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Visit the Vieques Biobay Without Staying the Night

Posted on Apr 2nd, 2008 by • Updated on Mar 6th, 2014

3/14 Vieques bio bay is not glowing like usual right now. But it is coming back and should be back to normal in a few weeks.

August 18, 2011 – Tour operators are not allowed to have guests swim in Mosquito Bay on Vieques.

Island Adventures

I have visited all 3 biobays in Puerto Rico, and Mosquito Bay in Vieques really seems to out-glow the others. It is really an experience you should to have, even if you have already been to the Fajardo biobay or La Parguera biobay. You can either stay over on Vieques and visit it while you are there for a few nights, or take this trip.

OK, now lets get down to business …

What do you get when you mix a boat ride, a good meal al fresco, watching a glowing bio bay on a tropical island, and sipping Pina Coladas under stars? You get the East Island Catamaran tour to the Vieques bio bay.

East Island Excursions offers trips almost every night on their power catamaran from Fajardo to Vieques so you can experience the bioluminescence in Mosquito Bay. They depart from the Puerto del Rey marina in Fajardo. Here are notes from our experience with this trip: They ask you to arrive at the marina by 5:00pm (or so, exact time depends on the time of year). If you’re driving yourself, make sure you take into account rush hour traffic out of the San Juan area that will occur from 4:00pm – 6:30pm during the week.

Getting to the Boat

I like the Puerto del Rey marina because it is easy to find, and has ample gated parking for the guests. When you arrive at the marina, tell guard you are going with East Wind and he will let you in. Turn left and continue along that drive. Pass the building and fountain on your right, and keep going until you see the East Wind sign indicating to park on the grass/stones on the left.

After you park head down to the boat slips – you will see the East Wind boats and kiosk. Here you pay and then pick your dinner choices. There are about 10 things to choose from, which vary from Puerto Rican favorites, some Mexican options and, of course, the ever present hamburgers and cheeseburgers.

Island Flyer CatamaranOnce the captain gives the OK, you may board the vessel. There are tables and cushioned benches to sit on.

We had a 3 person crew: the Captain and 2 mates. They offer you beverages right away and once you get underway (about 5:15pm) , they start with the rum drinks. Unlimited soft drinks, juices and rum drinks are all included in the price of the trip. The Pina Coladas and rum punches were good, but you could get rum in any soda or juices they had. They also offered different beers, but these were $2 each.

The catamaran had 2 bathrooms with marine heads, which were clean. It is an experience using a marine head, especially on a moving boat in rough seas! You might want to wait until you get to the restaurant!

The Trip Over

Their power catamaran is fast, it took only about 45 minutes to get over to Vieques. The trip over is usually mildy bumpy to pretty rough. The way back is usually less rough. The boat is a catamaran, so that helps, but occasionally people do get seasick. The crew is very helpful in offering ways of preventing it and bags if needed. Ray tends to get seasick, so he took Dramanine before we left home, just in case. This might be a good precaution for others with the same problem.

Dinner on Vieques

Once you dock on Vieques, you get onto a waiting taxi and they drive you across Vieques to the restaurant. The guides from East Island talked about Vieques along the way- very interesting. It was still light out so we could see the scenery and the wild horses at the beaches.

Within about 10 minutes, you get to the restaurant. It was open air and very efficient. It is run by Island Adventures, the same people that operate the biobay tour. The food and soft drinks came right away. The food was good and everyone enjoyed their meals.
The restaurant had clean bathrooms. Use them, as they are the last you will see until you get back onto the catamaran about 1.5 hours later. There is also a gift shop at the restaurant.

After eating, they give you a brief talk about the biobay and then you get onto this old school bus and head off for your tour. You are on this BOUNCY bus ride through the dark for about 15 minutes until you arrive at the biobay. Kids love this part, older people…not so much. But it is the only way in to see the biobay. They have this all timed really well. We arrived, got off the bus while the tour before ours was just getting off the boat and onto our bus.

