Maldives’ Glowing Beaches – Bioluminescence Around The World

Maldives has held the figment of imagination for many honeymooners, vacationers and film-makers alike. Not just does the island country host the most specular white sand beaches and private watertop villas, but also one of the world’s rarest forms of sealife – the Bioluminescent Plankton.

maldives' glowing beaches

Bioluminescence at Toyama Bay – Japan

So those were not just glow-in-the-dark jellyfish?

On the contrary to popular belief, no, they’re not! The coastal shores of Vaadhoo and Kuredu are home to thickly populated beds of lingulodinium polyedrum, a type of bioluminescent plankton. Wow, that’s a lot of science for my head! So in short, these are tiny little organisms which float in the under layers of sea beds and warm lagoons. When contacted or agitated by external forces (be it a oxygen, a wave, ship or even your hands!), they glow in reaction, emitting a dense blue light from their tiny cells.

In some places, these bioluminescent plankton even turn orange!

maldives' glowing beaches maldives' glowing beaches

Where can you see Maldives’ glowing beaches? 

Many travellers report sightings of these pretty shores at Athuruga, Mirihi and Reethi beaches. Another such beach famous for bioluminescence is the Vadhoo and Kuredu Islands. As the country has more than 1190 coral islands, you stand a chance to witness this phenomena at many diverse locations along Maldives’ glowing beaches.

When is the best time to see this underwater firework display?

Though Maldives has many shores spotting shimmering beaches, not all of them reflect this phenomena at all times. Best bets are between July to December on no moon nights in dark boat jetty areas.

Stroll around the beachside and occasionally stir into the languid waves crashing into the shoreline. As it’s a biological reaction, you might just get lucky!

maldives' glowing beaches

Bioluminescence shown in the movie “Life of Pi”

Are these bioluminescent plankton harmful?

Some of the plankton washed up is considered toxic by locals. So meaning these forms of life are best left undisturbed by human contact and used only for photographic references.

While different species of fish use their luminescence power in different ways, most of them use it to repel predators or attract prey. Certain squids use it for undersea camouflage.

Where else can I see a glowing beach with such starry splendor in the world?

Just like Maldives’ glowing beaches, Jamaica, Vietnam, Thailand, parts of Australia and Belgium are known to have such plankton population along their shoreline! In America, you can see bioluminescent creatures at:

  • Cortez – Florida
  • Manasquan Beach – New Jersey
    maldives' glowing beaches

    Glowing waves at the Manasquan Beach at New Jersey

  • Mosquito Bay – Vieques, Puerto Rico
    maldives' glowing beaches

    Paddling through the illuminated waters of the Mosquito Bay

  • Torrey Pines Beach and Mission Bay – San Diego, California

maldives' glowing beaches

maldives' glowing beaches

Blue tide – A San Diego speciality!

Bioluminescence kayaking at Outer Banks

Bioluminescence kayaking is gaining popularity in recent times, drawing both locals and tourists alike. I had a chance to enjoy kayaking through the dark waters of a marsh in north Carolina’s Outer Banks, where I bore witness to these glow-in-the-dark organisms. 

Bioluminescent kayaking tours are conducted on most new moon days in pitch darkness. While getting video is difficult due to the darkness requirement, I did manage to get some pics… if not of the organisms, of a wonderful Milky Way above our heads.

Watch it here:


The world is so much more bigger and brighter than we ever imagined!

Did you know there’s a place in India where bridges are built naturally out of the roots of a rubber tree? Read about the Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya here.

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3 Responses

  1. Patty Freedman says:

    Wonderful! This is going on the bucket list. Saw the Glowing Worms in New Zealand which was awesome too.

    • Travel and Trots says:

      The experience is almost magical, isn’t it? We’re glad we could inspire you 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  1. May 18, 2021

    […] Related: Glowing beaches of Maldives – Bioluminescence around the world […]

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