For travelers looking for a destination where summer is a lifestyle, Puerto Rico is the place to be. This tropical paradise is a place of sun, sand, surf, and then some. This territory has numerous attractions for tourists of varied tastes, but it’s most famous for its beaches.
One of its renowned attractions is Puerto Mosquito, a bioluminescent bay on the island of Vieques. This landmark is so mesmerizing that Conde Nast Traveller included it in its Seven Wonders of the World for 2020. Puerto Rico is called the Island of Enchantment, and it’s easy to understand why when facing the wonders of Mosquito Bay.
10 What Is Bioluminescence?
Bioluminescence is when light is produced during chemical reactions in organisms. This usually happens in deep-sea oceans where bioluminescent species abound, like certain species of fish, jellyfish, and bacteria. In the case of Mosquito Bay, bioluminescence happens when tiny creatures called dinoflagellates are disturbed or come into contact with other organisms. The stunning glow-in-the-dark situation is like an aurora borealis but underwater. Bahia Bioluminiscente, as it’s called, is a sight to behold – a showcase of Mother Nature’s best only in Puerto Rico.
9 The World’s Brightest
Mosquito Bay is the world’s brightest bioluminescent bay, enough reason to entice travelers to include it on their bucket lists. The shining, shimmering blue light is made possible by the bay's around 700,000 dinoflagellates per gallon of water. With that high number of bioluminescent creatures, seeing the blue light in the water is always a certainty. It’s spectacular to be in the presence of this natural phenomenon, a sight not seen anywhere else in the world. The photos look stunning, more so in person and when playing with the bluish waters.
8 A Lot Brighter After A Hurricane
CNN reported that in 2017, there were around 100,000 dinoflagellates per liter of water in Mosquito Bay. When Hurricane Maria struck in September of that year, the island of Vieques was badly hit, and the number of dinoflagellates in the bay dropped significantly. Puerto Rico’s tourism sector was greatly affected by the disaster, but it slowly recovered. Surprisingly, around nine months after the hurricane, the bay’s tiny organisms bounced back stronger than ever, reaching 600,000 per liter of water. There’s such a thing as the calm after a storm, evident in the impressive recovery of Mosquito Bay and Puerto Rico in general.
7 Why The Name?
A bay named after a mosquito? That might discourage some tourists afraid of dengue or malaria, but they should not worry as the destination is not named after the blood-sucking insects. Legend says that the area is named after “El Mosquito,” a ship of famed Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresí. It is believed that the ship was always moored in the bay to protect it. That is so because the area is connected to the ocean via an inlet. So, there are no mosquitoes in this iconic destination, only legendary pirate stories and a light show.
6 When To Visit?
The best time to visit Mosquito Bay is nighttime, especially during the new moon, with the moonlight guiding paddlers as they play with the waters. Seeing the bioluminescence of the bay is always a guarantee, but it’s recommended to drop by the place during the dry months, from December to April, when the weather is fairer and the water clearer. Tourists can still visit during the rainy season, from June to November, especially if they want to stay away from the throng of vacationers during summer. Dinoflagellates are always by the bay, anyway, waiting for curious travelers.
5 Think Thrice About Using A Bug Spray
The name of the bay makes some tourists think that they should protect themselves from bug sprays when visiting. As previously stated, Mosquito Bay is not named after the insect. When heading to this National Natural Landmark, tourists are reminded not to use bug sprays with N, N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET. This chemical, which is common in insect repellents, is harmful to dinoflagellates and affects the bioluminescence in the bay. The area needs to be protected from such threats because it’s a one-of-a-kind destination that the next generations deserve to see.
4 No Swimming, Please
It is tempting, but tourists must resist swimming in the bay because it is illegal. Tour guides enforce this rule, and there is no exemption. The law aims to preserve not just the waters of the bay but to protect the microorganisms. As mentioned earlier, the insect repellents or other skin products tourists use might contain DEET or any other chemical that might harm dinoflagellates. Tourists, however, are allowed to touch the waters when kayaking, and that’s the closest they could get to swimming.
3 Taking The Perfect Shot Is Challenging
Tourists will visit the bay armed with their smartphones or DSLR cameras, as they should because they are heading to a global landmark. However, even as the area is the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, taking the perfect shot will not come easy. Adjusting the proper camera settings is the key to achieving an outstanding photo, a tricky thing for non-professional photographers. Visiting during a new moon might give the ideal light setting when taking photos of the light show. But what if tourists just drop their cameras and let themselves be astonished by the phenomenon?
2 Other Things To Do In Vieques
The island of Vieques is more than just its bioluminescent bay, as it’s home to other interesting sites. It has a wildlife refuge that’s one of the most diverse in the Caribbean, something that might interest wildlife watchers. Tourists can also visit a fort, lighthouses, and an archaeological site, and not to be missed are its pristine beaches. Thanks to the clear Caribbean waters, a beach day on the island means experiencing tropical paradise. From sunup till sundown, there are no dull moments on Vieques.
1 There Are Two Other ‘Bio Bays’
If tourists can’t get enough of the sights and sounds of Mosquito Bay, there are two more “bio bays” in Puerto Rico they can visit. In the town of Fajardo lies Laguna Grande, with its bluish waters awaiting curious kayakers. Meanwhile, La Parguera in Lajas will excite tourists as swimming is allowed in its bio bay. They will enjoy playing in the waters as their every movement will cause a mesmerizing light show. Moonless nights have never been this good.