoyable experience:

  • Laguna Grande in Fajardo is located on the east coast of Puerto Rico, making it the most accessible, receiving the most visitors, since the majority of tourists stay in the San Juan, Isla Verde & Rio Grande resort communities.
  • La Parguera Bioluminescent Bay is located southwest of the island.  The drive to Lajas from San Juan is about 2 hours, which in our opinion is well worth the drive, the bay is brighter (under optimal conditions), with boat tours are smaller and more intimate with much fewer visitors when compared to Laguna Grande in Fajardo.

What to Wear during a Bioluminescent Bay Tour

Please wear comfortable clothing; long-sleeved beach shirts are great to protect you from possible mosquito bites and dry quickly.

Check for Conditions Before your Tour

A few days before your scheduled tour, call your tour guide and ask about conditions, rain, tides, and temperatures that can have an effect on bioluminescence.

Puerto Rico Things to Do ⎮ Puerto Rico Bioluminescent Bays