Missed bioluminescence in biology class? Here are three wild places to see this phenomenon–a chemical reaction of an enzyme called luciferin and oxygen that lights up sea life, insects, and mushrooms.
San Juan Island, WA
Sea kayak in shimmering waters.
Watch trails of liquid moonlight follow your boat as you paddle the waters around San Juan Island. Bioluminescent plankton are found all over the world’s oceans, but gather in abundance here, where strong currents upwell nutrients into the chilly waters. Launch at Jackson Beach, in Friday Harbor, and follow the North Bay shoreline east. After about 300 yards, duck into the first of several shallow coves to the north; they’re protected from wind, which makes for better bioluminescence spotting. The water becomes silvery-blue when agitated. Before rounding the peninsula, at about one mile, turn back–currents rip beyond here. Take a guided tour with Discovery Sea Kayaking (866-461-2559; discoveryseakayak.com).
Create your own shine with a bottle of 1979 Don PX Gran Reserva dessert wine at Steps Wine Bar and Café in Friday Harbor. stepswinebarandcafe.com
From Seattle, drive 80 miles north on I-5 to WA 20. Head 9.8 miles to Anacortes and follow the signs to the San Juan Islands Ferry.