Top 15 Places in the World to see bioluminescence in Ocean Water

One can only call themselves an experienced traveler after they’ve experienced bioluminescence. Bioluminescence is found in both land and water, but the glow caused by dinoflagellates in water is breathtaking as it turns water into a live magical light show.

Australia Asia Caribbean United States Europe Indian Ocean
Cairns Halong Bay, Vietnam Luminous Lagoon, Trelawny, Jamaica Manasquan Beach, NJ Zeebrugge, Belgium Reethi Beach, Maldives
Gippsland Lakes Bali, Indonesia Mosquito Bay, Vieques, Puerto Rico Mission Bay, San Diego, CA Norfolk, UK
Ton Sai, Krabi, Thailand Torrey Pines Beach, San Diego, CA
Toyama Bay, Japan Cortez, FL

Many places around the world have these creatures but some of the best places to observe this are:


1. Cairns

Cairns is a city in Queensland, Australia. It is the fifth most populous city in Queensland. This city is a popular tourist destination because of its tropical climate and one of the natural wonders of the world: The Great Barrier Reef. Although the major attraction of Cairns is it being a gateway to the great barrier reef, it also attracts tourists during a few months to see a rare natural phenomenon: the glowing beach.

The beaches in certain areas glow with silver-blue light, which is more observable during the early evening. The phenomenon is more common during the warmer months, typically starting from April to June or July.

2. Gippsland Lakes

Gippsland Lakes are a network of lakes and marshes situated in east Vitoria, Australia. This network covers an area of more than three hundred and fifty-four (354) square kilometers. Some of the most famous lakes in this network are Lake Wellington, Lake King, and Lake Victoria collectively fed by the river Avon, Thomson, Mitchell, etc. The key attraction to these lakes is fishing and recreational boating but it offers a magical phenomenon for a few months during summer.

A species called Noctiluca scintillans prospered in these lakes after catastrophic flooding. This species has a unique ability to produce bioluminescence when reacted with oxygen. This produced majestic glowing water during summer.


1. Luminous Lagoon, Trelawny

Luminous Lagoon is a coastline that stretches along the marshlands of Trelawny, Jamaica. It is located near a small town called Falmouth, which was a famous pivotal port for the sugar trade of Jamaica. This area is important for Jamaica for drastically different reasons than trade, for its natural beauty.

The Luminous Lagoon stretch is one of the best places that houses bioluminescent dinoflagellates. This area offers a combination of fresh water and saltwater, which thrives the glowing microorganisms. This phenomenon attracts a lot of scientists and tourists to this area. The glowing water at night makes the place look surreal and awes anybody.

2. Mosquito Bay, Vieques, Puerto Rico

The mosquito bay is located on the southern shore of one of the Puerto Rico island called the Vieques. This part of the shore is often called the magical bay of Puerto Rico because of the magical experience this place offers. The restriction of seawater into this bay increased the release of vitamin B12 by red mangrove three which accounts for the increasing number of bioluminescent dinoflagellates.

It is the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. A gallon of water from this magical bay contains more than 75 thousand glowing organisms. The beauty of this glow is best observed during the new moon but this area does not allow activities like boating, swimming, etc which disturb the aquatic life.


1. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay is a popular touristic destination of Vietnam and a UNESCO world heritage site due to multiple reasons. This bay belongs to Ha long city and features limestones and isles in a multitude of shapes and sizes. It has an area of more than six hundred square miles which encompasses a rich geographical and biological diversity.

This northeastern Vietnamese bay is also famous for glowing water around the world. The undisturbed parts of the bay are best known for spectacular glowing waters caused by dinoflagellates. The glow in this area is best observed during periods of no moon and especially during the midnight when least activity is observed in the area. The whole bay shines with a blue and green light.

2. Bali, Indonesia

Bali is the most famous touristic destination in Indonesia. It is an island known for its majestic volcanic mountains, beautiful paddy fields, and breathtaking beaches and coral reefs. It is home to major religious world heritage sites, yogis, and popular bars, attracting tourists from all over the world.

This island also offers a rare magical natural phenomenon: bioluminescence. Bioluminescence in Bali is observed usually in the Padang bay channel. A ferry usually takes the tourists to the undisturbed areas of the bay that offers the best view of this beautiful phenomenon. Water sports like Suba diving is also offered by many ferry owners with additional costs. 

