Bio Bay - Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico : Bio (Bioluminescent) Bay

If you go to Puerto Rico, you MUST visit one of the Bioluminescent Bays, also called “BioBay.”


The photo below was only lightened up a little in Photoshop.
It really happened.
I took this photo.
My family swam in glowing blue water.

Swimming in Puerto Rico Bio Bay

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Here is the deal.

There are 15 bioluminescent bays of this sort in the entire world. Three of them are in Puerto Rico. The brightest of which is Mosquito Bay on the island of Vieques, right off the east edge of Puerto Rico.

Guess which one we went to?

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The thing you *can’t* see in the photos is that when you move *slowly* – the Bio Bay sparkles on you. Seriously. Bryan dove under the water and came up looking like Edward in Twilight. There was no way to capture this with my camera, you can’t even see it from the boat. You have to get close to the water to see the sparkles. And then when you move faster, the light turns into a blue glow like above. I really wonder where James Cameron gets his ideas. Hmmmm.

How Does The Bio Bay Work?

This is from Wikipedia, but it is also an abbreviated version of exactly what our guide told us: The luminescence is caused by micro-organisms (dinoflagellates) which glow whenever the water is disturbed, leaving a trail of neon blue. A combination of factors create the necessary conditions for bioluminescence: red mangrove trees surround the water (the organisms feed off the dead leaves); a complete lack of modern development around the bay; the water is cool enough and deep enough; and a small channel to the ocean keeps the dinoflagellates in the bay.

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How Do You Get To A Bio Bay?

We took a tour* that brought us over to the island, fed us dinner, and puttered us around the bay on a pontoon boat. Many people also kayak through the bays. We chose the pontoon boat because we had Declan with us and I had all my camera equipment. There are tons of tours that go to all three BioBays, internet search was easy for this one – and the resort had folks to help too.

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When Should I Go To Bio Bay?

At night. Ha. That was pretty obvious. The other thing to pay attention to is the moon phases. It is best to avoid a trip a week before a full moon, and in fact, if an operator is touring during that week – you may want to look elsewhere. Seriously. This excursion is so special, I will book my entire next trip to Puerto Rico around the moon + best BioBay viewing.

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This is Bryan doing the breaststroke past me.

Is Swimming in the Bio Bay Scary?

A little. They warn you about jelly fish, and all the blue glow and the sparkles and the dark is so overwhelming that I about swallowed my tongue. My 7 year old son was flip-flopping the whole way there about whether he would get in the water, but I was so proud of him when he did it! He got in and swam with us for about 5 minutes. Champ!

This is something NONE of us will EVER forget.

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Was It Only About The Bio Bay?

No! Actually, the guide was very knowledgeable about astronomy as well. He had a green laser that looked like it was actually touching the stars (thank you for the clear night, Mother Nature) and he pointed out constellations, told us stories and folklore about the skies as well as the seas throughout the whole trip. We even saw the Southern Cross!

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*Thank you to East Island Excursions for providing a discount and an amazing adventure!

This article has 23 comments

  1. Amber

    Hurray–I was waiting for you to post about this after hearing your description. Looks AMAZING!

  2. Megan

    WOW, Aimee. That is AMAZING.

  3. Lavender Luz

    I loved seeing these pics and learning about Bio Bay from you.

    Adding this place to my Bucket List.

  4. Anonymous

    I can’t believe your photos! That is pure magic. – m

  5. The Casual Perfectionist

    The sparkles on my skin are goosebumps from reading your post! 🙂

  6. Kim Hosey

    OK, I just spent the last five minutes talking this up to my husband at the top of my lungs. Way cool.

  7. zenrain

    That is absolutely incredible!

  8. Pro Photo Rental

    SOOO glad you got pictures of this. I saw your tweet while it was happening, but in this case, a picture is truly worth 1000 words. Very cool!

  9. Jyl Johnson Pattee


  10. Anonymous

    amazing, amazing, amazing.

  11. jamie

    WOW!!!! incredible! I didnt know anything about this “BioLuminescent” Bay but it really makes me want to go there!. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  12. Momo Fali

    I am completely jealous of this awesomeness. Though, I have to say that the whole tongue-swallowing thing freaks me out just a little.

  13. Brett

    Ridiculously awesome photos Aimee! Thanks for sharing them.

  14. Oppikila

    Just found you, and WOW. I have never heard of such a thing – I can’t believe your photos!

  15. James

    That was awesome. Thanks for sharing the photos. I’m going to recommend this site to a friend of mine.

  16. monstergirlee

    Those photos are gorgeous!!!
    I love reading your PR recaps.

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  22. zulimar perez rodriguez

    Oh my God! i live in Puerto Rico and also work for the Puerto Rico Tourism company and I had never read a post or article about the biobay that would describe so perfectly the whole experience! great article!

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