Visitors can set the water aglow and create a trail of light with every stroke of their paddles during guided nighttime kayaking tours. Trips are usually offered around the cycles of the moon, timed to the darkest nights. Some tours also combine kayaking with an afternoon nature walk to La Mina Falls in the nearby El Yunque National Forest.
There are only a handful of places in the world where bioluminescent plankton is consistently found, three of which are in Puerto Rico. In addition to Lagunda Grande, this natural phenomenon exists in Mosquito Bay on Vieques Island and the bay at La Parguera. Laguna Grande in Fajardo is surrounded by red mangrove trees, which are native to the surrounding El Yunque rain forest and provide vitamin B12 to the marine plankton.
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Things to Know Before You Go
Kayak tours typically navigate through a tunnel of mangrove trees before reaching the glowing waters.
Swimming in the bay is not allowed; you can swim and snorkel in the bay at La Parguera.
Guides will sometimes bring a cover so that the tour group can observe the bioluminescence in complete darkness without starlight.
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. Tours typically depart from San Juan or Luquillo, which is 9 miles (15 kilometers) away.
When to Get There
Kayaking trips frequently set out in the early evening around sunset, launching from Las Cabezas with a tour guide or instructor. The best time to experience the bioluminescent bay is when the sky is especially dark due to little or no moonlight, so try to book your tour around a new moon and avoid days surrounding a full moon.
El Yunque Rain Forest
Sometimes coupled with a tour of the bioluminescent bay, a visit to El Yunque Rain Forest is a must-do for nature lovers visiting Puerto Rico. It is the only tropical rain forest in the United States Forest Service and features well-defined walking trails, lush landscapes, and plenty of wildlife such as the Puerto Rican parrot and the Coqui frog.