As it grew dark last night, our excitement grew over kayaking in the luminescent lagoon. Our tour guide picked us up around 6 and drove us to Las Cabezas in Fajardo. I had booked a guided kayak tour of the Bio Bay or Bioluminescent Lagoon as it’s often referred to. The bioluminescent lagoon attracts lots of tourists by night who come in boats or kayaks to see the glowing water.
The Fajardo lagoon is one of three bioluminescent lagoons in the area.
Once we arrived, we were greeted by our guide Puerto Rico Eco Tours who went thru the safety rules and fitted us with lifejackets.
It was a windy night and the water was a little choppy which concerned me. I’ve kayak in the past but never done ocean kayaking before. I get seasick very easy on boats when they start to rock. Was I concerned? No, I was terrified. All the same, off we went. The guide put a fluorescent light in the front and the back of each of our kayaks. My husband and me were in a double kayak and the three kids in a triple. Our guide was in a single kayak.
We kayaked thru some of the boats that were off shore following the guide across a small basin towards a mangrove swamp. It was pitch dark by the time we arrived at the mangroves. All we could see was the fluorescent stick on the kayak in front of us. The channel is narrow to begin with but there are also other boats to contend with. Many groups go in at the same time, so some others were coming out as we entered. So we were told: “Stay to the right of the channel at all times.” So we needed to stay to the right of the oncoming boats, keep a little distance from the kayaks in front of us, and avoid the mangrove tree branches that we could hardly see.
At one point our guide turned on his flashlight headband for a minute to check on us. I saw what looked like birds flying in front of me. I immediately realized that those weren’t birds, they were BATS. The guide told us that the mangroves had all kinds of animals on the branches. As you paddle you hear the water splash not knowing if it’s a fish that jumped from the water or something that fell off a branch into the water. After paddling for what seemed to be an hour we came out of the mangroves into a large lagoon, which resembled a large lake. It was dark, quiet, and the water was calm. You can see some of the city lights in the distance. When we looked up into the sky it was full of stars. We sat in the lagoon for about 10 minutes. Watching kayaks in the distance coming and going from the mangroves.
The sky started to light up. It looked like a thunderstorm was approaching so we started to head back into the mangroves. Our guide had us stop and swish our arms and paddle around in the water. The water started to sparkle like diamonds of light dancing around in the water. When these million of tiny dinoflagellates microscopic organisms are agitated, these plantlike life-forms produce light and glow. It was quite an experience to see. We shortly paddled back thru the mangroves to the shore to meet our driver. The excursion took around an hour and a half.
Swimming is not allowed anymore. It’s again the law. Certain chemicals that we apply to our skin like bug spray, sunscreen, lotions will harm the ecosystem and kill the organisms. The most you are allowed to do is put your leg or arm into the water. We used our paddle and our hand to stir up the water.
There are other bioluminescent bays around the island of Puerto Rico, they say Mosquito Bay on the Island of Vieques, is the most bioluminescent in the world. It contains more than 160,000 microscopic dinoflagelates per liter of water. It shines with the most intensity.
It was truly an adventure not to be missed if you’re visiting Puerto Rico. Make sure when you book our tour guide you ask about the size of the group. We went for a private tour guide. Some of the other tour groups go out with parties of 15-30 people. It’s hard to hear your guide when you have 20 people a head of you. It can become quite crowded and you can bump into each other with so many kayaks in the water.
Bring a waterproof camera with you. We didn’t bring our camera because we were worried that it was going to get wet. Our guide took our pictures with his waterproof camera. It’s hard to focus when it’s pitch dark.
Have any of you been to the Bio Bay? How was your experience?