Inspired Travel: Biobay, Vieques Island

by  Jennifer Fauci | May 28, 2013
Bioluminescent jellyfish
Bioluminescent jellyfish / olgalngs/iStock

The Bioluminescent Bay (Biobay) of Vieques Island in Puerto Rico is a surreal paradise for lovers of everything that glows. A unique, awe-inspiring experience, Biobay, also known as Mosquito Bay, has become one of Puerto Rico's top tourist highlights.

Upon encountering the neon blue bay, the Spanish believed  the glowing water to be the work of the devil. In an attempt to prevent the bay water from spreading out into the ocean, they used boulders to block the channel. In essence, the Spanish only preserved the bay's natural glow and beauty.

Known as the world's brightest glowing bay, Biobay is home to millions of plants, animals and micro-organisms that emit a blue-green light when disturbed in their habitats. The glow emitted from these creatures occurs when a chemical called luciferin combines with oxygen, therefore releasing energy in the form of light. This act of glowing is a natural defense mechanism, so when you swish your hand through the water, expect a bright glow.

The shallow waters of the bay aid in its luminescence. On your visit, you will learn about the ecology of the various creatures in the bay, how they obtain their daily nutrients, and the nature of their supernatural glow. Biobay is an endangered treasure, and conservationists dedicated to creating awareness for its preservation encourage visitors to promote the beauty and importance of Biobay as well.

When to go: You can't say that you visited the Isla de Vieques if you didn't go on a Biobay tour. This magical journey can only be experienced at night. For the best time to go, check the site's Moonwatch Calendar to plan ahead for a clear, dark night, although it is  best to go on the night of a new moon, so keep your lunar calendar handy. A variety of companies offer tours for around an average of $30 per person. Visitors can choose to enter the bay by kayak or electric pontoon boat. If you don't want to wear yourself out, the pontoon boat might be your best bet.

What to know: Most companies require reservations in advance, so call ahead and let them know when you plan to come, how many people are in your party, and which tour you're interested in. The glowing lights of the Biobay can be easily captured with a digital camera, or camera of high quality images. But don't spend the night behind the lens, as this is an unforgettable experience you won't want to miss. Oh, and bring a towel; you might get wet.

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