A fluorescent turquoise breaks with the black color that the sea water seems to have at night. The movement of the waves creates an almost fictional scene, but in truth it is the work of nature and very real. Even the best special effects couldn’t match the incredible phenomenon that only a lucky few can see.
Those responsible for illuminating the water creating a surreal visual effect are small living beings capable of emitting light. This phenomenon is known as bioluminescence.
When single-celled algae feel in danger, they emit flashes of light.
When these single-celled algae feel in danger, they emit flashes of light. This is why sudden movements in the water generate postcards that travel the world through social networks. In addition to being present on the beaches of different countries, a similar process occurs in fungi and animals.
We present different places where you can enjoy bioluminescence, a natural process that attracts more and more tourists.
Mexico has several places to see this nocturnal scene and one of them is the island of Holbox where the bioluminescence can be seen throughout the year. Although it is much stronger from March to November when the water temperature is warmer.
Since 2016, the Bioluminescence Festival takes place and coincides with Earth Hour, when all the lights on the island are turned off and the effect can be fully enjoyed.
The Manialtepec lagoon, located 15 minutes from Puerto Escondido, in the state of Oaxaca, is also known for this phenomenon. Night kayak rides are offered to tourists to make the experience even more amazing.
Laguna Luminous, Jamaica is visited at night by thousands of tourists
Chacahua and Bucerias are other destinations where you can see illuminated water and traces of these “lit” living beings on the sand.
In Jamaica, the place indicated is Laguna Luminous, its name already announces the reason why thousands of tourists visit it at night.
Mosquito Bay, on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, is the brightest bioluminescent bay on the planet, according to Guinness World Records. They say there are about 480,000 living things per litre. Condé Nast Traveler magazine chose it as one of the wonders of the world for 2020 and assured that it is the best place in the world to witness this natural process.
On the other hand, in the Colombian Caribbean, night excursions are made to the Rosario Islands or to Isla Barú, two places where you can spend the day from Cartagena de Indias.
Between New Zealand and Australia
The Waitomo Caves, a three-hour drive from Auckland, New Zealand, offer a different bioluminescence experience: the protagonists there are worms that are not in water but in rock.
Either way, you have to board, because to see them you have to take a boat or kayak ride through the cave. Thousands of these tiny creatures light up the ceiling resembling a starry sky.
Waitomo was the first region in the country where bioluminescence was discovered, but throughout New Zealand there are other caves where you can admire this phenomenon.
Nearby, in Australia, these living beings can also be seen. The largest colony in this country is at Puente Natural in Springbrook National Park. On the other hand, Blue Mountains, Morton National Park and Tamborine Mountain are other points that attract tourists.
From Japan to the Maldives and Taiwan
In Japan, bioluminescence is the product of a fungus. When the rainy season begins – at the end of June – a bright cover appears on the roots of the trees. Guided tours can be taken to the forests of Mesameyama and the Ogasawara Archipelago, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Toyama Bay also receives thousands of visitors each year. It is known for the “firefly squid”, an eight-centimeter animal that glows in the dark and tints the sea bright blue. In addition, it is considered a delicacy and can be found in all the restaurants in the region.
A first-person experience
The turquoise color of the Caribbean Sea turns at night into a black blanket that is indistinguishable from the sky. It is dark and we are lit only by the stars, the moon and the glare of a distant hotel. The sun set hours ago, but the temperature still invites you to enter the water. Glow in the water occurs in other parts of the mainland like Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives – it is said to have a sea of stars – and the Matsu Islands, Taiwan.
The island of Vaadhoo in the Maldives would have a sea of stars
The tour guide, with his wetsuit half on, asks the group of tourists – all Argentinians – to get into a small boat. We leave the beach of Isla Barú, in Colombia, for a while, heading out to sea.
“Hurry up so we are the first,” he said. With life jackets we start a short and friendly journey. No big jumps. We ride on the imperceptible swell and in dense darkness.
The coast is no longer visible. 20 minutes will have passed. The engine noise stops. “We are here”, he says followed by a “get out”. I am not the first to follow this order. I’m waiting for another adventurer in the group to take the lead. Deep down inside, I know there’s no point just being there and not jumping in the water.
It’s time to leave the safety of the boat. With a little hesitation I start. The water is warmer than ever and offers a spectacular spectacle. With each movement of arms or legs, the sea takes on a fluorescent blue color. As if it were thousands and tiny light bulbs. When you stay still, the effect fades, it “turns off”.
The guide knows the place inside out, but knows little or nothing about bioluminescence and the reason for its origin. He just wants us to watch the scene and that’s what we do.
Living beings are imperceptible to touch. We all vigorously waved our arms and legs. We also jump from the boat to the “bomb” to generate a greater effect. The white foam that causes the impact also glows. The minutes pass and we continue to be captivated by the phenomenon of nature and the impressive visual effect.
To the luminosity of the water must be added the experience of observing the stars from the sea. Without being able to identify a horizon, the immensity of the sky becomes infinite. They are one of those things that take your breath away.
Even the best special effects couldn’t match this amazing phenomenon.