To the Biobay

Once you get off the bus, you get onto this flat electric pontoon boat and ride into the bay. They use electric motors, so it eco-friendly and extremely quiet. You can notice the glow around the boat immediately. The organisms glow when they are disturbed, so the wake of the boat glows. It looks almost fake, like there must be light on under the pontoon boat. Another cool thing is when the fish in the bay are frightened by our boat, they swim off and leave a glowing trail behind them. Really neat!

Swimming in Mosquito BayThey stop the boat in a nice dark section of the bay and the crew tells you about the bay, mangroves and the dinoflagellates (those are the organisms that make the bay glow). The guys on the boat are knowledgeable and interesting. They bring up buckets of the water so you can play in it and make it glow. Have it run down your arm- it is like sparkly glitter- really cool.

We tried getting pictures and even through the glow is very bright, it is difficult to get any useful photos.If you want to try, you should set your camera to ISO 1200 or higher, turn the flash off, and set it for a long (4 or more seconds) exposure. But because the boat is moving, any picture you get will probably be blurred anyway. Take a look at our recent article on taking photos in the biobay. We finally got some decent photos, and we give you some pointers in that article. Note: this was during the time when swimming was “allowed”.

Afterwards, the crew showed us the different constellations. It was nice and dark in the bay area, so you should be able to see tons of stars. The crew also brought around a handful of mud from the bottom of the bay. This is some disgusting smelling stuff, but it is full of vitamins and minerals. You could give yourself a facial with it if you wanted, and could get past the smell!

After looking at the stars, they take you back to shore. There you get onto the BOUNCY bus which takes you back to the taxis, which take you back to the catamaran, and your waiting crew, for the ride home and more rum drinks. Bring dry clothes and change in the catamaran bathroom before heading off toward Fajardo. You will be more comfortable. The way back is usually smoother and seems so much faster. We were back in Fajardo in a quick 30 minutes, and our evening of fun was over. It was about 10:15pm.

The Details

They run trips almost every night per month, except nights just before and after full moon. Check our moon calendar and make sure you go on a moonless night. I really applaud East Island and Island Adventures for not scheduling trips when the moon is not right. They want to make sure that you really will have the best experience possible.

The cost of the trip is $119.00 (plus tax) per person. That includes the catamaran between Fajardo and Vieques, taxi to/from the biobay, dinner in Vieques, the biobay tour itself, and drinks on board the catamaran.

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 run tours most nights of the week and depart from the marina in Fajardo around 5:00pm.

You need to make reservations ahead of time. They need at least 12 people on a trip, so unless they get that many reservations for the night you want to go, it may be canceled. This happened once to us before we could make the trip. Just be a little flexible with dates.

Allow 5 to 6 hours total.

You can call them at 787-860-3434 for more information.

You can visit their website at www.EastWindCats.com

Directions to the marina: From the San Juan area, take Route 3 or Route 66 east. Continue on Route 3 east to Fajardo. Just as Route 3 merges with Route 53, you’ll see an exit sign for Puerto del Rey marina. Take that exit, cross under Route 53 and follow the road to the marina on your left. Please note that if you get to the toll booth on Route 53 then you have missed the exit.

East Island offers transportation to/from the marina at an additional cost

Travel time from the San Juan area to the marina is about 60 to 90 minutes, depending on traffic and the route taken (Route 66 versus Route 3).

Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.

PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid ... then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

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30 comments
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  1. Very informative article! Thank you very much. I’ve been looking for information about East Wind Cats since it’s the only place that lets you swim in the biobay and also gets you there without kayaking. Your article/review answered all the questions that I had with regard to this tour and in fact has a LOT more info than the East Wind website does! I’ve marked this as a favourite so I can review it again before our trip next March. Thanks again for taking the time to share. It means a lot more to people than you realize.

