Imagine if you could walk along bioluminescent beaches under a beautiful night sky or take a boat trip on seas with a neon blue glow. Well, your imagination doesn’t have to go far. You can witness bioluminescence on beaches and bays in real life!
You will find this beautiful natural phenomenon in different locations worldwide, from the Maldives to Puerto Rico, Japan, and Australia. Read on as we explore some of the most beautiful bioluminescent beaches and bays worldwide. And who knows? You may find one very close to you.
Related Read: Beach Quotes.
If you’ve ever seen a firefly, you’ve encountered the bioluminescent phenomenon. Bioluminescence is the emission of light due to the chemical reaction of living organisms.
The chemical reaction comes from two chemicals, namely luciferin and either luciferase or photoprotein. The luciferin chemical is what produces the light. This light has very little thermal radiation or heat.
These organisms use bioluminescence to adapt for various purposes, including hunting for prey, defending themselves against predators, and finding a mate.
Some organisms produce luciferin on their own, while others absorb it through other organisms. Dinoflagellates are one organism that has the chemical on its own with a blue-green color that can make the ocean surface sparkle.
Interestingly, many marine animals have the potential to produce bioluminescence. These sea animals include bioluminescent algae, plankton, jellyfish, squid, microshrimps, and worms.
When these living organisms are startled by the waves or a fish swimming, you will see glowing green, blue, yellow, or even red water. You’re not guaranteed to see these remarkable natural phenomena. However, they are best seen on a new moon when the sky is darkest.
Deep in the Southern Coast of Vieques, Puerto Rico, lies the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, according to the Guinness World Records.
Puerto Mosquito, or Mosquito Bay, is one of the most beautiful bioluminescent bays with a neon blue sea sparkle.
The bio bay is full of tiny unicellular organisms called Pyrodinium bahamense, which are dinoflagellates. When these organisms come in contact with another organism or human, the contact creates a burst of blue water light.
Guests are not allowed to swim to protect the delicate Puerto Mosquito Bay. However, you can experience this beautiful and rare occurrence on the nearby beaches of Laguna Grande and La Parguera.
You can arrange a boat tour or Kayak cruise under a new moon for a spectacular experience across the beautiful glassy sea. Accommodation is also easy to find since the island’s hotels are in nearby towns.
Located in New Jersey, Manasquan Beach is a bioluminescent beach that experiences algal blooms around summer. It has beautiful warm waters and white sand, making it one of the perfect spots for swimming, surfing, or just relaxing.
Many people who visit this bioluminescent beach spend the entire day, and this is because when the sun goes down, you will see something glowing.
The bioluminescent plankton causes a unique reaction called the red tide, where the water turns red. At night, they appear as electric blue waves.
It is uncertain when this remarkable phenomenon will occur, so many people go to this beach during the spring and summer hoping to get a glimpse.
In Washington, United States, you can take a boat tour at night to see the bioluminescent bay in San Juan Island. As the sun sets and the sky gets dark, the sea will glitter with green sparkles.
As you paddle across the sea, beautiful streaks of green light will appear on the water's surface. The best time to see this bay is during the warmer months when plenty of sunlight and warmer water surfaces.
Halong Bay is one of the most beautiful bioluminescent bays located in Northern Vietnam. Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Halong Bay is a popular tourist destination known for its sparkly ocean surrounded by limestone islands and rainforests.
Here, you can go rock climbing, scuba diving, and hiking during the day. You can book boat trips to darker spots at night to experience the bioluminescent algae glow in the water.
Torrey Pines State Beach is on the California coast. It has some of the most stunning bioluminescence in the United States.
In warmer months, bioluminescent algae grow strongly, which causes a red tide during the day and blue water lights when the waves crash at night. This beautiful phenomenon can stretch as far as La Jolla Cove.
Due to San Diego's light pollution, a professional camera may be necessary to capture the bioluminescence at Torrey Pines State Beach perfectly.
Sunset Cliffs and Solana Beach are other locations in San Diego where you can witness the bioluminescence.
