Bioluminescence & Holbox’s sea fireflies

Have you ever been someplace where reality seems to blur with fantasy? Well, that’s the feeling you get when you witness a very unique spectacle that occurs on the coast of Holbox.

Holbox is a small island full of colour and exotic animals, north of Quintana Roo and about 90 minutes from Playa del Carmen. This tiny island has more than its share of tourist attractions, but bioluminescence is one that really stands out from the rest. It’s a phenomenon that’s only visible for a few months each year and has put the island firmly on the map as a must-visit destination.

But… what exactly is bioluminescence?

This effect is created by microorganisms living in the sea, these include Ostracods, commonly known as marine fireflies, Plankton and other types of bacteria that feed off the heat produced by the sun so they can later create their own light through movement as at the bottom of the sea there is practically no light. As these small organisms come to the surface and make contact with the waves they create small bursts of light and the more microorganisms in the water, the greater the intensity of the flashes of light that can be seen.

The intensity of the light produced by these organisms can sometimes be so strong that it’s possible to see fishes moving in the water. Mind you, the best time to enjoy this type of experience is when there is very little or no moonlight, as it affects the colours and the intensity of the light. After about 11pm is a good time to start enjoying the show as it’s when there is less light.

After enjoying a spectacular night admiring this natural wonder, make sure to check out the small village, either by renting a bicycle or a golf cart, which is the only motorised transport allowed on the island.  You should also indulge in some of the island’s gastronomic delights. We recommend the lobster pizza.

How to get there?

These are the most commonly used means of transport to reach the island:

So, what’s holding you back from checking out this natural phenomenon?

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