    Kim

  2. Hey, thanks for the article! Great information and very detailed, right down to where to change clothes and what expect. Appreciate it!

  3. Thank you so much for your detailed article! I was all ready to “settle” for La Parguera thinking I could never do Vieques in one day. Our whole trip to PR this Christmas is a surprise for my husband, I think this part of it will be his favorite. I’ve already emailed East Wind to find out if we can reserve. Great info!

  4. I have been meaning to write you and let you know how much we enjoyed the East Island Excursion. I think it was a once in a life time experience. We went on a night with no moon and, while it had rained almost every day of our vacation, that night was clear with a great view of the Milky Way. My wife didn’t go into the water so they brought a bucket of water on board so that she could see the dinoflagelates, which she really appreciated. The whole team seemed to go out of their way to make this an unforgettable experience. While the trip is a little pricey, I think it’s a really great value for what you get, boat trip, drinks on boat, bio bay experience and a wonderful typical Puerto Rican meal. This was certainly the highlight of our vacation. I want to thank you for recommending this and for your directions. Also your review was right on. If anyone ever has a question or needs a recommendation for this excursion, send them my way.

  5. Thank you SO much for all of the information! This is a “must-do” now on my trip in March! This article is detailed very informing!

  6. Wow! Thanks for all the great information, we’ll be in Puerto Rico for our honeymoon in October and we will for sure make reservations for this excursion.

  7. This tour is worth every penny. Make sure to check the moon calendar and go on a dark night if you can. This is such a magical place… we got engaged here in the fall of 2009!

  8. this was great, we are planning a trip to puerto rico and this sounds superb. thanks for all the great information.

  9. I have been STRESSING how to go about getting to the “Magical Vieques” during a brief visit to Puerto Rico. This detailed article is an appreciated resolution to my dilemna!!! Now I along with the one I love will have the opportunity to experience an amazing getaway in a beautiful space…beautiful place. Thank You!

  10. thanks for sharing all these important/detailed info to everyone. i was a little hesitant w/ the tour at first, but after reading all your featured comments, i will go for it. we’re visiting puerto rico again & heading for another southern caribbean cruise (the cruise is a surprise for my husband). we stayed in fajardo last time & now we’re thinking what tour & where to go in our next trip. we finally found the bio bay tour in vieques in the internet. i’m not sure about swimming….. however, i will be ready & put on a swimsuit just the same. your detailed info about what to bring & what to expect means a lot more to people than you realize. once again, thank you for sharing these info. looking forward to the tour!

  11. Great article. We went last night and loved it! The crew was great. Professional, but still a ton of fun! The food was great. If two of you go, I would suggest one of you order the Pork chops with white rice and red beans and the other person order the yuca mofongo with Rice and Beans. We ordered for less than 3.00 the “amarillos” sweet fried plantains. We shared the pork chops and the yuca mofongo and it made for a wonderful meal.

    We swam in the bay for a long time and it was AMAZING! Thank you!

  12. hey! this article was amazing!! thank you!!!!!!! we are going tommorow and this was very helpful!!!

