Glow in the Dark Waves: The Bioluminescent Bays of Puerto Rico

There are certain natural phenomenon that appear to be the result of magic. The northern lights, which are vibrant flashes of green light that light up the Earth’s northern-most skies every winter, and Yosemite National Park’s annual firefall, during which the setting sun gives Horsetail Fall the appearance of an active lava flow are two prime examples of natural phenomenon that are beautiful to the point of appearing surreal. One of nature’s most stunning displays is undeniably bioluminescent waves. Bioluminescence is the result of microscopic lifeforms that glow when they are tossed about by crashing waves. Puerto Rico is home to some of the world’s most stunning bioluminescent bays.

Bioluminescent Bays of Puerto Rico

La Parguera offers visitors the chance to swim in Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent waters. Many bioluminescent waters are off limits to swimmers because chemicals from sunscreen and insect repellent can devastate the bioluminescent lifeforms. Because La Parguera is a vast, open bay, the changing tides regularly recycle the water and flush out any potential irritants. Conservationists urge visitors to be mindful of how any perfumes, deodorants, or other chemical substances that visitors apply to their bodies may impact La Parguera’s delicate ecosystem.

Bioluminescent Bays of Puerto Rico

Mosquito Bay Puerto Rico—located on the island of Vieques—was once hailed as the world’s brightest bioluminescent bay by “The Guinness Book of World Records”. Mosquito Bay’s luminous blue waters put on quite a show. In 2017, Hurricane Maria disrupted Mosquito Bay’s glowing waters. Scientists feared that Mosquito Bay would remain dark. Thankfully, Mosquito Bay eventually rebounded and shined brighter than ever before. Visitors who wish to visit Mosquito Bay are advised to spend the night, as it is impossible to get a clear view of the bioluminescent waves when the sun is up.

Bioluminescent Bay

Laguna Grande—Puerto Rico’s third bioluminescent bay—can be explored by boat or kayak. Puerto Rico’s bioluminescence will shine the brightest if you plan your trip on the night of a new moon. There are only a handful of bioluminescent bays in the world, and Puerto Rico is home to three of them. If you have ever dreamed of gliding across glowing bioluminescent waters in a kayak under the stars, a trip to Puerto Rico is an absolute must. If you visit each of Puerto Rico’s luminous bays, you can experience different glow in the dark waters every night. Bioluminescent waves—much like the northern lights, or Yosemite’s firefall—are a magical sight that you must see with your own eyes to fully appreciate.


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