Nocturnal light baths
credits: World for Travel

Nocturnal light baths

In the South of Brazil, it is possible to observe bioluminescence, one of nature’s most spectacular views. Between the island of Cardoso (Sao Paulo) and Imbe’s coast, the phenomenon can be seen in all of its splendor. The natural phenomenon is specially stunning in places such as Honey Island (Parana), and beaches close to Laguna (Santa Catarina) – above all in Galheta and Farol de Santa Marta’s beaches that, for being remote spots, offer spectacular sights, with starry nights (when we can appreciate, quite clearly, the trail of the Milky Way).

For those who are lucky to travel the world, there are still many other options from where it is possible to observe the singular phenomenon, which is the process that certain organisms create a light-emitting chemical reaction, usually as a form of defense.


Laguna Grande, Fajardo, Puerto Rico
In this island, the concentrations of dinoflagellates illuminate the darkness. The best places to see it are Laguna Grande and the bioluminescent bay, even though the blackouts suffered in recent times put into check the ones who live to present them to tourists.

Manialtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico
At the end of 20 km of virgin beach (except for a village), there is the entrance to Manialtepec lagoon. This Oaxaca’s estuary keeps in its shallow waters bioluminescent microorganisms. They generate a green-ish color when in contact with movement, producing hallucinogen effects to night swimmers.

Toyama Bay, Honshu, Japan
The bioluminescence of this Japanese bay imposes respect, since the specimen that create it may reach the size of a hand. We are talking about the firefly squid, dragged by the spring currents to Japan’s north beaches. It has photophoretic organs at the end of its tentacles, emitting a blue light that attracts preys to the depths of the sea.

Vaadhoo Island, Maldives
Vaadhoo’s coast, one of the Maldives’ islands, at night transforms itself in a great blue spot due to the accumulation of phytoplankton. The protein present in these microorganisms, called luciferin, generates a reaction when in contact with oxygen thanks to an enzyme, creating a chemical reaction of light. This phenomenon has been constantly observed in Vaadhoo, while in other continent’s beaches it is hard to tell when it is going to happen again.

Enchanted Lake, Rosario Islands, Colombia
An enigmatic name to describe a lake with all the requirements to illuminate itself in the darkest nights. Mangroves, tranquility and warm, shallow waters. In this spot in the Caribbean Sea, almost 30 years ago, the Rosary Corals National Park – Colombia’s most important set of corals -, was created.

Mosquito Bay, Vieques Island, Puerto Rico
In Vieques, one of Puerto Rico’s smaller sisters, are three bays from where it is possible to observe the bioluminescence phenomenon. The largest one, and the one which presents the most ideal conditions throughout the year, is Mosquito Bay. Tapón and Puerto Ferro are similar, depending on the conditions. When in contact with the human body, the dinoflaggelates are illuminated. This bay has been recognized, over 10 years ago, as Guinness Book’s world’s shiniest bay.

Koh Rong, Camboja
Camboja’s second largest island, Koh Rong, also enjoys bioluminescence’s night show. This island, away from South Asian tourism until not long ago, has lately received massive tourists’ arrivals. The excursions to dive amidst the luminescent reactions are cheap and popular.

Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
Without being a proper lagoon, we also have to enter the water to see these flashes here. Envious of the starry skies, the kiwi underground went to work with Arachnocampa luminosa, known in NZ as glow worms. This mosquitoes’ species produces light to attract prey during their larval stage, which occurs during most part of their lives. When they reach adulthood, they don’t even feed themselves, so they can die faster. Adhered to silk threads on the ceiling of the Waitomo cave, in northern New Zealand, the luminous abdomens shine without anything to disturb them.

Newnes Tunnel, New South Wales, Australia
A list of strange living things always reserves a place for Australia. In this case, through a tunnel that is similar to Waitomo, aforementioned. This abandoned railway tunnel is in Wollemi’s Natioanl Park, about 20 km from Sidney’s Northwest. The 400-meter-tunnel were excavated in the beginning of the 19th Century, leading to a mining area, and is now the course of a stream. When everything ended, the mosquitoes took over, bringing their lights with them.

Luminous Lagoon, Falmouth, Jamaica
At the place where Usain Bolt and Ben Johnson were born, the waters shine – maybe that’s something to do with them… What is known is the enormous quantity of dinoflagellates that gather in the waters of the Luminous Lagoon, next to the Jamaican city of Falmouth. A dive in its waters is the synonym for energy waves, as if the visitor were in some kind of Japanese animated cartoon.



Rafael Paniagua

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