Falmouth’s Luminous Lagoon is one of only a handful of places in the world where the phenomenon of bioluminescence occurs. For a magical experience for all ages, take a nighttime swim to see the brilliant phosphorescent blue lights shimmer when the slightest movement stirs the water.
Though it seems like magic, there’s a scientific explanation for the glowing blue that appears. Millions of microorganisms called dinoflagellates flock to the lagoon’s unique combination of mangroves and salt and fresh water. Agitation oxygenates the chemical luciferin embedded in the algae cells, shedding an illuminating glow. Treat yourself to an after-dark cruise around the lagoon and a dip in the warm, shallow water. Some tours include round-trip transport from your hotel.
Things to Know Before You Go
- As it’s quite shallow, the lagoon is suitable for younger kids.
- Don’t forget your swimsuit and towel.
- The lagoon isn’t wheelchair-accessible.
- For photos, use a camera with a high ISO sensitivity, with the flash off; alternatively, hire a photographer at the lagoon.
How to Get There
Luminous Lagoon is located in an estuary near Rock, 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) east of Falmouth. Take a taxi or drive to Glistening Waters Restaurant and Marina. From there, you’ll board a boat that takes you to the lagoon. From Montego Bay, the drive is about 40 minutes, directly east. From Ocho Rios, the drive is about an hour, directly west.
When to Get There
Boat tours leave in the evening, around 6:30pm. Jamaica’s high season is December through mid-April, after which deals on flights and hotels are easier to find. Go in January for the Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival in Montego Bay, or in November for the Anniversary of the Crowning of Haile Selassie, the former Ethiopian emperor considered by Rastafarians to be God incarnate.
Journey to Falmouth
When sugar was king in the 18th century, Falmouth was one of Jamaica’s most important and scenic ports. Things have changed (it’s a cruise ship port now), but Falmouth’s illustrious history is alive in the town’s Georgian architecture and cobblestone streets. Take a short journey inland to the village of Martha Brae, then float down the river on a bamboo raft through lush jungle to Martha’s Rest.