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Here are Top 5 bioluminescent bays and tours around the world

Bioluminescent bays, also referred to as phosphorescent bays, are magical bodies of water that light up against the darkness of the night sky, when bioluminescent microorganisms in the water are disturbed and emit light. 

Bioluminescent bays were much more abundant years ago, but overtourism has ruined some of these habitats. When tour groups cruise through the water in motorboats, their engines spit poisonous fuel into the water, and the propellers churn up clouds of silt from the sea floor. Humans swimming in these bays is also toxic, as bacteria from bodies--and especially sunscreen, which is very toxic to ocean life (wear reef-safe sunscreen!)--upset the delicate balance of these ecosystems.

Many bays are managed responsibly, however, and paddling through the water on a kayak or a canoe will bring you into the middle of the water. Here are five of the best bioluminescent bays to see the water that glows in the middle of the night.

1) Salt River Bay, U.S. Virgin Islands: Located on the north shore of St. Croix, Salt River Bay is a national historical park with a healthy bioluminescent bay, which glows gently as visitors dip their kayak paddles into the water. Salt River includes a mangrove bay, where the trees leach nutrients into the water, while also adding tannins to make the microorganisms taste bitter. Predators don't eat them, so they grow abundantly, and a simple splash with your hand will light up the water like you turned on a power switch. Visibility is best when the moon is a crescent or completely dark, and the night sky is clear of clouds that would reflect light from nearby towns. The paddle to the bay requires healthy arm muscles and takes a little while, but the payoff is worth it. No are motorboats allowed here.

2) Laguna Grande, Puerto Rico: Laguna Grande is located in the northeastern town of Fajardo. Kayak through the mangrove channels, leaving behind a trail of glowing sparkles. 

3) Vaadhoo Island, The Maldives: This is not technically a "bioluminescent bay," but phytoplankton in the ocean here can make the waves glow at night. 

4) Bermuda: Two and three days after the full moon, an hour after the sun sets, glow worms light up the waters off of the north shore of Bermuda in a beautiful mating ritual. Charter a guided tour to see these elusive creatures, which are too far away from the shore to be seen by kayak. 

5) Toyama Bay, Japan: The 3-inch long Firefly Squid live off of the coast of Japan, over a thousand feet deep, but they come close to the surface during their mating season. Photopores in their tentacles light up like glow sticks, filling the water with light as they zoom around. Namerikawa fishing port hosts sightseeing boats starting at 3 a.m., so this is a great tour for travelers suffering from jet lag.

Okay this list was supposed to have five suggestions, but here is one more:

6) Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: There are many kayak tours of bioluminescent waters in Costa Rica. The Nicoya Peninsula is particularly popular. If you have a car, drive to Playa Pochote and book a tour at Don Trino campground, which is less crowded and lower cost than tours in towns.