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04 Apr 2021 - 4 min read

8 bioluminescent bays and beaches that will leave you spellbound

The natural world is a wild and wonderful thing – did you know that in certain places around the world, you can encounter otherworldly creatures and plants that naturally glow in the dark?

The natural world is a wild and wonderful thing – did you know that in certain places around the world, you can encounter otherworldly creatures and plants that naturally glow in the dark?

It could be from algae or small crustaceans, but this is an unforgettable experience that you should witness at least once in your life. Here are some of the best places to find this rare and beautiful phenomenon.

Tip: Bioluminescence is best seen when there’s no moon or if it’s a cloudy night, so keep this in mind if you’re hoping to catch it!

1. Tusan Beach, Malaysia

Tusan Beach

Credit: Albert Song / The Borneo Post

Good news: you don’t actually have to venture that far to catch this unbelievable sight – just head to Miri, Sarawak! Just half an hour away from the city is the gorgeous Tusan Beach, where the blue glow, known locally as “blue tears”, makes its appearance. Here, it’s caused by algae called dinoflagellates.

While the phenomenon has existed in the area for quite some time, it’s only recently been known beyond locals and to the wider public, increasing the beach’s popularity for visitors. The “blue tears” typically appear towards the end of the year, around September to December.

2. Toyama Bay, Japan

Toyama Bay

Located on the northern shores of Honshu, Toyama Bay borders Toyama and Ishikawa prefectures. This tranquil bay is home to Watasenia scintillans, or the Firefly Squid. Only 3 inches long, the squid’s tentacles have special organs at the ends called photophores, which resemble fireflies, giving them their name.

While they spend most of their time in the deep sea, in the spring (March to June), you can observe them in abundance, as they come to the bay for mating season. There’s even a museum dedicated to the Firefly Squid in the port city of Namerikawa – the only one of its kind!

3. Vaadhoo Island, The Maldives

Vaadhoo Island

Many of the islands in the Maldives feature beaches with waters that glow a mesmerizing electric blue. This glow comes from bioluminescent creatures called ostracod crustaceans, which are known to emit their light for longer than plankton do. However, Vaadhoo Island’s “Sea of Stars” is one of the most famous and most photographed.

4. Krabi, Thailand


During the day, you can enjoy this idyllic island’s sun, surf and sand… But when night falls, be ready to be bewitched by the shimmering waters, which only light up when there’s movement. Many tour operators in Krabi offer boat tours that will take you out to sea or you could simply wade into the water from the beach.

5. Tasmania, Australia


Credit: @james.garlick / Instagram

The bright blue glow you can find around Tasmania’s beaches comes from billions of single-celled algae called Noctiluca scintillans, more commonly known as “sea sparkle”. Preservation Bay to the north or South Arm in the south are some of the best spots to catch them. Due to the low light pollution in the area, you’re also likely to get clear, stunning views of the starlit skies above.

6. Sam Mun Tsai Beach, Hong Kong

Sam Mun Tsai Beach

Credit: @nature_3d / Instagram

Outside the bustling city of Hong Kong is the sleepy fisherman’s village of Sam Mun Tsai. On its beach, bioluminescent plankton isn’t present all year round, so you’d have to catch them during an algal bloom, also known as a “red tide”.

However, certain types of red tide can be harmful to other organisms, so be sure to check whether it’s safe to step onto the beach.

7. Koh Rong, Cambodia

Koh Rong

Credit: materialevolutionlab / Instagram

Koh Rong is one of Cambodia’s premier island destinations, known for its dense jungles, sandy beaches and best of all, its brilliant, bioluminescent waters.

To splash among the glittering lights, you can either book a boat tour, which will take you out to the open ocean, or make your way to Long Set Beach, Lonely Beach or Coconut Beach. We highly recommend the first option – nothing beats floating among the otherworldly lights while surrounded by darkness.

8. Mosquito Bay, Puerto Rico

Mosquito Bay

Credit: @rachelfrangul / Instagram

Puerto Rico’s Mosquito Bay on the island of Vieques is the brightest and best-known bioluminescent bay in the world. The best way to experience the bioluminescence is to hop on a kayak and paddle around the bay. True to its name, there are mosquitos galore, so to avoid being eaten alive, do bring along plenty of bug spray.

Photos don’t do justice to the real-life experience of swimming among stars, so make your way to these glowing destinations by booking your flights and hotel stay on Traveloka today!

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