I know that Newport Beach has truly spectacular bioluminescence. Are there other places on the coast of California where the phenomenon can be seen, particularly north of Newport Beach?

Newport Beach bioluminescence

  • It was spectacular in about April or May but nothing to see right now (at least where I am, on the same coast but in northern Mexico). So you might be out of luck if you're looking for something now, but I think we get it almost every year at the same time.
    – Midavalo
    Aug 2, 2020 at 17:57

3 Answers 3


San Diego. https://www.pointloma-obmonthly.com/news/story/2020-05-04/the-ocean-blue-bioluminescence-glows-along-sunset-cliffs (mirror):

In addition to Sunset Cliffs, the phenomenon has been particularly dramatic at Ocean Beach, the Scripps Pier area of La Jolla, Cardiff-by-the-Sea and off the San Elijo State Beach campgrounds.

La Jolla, San Diego:

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(image source, author: Jesse Bowen)

Also present in Mission Bay, San Diego: https://www.instagram.com/p/ByL-EkKnDaf/

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(image source, author: Jesse Bowen)

A video, still in San Diego: https://youtu.be/qlTCB_p3slY

More information on https://www.10news.com/lifestyle/exploring-san-diego/tips-on-enjoying-san-diegos-bioluminescence-waves-safely (mirror):

With the red tide along San Diego's shore, locals have been flocking to the coast nightly to catch a glimpse of bioluminescent waves.

The waves are created when phytoplankton, called "dinoflagellates," crash in the tide, reacting and causing bioluminescence when jostled

  • 1
    Note that "red tides" are seasonal (springtime) and are not very predictable as far as timing, duration, or intensity. If you plan a trip far in advance in hopes of seeing this phenomenon, you'll likely be disappointed. Jul 31, 2020 at 1:25
  • @NateEldredge you'll see red Jul 31, 2020 at 1:27
  • That is beautiful!
    – Itai
    Jul 31, 2020 at 16:56

I've been on a night time bioluminescence kayak tour in Tomales Bay, a bit more than an hour north of San Francisco. A couple tour companies run organized tours, or you can just bring your own kayak to the launch at Nick's Cove and paddle around Hog Island and back. While I thought the experience was very cool, when I went it wasn't nearly as spectacular as the videos and pictures usually show - it was more like some light sparkles for a short moment as your paddle or hand pushes through the water, not long trails of light. It definitely wasn't something that would be easily noticeable from outside the water.

  • I know, I've been there too, that's why I specified "ocean" and "coastal". Probably the northernmost point in California where this happens though! Jul 31, 2020 at 2:55

San Clemente had strong bioluminescence due to "red waves" in May 2020, but it's gone now and currents are tough to track.

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