Bioluminescent Bay

Water activities abound in & around Vieques (as well as the main island and Culebra)!

Day trips on catamarans, sail boats and deep-sea fishing vessels.  Snorkel and scuba tours.  Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP!).

But not to be missed is the bioluminescent bay tour!  Puerto Rico has three bio bays, with the one at Vieques being the best.  I believe the bio bay, Mosquito Bay, in Vieques is one of the top three in the world!!!

Image taken from the internet….not one from our bio bay tour.

Bio bays are filled with ancient organisms called dinoflagellates, which bioluminesce when “agitated”.   Their ecosystem is so delicate and tenuous…and dependent on humans being good stewards to continue the existence for all future generations to admire.

The best way to enjoy the experience is in a 2-person kayak as close to a new moon as you can get.  However, if kayaking isn’t your thing, there are large pontoon-style boats that take groups.  (FYI: A full moon will bring too much light.  Reputable companies will not schedule tours near the full moon.  Plan your travel dates accordingly!!)

Just moving your paddle about in the water will cause the reaction you seek.  Keep your eyes peeled and you will see fish swimming and jumping.  Briefly run your hand across the water’s surface and you will see what appears to be glitter falling from your fingers!

Don’t forget to look up…the sky is equally amazing!  Filled with millions of stars creating countless constellations, I am sure.

Fortunately, the powers-that-be in Vieques realized that humans were wreaking havoc in Mosquito Bay and stopped all swimming in the waters.  Truth be told, I don’t believe the primary reason for the restriction was based on saving one of Mother Nature’s magical creations, but rather to avoid any bad press from shark attacks!  Yes, shark attacks!  The bay is open to whatever is in the Caribbean Sea to swim in & out at will.  That includes shark and manta rays!  One of our tour guides told me about a time that she and another guide were sitting in their kayaks in the middle of the bay when a huge manta ray, wingspan the length of a kayak, came beneath them.  THAT would have rocked!  One of the couples on our tour saw something large beneath them…had to be a shark!  There is no way I would have gone into those dark waters!!!

You really have to experience this for yourself to fully “get” the essence, the magic, the awesomeness of such small creatures of nature.  Photos do not come out well…and it is strongly advised that you do not bring a camera or any valuables into the bay.  Please search for images online (remember you will NOT go into the water to stir up the dinoflagellates) to get you interested and excited, but it is nothing like being there in the dark of nite, on the dark dark waters, waiting, watching, seeking the wonders.

We booked our tour with Abe’s, alleged to be the only real pirate on the island!  But there are plenty of bio bay tour operators from which to choose.

Abe’s Snorkeling & Bio Bay Tours, located on the Malecon in Esperanza.

For this part of your trip, bring chemical-free bug spray (no DEET), clothes you do not mind getting wet and a beach towel (for drying off after)!  I wore sandals, exercise skorts and a Body Glove top!!  As it was nite, no sunscreen was necessary!


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