My name is Amanda and I am here to admit something to you all. After having visited a single bioluminescent bay, I am addicted. And having been able to swim in a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico, I need more. If there is a 12-step program for bioluminescent bay addicts, I refuse to enter it. I must see more. I must experience more of this natural world wonder, whether it’s swimming in a bioluminescent bay (in Puerto Rico or otherwise) or kayaking through one. It is something I cannot imagine never doing again, and I also can’t imagine going to Puerto Rico and not visiting one of their three (YES, THREE) bioluminescent bays. If this intro isn’t enough to get you Googling “bioluminescent bay Puerto Rico tour” or “swimming in bioluminescent bay Puerto Rico”, keep reading because it is my singular goal to convince you that you must go.
I’m going to break this information down into the following categories for you:
- About each of Puerto Rico’s bio bays
- Why you should choose to visit La Parguera over the others
- What to expect on a swimming in La Parguera tour
- Additional tours you can do before swimming in the bioluminescent bay
A Little About Puerto Rico’s Bioluminescent Bays
So you know of bioluminescent bays not because you Googled “Can you swim in the bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico?” – clearly you’ve got a little more background than that. But, in case you needed a reminder, bioluminescent bays are special because they contain microorganisms called dinoflagellates that when bothered or agitated, light up. This means anything really moving at a semi-rapid pace in the water will cause these little babies to glow. And you guessed it, swimming in a bioluminescent bay is absolute magic.
Going on a bioluminescent bay Puerto Rico tour in any of the three bays will be life changing. However, each bay is a different experience and you are only allowed to swim in one of Puerto Rico’s three bio bays. Here is the breakdown of each of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays and what you need to know before making your decision:
- Is located on the island if Vieques and you have to take a ferry to get here. Because of this, you will likely have to stay overnight on the island.
- This bay is the brightest bioluminescent bay in not just Puerto Rico, but the world. Locals told me this is because there is no light pollution nearby. It isn’t because the microorganisms are necessarily brighter themselves, but that the concentration of organisms is higher coupled with the fact that it’s because it’s SO dark in the bay.
- You can only kayak here – no swimming.
- Closest bay to San Jose – about an hour east – which makes it extremely popular.
- Is technically a lagoon you must kayak into it vs. being an actual bay.
- You can only kayak here – no swimming.
- About 2.5 hours south of San Juan and about 40 minutes south of Mayagüez.
- La Parguera is the only Puerto Rico bio bay tour that actually allows you to go swimming in a bioluminescent bay. For this reason, it’s very unique.
Why I Chose the Bioluminescent Bay Puerto Rico Swim Tour in La Parguera
Truth be told, I chose La Parguera as my bioluminescent bay Puerto Rico tour of choice because Vieques was still closed to tourists due to COVID. After not being able to see the brightest bay, I decided I wanted to do the coolest experience. If you know me, you know I love unique travel experiences. So, knowing this, I knew that the right choice was to swim in a bioluminescent bay while in Puerto Rico. And boy, was I RIGHT.
Additional La Parguera Tours
Coming from San Juan? Hanging out in La Parguera for the whole day? Tack one of these adventures onto your day before you go night swimming in the bioluminescent bay at night.
What to Expect on the Bioluminescent Bay Swimming Tour in La Parguera, Puerto Rico
I chose this Sunset and Bio Bay Tour through the family-owned and operated company Hook’d on Adventure Parguera. We had the absolute best time – the daughter was our captain and we were provided plenty of drinks for the trip. The tour included a nice boat ride out to an island to watch the sun go down and then once it got dark, a long stop in the bay.
The first stretch of the tour is being taken out to an island to have a great view of sunset. The ride is maybe 10 – 15 minutes and once you arrive, you get off the boat to explore the mangroves and hang out in the water if you want to. While we were there, there were lots of clouds so sunset wasn’t the best, but we still got to enjoy the natural beauty before we were off the the bio bay.
Swimming in One of Puerto Rico’s Bioluminescent Bays
As we boated from the small island to the bay itself, it got darker but wasn’t completely black out yet. Once we parked, we got off the boat and into the water where we hung out for about an hour while swimming in the bioluminescent bay. This is where the true magic happens. Honestly, it was like swimming in the stars. Not under the stars, in them. If you lift your arm out of the water while swimming, you see the glow drip down your and it is so incredible. This swim in La Parguera was my absolute favorite thing I did during my trip to Puerto Rico without a doubt. I highly recommend anyone and everyone who visits this gorgeous island go on a bioluminescent bay Puerto Rico tour, but especially this one where you could swim in the bioluminescent bay.
I will literally never be able to properly describe how magical was, and I definitely wasn’t able to photograph it with any skill. You’ll see in the terrible iPhone photos below where the glow in the water is, but this phenomenon is VERY hard to truly capture in photos. But, you can see the blue glow in the water and just imagine how magnificent it is in person.
So there you have it. Like I’ve mentioned, while any of the bioluminescent bay Puerto Rico tours will be a phenomenal time, swimming in La Parguera was truly something other-worldly and magical. To see more from my Puerto Rico trip, check out my highlight reel on Instagram and if you have any questions in the meantime, send me a note and I’ll give you any and all recommendations! But for real, go swimming in this Puerto Rico bioluminescent bay. You won’t regret it.