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By daylight, Fajardo's bioluminescent lagoon appears just as scenic as any other bay on the tropical Puerto Rican coastline. But come nightfall, the Laguna Grande bio bay glows fluorescent with every movement and splash, thanks to the presence of microscopic plankton that thrive in the shallow Caribbean waters. Read on to learn how to take your own memorable Bio Bay tour.
Bio bay tours allow visitors the chance to set the water aglow and create a trail of light with every stroke of a kayak paddle. To see the bioluminescence, night trips are offered around the cycles of the moon, with ideal timing on the darkest nights. These guided kayak tours are available departing from San Juan or Luquillo, which is only nine miles (15 kilometers) away. It’s common to couple kayaking with an afternoon nature walk to La Mina Falls in the nearby El Yunque National Forest.
What to Expect When Visiting the Bioluminescent Bay
Bio bay kayaking trips frequently set out in the early evening around sunset, launching from Las Croabas with a tour guide or instructor. These kayak tours travel through a dense collection of mangrove trees under a total canopy of darkness, and once you’re out of the mangrove tunnel, the stars above provide the only light by which to view the glowing waters, where the tips of your paddles will slowly begin to glow as they strike the liquid surface. There’s no swimming in the bay during this popular Puerto Rico vacation activity, but it’s easy to pass your hand through the water over the side of your kayak.
How to Get There
Laguna Grande is located in the Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve just off the shores of Fajardo, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) or an hour’s drive east of Old San Juan, a major tour departure point.
Why Does the Bio Bay Glow?
Although the glowing water often gives visitors a magical feeling, this spectacular natural wonder is actually caused by pyrodinium bahamense, single-celled organisms that glow when disturbed. The bay is surrounded by red mangrove trees, native to the surrounding El Yunque rainforest, that provide vitamin B12 to the marine plankton and create the perfect environment for their survival. There are only a handful of places in the world where this natural phenomenon is consistently found, two others of which are also on Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment: at Mosquito Bay on Vieques Island and the bay at La Parguera.
- The gallery and garden is suitable for all types of travelers, especially lovers of flowers, plants, and art.
- The admission fee includes a complimentary drink; lunch, water and other beverages are available for purchase at an additional cost.
- An on-site bar serves fresh juices, beer, and bottled water.
- Neither garden nor gallery are wheelchair-friendly.
Snorkelers and divers love Coki’s underwater clarity and sea creatures. Beach day-trippers enjoy the sand, sunshine and wandering vendors of drinks and snacks, souvenirs, sunscreen and hair-braiding.
Coki Beach is quite a scene, lively and fun rather than quiet and laid-back. Beach lounges and thatch umbrellas can be hired, along with all kinds of water sports equipment, from jet skis to snorkel gear.
The fish are used to people at this popular beach, and have even been known to eat from your hand (BYO dog biscuits).
Cockburn’s major highlight is the National Museum, full to the brim with shipwreck flotsam, tools and artifacts formed from shells, and displays on the island’s original Lucayan people. Don’t miss the collection of washed-up bottles and the poignant messages contained inside.
More recent exhibits focus on the impact of NASA’s Space Program, including displays on the night sky and the personal memories of astronaut John Glenn, who splashed down just offshore in 1962, the first American to orbit the earth.
The museum itself is housed in the whitewashed and red-roofed Guinep House, a historic colonial building constructed almost 200 years ago from the salvaged timber of shipwrecks.
The island’s superb beaches aren’t far away, along with coral-reef diving from the island’s west coast. Guarding the waters north of town is the historic National Trust-listed lighthouse, built in Britain in 1852. The lighthouse is a popular spot for whale-watching in February/March.
The volcanic hot springs of Boiling Lake lie at the end of a 7-mile (11 km) hiking trail in World Heritage Site Morne Trois Pitons National Park. The hot springs here are the second largest in the world.
You need to hire an official guide to do the day-long hike to Boiling Lake, which takes you up and down the park’s forested highlands. It’s a demanding and physically challenging trek, but one that’s well worth it – as much for the destination as the rewarding views along the way. The trail is well-maintained and one of the best ways to experience the Caribbean’s rainforest, with plenty of tropical birds and other rare species to be spotted. The walk also leads through a volcanic area with a stream passing through it known as the Valley of Desolation, where the air becomes steamy and moist and is filled with sulphuric vapours and gases.
Formed from a flooded volcanic fumarole, the crater is filled with grey-blue water shrouded in mist. Look past the whirling mass of steam and you’ll see the lake’s bubbling water surrounded by steep cliffs. This huge bubbling hot springs lake sees temperatures reach almost 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and is most often seen with a cloud of vapour rising dramatically from it.
The best time of year to do the hike is in the drier season from March to May.
The extensive Morne Trois Pitons National Park takes up the bottom half of the island of Dominica.
The hike to Boiling Springs leaves from the main access town of Laudat, or from Titou Gorge. Laudat is on the park’s western border, a 40-minute trip north-east from Roseau by bus.
- The Blue Mountains are one of the most popular natural attractions in Jamaica and a must-see for nature lovers.
- Temperatures are noticeably cooler in the mountains than at sea level; dress in layers.
- Although it’s possible to hike solo, it is recommended that travelers join a group for safety.
Known as the Grand Turk Light, the cast-iron lighthouse was shipped in pieces and constructed on the island’s northern tip, in an effort to reduce the scarily large number of ships wrecked on the island’s west coast reef.
Over the years, the lighthouse has been lit by whale oil, kerosene and electricity, and its light still shines today. You can see the original Fresnel lens proudly on display in the Turks & Caicos National Museum in Cockburn Town.
The lighthouse is a popular spot for whale-watching in February/March, and for picnics year-round. It’s thought that Christopher Columbus made landfall near here in 1492.
- A bathing suit and water shoes are a must. In order to enjoy the Blue Hole without worrying about your belongings, be prepared to leave phones and wallets in the tour vehicle or with your tour guide.
- Swimming and cliff jumping at the Blue Hole is not recommended for kids under 10 years old.
- There are land-based walk-around options for those who don't wish to jump the cliffs.
- Life jackets are available for loan at the site.
- Grilled items such as hot dogs and veggie burgers and drinks such as fruit punch are available on the island, but budget-minded travelers may prefer to pack a picnic.
- Those traveling to the Bahamas on a cruise can book shore excursions to Blue Lagoon Island.
- Don’t forget sun protection such as a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
- Amenities such as showers, beach chairs, and changing stations are available at the island’s beach.
- Closed-toe shoes or water shoes are a must. Bring dry clothes to wear on the ride home.
- All visitors must arrive with a guide; self-guided tours are not allowed or advisable.
- Children younger than eight years old may climb only to the first waterfall.
- Be prepared to do more hiking through the jungle the higher you get.
- Most large jumps off the falls, suitable only for good swimmers, have walk-around options if you want to skip them.
- Book in advance to guarantee access and ensure stress-free travel.
- Club Mobay lounge is available for arrivals, departures, and layovers.
- Kids can play games in a soundproof environment at Pickney Place, available only with Club access.
- The club also includes a spa, with beauty treatment packages available for purchase.