Bioluminescence is a sight you don’t want to miss.

Bioluminescence beaches can be found all around the world. Imagine yourself swimming within sparkling blue glitter, or enjoying an evening picnic just after sunset with the backlight of vibrant glowing blue. These are not just scenes in movies; this is real-life magic that takes place in a completely natural way. Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism.

According to NOAA, it’s estimated that over 90% of the species living in the ocean have the potential for bioluminescence. It is more common at deeper depths than at shallow/beach surfaces. Bioluminescence can come from a variety of different organisms:

  • Phytoplankton
  • Micro shrimps
  • Algae
  • Bettles
  • Jellyfish
  • Worms
  • Squid

Today we will cover our top 5 favourite places to spot this supernatural show in shallow/beachside waters.

Bioluminescence Beaches Around the World

The Maldives — Mudhdhoo Island

If you have seen photos of bioluminescence beaches, they are likely taken from the Maldives, or more specifically, on Mudhdhoo Island. The bioluminescence here is created from micro shrimp. These shrimp glow for longer periods of time compared to other organisms, making them a great photo opportunity for travellers. The other benefit to these glowing shrimp is that they are completely harmless and swimming amongst them is safe. Enjoy a midnight dip surrounded by glittering blue magic.

There is only one resort on this island called the Dusit Thani Maldives resort. For a truly immersive experience, stay here and make it a nightly outing to experience this surreal sight. Other islands/beaches throughout The Maldives are said to have bioluminescent action at night, however, Mudhdoo Island is the most reliable.

Florida — Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge

In the Merritt Island Wildlife refuge, companies offer bioluminescence night kayaking. Enjoy the amazing spectacle right from your transparent glass kayak.

The bioluminescence activity here is created from dinoflagellate and comb jellies. Because this is a wildlife refuge, it is not advisable to get out of your kayak and swim, but the view from your glass surroundings will be just as jaw-dropping. For best visibility try to plan your visit on a new moon, mid-late summer. The dinoflagellate creates a glowing greenish colour, while the comb jellies send of a flashing blue glow that scatters like a rainbow light prism.

Cambodia — Koh Rong

In Koh Rong, the bioluminescence activity is caused by plankton. The phenomenon is abundant on the island and can be seen from many beaches. Like all bioluminescence, for the best visibility, it is recommended to try and escape light pollution. Many companies offer boat trips that sail out at night for some astonishing views of the plankton.

The plankton itself is harmless and activated with movement, so the boat will set off a glittery light display. Some companies will allow travellers to go swimming amongst the plankton; however, keep in mind that these are tropical waters with other creatures such as jellyfish active at night.

This stunning natural spectacle can also be enjoyed from the shore, with sand between your toes at quiet beaches around the island.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has three bioluminescent bays – Mosquito Bay, Laguna Grande and La Parguera. They are located on the East, West and South-West sides of Puerto Rico. In all three of these bays, the bioluminescent waters are created from dinoflagellate plankton. This plankton glows for a brief moment when disturbed from splashes, movement or reaching the shoreline. In Puerto Rico and specifically in these three bays, this type of plankton is highly concentrated, which is a rare occurrence elsewhere in the world.

People do swim in all three of these bays and their movement cause the dinoflagellate to glow more frequently. However, due to the popularity of these sites, environmental groups are advocating that travellers avoid swimming in these waters to protect the health and longevity of these natural organisms.

Japan — Okayama

During the summer months on the shores of Okayama, Vargula hilgendorfii (Sea Firefly) become abundant. These creatures leave streaks of glowing blue in the water and on the rocks from where they have travelled. Photographers around the world have captured this fantastic site, including a great gallery from Tdub Photos.

These tiny creatures spend their days buried in the sand and then come out at night to feed, leaving a beautiful iridescent trail behind. Here you can sit back, relax and enjoy the moving, magical show from the sandy shoreline.

Experience a glow show on your next vacation!

If you are planning a vacation to one of the destinations listed above, be sure to schedule a night adventure to one of the bioluminescence beaches.

There are also other places to spot this magical site around the world. If you are wondering if your next vacation could include a bioluminescence beach, contact one of our experienced travel specialists today and start bringing your dreams into reality.

Travel Specialist