Are you planning a trip to Florida where you will spend your days kayaking?
If so, one of the most fun adventures you can have on a kayaking tour is to choose to go at night when the waters are lit up with bioluminescent plankton or bioluminescent comb jellyfish.
The guide below provides all the information you need to know about bioluminescence kayaking, including the best time to go, the most popular spots for kayaking tours in Florida, and what to pack for your kayaking trip. Now, let’s learn about Florida’s bioluminescence kayaking tours.
- What Is Bioluminescence?
- The Two Types of Bioluminescence Kayaking Tours in Florida
- When Is the Best Time to See Bioluminescence?
- What Organisms Lead Florida’s Indian River Lagoon to Light Up at Night?
- What Are Some of the Best and Most Popular Bioluminescence Kayaking Tours in Florida?
- How to Pack and Prepare for a Bioluminescence Kayaking Tour
- The Importance of Using a Kayak Tour Guide
- Final Word
What Is Bioluminescence?
Bioluminescence is known as the light produced via organisms using biochemical reactions. Essentially, certain living things can emit light using chemical reactions. Living things let go of their energy by releasing light.
Whenever the organisms get excited or stressed, they tend to provide bioluminescence. The light works as an alarm system for the organism. Also, they may emit light to talk to others in their species and warn their predators or attract prey.
Generally, plankton, known as Dinoflagellates, can make the waters light up and glow. Combing jellies are also sea creatures that glow in the night. On land, fireflies also produce bioluminescence.
The light in the Florida waters appears blue since that color of light travels the fastest. Other colored lights tend to get absorbed in the ocean waters, and the human eye doesn’t pick up on them. In the sea, organisms as small as bacteria to as large as shark species can emit this type of light when releasing energy.
The Two Types of Bioluminescence Kayaking Tours in Florida
You can choose between two main types of bioluminescence kayaking tours in Florida. First, you can choose a tour when bioluminescent plankton or dinoflagellates light up the water. As you are paddling through the waters, you may hit the blue or green colors when your kayak moves through. If you pick up the colorful plankton, the shiny sparkles may get left on your hands.
Get a tour guide to take you on a night of kayaking through bioluminescent plankton. You will need a tour guide with a great experience of the area since you will kayak during darker nights with low shine from the moon.
The second type of bioluminescence kayaking tour you can choose involves glowing comb jellies. These are not the typical jellyfish you might expect when swimming in the ocean. Instead, when kayaking through the waters at night, you will see jelly-like sea animals that light up in the dark.
These are the two most common types of bioluminescence kayaking tours available in Florida.
When Is the Best Time to See Bioluminescence?
If you’re interested in seeing bioluminescent plankton known as dinoflagellates, then you should book a nighttime kayaking tour during the warmer months of the year. The warm water tends to make these organisms grow in number. During the summer months, dinoflagellates tend to grow in number and bloom.
Once they’ve grown, they act like a lit-up blanket across the water. The plankton starts to grow in May and can continue through October.
However, if you want to see comb jellies and kayak when these organisms light up the waters, the colder months are best for your trip. While these animals are always found in the ocean, the cold waters bring them higher to the surface, where their light glows across the sea.
Furthermore, if you want the clearest view of bioluminescent waters, you should pick kayaking times during a new moon phase.
Bioluminescence Kayaking Works Best During a New Moon
One of the best times to go bioluminescence kayaking is four days before and four days after a new moon phase. You can pick the exact day of the new moon, but you don’t have to. Several days before or after will work well at providing a dark night where the ocean waters light up.
As such, you will need to look at a calendar showcasing the phases of the moon. You can also check the schedule of when the moon should rise and shine. If it rises late at night, then your kayak tour won’t get ruined.
The Best Months to Book a Bioluminescence Kayaking Tour
The best times to view bioluminescent plankton and enjoy a nighttime kayaking tour take place from May to early November. During these months, the water warms up and makes the plankton grow and multiply. With more plankton lighting up the waters, the kayaking tours look amazing.
November through March are also good months to enjoy an excellent kayaking tour. However, this time, the comb jellies will provide the glowing waters. When the water cools during the winter, the comb jellies rise to the surface and bring more shine and light.
Essentially, you will find many months perfect for a nighttime kayaking tour throughout the year. The summer, fall, and winter months make for a beautiful time kayaking through bioluminescent water in the state of Florida.
What to Expect in the Summer
June through October tends to make the best time to go kayaking at night to see dinoflagellates lighting up the ocean in Florida. In particular, July and August are the best months for the strongest glow.
You should talk to a kayaking tour guide to figure out the best time to book a summer kayaking trip. You will want to choose the best conditions on any particular night, including when the moon has little shine or during a new moon phase.
Also, as you move further north or south in Florida, the seasons may not be the only way to track the best time for bioluminescence kayaking. The conditions may vary depending on the part of Florida you’re visiting. A kayaking tour guide will offer the right information.
