The Bay of Bengal (BoB), a semi-enclosed basin in the northern Indian Ocean, is a complex region with large freshwater inputs and strong vertical stratification that result in a shallow, spatially variable mixed layer. With the exception of shortwave insolation, the air-sea heat exchange occurs at the sea surface and is vertically redistributed by mixing and advection. Strongly stratified, shallow mixed layers inhibit vertical mixing, and the penetration of solar radiation through the base of the mixed layer can lead to redistribution of upper-ocean heat. This paper compiles observations of hyperspectral downwelling irradiance (Ed) from 67 profiles collected during six research cruises in the BoB that span a broad range of regions and seasons between 2009 and 2014. We report attenuation length scales computed using double and single exponential models and quantify the penetration of radiative flux below the mixed layer depth (Qpen). We then evaluate estimates of Qpen obtained from published chlorophyll-based models and compare them to our observations. We find that the largest penetrative heat flux (up to 40% of the incident Ed) occurs near 16°N where the mixed layers are shallow and the water is optically clear.