Visit the Fajardo BioBay in an Electric Boat
Puerto Rico is blessed with a natural phenomenon that is found in only a few other places on earth — it has 3 year-round bioluminescent bays (or BioBays). There is La Parguera in Lajas in the south-west of Puerto Rico, Mosquito Bay on Vieques and, the most visited one, Laguna Grande in Fajardo in the north-east of Puerto Rico.
I am so happy to say that there is now an eco-friendly way to visit Laguna Grande without having to kayak or walk. Bio Island is one of the 2 companies offers an electric motor boat tour that is both safe for the environment and fun.
Bio Island’s Boat
There are 2 companies that offer electric boat rides into the bay. I choose to go with Bio-Island, so I know about their boat. I don’t know what type of equipment the other company uses, but it has been approved by the DRNA. Bio Island is a new company (2010) and their tour really is eco-friendly. They use a really quiet Minn Kota electric motor that is mounted on the Honda low emissions gas motor, so it can be interchanged by a flick of a switch. They use the gas motor until they get into the channel and then switch over to electric. The boat is a small Carolina Skiff, so it has a very low profile — not much deeper than the kayak bottoms.
There was always a question about the other electric boat company following the DRNA rules and whether they used the electric motor, so when I went on this tour with this new company, I did it anonymously. I really watched and asked lots of questions and I am happy to say they followed all the DNRA rules and have a few ecologically friendly ones of their own too (like no eating/drinking in the boat- so no trash ends up in the water). And they are even applying to get "Blue Flag" status for their boat/trip. Yea!
Our Trip into Laguna Grande
The tour was really nice (and relaxing!). I went out with some older guests, who were staying in our rental, who were unable to kayak or walk very far, and the Vieques trip was out of their budget. This trip was perfect for them!
We left from the Las Croabas boat ramp, where they helped us into the boat. Since we were all together, we could all talk, interact and learn the whole time. Throughout the tour Captains Ron and Charlie told us about the boat/engine, the other boats docked in the Las Croabas area, the Biobay, the fish, the dinoflagellates, and they even had some jokes to tell — lots of good information. Charlie and Ron were such gentlemen, too — when it started to rain, they gave their jackets to the older ladies in our boat. I think they offer great customer service.
The tour lasts approximately 1½ hours. Since we got through the channel and into the lagoon quickly, we were able to spend about 45 minutes in the biobay itself — swirling our hands in the water to see the glow, smacking the boat to scare the fish and watching their glowing paths, talking and enjoying the stars and the evening. On the return trip, we stopped to wait while the many kayaks made their way through the channel, so we didn’t collide with them.
The bay is connected to the ocean, so as the tides change, it does get to be low tide and the channel gets shallow. The motor is the deepest part on their boat, so they lift it to avoid hitting the bottom and stirring up the silt. On the way back, after we got out of the channel and into the marina, there is a very shallow area. So Captains Ron and Charlie had to get out of the boat and walk the boat across the sandbar. We just sat there and cheered them on! Both before and after the trip, they had chips and water/soda for us to enjoy.
I really liked this tour. I think it is a great option for people who are unable to do one of the kayaking tours, such as people with small kids, elderly, handicapped, etc. or people who just don’t want to kayak. It is easy and eco-friendly. The only negative is that space is limited — they can carry a maximum of 6 people per tour.
The cost is $52 for adults, less for kids. Cash is preferred, but they do accept credit cards.
If you're happy, let them know it — Don't forget to tip your your bartender, tour guide or trip operator if you enjoyed yourself. Gratuities are appreciated and typically aren't included in the price they charge you.
They do 3 trips per night, depending on the season and demand. Trips are at 6:00pm, 7:30pm and 9:00pm . The operate Monday through Saturday, they take Sunday night off.
Minimum age for kids is 2 years old. It really depends on the size of the child and if an infant life vest fits securely.
Allow about 1½ hours for the trip, plus a little time before and after.
You can call them at 787-422-7857 for more information or to make a reservation.
You can visit their web site for more information.
Captain Suarez and his Baby Bay Cruising Lagoon Company also offers the electric boat experience. He goes out on Sunday nights! Phone: 787-655-2739. $45/adults, $35 children under 12 years old. 3 trips a night 6p,8p and 10p in “winter” and 7p, 9p and 11p in summer. Call him , or email him at Captainsuarezbiobaypr@gmail.com for more information and reservations.
As with any trip into any of the biobays, be sure to check our biobay/moon calendar to make sure the moon will be favorable for viewing the biobay on the night you want to go.
Las Croabas boat ramp is located at the end of Road 987 in Fajardo.
Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.