Night Kayaking in Mosquito Bay: Vieques, Puerto Rico, U.S.A.

Night Kayaking in Mosquito Bay: Vieques, Puerto Rico, U.S.A.

Droplets of Water Sparkle Like Diamonds

It was a cloudy, moonless night. In the dark water below streaks of light flashed and disappeared. As our kayak glided slowly along a blue-green eerie glow surrounded us. We were at Mosquito Bay, on the south coast of Vieques, Puerto Rico, one of the most bioluminescent bodies of water in the world.

Most scuba divers who have gone night diving have witnessed bioluminescence. You turn off your lamps, wave an arm, and see a flashing of light. Mosquito Bay takes this to the extreme limits and the effects are gorgeous. Bioluminescence is caused by millions of microscopic, harmless creatures called dinoflagelates, which emit a small flash of light (think microscopic lightening bug) when disturbed. The trail of light under our boat was the result of a fish that swam by—not to mention all the commotion our kayak set off as it coasted through the water. When I lifted my paddle out of the waves, the droplets of water sparkled like tiny diamonds with light passing through them. Raindrops, too, can create this magical effect, but perhaps the most fun of all is swimming in the warm bay and having the water all around you glow as you move. This is an adventure kids will enjoy as much as adults. It’s an experience they’ll never forget.

A palm-lined white sand beach in Vieques.

The island of Vieques, which was once a pirate haven, is approximately 8 miles (13km) off the shore of Puerto Rico’s mainland. After locals got the U.S. Navy to relinquish the 70% of the island that it was using as a military testing ground, tourists slowly started to find Vieques and its unique Mosquito Bay. Many visitors claim the best thing to do on the island is nothing, but with the water beckoning, it’s hard to stay still for long. On dry land, a visit to the restored El Fortin Condo de Mirasol, the old Spanish fort built in the 1840s that is now a museum, is worthwhile. El Faro Punta Mulas, a restored lighthouse with a small museum, provides a great view of the area. Many tourists rent four-wheel drive vehicles and head to remote beaches. Blue Beach is excellent for snorkeling. If you need the casinos and shopping, you can always take the ferry to the mainland. —LF

Vieques Island (;

Tour: Abe’s Snorkeling and Bio Bay Tours ( 787/741-2134;

When to Go: Nov–Dec.

Isla de Vieques Airport or San Juan Airport.

Isabel Segunda (11⁄4 hr. from Fajardo, P.R.).

$$ The Crow’s Nest, Rte. 201, Barrio Florida ( 877/CROWS-NEST [276-9763] or 787/741-0033; $$ Trade Winds Guesthouse, Calle Flamboyan 107, Esperanza ( 787/741-8666; $$$ W Retreat and Spa, S. R. 200 ( 787/741-4100;

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