  13. I have to say this was one of the most memorable nights of my life. The entire experience was one that I can say it is a must for any couple, family, friends, whoever to go and do. I took my girlfriend here yesterday for our 3 year anniversary and I’m astatic that i did!!. The drive from Isla Verde there was about a hr and half. We drove rt 26 to 66e to 3e to 53e and it was just beautiful scenery left and right. Being from NYC made me appreciate the life I have. Once we go to Puerto Del Rey Marina we knew we in-store for a remarkable night. The ride to Vieques was about 45 min. It was a really nice, ride the crew made everyone feel very comfortable. They served Pina Colada and Rum punch.(If your one to get sea sick hold off on the drinks till the boat is about to dock) Once we got to Vieques we then went into a van which drove us through the island to a restaurant where we ate dinner. I was amazed to see horses being rode in the same streets as cars. I found it pretty cool being in traffic with animals..LOL. The meal was delicious! I Had Chuleta con Tostones( Pork chops and fried plantains) great homemade meal just like my mom made for my brothers and I as kids, so I was very happy about that. After eating dinner we boarded a good old cheez school bus and headed to the Mosquito BioBay. The ride was really bumpy, like a little adventure through the woods. The roads can never be fixed to preserve the natural state of the BioBay. Once at the Biobay we boarded a electric boat and went out into the bay. The crew on that boat made everyone feel so comfortable as well. The night was clear of clouds and the night sky was just SHINNING!!! The tour guy on this boat has a nifty laser and pointed out constellations in the sky and explained to everyone what made the bay glow, tiny micro-organisms called “dinoflagellates” are in the water and let off a glow. Once out to the middle of the bay we then were giving the opportunity to jump into the water and swim which is another amazing exp. in itself. In all this trip in one I feel everyone who comes to PUERTO RICO. It is worth every penny.

  14. A few years back, when I decided that I wanted to experience a bioluminescent bay tour in Puerto Rico, I did a little research. I found an article that compared the 3 different ones available in Puerto Rico, and found out that the one in Vieques was the best because it contained the highest concentration of the dinoflagellates that emit the light when stimulated/aggravated. If I remember correctly, it has the highest concentration of any biobay in the world! That’s all I needed to know, for my mind to be made up that Vieques was the one I wanted to experience. I did it the “traditional” way of taking the ferry over, and spending the night. The reason the tour reviewed on this page makes sense, is that there are several costs to spending the night. Obviously the lodging, but also in our case the car rental, the taxi to the car rental, the cost of the biobay tour, and food. If your only interest in Vieques is the biobay, then this tour makes a LOT of sense, from a time-efficient point of view, and from a economic point of view —- especially for a small group like one or two couples.

    In my opinion it’s an experience that should not be missed. Some words to describe it are magical (not an exaggeration), cool, relaxing, memorable, special, and fun. If you have not done it, put it on your “to do” list, because I highly doubt that you will regret it.

  15. Fantastic article! I have decided to go on this trip after reading your beautiful article which covers all questions I had in mind – ALL of them! Cheers!

  16. In regard to the previous post:

    That’s what they do so wonderfully here at PR Day Trips …. take the stress and uncertainty out of an excursion or activity. They give you all the tools you need to make the most out of them. This is a special website with some of the most useful and practical information out there. Good, good stuff.

  17. After reading this article I just had to do this! Thanks so much for giving us a website that gives us so much information. This is def. an experience and I’m glad that we did not pass on it. When we went it was raining really bad. The boat ride to Vieques was very.. and I mean VERY bumpy! But all worth it:) I only wished that I could have a picture of us swimming in the Bay. However, I did take your instructions on how to take pictures and I did get a picture of darkness with the light showing!

  18. We just returned from a week’s vacation in Puerto Rico and I have to say your article helped us tremendously. In speaking with others around the pool, etc (at the Rio Mar Resort where we stayed) many had already gone to a biobay but not used East Wind. Our experience far surpassed theirs so we passed on the East Wind info to those that had not yet planned their biobay experience. Some even tried booking from the pool on their cell phones only to find the excursions for the week were sold out. So I suggest booking a week or so before your vacation just to be sure. It truly is a “must-do, once in a lifetime experience”.
    Thanks for the great info.

  19. Went June 26, 2011 and all I can say is the East Wind Excursion is the BEST!!

  20. After experiencing the East Island Excursions option to see the Vieques BioBay without spending the night, I left a little disappointed with the actual BioBay experience. I did it a few years back from a company that leaves from Vieques, and uses kayaks to get you to the center of the BioBay. I preferred the kayaks to the electric boat. The kayaking in the dark was cool, along with seeing the oars and other kayaks light up as you paddle inward from the shore. I also enjoyed that the kayaks prevents people from bringing phones and cameras. The electric boat causes people to bring all their stuff, along with phones and cameras, which creates a lot of light pollution, as they take pictures (with annoying flash), review pictures, and use and talk on the phone. Flash is like lightning in the darkness of the BioBay, and small LCD screens emit serious light in the darkness.

