Bioluminescent Bay, Puerto Rico - Unique Places around the World

Black Sand Beach, in Vieques, Puerto Rico. Small organisms in the nearby bay's waters turn them neon and blue, prompting the name Bioluminescent Bay.

5. Description

One of Puerto Rico’s National Natural Landmarks, the Bioluminescent Bay is alternatively known as "Mosquito Bay", "Puerto Mosquito", or "The Bio Bay". The bay can be found in the Puerto Rican island municipality of Isla de Vieques, in the northeastern region of the Caribbean Sea. The island is part of the Spanish Virgin Islands, and has maintained Spanish influence from hundreds of years of colonization by the Spaniards following its discovery. The bay’s luminescence, or glow, is due to the many dinoflagellates Pyrodinium bahamense, which are very small organisms that radiate an emerald green color every time there is movement in the water. The island of Vieques enjoys a tropical and relatively dry climate, although during the months of June through December hurricanes and tropical storms do visit there relatively often.

4. Tourism

Isla de Vieques was closed off to tourists up until 2003, which is why the entire area is underdeveloped. This very same reason is what attracts travelers to visit the island, especially those who want to immerse themselves in the unique lifestyle and culture of the locale. Though it is a mere 7 miles travel from mainland Puerto Rico, the island gives off an aura of one being in a completely different planet with the absence of luxurious hotels and resorts normally found in such picturesque locations. Tours in the region are open daily except Sundays, and there isn’t a shortage of excellent local guides happy to entertain tourists with interesting information about the flora and fauna of the Bioluminescent Bay and its surrounding areas.

3. Uniqueness

If you’re an eco-adventurer looking for an unspoiled island wherein you can enjoy the majestic beauty that Mother Nature has proffered, then Isla de Vieques is the place to go. It boasts of an Old World charm in an exotic New World setting, with more than 40 spectacular beaches and at least three of the best snorkeling and nighttime kayaking spots in the world, including the Bioluminescent Bay. Aside from that, the explorer in you will be ecstatic to know that the island offers various archeological sites to check out as well, such as La Hueca. Other key places to visit in the island are Fortin Conde de Mirasol, the Tomb of Le Guillou, Faro de Puerto Ferro, Hacienda Playa Grande, and the Underground US Navy Bunkers.

2. Habitat

Aside from the plankton responsible for giving the Bioluminescent Bay its breathtaking neon blue colors, the ecosystem found within the mangroves make it an unforgettable sight to behold. Interesting birds also call the bay their home, along with a host of other marine organisms and red mangroves and coral reefs. Much of the inland is covered in short scrub, and its climate is classified as a Subtropical Dry Forest. The island's sand-covered shoreline beaches are broken up by salt flats and lagoons.

1. Threats

Shortly after the US Navy left and Isla de Vieques became open to the public, rumors of high crime rates in the area circulated. Petty crime and murder rates on the island are among the highest in the world, and violence is an alarming issue for the people living there. Vieques is a gorgeous place to visit, and it has a lot of potential for bringing Puerto Rico much needed revenue. However, the ongoing operations clearing of unused bombs across much of its span has made tourism sluggish for the entire island.


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