You Can Paddle Through Florida's Bioluminescent Waters in a See-through Kayak

Fully see-through kayaks allow visitors to enjoy the mesmerizing views from every angle.
Fully see-through kayaks from Get Up and Go Kayaking allow visitors to enjoy the mesmerizing views from every angle. Photo: Courtesy of Get Up and Go Kayaking

Florida’s Space Coast is one of few places that offers the opportunity to experience bioluminescence, when waters come alive in bright glowing hues.

The phenomenon, which most commonly occurs during the summer months, turns the area’s rivers and lagoons into a glowing paradise that travelers can kayak and paddleboard through.

Bioluminescence is often referred to as nature’s glow sticks, thanks to the illumination that occurs in waters. The phenomenon occurs in Florida due to a chemical reaction that causes Cone Jellyfish (jelly-like sea creatures that glow in the water) and Dinoflagellates (bioluminescent plankton) to illuminate any time the water is disturbed.

A stroke of a paddle, or even touching the water with one’s hand, reveals waves of glowing lights, making for a fascinating natural display.

Take a look at the video below to learn more:

The state is home to a bioluminescent bay that hosts more glowing plankton than almost anywhere else in the world, according to tour provider BK Adventure, with the phenomenon spread across various locations that come together to form the Indian River Lagoon.

These include the Banana River, the Indian River, and Mosquito Lagoon, where those heading out to take part in bioluminescence tours can also spot dolphins, manatees, and views of the Kennedy Space Center as they weave through mangroves and calm waters that make it feel as though you’re floating through space.

Manatee and stingrays move at slow speeds underwater, creating spectacular views of the phenomenon in slow motions, while speeding schools of mullet create quick flashes, appearing like “hundreds of green bottle rockets going off underwater.”

The best time to catch the phenomenon is from May through November, with the brightest displays arriving after 9 p.m.

Visitors will want to check the lunar calendar when planning tours, as the best views arrive five days after a full moon when the nights are darkest between July and September.

Night tours let you kayak over illuminated waters.
BK Adventure provides bioluminescent rafting tours. . Courtesy of Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism and BK Adventure

Most tours range from an hour to an hour and half, with a range of outfitters hosting guided tours by kayak and stand up paddleboard.

One of the most unforgettable ways to experience the scene is with see-through kayaks, which companies like Get Up and Go Kayaking offer to allow kayakers to glide right over the bioluminescence and ignite it as they paddle, getting an up-close view the entire ride.

Night tours let you kayak over illuminated waters.
Courtesy of Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism and BK Adventure.

BK Adventure also offers a range of bioluminescence tours, with the option to choose from clear kayaks, family rafting tours, and sunset kayaking tours to catch dolphins before the dark arrives.

The day tours with the clear kayaks provide for lovely views as well.

When going on a bioluminescent tour, tourism board representatives recommend bringing insect repellent and a change of clothes if you plan to explore the area’s restaurants and venues after.

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