St. Croix Activity Series: Kayak in a Bioluminescent Bay

IMG_5426If you’ve ever watched the “Kiss the Girl” scene from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, then you already have an idea of what bioluminescence looks like.  When the waters of a bio bay are moved, it activates glowing dinoflagellates (which look like miniature lightning bugs).  The result is a beautiful glow that lights up the water and ocean creatures beneath, like jelly fish.

Bioluminiscence unfortunately doesn’t photograph or video well (despite the best efforts of The Discover Channel and others), so it’s one of the few things you still have to see in-person to experience.  Bio bays are becoming scarce around the world, as light of commercial or residential development around them prevents dinoflagellates from being seen.

St. Croix is home to one of these bays in the Salt River / Columbus landing area, on the north shore of the island.  The dinoflagellates are easiest to see when there is no moon, so plan accordingly.
St. Croix has one of the top rated super glow bio bays in the world, of which apporximately 10 remain (another is Mosquito Bay located off nearby Vieques).  The Bahamas recently lost their bio bay due to dredging to accommodate larger cruise ships.  St. Croix’s biobay is at-risk due to current construction underway by the National Park Service (get more info and sign the petition here:

In recent news, the U.S. Virgin Islands government (which has rights to the waters of the biobay) held a hearing in which it was decided to discontinue swimming in the bay.  This was done to protect and preserve the dinoflagellates and their fragile environment.  Bug spray (which many people apply to avoid bug bites during the tour), deodorant, lotion and perfumes are lethal to them.
Several tour operators exist to lead groups of night kayakers through the bay, including the original tour operator Virgin Kayak (since 1998).  The newest addition to this group of tour operators is Bush Tribe, others are Caribbean Adventure Tours and Sea-Thru Kayak.  Single and double kayaks are available, some offering pedals and others standard.  Kayaks can be pulled ashore for easy entry and exit.

More info: 

Virgin Kayak


Being raised on St. Croix, Chris Hanley takes an active interest in the preservation of his beautiful island, including gems like Salt River Bio Bay.  When you’re ready to live in the splendor of St. Croix, he can help you find the ideal home or condo.  As the top agent on-island year after year, Chris is the authority on Virgin Islands real estate.  Contact him today and download his free St. Croix event guide.