Looking for Where to do Florida Bioluminescence Kayaking Tour? – Paddle on the Glowing Waters of the Indian River Lagoon
- Florida is 1 of only a few places in the world you can see real bioluminescence in nature
- Dinoflagellates and comb jellies GLOW in the dark river water! Neon!
- People say this seems “other worldly.“
- Bioluminescent night tours are a “must-do” for Florida vacations.
- Visibility on the Banana River or Indian River is amazing due to low light pollution.
- We take small groups of 8-9 tandem kayaks only, so you get a close to nature experience.
- Our kayak launch site at Kelly Park in Brevard county is the closest bioluminescence kayaking to Orlando, Port Canaveral and Cocoa Beach. The Banana River is part of the Indian River Lagoon Eco-system. The glow here is the brightest you will find outside of the Caribbean.
Best Time of Year for Bioluminescent Dinoflagellates and Comb Jelly Fish
Neon glow of Indian River (Bairs Cove), Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, Florida. Photo by: Derek Demeter; University of Central Florida Astronomy Lab
May – November Dinoflagellate plankton are naturally glowing organisms that light up the waters of the Indian River Lagoon as you paddle through the canals and kayak trails of this unique estuary. In the early days of summer the bioluminescence begins to show, and by the height of summer it shines and sparkles bright when it is stirred with your kayak paddle, hand, or even the myriad of Mullet fish flying around. As if the lighted warm water was not enough, on these dark summer nights – look up! The sky is filled with it’s own light show of millions of sparkling stars! Because there is no light pollution on the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, the night skies are spectacular. Peak season is July – September. In other months, bioluminescence will be present, but may be more like sparkles than glowing water.
October 15 – March 15 Bioluminescent Comb Jellies (NOT jelly fish – they do not sting) are pre-historic sea creatures that have been on the planet for over 500 million years. As the waters of the Indian River Lagoon cool down, the Comb Jellies move in. But are they Jelly Fish? No, not really. They do not sting like their jelly looking cousins the Jelly Fish. Comb Jellies protect themselves by giving off bioluminescent glow. They think it will scare any predators that might come their way… just like cavemen used fire at night to keep animals at bay, the jelly lights up at night when touched. Join us for this evening tour of the magic waters of the Indian River Lagoon. NOTE: The colder the season the less we see bioluminescence – so weather does affect the experience.
Guest get an amazing surprise on our Bioluminescent Kayak Tour – Night launch at the Space Center!
What Makes this Florida Bioluminescence Tour Special
Many kayaking companies in the area get as many people out on the water as possible. They use two person sit on top kayaks, with group size of about 60 people. At BK Adventure Eco Tours, we like keep our groups smaller to give you a more intimate feel with the nature around us. We think this creates a better outdoor experience. Join us for an exploration of the bioluminescent Indian River Lagoon in one of Florida’s most eco-diverse rivers. On very dark nights, the water glows with each stroke of your kayak paddle.
This tour departs every evening June – October
Private group, school, church or businesses tour is available upon requested. Call for more information and rates.
Full Moon Night Notification: During the full moon phases, the bioluminescence does not appear as brightly as when it is very dark (but it’s still there and often visible). However, full moon kayaking is an amazing, mystical experience itself. Please check out this moon calendar before you decide to go on the tour.
Duration: 90 minutes
Price: per person
Includes: pfd, guides, fun, kayak and paddle.
Age range: 8+
Weight Limit: 300 lbs for Single Kayak & 600 lbs total for 2-Person Kayak
What You Should Bring: Sunblock, insect repellent, towel and water bottle
(Please check your email for launch point directions.)
Note: This tour is in tandem kayak only due to kayaking restrictions by National Wildlife Refuge.
Where to Meet for Your Bioluminescence Night Kayaking Tour
- For Kelly Park Bio Tour – Get directions to Kelly Park, Brevard County here -This launch site is best for thrill seekers. Kelly Park can be windy, and there are some fun waves on this paddle. Dinoflagellate bio is awesome!
- For Bairs Cove Bio Tour – Get directions to Bairs Cove at Haulover Canal here – This launch site is best for people who love shooting stars, and a more laid back paddle. You can see bioluminescent comb jellies here, as well as dinoflagellate plankton .