3. Ton Sai, Krabi, Thailand

Ton Sai or more commonly known as Tonsai is a beach in Krabi, Thailand. It is a popular tourist destination because of its inexpensive accommodation and variety of activities. It offers a combination of adventure sport and leisure at the same time. Ton Sai is famous commonly for two activities: rock climbing and observing bioluminescent water bodies.

The bioluminescence is found year-round due to a dense accumulation of phytoplankton that glows in the dark. Tourists wishing to observe this phenomenon are taken via boat to the best spots for water activities. The glow never fails to mesmerize people.

4. Toyama Bay, Japan

Toyama Bay is a bay located in the northern part of Honshu, Japan. It is one of the largest bays in Japan and an area with a national park. This bay is divided into two prefectures namely, Ishikawa and Toyama. Both of these prefectures are famous for fishes, water sports, and mirages that occur on the horizon during the winter months.

This bay is also known worldwide for its exquisite bioluminescence created by fireflies and squids in the water. Although the squads do not live on the surface, the water current in the bay pushes them to the surface creating magical glowing water.

Indian Ocean

1. Reethi Beach, Maldives

Reethi Beach is situated in a village called Fonimagoodhoo on an island in Baa Atoll, Maldives. This island is famous for a lavish resort called the Reethi beach resort. This area is surrounded by a coral reef and clean white beaches where tourists can enjoy vibrant marine life and amusing water sports.

This location is also famous for bioluminescent water that occurs regularly in areas less disturbed by humans. Disturbance in the water here causes the dinoflagellates to glow recreating something like glowing stars in the night sky. Water activities like Suba diving, boating, swimming can be done in these areas.


1. Zeebrugge, Belgium

Zeebrugge is a village located on the coast of the North Sea in Belgium. It is the location of an international modern port with a beautiful seafront and beach. Zeebrugge is one of the most important fishing areas in Belgium and has the largest wholesale fish market in Europe.

This place is also a renowned place to observe bioluminescence in the water. The species responsible for bioluminescence here is commonly called the sea sparkle, which has flourished in the nutrient rick water here. The glow is usually observed from late spring and early summer to the end of august a few hours after sunset.

2. Norfolk, UK

Norfolk is a county located in East Anglia, England with an area of about 2074 square miles. It is a rural county with a network of rivers and lakes extending unto the south of Suffolk county.

This area is protected by authorities because of its rich flora and fauna. This area is also famous for its bioluminescent water body observed during the warmer months.

United States

1. Manasquan Beach, New Jersey

Manasquan Beach is a family town beach. It is not as commercialized as other Atlantic Ocean beaches. The beach is clean and stretched for about a mile. This beach is known for swimming, surfing, and a wondrous natural phenomenon: glowing water.

During the warmer months, a small stretch of coastline shows a unique display of bioluminescence caused by agitated cells of dinoflagellates.

2. Mission Bay, San Diego, California

Mission Bay is a man-made saltwater bay located in San Diego, California. It is approximately 2000 acres and has a lot of wetlands and marshes. This bay was created to enhance water sports in this area and attract tourists.

Water sports like jet skiing, sailing, swimming, and other adventure activities are famous here. In addition to this, for a few months every year, the waves of this bay shine with bright blue light. This light is created by phytoplankton through an oxidative process.

3. Torrey Pines Beach, San Diego, California

Torrey Pines Beach located in San Diego is a state coastal beach. It is a famous beach for surfers and other water activity enthusiasts. The beach is adjoining to hide sandstone cliffs which enhance the beauty of this area.

This area has also noted the occurrence of bioluminescent organisms. Blue waves are often observed during late summer to early fall, which sometimes precedes red and brown tides. The colorful tides are caused by bioluminescent organisms flourishing in that area.

4. Cortez, Florida

 Cortez is a Manatee country in Florida, United States. It is a cost famous for commercial fishing for settlers from North Carolina but this area has become a major tourist attraction today. People from all over the country come to observe this magical phenomenon where the seawater turns into a liquid light show.

This occurs for a few months during the warmest months due to the increase in the number of bioluminescent organisms in the water. Kayaking at dark or camping is the most popular activities done during this period.