    I have no complaints about East Island Excursions. They were great, professional, and organized, and they offer you A LOT for the money that you pay. It seems expensive, until you do it, and realize what a great value it is. I would absolutely recommend them.

    If time is an issue, consider this option, or just opt for the BioBay in Fajardo (no swimming option, though). If you can afford the time, and extra effort it will take on your part, consider spending the night on Vieques, to mazimize the best BioBay in the world. It’s a cool little island, with a great selection of beaches.

  21. This was one of the best experiences in my lifetime so far. I grew up a military child and moved around a lot but have never seen anything like this. My daughter learned about the Bioluminescence Dinoflagellates in science class. She told us that in class she learned that it is predicted that in 5 to 10 years there will be no more bio bays in the world. So, even though the trip was pricey we figured we should do it because one day they may not exist.

    Once we went on the trip we realized it really isn’t that pricey at all considering what goes into this operation. First a boat ride to Vieques while the sun is setting was just beautiful with unlimited drinks. It was the most choppy ride I’ve ever been on but luckily I don’t mind rough seas. Then a ride to the restaurant and the food was pretty good. Try the Coqui garlic lime hot sauce on your food, but don’t worry the bottle says no Coqui’s were harmed! :) After the meal they explained a little about the Bay and why and how it glows. Next you get on a bus that takes you too the bay. It was a little bumpy but not too bad. Last but not least the boat ride to the Bay. It was amazing to see strips of blue light darting all over the bay. (fish) They no longer allow swimming in the bay because of a small shark bite but they do bring a few buckets of water onto the boat so you can put your hands in the water and see the sparkle on your skin. While on the boat they told a little about the stars and I found that very interesting. The people that work for this company are the most informative and fun people! This trip was a blast, something I’ll never forget!!!!

  22. Great article. I’m only in Puerto Rico for only 2 nights in March, so don’t want to stay over night in Vieques. I’m making a choice between Fajardo and Vieques Bio Bays, and I’d love to know the thoughts of anyone who’s tried both.
    I love the idea of a boat to Vieques and understand that it has the strongest glow of all the bays. However I also have the impression that the kayaking available in Fajardo might deliver a more intimate experience…

    Will I feel as close to the action in the catamaran? Honest feedback really appreciated!

  23. I know at the beginning of the article it says August 18, 2011 – There is a ban on swimming in Mosquito Bay on Vieques. Is there still a ban today?

  24. Yes. There is a ban on swimming in _all_ biobays in Puerto Rico. I don’t expect this to change.
    It is illegal, and carries hefty fines for both the swimmer and the tour operator.

  25. I want to visit the Vieques Biobay Staying the Night, any recomendation how to get to vieques and back the next day? Thanks

  26. You can either fly over or take the ferry. You can get flights from SJU, Isla Grande or Ceiba airports. Or for the ferry out of Fajardo- http://www.puertoricodaytrips.com/fajardo-ferry/

  27. Very useful! Thanks a lot!!

  28. I knew that the best biobay in the world was in Puerto Rico, specifically Mosquito Bay in Vieques. I didn’t know that there were a total of 4 in the whole world. So 3 out of the 4 in the entire world are in Puerto Rico. Wow, this is almost an exclusive Puerto Rican experience. I found out that the other is in Vietman.

  29. “Vieques bio bay is not glowing like usual right now. Some operators are canceling trips. ”
    Do we know what happened? Is this the same for the biobay in Fajardo?

  30. They are still doing tests, but most experts think it is because of the rain and cooler weather we have been having. It is very diminished but making a recovery. At this time, Fajardo biobay is as usual for the winter time (which is not as bright as in the hot weather).

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