Those who were amazed by the bioluminescence in the blockbuster hit Avatar can actually witness it in real life by heading to Joyuda Lagoon. Locally known as Reserva Natural Laguna de Joyuda, it’s a large saltwater lagoon that is barely 4 feet deep, in spite being 1 mile long and half a mile wide.
There is only one reason people visit the Joyuda Lagoon, and that is to see the bioluminescent bacteria in all their awesome splendor at night. You see, these bacteria are dormant during the day but they glow brightly at night.
Although there are a few other places in Puerto Rico such as La Parguera and Vieque, where you can witness bioluminescent bacteria come to life, they are being commercially exploited and oftentimes, people flock to these bodies of water to catch of a glimpse of such a beautiful natural wonder.
But in Joyuda Lagoon, the sight is not sold for profit. You take a kayak to the lagoon at night and as you paddle through the water, it lights up in spectacular fashion. You will see glorious blue and green light on the water’s surface, and for a while, you would actually make yourself believe you are in an exoplanetary moon called Pandora.
What to See and Do
Of course, even though the main attraction here are the bioluminescent inhabitants in the lagoon, you will also find dozens of birds and species of fish. Whether you are a nature lover, angler or bird watcher, you will enjoy spending an entire day (and night) here.
You can also go to Joyuda Beach where you will find several seafood restaurants and fishing shacks. So if you ever get hungry during your visit to Joyuda Lagoon, you don’t have to go far to find delicious food. Most of the restaurants here give you a fantastic view of the sea’s coral reefs which have been bleached white by the sun.
You can also check out El Bosque Estatal de Boqueron which is a forest reserve that protects the islets of Puerto Rico. This is where you will find Cayo Ratones, which is filled with so many trees and surrounded by blue waters. You can go snorkeling along the island’s water edge which have shallow reefs and a drop off nearby. Moreover, because the waters are pristine and clear, you can see what’s underneath even in the deeper areas.
You can go to Joyuda Lagoon anytime but the best time to go is after dark when the bioluminescent microorganisms glow in the water. So rent a kayak and go there at night. Just watch for the access road near Parador Perichi’s which is right off Highway 102. Tourmarine Adventures is highly recommended if you’re looking to rent a kayak.
You can also ride the lobster boat if you’re with a group of people. And if you are feeling more adventurous, go for the snorkeling trips which will take you to cliffs nearby. The cost is $40 without equipment and will of course cost a lot more if you need to rent snorkeling gear. Other activities to try are: diving in Isla Desecheo ($75/person) and deep-sea fishing ($500 for a half day charter).