Experience Mosquito Bay in a Kayak

Kayaking in Mosquito Bay

There are only a few bio-luminescent bays left in the world, and Puerto Rico is fortunate enough to have three of them. The biobays in Puerto Rico are Laguana Grande in Fajardo, Mosquito Bay in Vieques, and La Parguera in Lajas — with Mosquito Bay being the brightest of the three.

To experience this sparkling glow, you need to get onto the bay on a boat of some sort. Currently, you can kayak, take a ride on an electric boat, or a self-propelled pedal boat. No matter how you go, the biobay is a must-see when visiting Vieques.

Some Background

Bioluminescence is a flash of light caused by microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates (Pyrodinium bahamenses, to be specific) in a body of water. Multiply each spark of light by the many hundreds of millions that are in the water around you and you will understand the effect.

When agitated, the dinoflagellates make a blue/green glow, but you can see each one sparkle if you are close to it. Each one is like a tiny, twinkling star.

Vieques is a small island about 7 miles east of mainland Puerto Rico. You need to take a boat, ferry, or plane to get to Vieques, but it is worth the extra effort for the beaches and the biobay.

The biobay is not easily accessible — there are 2 put-in spots, but each requires a 10-minute ride down a really dark and bumpy road. All of the biobay tour companies have vans or buses to take you from various meeting locations to the biobay. Understand that most of these vans are not too cushy, since they get lots of wear and tear. Just hang on, and think of the ride as part of the adventure!

Kayaking in Mosquito Bay

Companies need to have the required permits to take guests out into the bay, and there are a few other companies that do it without the required permits. Tour companies are not permitted to allow guests to swim in the bay.

The DRNA (Department of Natural Resources) and other involved groups are evaluating how best to conserve the bay, standardize the guest education about the bay, and enforce the rules … so expect some changes in the future.

Our Kayaking Trip

We had been to this biobay a number of times in the past, using Island Adventures’ pontoon boat. But since the ban on swimming in the biobay now being enforced, we wanted to be closer to the water — so we decided to take a kayak trip. We went with Black Beard Sports, and we were happy that we did.

They picked us up in Esperanza, and we were the last pick-up location before heading to the bay. Then we got the bumpy-ride portion of the trip, and finally we got to the bay.

Once at the bay, we met our guides Che and Albert. They gave us our gear — PFD (personal flotation device) — and paddles, and explained to us how they wanted us to get into the kayaks. They also passed around Deet-free bug repellent. I didn’t notice any bugs, but the biobay is surrounded by mangroves — I guess it is called “Mosquito Bay” for a good reason. I took them up on their offer of bug spray, just to be safe.

They asked everyone in our group of 5 kayaks (their maximum number) about our kayaking experience. Since everyone on the group had kayaking experience, they didn’t give their “how-to-kayak” lesson. But, if you’re new to kayaking, they will take the time to explain kayaking to you. Next, we paired up and got into our kayaks.

Kayaking in Mosquito Bay

The lead guide had a glo-stick, and we followed the colored light out into the middle of the biobay. During the entire trip, if you looked at your paddle, you could see it glowing/sparkling all around each stroke. The small wake caused by the kayaks was glowing, too.

The night we went there were no waves and no wind, so it was easy paddling, but I guess wind conditions could change on occasion and make it a little more difficult.

When we got to a place where the bay was extra bright, we grouped up. Here, the guides told us about the bay, what causes the sparkle/glow, and why there are only a few places like it in the world. During this, we had time to play in the water with our hands and paddles — swirling and agitating the water — to see the glow.

Then, Che took out a laser pointer and pointed out the stars and constellation … he knew lots of them! The stars in the sky were just as spectacular as the tiny ones in the water. Since it is really dark around the biobay, you could see millions of stars in the sky.

After splashing around the water and star-gazing, we slowly paddled back to where we put-in — watching our paddles glow all the way. All in all we were out on the water about 1 hour.

Normally, when we review an activity that is not free to the public, we pay the admission price out of our own pockets. However, we just want you to know that the folks at Black Beard Sports were kind enough to offer us this kayak trip for free. While we don’t feel that this free ride influenced our review one way or the other, we felt that we should tell you, just as a matter of fact.
Ray & Gwenn

Details

These companies have the required DRNA permits to take guests into Mosquito Bay (I think- it is hard to keep up with changes!)

There are a few other companies and local fisherman that take people out into the biobay, but they do not have the required DRNA permits to operate these tours.

If you are on the Puerto Rico mainland and don’t want to spend the night on Vieques, Puerto Rico Tour Desk offers a trip out of Fajardo and they use kayaks to go into the biobay.>

The cost to visit Mosquito Bay (for trips originating in Vieques) is usually around $45-$60 per person.

