There are only a handful of places in the entire world where you can witness a bioluminescent bay and three of them happen to be located in Puerto Rico. I first heard about these bio-bays while planning our trip and I was eager to find a way to explore this natural phenomenon. Since we did not have time to travel to the island of Vieques, which is home to the world’s brightest bio bay (Mosquito Bay), we decided to head to Fajardo to Laguna Grande (the world’s only bioluminescent lagoon) just 45 minutes away from San Juan.
There are three ways to experience the bio bay in Fajardo; on foot via the nature reserve, on an electric boat, or (most popularly), via kayak. After doing much research, we decided to take the electric boat with a well-established family-owned business called Bio Island. We could not have been happier with this experience. From the ease of making reservations, the detailed directions, reasonable cost, and overall amazing experience– Bio Island is the way to see Laguna Grande.
At first I was beginning to think that going out via kayak would have been a better choice, but after seeing 20+ kayaks crammed together in a narrow canal and learning that our boat would be going much further into the lagoon than the kayakers, I knew we had made the right choice. Captain Jeff and his brother were friendly and had a wealth of knowledge about the bay, its surrounding geography and wildlife, and even about cameras. We were a small group of 3 couples on a small, quiet boat (which has been approved as being environmentally safe) for the hour and a half excursion.
The ride was smooth and relaxing as we saw the sun slowly set on the horizon. Mullet fish torpedoed out of the water in groups like skipping stones while a sting ray or two jumped out of the water every now and then “Free Willy” style. I had never seen anything like it. As it got darker, the ever-present sound of coqui frogs serenaded us as we dipped our poles into water to watch the bay glow. It was amazing.
Night had fallen and our captain was nice enough to calibrate our cameras so that we could grab a couple of shots of ourselves enjoying the bay. Somehow, over the years, he has mastered settings on various cameras which was impressive and oh-so-helpful as many of us barely knew how to do this on our own. We were able to dip our hands into the water to witness the sparkly neon blue water glide off our skin like pixie dust — a sight to see and remember.
On our way out of the lagoon through the narrow canal surrounded by a red mangrove forest, we not only noticed that the kayakers had only gone about halfway into the bay, but that they were in a large group; much less magical, in my opinion. Instead, we were able to sit back, enjoy the darkness, and spot giant iguanas hanging out in the trees above us as tiny crabs scurried up mangrove branches. Have you ever seen a crab run up a tree before?
Here is a short video clip I filmed on the way back to the docks. Look at how dark it is and how loud the coqui frogs are! For those who have been to Disneyland, it was a real-life Jungle Cruise.