Essential Things to Know Before Experiencing the Magic of Mosquito Bay
Mosquito Bay is one of the most popular attractions in Vieques, a tiny island seven miles off Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan. During the day, it is like any beach on the island. White sand that stretches as far as your eyes can see, pristine and inviting ocean, and friendly locals. However, it is at night when the magic happens.
You can take the many Mosquito Bay tours on the island, and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience for yourself.
Naturally, Mosquito Bay is home to millions of dinoflagellates. These are microscopic organisms that give off bioluminescence that is a hundred times larger than their bodies. Think of the Northern Lights, but only underwater. They can illuminate the black water because of the sheer number. On average, a gallon of seawater contains 700,000 of these organisms.
Meanwhile, there are only five areas in the world with this natural phenomenon. They are in:
- Halong Bay, Vietnam
- Luminous Lagoon, Jamaica
- Laguna Grande, Puerto Rico
- La Parguera, Puerto Rico
- Mosquito Bay
Out of all those areas, the Mosquito Bay holds the distinction for being the brightest bioluminescent water in the world.
Other Essential Things to Know About Mosquito Bay
- Swimming is not allowed. The government is strict about allowing swimming in the bay because it may disturb the ecosystem. If you want to swim, you may go to La Parguera, although the bioluminescence is not as bright.
- Mosquitoes would not swarm you. A long time ago, Vieques was a place where pirates rested before going on high seas again for looting and pillaging. The name was derived from El Mosquito, the ship captained by a pirate named Roberto Cofresí. Whenever he was on the island, the pirate always hid in Mosquito Bay.
- You cannot take photos of the neon blue water. Well, it is not exactly prohibited. However, it is challenging to take pictures if you only have your smartphone camera with you. The dinoflagellates light up when disturbed, and they go dark again in a matter of seconds. You need a long exposure and high-tech camera to capture the natural phenomena. The tour operators know precisely what nights to go so that you can get your money’s worth. For instance, the microorganisms do their magic on a moonless night.
How to Get There
To experience Mosquito Bay tours, there are several ways to get to the spot from San Juan. You can rent a car and drive there. But it is almost a three-hour drive. Fortunately, the route is very scenic. It may even take you longer because you have to stop so many times to take pictures of the vista. Another alternative is to take a taxi, which will cost you around $100.
When you arrive on Road 195 in Puerto Real, you will again take a ferry to the islet, which will take about one hour and 15 minutes.
But the easier way is to sign up for Mosquito Bay tours, where the operator will handle everything. They will even pick you up from the airport in San Juan. Also, it is much safer to have a guide than kayaking solo to experience the light show for yourself. Motorboats are discouraged because of the fuel that may disturb the bay.