6 minutes to read

Sea of Stars on Vaadhoo Island In The Maldives

In some parts of the world, it is possible to see the night sky in its full form, unimpeded by light pollution for us to gaze upon. Our window into the universe is as clear as can be, offering the full breadth of a sea of stars. This cosmic beauty can be replicated not in the sky, but on land and sea in Maldives and other parts of the world.

Enter Vaadhoo Island, a tourist destination in Maldives known specifically for the ‘Sea of Stars’ phenomenon. The sea and beach lights up an ethereal blue, mesmerising both residents and tourists alike. 

This bioluminescent glow has caught the eyes and hearts of people locally in the Maldives and worldwide, with people flocking to the island to try and experience this rare natural wonder.

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The Science Behind the Phenomenon

You might be one of the curious individuals asking why this happens. Bioluminescence occurs due to a chemical reaction within a living organism known as chemiluminescence. This reaction is caused by two unique chemicals known as luciferase and luciferin (or photoprotein, either one works).

The organism that is responsible for the ‘Sea of Stars’ phenomenon on Vaadhoo Island are the bioluminescent dinoflagellates, which are a variety of plankton / phytoplankton that float on the surface of the ocean. The bluish glow occurs when the environment surrounding the plankton, be it on the surface of the ocean or the beach, becomes agitated or disturbed. Brushing your hand through the water or the beach will cause the glow to occur.

Comb Jelly Bioluminescence
Comb Jelly Bioluminescence. Photo Credit: National Geographic Society via Google Images

Brushing your hand through the water or sand doesn’t hurt the plankton and it is perfectly safe for humans as well. If you want to go for a swim in the ocean when the plankton are around that’s fine too but if you want to be able to see them while swimming, it would have to be without a light as it would overpower the glow of the bioluminescent plankton.

Best Time to Witness the Sea of Stars

For spotting and experiencing anything of bioluminescence, there are two things you should take into account. One is the volume of plankton in the ocean. It’s been noted that there is a vast increase in bioluminescent plankton in the ocean during June all the way until December so this would be a decent time span for you to plan your trip.

The other factor is the moon and the light it gives off. It would be ideal to go during a time when the weather is favourable and at the time of year when there isn’t much natural light around, which would be from the influence of the moon. This is usually around mid-May, when the full moon has passed, ensuring a dark enough environment around the beach and the seas for increasing your chances of spotting the bioluminescent plankton. July to December would be your best bet, with very little moonlight to account for.

Vaadhoo Island Beach
Vaadhoo Island Beach. Photo Credit: Maldives Exclusive via Google Images

It should be noted that while there is a ton of info on how to hunt for this phenomenon, it is an incredibly rare sight to come across which requires timing, patience and a little bit of luck so don’t be too saddened if you don’t get to experience this. 

Manage your expectations wisely to make your trip a fun one. After all, vacationing in the Maldives is an experience of its own so take the time to appreciate the beauty and bask in the island calm.

Vaadhoo Island: A Travellers Paradise

While Vaadhoo Island may be known for the Sea of Stars, it is also known for its island and ocean beauty as well. A unique environment that thrives with minimal human contact, as the island of Vaadhoo only has around 500 inhabitants, with tourism and fishing being its main sources of income.

Vaadhoo Island from above
Vaadhoo Island from above. Photo Credit: Hassan Ismail via Facebook

While Vaadhoo Island itself may not have any guest houses or resorts to stay at, there are a few excellent resorts close by you can stay at if you wish to visit the Sea of Stars, such as:

  1. Emerald Faarufushi Resort & Spa Maldives
  2. You & Me Maldives
  3. JOALI Maldives
  4. Velaa Private Island Maldives
  5. Brennia Kottefaru Maldives

The island itself has an amazing house reef which can be explored if you’re into snorkelling and scuba diving. Ensure that you have a diving expert with you for safety in the ocean to maximise enjoyment during your swim. 

You can also go kayaking especially at night where you can drift along the ocean as it glows a mesmerising blue upon contact with your kayak.

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How to Get to Vaadhoo Island

There are a few options you can consider if you want to get to Vaadhoo Island, which is 195 km from the capital Male’. If you’re travelling from Velana International Airport (VIA), which is right next to the capital, you can take a speedboat to the island itself or a quick domestic seaplane flight to Ifuru Airport (which is close by to Vaadhoo Island) whereby you can take a speedboat to the island.

Maldivian Seaplane by Trans Maldivian Airways. Photo Credit: Tropical Warehouse via Google Images

The speedboat route from VIA would be the cheaper route as you wouldn’t have to pay for the seaplane but it would take longer, naturally. This comes down to personal preference, your budget and how you’ve planned out your vacation.

Respecting Nature and Local Guidelines

Vaadhoo Island Bioluminescence. Photo Credit: Wattpad via Google Images

Given that the entirety of Maldives has a fragile ecosystem within its waters, which includes the coral reefs and other marine life, it is advised that everyone follows and practises responsible tourism. Exercise minimal touch of the wildlife such as the coral reefs, the bioluminescent plankton and marine fauna so as not to disturb and aggravate them. Keep the beaches and the water clean and you’ll be doing nature a favour.

There are also some local guidelines that should be observed to respect the religion and culture of this island nation. Maldives is an Islamic country with muslims thriving in these lands. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • When out in the public eye of local islands, care should be taken to go with a more conservative approach when it comes to dressing. No bikinis, wear loose fitting clothes and you should be well received.
  • There is no alcohol within the local islands due to religious reasons so it should stand to reason that you also do not bring nor consume alcohol on the islands. It’s fine to consume alcohol on the resorts but not within the local public.
  • If you’re an avid pork lover, you’ll be saddened to know that pork isn’t available in the local islands as well due to religious reasons but the resorts would serve pork.
  • If you’d like to explore the religious aspect of the country, perhaps by going to a mosque, it is important that men should cover their legs and body in clothing while women should cover their legs and body with clothing and their heads and shoulders with a shawl.
  • Physical touch between men and women aren’t observed as per the rest of the world. Instead, a slight bow or a simple nod shows respect to both parties. Other than that, handshakes are prominently how people greet each other.
  • When entering a Maldivian home, it is respectful to leave your shoes at the front door as barefoot is the way to go in their households.

Tips for Photographing the Sea of Stars

Maldives Secrets was kind enough to post their camera settings for the pictures they took on their blog post about Vaadhoo Island! Don’t hesitate to check them out! The camera settings are as follows:

  • ISO 3200
  • f/3.5
  • 18mm
  • 1.3 sec

Don’t forget to bring a tripod as it may get chilly in the night causing you to shiver, with the pictures taking the brunt of it.

As stated, a high ISO is needed to be able to snap a decent picture in the dark but even with this the pictures may come out a bit fuzzy (noise in photography terms) but it’s nothing a bit of editing can’t fix. A few minutes of tweaking the image and it’ll look Insta-worthy in no time!

Don’t Miss Out!

Vaadhoo Island can be described as an island of beauty with the Sea of Stars topping it off like a cherry. A bioluminescent wonder that is another once-in-a-lifetime experience just like vacationing in the Maldives. With proper care and consideration, not only will you be able to enjoy this jaw-dropping phenomenon but so will everyone that comes after you.

If you want to head to Vaadhoo Island, the resort you’re staying at will take care of the flight details for you but in case you’re a bit curious and want to check out the Maldives domestic airline transfer details, these links should help you out: