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I fairly frequently see pictures online of this semi-mythical glittering beach in the Maldives. However I can't find any accounts of people having actually visited it and reported on how it was.

Can anyone tell me any hard information about this destination? Is it real? Are these pictures photoshopped? Does it really glitter like this?

  • 3
    See bioluminescence. – Burhan Khalid May 19 '15 at 5:08
  • 2
    Ha yes I know what causes it; I'm trying to determine whether it causes it to the magnificent extent of the pictures in this location; whether it really looks quite like this; whether it's really worth visiting this beach. – temporary_user_name May 19 '15 at 17:45
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Yep, it's real. This wiki article corresponds with the information you have, and searching the island name itself pulls up lots of information about the destination in mind for you: Vaadhoo (Raa Atoll)

Vaadhoo island is famous for the 'sea of stars.' This marine bioluminescence is generated by phytoplankton known as dinoflagellates. Woodland Hastings of Harvard University has for the first time identified a special channel in the dinoflagellate cell membrane that responds to electrical signals—offering a potential mechanism for how the algae create their unique illumination.

Keep in mind though; there are plenty of alternatives to Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives, which is a resort area.

For more sites to visit, you can refer to this article. To sum it up, there are places in Europe, US, Asia, and Australia where you can view such phenomenom; the "Sea of Stars" isn't as localized as you think.

To prevent link rot I've added in a shortened list of the destinations in the article cited above:

  • Australia
    • Cairns
    • Gippsland Lakes
  • United States
    • Manasquan Beach, NJ
    • Mission Bay, San Diego, CA
    • Torrey Pines Beach, San Diego, CA
    • Cortez, FL
  • Caribbean
    • Luminous Lagoon, Trelawny, Jamaica
    • Mosquito Bay, Vieques, Puerto Rico
  • Asia
    • Halong Bay, Vietnam
    • Bali, Indonesia
    • Ton Sai, Krabi, Thailand
    • Toyama Bay, Japan
  • Europe
    • Zeebrugge, Belgium
    • Norfolk, UK
  • Indian Ocean
    • Reethi Beach, Maldives
    • Vaadhoo Islands, Maldives
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    Can confirm, seen it. There is no "glitter" however. Rather imagine a bunch of low-powered blue-green LEDs floating along the shoreline. – uncovery May 19 '15 at 9:35
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    +1 for the alternative places to see this phenomenon, I didn't know that was possible in Europe. – downhand May 19 '15 at 10:26
  • @uncovery So was it worth it, was it really very beautiful, or merely mildly cool? – temporary_user_name May 19 '15 at 21:30
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    My kids were pretty awestruck to see something like that, he was pretty amazed how nature often produces really cool things (Aurora borealis, etc). For my kids it was a "Oooh, Aaah" moment, but for myself it was just kind of neat to see it. – yuritsuki May 19 '15 at 22:56
  • @aerovistae It's very nice. But so are many things in the Maldives. If you don't think the Maldives as such are amazing, it won't be worth it going there just foe this. – uncovery May 20 '15 at 0:56
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I've seen this in Byron Bay, Australia, it wasn't quite as pronounced as those photos make it out to be if I recall correctly. It's amazing though, as you swim through the water the glowing intensifies as you move through it.

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You can see from the photos that they are long exposures, which will make the "bugs" look a lot brighter than they will appear to the naked eye.

Mission Bay, San Diego, CA Torrey Pines Beach, San Diego, CA

It will be seen all along the west coast, but only when there's a "red tide".

  • 1
    I have never seen this phenomena in Santa Cruz. Are you sure it can happen anywhere along the coast? – yuritsuki May 20 '15 at 1:14

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