10 Amazing After-Dark Adventures

See the world in a different light when you trek through a nightime jungle in Belize, follow flickering fireflies in Tennessee or stargaze in Tanzania.

September 05, 2019

Photo By: Radim Schreiber/FireflyExperience.Org

Photo By: GhostTour.org/Andrew Walmsley

Photo By: Renato Granieri/VisitNorway.com

Photo By: Lodge at Chaa Creek

Photo By: Cayman Kayaks

Photo By: Audley Travel

Photo By: John Fleck Photography/Alcatraz Cruises

Photo By: Solaz Luxury Collection Resort Los Cabos

Photo By: Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corp.

Photo By: Tom Archer/https://hiddeniceland.is/

Watch Fireflies Flash

The world's a different place after dark and now travelers can maximize their vacation time by sampling unique sights available only once the sun goes down.

Read on to learn about some sights you only experience at night, including the spectacular—all natural—light show in Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For a few nights each year, thousands of fireflies appear in the woods and flash their yellow-green lights in unison. The bioluminescent bugs are a rare species, and you can also catch their synchronized show in South Carolina’s Congaree National Park. Check each website for details; fireflies don’t run on schedules and parking is tight at these popular events.

Chase Spirits After Sundown

Some after-dark adventures will haunt you for a long time. You may not sleep at night after you join professional actor Bill Spectre, clad in a black cloak and Victorian-era undertaker's hat, on his award-winning Oxford Ghost Trail tour. You’ll walk the backstreets and alleys of Oxford and Burford, England, as he spins historical tales designed to make your spine tingle. Be prepared: Spectre uses props and illusions, and runs a highly theatrical tour—but it is family-friendly.

Dog Sled Under the Midnight Sun

From around late September to early March, the sky in northern Norway is dark from early afternoon until late morning. It's a great time to look for the shimmering northern lights and ride a sled pulled by a team of athletic huskies. FjordTours offers an adventure starting in Bergen or Oslo with a side trip to Camp Tromso, where you and a partner can take turns driving a dogsled into the wilderness. Later, you’ll return to a hot meal in a Sami (an indigenous people who live in the Sapmi area encompassing several Scandinavian countries) herdsman’s tent. Oh, and the dogs will get a nutritious meal, too.

Take a Nocturnal Jungle Trek

What's lurking in the jungle at night? Don’t be afraid. Guides from the eco-friendly Lodge at Chaa Creek in Belize will lead you along trails frequented by howler monkeys, ocelots, tarantulas and other rainforest inhabitants and use their special ultraviolet lights to point out phosphorescent insects. If you're squeamish about bugs in your hair or under your feet, just know you’ll be equipped with a hard-hat and headlamp.

Kayak in a Bioluminescent Bay

Hop in a kayak or board an electric boat under the stars in Grand Cayman to see the underwater wonders of Bio Bay. Guides from Cayman Kayaks lead paddlers in an illuminated kayak; boaters ride in an all-black, "stealth" boat with a see-through hatch. These eco-friendly tours are scheduled around the cycles of the moon, so you have the best chance to see millions of tiny, single-celled plankton light up the water when you pass by. Concierges at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa can help you plan this or other tours.

Stargaze in Tanzania

Sip a cocktail and bed down for the night in a canvas tent in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Audley Travel offers a northern Tanzania tour with a stay at Olakira Mobile Camp, where mesh sections in the tents give you a 270-degree view of the inky sky and crystalline stars. (The Milky Way tends to be brighter in the southern hemisphere.)


Cruise to an Abandoned Island

The breathtaking views of San Francisco after dark are one thing. Seeing the city from the old prison on Alcatraz Island is quite another. Alcatraz Cruises offers an evening ferryboat trip to the island, followed by an award-winning audio experience in a dark cell once used for solitary confinement. You'll hear the stories of real-life prisoners and correctional officers and also learn about the history of the island from pre-Civil War days. Evening tours to the "Rock," as it's called, are popular, so book ahead.

Moon-Watch in Los Cabos

Have an after-dark consult with an astrologist and stargaze from the open-air roof at Solaz, a Luxury Collection Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico. Guests can use the resort's large, reflecting telescope to trace constellations in the heavens and look for craters on the moon. The resort beachfront is a good place to gather around a bonfire and watch the moonlight shimmer on the Sea of Cortez. Hungry? Ask to arrange an evening of fine dining under the desert sky in nearby Tules Canyon, and keep an eye open for shooting stars.

Night Dive in the Maldives

Daytime divers spot manta rays and whale sharks in the Maldives, but other fascinating creatures show up at night. Experienced divers who can handle the strong currents on Ari Atoll often encounter moray eels, octopuses, whitetip reef sharks and stonefish after dark. Rather snorkel? You can borrow or rent special equipment to see shrimp, coral and other marine life in shades of pink, blue, purple and green.

Ski Under the Northern Lights

Time your visit just right and ski under Iceland's dancing northern lights. Several floodlit ski resorts are open from November to May, or you can brave the backcountry trails (be safe and go with an experienced guide, avalanche transmitter, probe, shovel and first aid gear). Some locals ski the Vatnajokull ice cap glacier, Europe’s largest, and stay overnight. Others ski across the cap and descend via Hvannadalshnúkur, the highest peak in Iceland. Need help finding the northern lights? Hidden Iceland's small group tours focus on looking for them in some of the most beautiful places around, like Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.

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