Located Northwest of Tokyo, Toyama Bay displays a spectacular bioluminescence. It is caused by a firefly squid, which lives deep underwater in the daytime and floats to the surface at night to mate, emitting an intense light.
Sightseeing boats depart from the Namerikawa fishing port in the early morning hours to see the firefly squids. You will need to book a reservation to go on these tourist boats.
Fishermen head out to collect this firefly squid, a wonderful delicacy in Japan. It only appears between March and June. During this time, you will see thousands of people visit Toyama Bay. The town also has a museum dedicated to the firefly squid.
Vaadhoo, or Mudhdhoo Island, nicknamed the Sea of Stars, sits beautifully in the Maldives in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The island displays one of the most stunning bioluminescent sights. It hosts only a few people and has many overwater bungalows.
To see the glowing sea, visit the island in the warmer months, when the plankton glows brightest.
Another great destination to see this phenomenon in the Maldives is Reethi Beach, which offers night dives. You can swim through the glowing blue sea of Reethi Beach.
The Indian River Lagoon, located in Florida, is a mix of fresh water from the local runoff and saltwater from the sea. It is also home to countless planktons, of which some glow at night between June and September. It is far from light pollution, making the water glow much brighter. You can take a kayak cruise to experience the sea sparkle.
Springbrook Park is another wonderful location to see the bioluminescence. For a more mesmerizing experience, you can go to the Natural Bridge glow worm cave. The entire cave ceiling is covered with larvae that emit a blue-green light.
Coles Bay is one of the most beautiful bioluminescent bays in the world, located on the small island of Tasmania. The bay is a town and the entrance point of the Freycinet National Park, which is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the island, including Wineglass Bay and Honeymoon Bay.
Many tourists visit the area to enjoy the scenery and other outdoor activities like fishing, biking, hiking, and boating.
The living organisms in Coles Bay sparkle so brightly due to less light pollution at the national park. Coupled with the warm sand and granite mountains, this bio bay is a beautiful sight to behold.
Interestingly, the town was one of the first in the world to ban plastic shopping bags and introduce retailers to alternatives like recycled paper bags.
Another location to get a mesmerizing view of bioluminescence is on the island of Koh Rong. The island has beautiful beaches, clear water, and some hotels, making it a perfect getaway spot. The island is quite remote, with little electricity and light pollution, which creates the right conditions for the living organisms on the beach to appear brightly.
Once on the island, you can take a guided tour of the bioluminescence beach with other tourists. For a more exhilarating experience, you can swim when the sky is at its darkest.
At Manialtepec, located north of Puerto Escondido, is a peaceful lagoon where you can see some plankton glow at night. You can take a boat tour to see the lagoon departing Puerto Escondido. You can also swim in the lagoon and watch the sea glow. To get the best view, it is best to visit during the new moon when the sky is at its darkest.
During the summer months, bioluminescence can be found all around the Matsu Islands. Locals call the phenomenon ‘Blue Tears’ because the water flows as though it is crying. The algae cause the water to glow with bright blue colors.
The island is quite low-key, with no light pollution, making it the perfect hideout spot to relax and take pictures. You can travel to the island by ferry from Taiwan and book a tour of the ‘Blue Tears’ beach.
One location in the Caribbean where you can experience bioluminescence at its brightest is the Luminous Lagoon located in Jamaica. When you arrive at the location, you can take a short boat tour to the center of the lagoon. When you dive into the lagoon, you will see an electric blue glow that comes from the millions of dinoflagellates that have been disturbed.
On the North Island of New Zealand, there is a small town called Waitomo. It has one of the oldest and most unique attractions - the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. As the name implies, the cave is covered with glow worms that light up the ceilings and walls.
You can take a boat ride through the cave and witness what appears to be a starry sky reflecting off the still water. This experience gives you a feeling of being in outer space.
Now, we’ve explored some of the most spectacular bioluminescence beaches from around the world. Most of these bioluminescent beaches are best experienced during the new moon when the sky is darkest. Are you ready to witness this inspiring natural event? You can go through our article to find the bioluminescence beach closest to you.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.
Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.