As an eco-adventure destination, Puerto Rico is often overlooked. Maybe it’s the ease of travel, the short flight or the domestic identification for American tourists, yet it doesn’t resonate through travel mags and Lonely Planet demographics like some of its Caribbean neighbors. But our Eddie Bauer adventure travel guide found eco inspiration in stunning locations such as Bio Bay when she traveled to the island on a domestic flight with no need for a passport. Paddling out by moonlight and by kayak, she immersed herself, figuratively, in a protected bay with the highest concentration of phosphorescence in the world. In her second dispatch from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Dimon shows us one reason why the island shines. –LYA Editor
Words by Julia Dimon, Images by Michael Hanson
Picture a pool of water illuminated by blue glow sticks: a pond so magical that people come from all over the world to run their fingers through her enchanting waters. Lynn Holland once said, “Fairies are invisible and inaudible like angels. But their magic sparkles in nature.” As I paddled my kayak under the moonlight, through the bioluminescence of Mosquito Bay in Puerto Rico, this random quote came to mind. I dipped my hand in the bay’s bright blue waters and looked on in complete awe as my fingertips sparkled with what looked like diamond-infused body glitter. Reveling in this unbelievable sight, there was clearly only one logical explanation: I was in the presence of fairies.
A unique feature of the country, Puerto Rico is home to several bioluminescent bays and lagoons. Places like La Parguera’s Bahia Fosforescente, Laguna Grande, Reserva Natural Laguna de Joyuda, and Bahia Mosquito in Vieques, a sleepy island off the coast of mainland Puerto Rico, offer travelers the chance to see a unique natural phenomenon.
I traveled to Vieques’ famous Mosquito Bay for a look at what guidebooks were calling a “must see Puerto Rico adventure” in this “Island of Enchantment.” It is said that not only does Mosquito Bay have the highest concentration of phosphorescence in Puerto Rico, but the world.
Since it’s a protected wildlife preserve with a delicate ecosystem, gas-operated boats are not allowed in this section of the bay (the engine pollution threatens to kill the organisms that create the phosphorescence). I signed up with one of the many adventure tour companies operating in the region for a two-hour nighttime kayaking tour. I was told that, for the best results, I should schedule my kayaking trip during a new moon, when the bay glows brightest.
Paddling at night, by the light of a waxing moon, my kayak glided silently through the hypnotic blue waters. It was a beautiful, serene setting that made me feel at peace with nature, with the world, with myself.
Surrounded by mangrove forests, this bioluminescent bay is famous because it contains millions of single-celled dinoflagellates, unique microorganisms that emit a phosphorescent glow when they sense motion. The result of this chemical reaction is spectacular! Each time I dipped my paddle, or my hand, in the warm water, there would be a swirling burst of glowing electric-blue light. I let out a childish laugh and embraced my inner four-year-old, remembering what it was like to see the world with fresh eyes.
Outside the boat, water droplets sparkled like rhinestones. A fish sped past our kayaks, leaving a lightning-bolt trail of turquoise light across the water. The result is pure wonder, and childlike awe. I was giddy. Playing with the water, slapping and twirling it around to see its magical properties, I felt like a kid again! The guidebooks didn’t lie. This magical natural landscape is truly something you must visit. It will bring you back to your early days, when making mud pies and jumping in puddles was the ultimate in thrills.
Learn more about the Travex series of apparel Julia took on her adventure here.
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