When you’re planning your trip to the biobay, you need to take the brightness of the moon into account. Luckily, we’ve already done the work for you, and you can simply check our biobay-moon calendar to see when the moon will be favorable for visiting the biobay.

Due to environmental effects in 2013 (both natural and some man-made), the biobay had an almost complete wash-out, but it has since recovered perfectly. When we went at the beginning of March 2014, the bay was about 60% as bright as it usually is (for that time of year).

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 →

Comments & Discussion Leave a Comment »

There are 17 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

I am not sure your question- there is only one company that will get you from PR to Vieques to see their bay and then get you back to PR the same night (PRTourDesk). You need to see if they have a tour that night. If you go with them, you need to get back to Palmas...then I think you would need to call a taxi. It would be a metered rate, so you may want to call now and ask the price. try- A1 East coast taxi 787-513-7685 or Humacao Taxi 787-852-6880 You probably will be better/easier to just visit the Fajardo Biobay. But you still will need transport there and back. Renting a car might be cheapest in either case!

Comment by Gwenn on 19 Nov 2016

My girlfriends and I will go to PR on January 28th, we would like go to bio bay on Vieques and I would like to know the availability of transporting us back to Farjardo or Palmas Del Mar afterwards. Your input on the destination companies would be much appreciated.

Comment by Carrie on 15 Nov 2016

We just went on the bay March 8, 2016. the dinoflagelates were bright. We went with Nestor de Jesus. We went out about 5:30 and kayaked across the bay to some mangrove areas and through the mangroves to a few other bays--sort of scary adventure and then back to the main bay by dark. It was new moon night so the 'bio' lights were bright. Nestor said the water is checked every day by, I think, fish department, to see how it is surviving. He told us that there used to be a bio bay in Jamaica and it died and one in the Bahamas also died and one in Japan. Right now only Puerto Rico's other 2 bays and this one on Vieques are still alive. He said if someone got in the water wearing deodorant or 'bug spray', about 5 million 'dinos' are killed every minute. So stay out of the water. The trip cost $80 per person but also included a trip to Black Sand Beach and the archaeological site mentioned elsewhere in this 'blog.' We spent 2 nights on the island at Great Escape B & B and rented a jeep to get around to see about 14 of the 20+ beaches.

Comment by Carol Sutton on 11 Mar 2016

I believe that yes, they go out on Sundays. Probably no- not enough time on Saturday.

Comment by Gwenn on 24 Jan 2016

We are hoping to do a boat tour of the bay in Vieques on Jan. 31, which is a Sunday. Do you know if Island Adventures goes out on Sundays? If not, and there is availability on Sat. , on Sat. our flight gets in to Vieques at 5:20. Do you think that gives us enough time to rent a car, get to a place to stay and check in, and get to the place from where the tour leaves?

Comment by Laura R on 24 Jan 2016

If you are talking about doing the bay in Vieques- yes, it will be worth doing.

Comment by Gwenn on 16 Jan 2016

We are planning to take the bio bay kayak tour on Jan 17th. The biobay-moon calendar says its fair on that night. Do you think its worth doing?

Comment by vishista on 15 Jan 2016

Stay close to Esperanza...the companies will have their meeting places very near town.

Comment by Gwenn on 10 Jan 2016

Can you suggest hotels to stay overnight in close proximity to mosquito bay?

Comment by Lkeesee on 10 Jan 2016

All the companies I know use 2 man kayaks.

Comment by Gwenn on 18 Dec 2015

Hi can you tell me if these are 1 man or 2 man kayaks you go out in?

Comment by Miranda S on 10 Dec 2015

The Vieques BioBay is glowing at 100%. But the only way to visit it would be to stay overnight on Vieques because East Island is not running the night boat trip there.

Comment by Gwenn on 26 Oct 2015

Hello! I am considering going to bio bay on Vieques and would like to know what is the condition of the glowing of the bay? Our trip is planned for March 2016 Also is East Island excursions running their boats to Vieques? Thanks Linda

Comment by Linda Liening on 26 Oct 2015

What kind of ticket are you asking about? You need to stay in the island of Vieques to visit the biobay there. It cannot be done as a "day trip".

Comment by Ray on 15 May 2015

Hi, I am planing to visit biobay at August 17th. But I have some question about Vieque to biobay. What kind of ticket should I buy. Thank you for your help

Comment by Joyce lee on 14 May 2015

I have not heard lately, but I suggest you call the Vieques Conservation Trust 787-741-8850 M-F 10a-5p and ask for Mark Martin . He will know exactly what is going on.

Comment by Gwenn on 03 Jun 2014

Hello! I am considering going to bio bay on Vieques and would like to know what is the condition of the glowing of the bay? Thank you for your reply! Robert

Comment by Robert on 03 Jun 2014

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