Where to Find Stunning Bioluminescent Beaches

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It's time to book a trip to where the water glows beneath your feet.

There's nothing better than a beach vacation with warm sand between your toes, crystal clear waters, and hopefully a cocktail or two to enjoy. But in a remote number of beaches around the world, there's something that makes a trip to shore even more special; across the globe, there are a select few beaches that glow in the dark. These ethereal displays are due to bioluminescent phytoplankton that creates a chemical reaction when disturbed, the results nothing short of amazing. Even if you're not a beach lover, a trip to one of these retreats is an experience to remember.

Here's where you can catch the dazzling display.


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Maya Bay, Thailand

Made famous by the 2000 cult classic The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Maya Bay has moved to the forefront of bucket list destinations. The beach's remote location offers stunning white sands surrounded by towering limestone rock formations and a magical nighttime display where the water glows beneath your feet. Located off the coast of Krabi in Southern Thailand, Maya Beach has seen a steady increase in tourist traffic since the release of the movie. So much so that The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has ordered its temporary shutdown to give the area "a rest," according to the Bangkok Post.  But don't worry too much, it's only temporary, lasting from June 1 to September 30, 2018. 


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Koh Rong, Cambodia

If you're staying on the island of Koh Rong, you'll need to find a way to avoid the light pollution from the surrounding tourist area of Koh Touch to catch the beautiful glowing waters. Book a boat tour that will take you to a remote area, where you'll have a much better chance of seeing bioluminescence, or take a short 15-minute walk from the town's main pier. However, a boat tour is the best chance you'll have and only costs about $5, according to the Koh Rong tourism website. You can book your trip right on the beach, but, if you'd like to include other activities like snorkeling or fishing, that'll cost about $10. 


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The Maldives

Arguably containing the most stunning display of bioluminescence, the Maldives is a bucket-list destination in its own right. The chain of 26 atolls is made up of 1,190 islands, all lined with white sand beaches and surrounded by sparkling waters. At night, the ripples throughout the Maldives glow, but it's not like the other destinations on this list. In this case, ostracod crustaceans (not bioluminescent phytoplankton) make up the ethereal display. What makes this destination so unique is that the crustaceans glow for up to a minute, compared to phytoplankton which only does so for a few seconds.  When you visit you'll be treated to a truly rare spectacle. 


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Pigeon Point, Tobago

Pigeon Point is one of Tobago's most popular destinations, offering tourists a clean white sand beach and beautiful tepid waters. During the day, you'll find beachgoers lounged about soaking up the sun or eating at any number of the local stands. At night, the beach becomes much more peaceful as travelers head back to their resorts or town for dinner. During these quiet hours is the best time to go as you'll be treated to a beautiful display of glowing blue-green waters. Travelers can book a paddleboard excursion through Stand Up Paddle Tobago to get a two-hour tour of the surrounding beach and bioluminescence display.


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Luminous Lagoon, Jamaica

Located less than an hour drive from Montego Bay, the Luminous Lagoon in Trelawny is one of the most celebrated attractions in the island nation. Visitors can catch a 45-minute boat ride from the Glistening Waters Marina which will take them out to not only see but also swim in the bioluminescent waters. 


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Puerto Mosquito, Puerto Rico

Officially declared the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world by the 2008 Guinness Book of World Records, Puerto Mosquito is a stunning can't-miss destination. Located on the southern shore of Puerto Rico's Vieques Island, Puerto Mosquito offers a dazzling nighttime display. However, it's not the only place to see bioluminescence in Puerto Rico. Tourists can also visit Laguna Grande in Fajardo or La Parguera in Lajas for a more subtle bioluminescent display.