Just a little over an hour drive south of Rincón, Puerto Rico, and 45 minutes east of La Playuela Beach in Cabo Rojo is the coastal fishing village of La Parguera, in the town of Lajas. Situated nearest the continental shelf that runs along Puerto Rico’s southern shores, La Parguera offers visitors a wealth of seaside activities, including some of the best diving and snorkeling experiences in the Caribbean.
Once a small fishing village, La Parguera has developed into a popular resort center built around a plaza and surrounded by hotels, guest houses, restaurants, small shops and water sports that leave from the nearby marina.
On this particular trip, arranged by our friends at Be Rincón, our destination was the local dive shop Paradise Scuba & Snorkeling, where a small group was scheduled to snorkel the clear, warm waters just offshore, and later take a tour of one of Puerto Rico’s only four bioluminescent bay areas.
Once the group had been gathered, selected snorkeling equipment, and given some basic instructions, we made the short walk across the plaza to the marina where we met Skippers Sheridan Santos and Jorge Hilario, and crewman Edward Rodriquez of the boat Teaser. The group of fewer than 15 people fit comfortably and quickly settled in for the short ride out to sea. Along the way, the crew mingled with their guests, making everyone feel very comfortable and relaxed. The view leaving the marina was quaint, and everyone welcomed the fresh sea breezes.
After making it to our destination, the crew began instructing their guests on how to prepare to enter the water, and what to expect once they were in and ready to snorkel. Then, like lots of little fishies, they swam behind their guides and out to sea. The water was about 10-15 feet (3 – 4.5 meters) in depth and very comfortable, and filled sea grass with shallow coral reefs, and plenty of colorful fish.
With the snorkeling portion of the trip completed, the group headed back to the marina where the crew served a box meal of chicken “empanadas” – a fried pastry-type turnover – and a choice of water, soda or the local island beer – Medalla. For those not interested in dining on the boat, time was given to explore the nearby plaza, and it’s many gift shops.
The second part of the tour included an opportunity to swim the bioluminescent bay just after sunset. With everyone back on the boat, we headed out towards the mangroves and watched as the sunset faded into night.
If you’ve never heard of the bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico, they include four areas around the island that harbor microscopic organisms known as dinoflagellates, a form of marine plankton, usually found in the waters near mangroves, which when agitated create the appearance of sparkling blue-green light. Of the four bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico, La Parguera is said to be one of the weakest regarding overall luminance. But it made for some fun moments in the water, as guests floated and flung their arms back and forth to create the sparkling effect.
I should include that if you enjoy stargazing, then the trip to the bio bay made for an excellent opportunity to see some spectacular nighttime constellations.