Travel and Leisure — September 22, 2014 at 5:00 am

6 Places Around the World to Experience Bioluminescence

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A night spent on the beach is just as rewarding as during the day. Yes, you may not get the golden tan you desire, but depending on where you are in the world, the ocean comes alive with a dazzling light show that will take your breath away.

Bioluminescence is a light emission produced by land and marine organisms to attract mates, warn predators, and lure prey. Take a walk through the surf and you might notice a lot of twinkling going on in the waves. Here are 6 places around the world to experience the phenomenon for yourself.

Puerto Mosquito, Vieques, Puerto Rico
Mosquito Bay, found on the tiny Caribbean island of Vieques, holds a glittering reputation. Visitors can experience the brightest and best-known bioluminescent displays in the world. With a high concentration of bioluminescent organisms—720,000 per gallon of water to be exact—a single splash will send these teeny critters flashing neon blue, yellow, and purple streaks that can be seen from miles around.

Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason. It is dripping with natural beauty, offering travelers 3,000 unique islands to explore. Spend time traversing the numerous caves, wilderness and jungle—but make sure to pay a visit to the water at night. The bay erupts in sparkling colors with one smooth dive.

Waitomo, New Zealand
Bioluminescence doesn’t just dwell in the sea. Travel to the caves in Waitomo, New Zealand, a settlement about 2.5 hours from Auckland. Get your spelunk on and you will be guided with Mother Nature’s very own flashlight—hundreds upon hundreds of glowworms blanketing cave walls and ceilings like glow in the dark stars.

Springbrook Park, Australia
If still on land and not the sea, then head over to Springbrook Park to get your glowworm on even more. Forget a flashlight—the neon creepy crawlies will illuminate nighttime hikes through the National Park’s forest. These little guys prefer moisture, so take the trek during rainfall for best viewing opportunities, as they will really turn on the lights!

San Juan Island, Washington, U.S.
Take a guided tour with Discovery Sea Kayaking or bring your own kayak and set off from Jackson Beach at Friday Harbor for an adventure along the North Bay shoreline. Here exists some of the brightest bioluminescence sending silver sparks and electric blue streaks from a single dip of your paddle. The coves here are protected from the wind for better viewing.

Big South Fork, TN/KY
Gather your gear and some buddies and hit the trail at Big South Fork for some nighttime summer fun. Here, the gorges run deep, leading you on an upward winding trail to two of the largest natural bridges in the east—Twin Arches North and South. On the night of a new moon, be prepared to witness quite a stunning sight: the air overwhelmed with the electric twinkling numerous fireflies. But the best part—they do not blink at random—Specific species use unique patterns and sequences to indicate gender, territory and mating.

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