Watch the ocean light up on a Turks & Caicos Glow Worm Cruise

(Part of) The TC Villas team ready to enjoy the Glow Worm Tour.

On just two evenings each month, following a full moon, something truly spectacular happens on the banks of Provo –and if you’re lucky enough to be there during this special time, you can get a front-row seat to watch it happen.

A glow worm cruise allows you to experience one of Turks & Caicos’ most incredible natural phenomena.

For about 15 minutes, the stars seem to have plunged into the ocean and glow from the gently rippling water. The generally affordable evening excursion, which lasts for approximately 3 hours, takes you on a journey to witness countless marine glow worms literally light up the channel. Need more detail on exactly what that means? 

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Here’s what you can expect. All aboard!

Capt. David of the Suncharters Glow Worm Sail.

Board a sailboat operated by one of several glow worm cruise companies at the Leeward Marina (within 15 minutes of any of our villas) just before dusk. The glow worms appear approximately 50 minutes after sunset, so the trip is perfectly timed to coincide with the “show.”

Additionally, if you are lucky enough to have a few locals join you on your boat, the cruise offers a great opportunity to find out what it’s like to live every day in paradise.

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The color of the water is spectacular by this time of day as it changes with the setting sun. That, along with the gentle trade winds and the smell of sea salt will relax you in no time. To further relax you, most cruise operators serve light refreshments for you to enjoy on the boat. Captain Dave at Sun Charters, with whom we have cruised with several times, serves rum punch (sometimes wine) and often provides light snacks like chips for you to nibble on as you glide along the coast.

And then the magic happens.

Dan, our CEO enjoying the sailing tour!

Once the boat reaches the spot where the glow worms are known to appear, you’ll wait anxiously for the show to begin. And then it happens -the entire channel illuminates in a glowing green light that will take your breath away. But don’t blink or you’ll miss it! The show is enchanting, but it’s a quick one, lasting for just about 15 minutes.

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Now, to truly appreciate the “magic,” you’re going to witness, you’ll want to understand the science behind it. Don’t worry, no studying is required (this is a vacation, after all) but there is a reason the glow worms glow – and it’s not just for human enjoyment.

The glowing you’ll see is part of the mating ritual of the bioluminescent marine worm, Odontosyllis Enopla.  In short, the female worms swim in circles at the water’s surface and glow as they release their eggs, which also glow.  The similarly glowing males, attracted to the light of the females, approach the females and release their sperm resulting in an even more intense glow, and, of course, future baby glow worms. Your guide will likely explain things in more detail, but those are the basics.

Time to get glowing.

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This unique event is difficult to photograph, so you really must see it for yourself. Adults and kids alike will find the experience fun and memorable.

If you aren’t in Provo at the right time to experience the glow worms, a regular happy hour sunset cruise is a great experience too, and many of the companies offering glow worm cruises offer those as well. Best of all, now you have the perfect reason to plan your next visit.

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