Vieques (Isla de Vieques) is a small island 13 km off the southeast coast of Puerto Rico, and home to around 9,000 people. It is a short ferry or small plane ride from the mainland of Puerto Rico and is quickly becoming a top tourist destination in the Caribbean. Recently named one of the world’s most romantic islands; Vieques boasts quietness, uncrowded beaches, the largest natural wildlife refuge in the Caribbean as well as unparalleled natural beauty. Its impressive beaches rival any other Caribbean island, making Vieques one of the world’s new premiere wedding destinations.
Vieques is best known for Puerto Mosquito or Mosquito Bay, a spectacular bioluminescent bay, one of the greatest tourist attractions in the world. The light is not always fully present however, as the light is the reaction caused by movement of the water and the organism’s repetitive response to this excitation.
Mosquito Bay is undoubtedly, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world today. Bioluminescence, an aquatic wonder, is a natural phenomenon caused by tiny microorganisms lighting up the bay. These magical-like tiny creatures are called dinoflagellates, which are single-celled photosynthetic algae. There are said to be 720,000 dinoflagellates per litre of water in the bay.
Bioluminescence is caused by light produced by a chemical reaction originating in the organism; the energy is absorbed and then slowly released as light. The intensity of the light in the bay is created due to the organisms’ photosynthetic properties and strongly influenced by the intensity of the sunlight the previous day. The brighter the sunlight, the brighter the glow emitted from these creatures.
Mosquito Bay is best viewed through a moonlit kayak tour experience; as the kayaks moving through the bay create the physical disturbance needed for the organisms to illuminate the bay. There are many kayaking tours that are offered in Vieques, but it is best to do your research before choosing one. For environmental reasons, it is advised to choose a certified reputable tour guide because they are most aware of concerns with the bay and do their best to conserve the bay for future enjoyment of others.
It is also recommended to choose a tour that uses glass bottom kayaks as this will help highlight the enchanting experience. The kayaks are lit by attached glow sticks that help you maneuver through the dark mangrove forest on the way to the bay. Also, it is recommended that you choose a time to go when the moon is most optimal, with the best viewing times being when the moon is the least full. Many tours will not even operate under full moon conditions, as the darker the tour creates the best possible mesmerizing experience. The tour is approximately 2-3 hours and takes you through a pitch dark mangrove forest. Some kayak experience is preferred but not necessary because the canal is dark and takes some skill to make your way through.
Once you arrive in the bay you will feel the magic of this one of a kind experiences and the challenges of the forest will all be worth it. The view is breathtaking and anyone that gets to appreciate it should be considered lucky. Due to environmental concerns, there was a law passed in 2008 that prohibits swimming in the bay. The natural habitat must be preserved and any chemicals on our skin can be a major threat to this environment and kill off organisms that create the enchanting glow observed. Just the opportunity to be able to pass through the bay should be experience enough, and you will still be able to see your skin light up and sparkle as water is splashed upon you. If by chance you get to witness rain, you will see the droplets illuminated as they strike the water, a rare sight that only a select few are able to observe.
Everything about Puerto Mosquito is remarkably stunning. It is definitely a sight that is worth seeing sooner than later, as recent environmental concerns such as pollution, destruction of mangrove trees, land development and overuse of the bay’s water pose potential conservation threats. Experiencing the magic of Puerto Mosquito undeniably helps brand Vieques a top Caribbean destination, especially for its captivating romantic appeal.