What Is Unique About Vaadhoo Island?

The bioluminescence waves of Vaadhoo Island.
The bioluminescence waves of Vaadhoo Island.

In the Maldives, there is a group of islands that is collectively known as Raa Atoll. Some of the islands are habited while others are not habited. Among the habited islands, there is a truly unique island that is known as Vaadhoo Island. The island itself has a total populace of slightly more than 500 people as of 2007. Vaadhoo Island is renowned throughout the world for a truly unique and breathtaking spectacle that has come to be branded as “the sea of stars.”


Vaadhoo Island’s uniqueness lies in its “sea of stars.” The sea of stars refers to the beach around the islands glows a beautiful blue at night just as stars would. At night, the sand and the waves appear blue giving an impression of the sky and its stars sitting on the beach.

The reason for this glow, as scrutinized by Woodland Hastings of Harvard University, is quite simple. A certain kind of phytoplankton known as dinoflagellates is the one responsible for the glow. The dinoflagellates glow the magical blue after oxygen is introduced into the water. Interestingly, the glow is a defence mechanism against predators. Further, even if the phytoplankton are eaten by fish, the luminescence continues thus marking the fish as targets to other predators. The exact science of what happens involves electrical impulses inside the dinoflagellates, a change of pH in their bodies, and finally a chemical reaction that triggers the luminescence after the introduction of oxygen.

Another thing that makes this phenomenon unique is its prominence. Other parts of the world such as Leucadia (California), Lakshadweep Islands (India), Mosquito Bay (Puerto Rico), and some parts of Japan also have something similar. However, none of these are as prominent as Vaadhoo.


The sea of stars is a combination of breathtaking sights and fantastic tropical weather. For these two reasons Vaadhoo Islands, and the Maldives in general, is a popular tourist destination for millions of people from all corners of the world every year.

The habitat around Vaadhoo Island is one of a marine nature. Nearby, the sea is bustling with marine life in the form of certain microorganisms known as phytoplankton, fish, and coastal vegetation (such as palm trees) on the shores. The climate of Vaadhoo Island is one that is dominated by warm to high temperatures typical to tropical regions. All the months have a maximum temperature of between 30 and 32° Celsius during the day. The nights are slightly cooler. The highest temperature reached are in the months of September and October.

In addition, nature lovers and photography enthusiasts are all enticed to this magical place year in year out. Visitors prefer going out to the sea in the morning hours and noon to observe the beautiful sights, take photographs, and enjoy the breeze. At night, they enjoy the truly magical spectacle of bioluminescence.


As is the case with most wonders in the world, human beings are the greatest threat. With the millions of visitors to the island every year, the level of pollution and contamination that could possibly pose a threat to the organisms is high.


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