Important Information About This Tour
- Read Our Refund Policy Here
- What happens if it’s raining? – Our tours rarely cancel due to weather. If it is raining the day of the tour, chances are, with Florida weather, it will clear up by the time your tour starts. Sometimes we will hold the tour by 30 minutes for the weather to clear. In the case of lightning, high winds, or some other reason that we cannot paddle, we will re-schedule all guests to the very next tour available, or at a convenient time for you. Rainchecks are valid for 1 year.
- We use tandem Kayaks for this tour. Because of wildlife and environmental protection we have a limited number of kayaks we can launch at one time. So, we use 2 person tandem kayaks in order to get all of our guests out to see the bioluminescence on the dates they want. That does not mean you will be in a large group. Only 8 boats go out with 2 guide boats at one time.
- What about small children? Our recommend age for paddling is 8 years old. Each tandem kayak, has a small middle seat, that a younger child could sit in. Price is per person regardless of age, or number in kayak. We recommend only for small children who are able to sit still for at least 90 minutes.
- What about dogs? Lots of people who love kayaking with their dog have asked about this tour. We do not recommend this one for dogs, as it is a night kayaking tour. Maybe chose the manatee tour or the monkey tour instead of bioluminescent kayaking if you want to have a great experience with your favorite pooch!
- How close is Bioluminescent Kayaking launch to Orlando? This depends on your launch site. Bairs Cove is at Haulover Canal in Titusville, Florida (1 hr; 15 mins from Orlando) and Kelly Park is near Port Canaveral right off of Hwy. 528 (about 45 mins from Orlando). Kelly Park launch will not be available until June 15th.
- Will the bioluminescence be bright? We like to think so, but we cannot guarantee it. Here are the best conditions for bioluminescence: hot weather, right after a rain storm, dark night. Sometimes the night is dark even when the moon is supposed to be bright. Sometimes a barely visible moon occurs on such a clear night, that even the slightest shine makes it seem bright. So, there are many factors that make the bioluminescence more/less visible. The BEST TIME for dinoflagellate bioluminescence (plankton) brightness is usually July to September. But we see it all year round, and in November, we see amazing flashing comb jellies! So, don’t miss out because your vacation does not fall between June – September. Come on out, you will likely see bioluminescent creatures!
- What about groups? We can manage groups up to 50 people. We recommend you book weekend nights at least 45 days in advance for large groups. Weekdays is best, as those are easier to find spaces for. Please phone us for details, and we will be happy to get you and ALL your wonderful friends out for the tour!
- Will there be mosquitos? Ram, the owner, likes to say, “You bring the spray, we’ll bring the mosquitos!” We cannot guarantee there will be mosquitos, but there is a 99% change there will be. Some breezy nights have no mosquitoes. Some nights there are a lot. The other pest is No-See-Ums. The best way to keep them away is with Baby Oil. So, consider slathering on a layer of Baby Oil to any exposed skin. PLEASE BRING MOSQUITO SPRAY.
- What if I am not a good kayaker? Some people are naturally athletic, and they pick up any kind of activity easily. If that’s you, pick either launch location. If you are a beginner, or not sure about kayaking abilities, or have small children, you may want to chose the Bair’s Cove location. You can do the Sunset Package with Bioluminescence for this tour any day, or Bioluminscent Kayaking on weekends at Bair’s Cove.
- What is the weight limit? For our single kayaks, the weight limit is 275 lbs. For the tandem kayaks it is 550 lbs. The night kayaking tours are done on tandem kayaks.
- What else is recommended? We recommend you do the “Sunset Tour” if you have time. That way you get to see dolphins, and possibly manatees and all the amazing birds. Then, take a break, and go out for the Bioluminescent Kayak Tour later. It’s just more and it’s an amazing tour! Click here to book that.
Date night? Check out the Sunset-luminesence Kayaking Package – Click Here
More about the Indian River Wildlife and Bio – luminescence
The Indian River Lagoon is an estuary that is fed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean making it a unique natural habitat. The high salt content in the water here makes it a perfect home for dinoflagellates which create a natural light to protect themselves. This neon light produced by these tiny sea plankton is called bioluminescence. However, they are not the only marine life that create bioluminescence. As mentioned, there are bioluminescent jellies, squid, and plant life in the ocean.
Florida has more endangered or threatened species than any other state. The Indian River is home to 36 rare or endangered wildlife. The West Indian Manatee is one of them. Manatees love this river because of the abundance of seagrass beds.
Other rare wildlife you are likely to see are: Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, Loggerhead Turtles, Blue Crabs, Seahorse, Otters, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tri-Colored Heron and Bald Eagles.
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