A Guide to Puerto Rico's Magical Glow-in-the-Dark Beaches

Bioluminescent plankton  | © PawelG Photo/Shutterstock
Bioluminescent plankton | © PawelG Photo/Shutterstock
Photo of Mariela Santos
24 March 2017

Kayaking through water that glows in the dark may seem like something out of a fairytale, but it’s possible in Puerto Rico. For a relatively small nation geographically, Puerto Rico has a wealth of natural treasures and this includes three bio-luminescent bays. A natural phenomenon caused by living organisms, a visit to a bio bay makes for an unforgettable experience.

La Parguera

Near the southwestern town of Guanica, in Lajas, La Parguera is an area of shops and restaurants that is also home to a bio-luminescent bay. To reach the bio-lagoon, visitors take a 20 minute boat ride to the area, according to Paradise Scuba Snorkeling Puerto Rico, this is the only “bio-lagoon that allows swimming and snorkeling”.

Its history as a fishing community dates back to the 19th century, and some descendants of those early families that settled in the area, have helped develop tourism at La Parguera.

Daytime at La Parguera, Puerto Rico | © Jeremy/ Flickr

Laguna Grande

Fajardo is an eastern coastal town, where the popular Seven Seas beach and marina can be found. Various kayaking companies, such as Bio Bay Kayak Tours, offer nighttime kayaking tours at Fajardo Bay that can last up to an hour or two. The amazing glow is created simply by moving a kayak paddle gently through the water. It’s important to be aware that swimming isn’t allowed in the bio-luminescent water in order to preserve and minimize the impact on the ecosystem, since pollution is bad for the environment and the organisms that cause the water to glow require very clean water conditions.

Kayaking at sunset | © Ingrid Taylar/ Flickr

Mosquito Bay

Vieques is one of the islands that make up the archipelago of Puerto Rico, and the bio-luminescent waters at Mosquito Bay are accessible via kayak or boat. No swimming is allowed here, to protect the environment. The water is especially bright due to the high concentration of the organisms responsible for the phenomenon. Whether making plans to explore this, or the other bio bays, remember that the weather may affect visibility and that tours should always be carried out by credible companies.

Bio bay entrance | © angelaortizmusic/ Flickr

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