The Luminous Lagoon stretches along the marshlands of Trelawny from the small community of Rock to the town of Falmouth. In the 18th century when sugar was king, Falmouth was one of Jamaica’s most pivotal ports. Located at the eminent point where the Martha Brae River meets the Caribbean Sea, the lagoon housed a wharf where large vessels from England unloaded goods onto smaller ships to be delivered inland up the river. Once inland, these boats would reload with sugar, rum and other Jamaican exports and carry them back to the harbor. Years after the decline of the sugar trade, scientists discovered the lagoon’s geographical location was important for another reason. It was the single best place to observe and study microorganisms called dinoflagellates, which thrive in the layers where salt and fresh water combine and glow the brightest in shallow, warm water.
The tours begin just after sunset and each tour lasts around 30 to 45 minutes. When we did our tour, Glistening Waters had two boats operating at a time, so there wasn’t a long wait time to get in.
Be prepared for the boat to be jam-packed with tourists (I’ve heard the tours taking place later on in the night aren’t as bad). I recommend sitting in the rear of the boat on the port side (left of the vessel if you’re looking towards the front). This is right where the ladder is that you’ll use to enter the lagoon.
Sitting there will allow you the best view of the water lighting up when the boat starts moving and will allow you to be the first person in the water, which will be handy for getting photographs from the photographer, who goes by the name of “paparazzi.”