What to Expect in the Fall/Winter
The late fall and winter provide the second time for bioluminescent kayaking in Florida. The best months start in November and end by March. During these months, the comb jellies come out and provide the glow you’re searching for when kayaking through the ocean at night.
Comb jellies provide plenty of brilliant colors, and you’ll see a dazzle of rainbows moving across the ocean. The blue-green light will amaze you as you paddle across the sea. Remember that these organisms are not the same as jellyfish and won’t sting you.
When you do go nighttime kayaking in the winter, pick the nights with the best conditions.
What Organisms Lead Florida’s Indian River Lagoon to Light Up at Night?
The most common organisms that can light up Florida’s Indian River Lagoon and make the waters glow include:
- Comb jellies
- Fireflies or lightning bugs
- Snapping shrimp
You can find some of these organisms in other parts of Florida, such as Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island, Cape Canaveral, and near Orlando. Comb jellies light up the waters in the winter while dinoflagellates grow in number and glow at night throughout the summer months. The colors look incredible as you kayak through the waters.
What Are Some of the Best and Most Popular Bioluminescence Kayaking Tours in Florida?
You will find numerous fantastic bioluminescence kayaking tours throughout Florida. For instance, you can go on the Sunset Kayaking with Bioluminescence tour at the Indian River by Bird Island. On this incredible tour, you will see manatees, birds, dolphins, and more. At sunset, some amazing birds you will see include cranes, eagles, and falcons.
The tour lasts three hours, and you will take a break after 1.5 hours on the shore. You’ll love watching the dolphins jumping through the waters.
Another incredible kayaking tour involves using clear kayaks on bioluminescent nights at Cocoa Beach. The launch site is a few minutes away from Kiwanis Island Park. The Cocoa Beach tour provides a fascinating bioluminescent night in clear, glass-like kayaks. The entire kayak tour is magical.
For a clear kayak tour, May through November tends to be the best time to go. You may even see dolphins or manatees swimming underneath your boat.
Below, we discuss some more popular kayaking tours at Merritt Island, the Indian River Lagoon, and Cocoa Beach.
Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge
Merritt Island is a gorgeous place in Florida and holds a 140,000-acre national wildlife refuge. The federal government designated the island a national reserve to keep its wetlands, marshes, and lagoons safe from destruction.
If you’re looking for a bioluminescent kayaking tour at Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, the best area to do so is at Haulover Canal. The area is completely dark without any light pollution. As such, you will love kayaking through the lit-up waters.
When you start kayaking through Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, you may get to see all sorts of sea animals, including alligators and manatees.
Indian River Lagoon
The Indian River Lagoon involves three different rivers where you can go nighttime kayaking. The rivers you can paddle down include the Banana River, the Mosquito Lagoon, and the Indian River. The Indian River Lagoon is rather remote, and you won’t see much light pollution.
The lit-up waters will look amazing as you move your kayak through the waves. Furthermore, you’ll love seeing more than 4,300 species of animals and plants here. The plankton provides the bioluminescence you desire on your nightly tour.
Bring plenty of bug spray as you will launch your kayaks from the Mosquito Lagoon.
Cocoa Beach is an excellent spot for vacationers and families looking to relax. The spot is also popular among surfers. Yet, Cocoa Beach is more than that. It’s a great place to spend a night kayaking through bioluminescent waters.
Do you want the perfect spot for nighttime kayaking? Pick Cape Canaveral and the Banana River Aquatic Preserve near Cocoa Beach. The area here is also remote and doesn’t have crowds or noise. You will be left alone with the lit-up waters and sea creatures of Cocoa Beach.
You can find popular launch sites near Banana River. There are plenty of guided tours you can choose from.
How to Pack and Prepare for a Bioluminescence Kayaking Tour
Before you go and book a bioluminescence kayaking tour, you should prepare and pack all the items you’ll need. First, to avoid getting stung by mosquitoes or other bugs, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts on your kayaking trip. Bring bug spray and use it!
Also, pack water shoes since you may get wet during the tour. Wear clothes that dry quickly. Essentially, you need to protect yourself and your body from the environment. Wear water shoes instead of barefoot, as you don’t want any mud and sand stuck on your feet when putting the kayak into the river.
Furthermore, you will need to put on a life vest and carry glow sticks so that your guide won’t lose sight of you. Another great idea is to pack a pair of clean and dry clothes and a towel to leave in your car. You never know how wet you might get when kayaking.
The Importance of Using a Kayak Tour Guide
Tour guides provide useful information about the biology and sea life around you. You should also use a kayak tour guide because of their knowledge about the best conditions for kayaking and the best times you should go on a night tour.
You will find the best places to see with the help of a tour guide, and you will learn much more about the sea animals of Florida.
Now, you should know when and where to go kayaking on a nighttime bioluminescence tour. After reading the guide above, you know what to pack and how to prepare for this adventure. Before you know it, you will paddle through the glowing waters and enjoy the many sea animals swimming through the rivers.