When it comes to memorable moments, witnessing a glowing and sparkling beach in blue has to be close to the top of the list! Known as the ‘Tears of the Ocean’ or the “Sea of Stars,’ this natural phenomenon is actually caused by bioluminescent plankton. Tiny micro-organisms and a very specific type of phytoplankton called dinoflagellate are what actually glow in the water.

If seeing this firsthand is on your bucket list, read on!

Best destinations for bioluminescence
Photo Credit: ‘slworking2’

Best Destinations for Bioluminescence

It’s important to understand that although these are some of the best destinations for bioluminescence, sightings are not guaranteed. Several factors can affect the ‘glow,’ including:

  • Climatic changes or seasonal abnormalities can affect the growth of the phytoplankton
  • Conditions of the water, including the temperature, tides, waves, and currents
  • The pH level of the water can also affect the strength of the glow from phytoplankton

Jervis Bay - Topside - Australia - Coastline


Jervis Bay in Australia is definitely worthy of a place on the list of best destinations for bioluminescence. On a cloudy night, the bay sparkles, and the glow can be seen from the beach.

Also, in Australia is the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria, which comes to light between December and February.

best dive resorts in the maldives


If you are hoping to see bioluminescence on a trip to the Maldives, it’s best to travel between July and December. Vaadhoo Island has excellent sightings on moonless nights – and of course, the Maldives is well known for its incredible diving and luxury resorts!

Halong Bay, Vietnam

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Halong Bay is known for its crystal clear waters and opportunities to explore, trek and witness exceptional natural beauty. It’s also an exceptional spot for bioluminescence late at night once the local boats have turned their lights off.

Krabi - Thailand - Water - Boat - Beach

Krabi, Thailand

Krabi and the surrounding islands offer excellent chances to witness bioluminescence – including boat tours available at night. Krabi also boasts great scuba diving all year round, and it’s a great location for those who want to mix up diving with island hopping and exploring.

Puerto Rico

In 2008, The Guinness Book of World Records officially declared Puerto Rico among the best destinations for bioluminescence and the place where the brightest glowing plankton on the planet can be seen. If you plan a trip to Puerto Rico, head to Isla de Vieques and try kayaking for the best sightings.

puerto rico

Selayar Island, South Sulawesi, Indonesia

This long, narrow island off the south coast of South Sulawesi in Indonesia offers great sightings of bioluminescence during the diving season. The season runs from October through to May when the diving conditions and marine life sightings are excellent.

San Juan Island, Washington

The best way to explore this stunning bioluminescent beach is by kayak. As you paddle you’ll witness the electric looking silver and blue glow catching on your paddles too!

rocky california shoreline at sunset


California is also a great option if you are hoping to witness the ‘tears of the ocean.’ During the summer months, the bioluminescent plankton can be viewed close to the shores of San Diego. This is also the time of year when the waters in Mission Bay, La Jolla Cove, and Torrey Pines State Beach glow blue.

Jamaica and Cayman Islands

The famous blue glows of Jamaica are found in the waters surrounding Falmouth. The nearby Cayman Islands also have a reputation for offering some of the brightest sightings worldwide.

Are you ready to go Sea of Stars spotting? Take a look at dive centers, resorts, and liveaboard opportunities in each of these incredible destinations on PADI Travel!

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