One of the most common phrases I get in my DM and comments as a Florida tourism blogger is “I didn’t know bioluminescent kayaking (or bioluminescence) was near me!” Or “Where is there bioluminescent kayaking near me?”
Even if you live a ways from the Indian River Lagoon, if you are in Florida, then some of the world’s best bioluminescence experiences can be had with just a one day drive to the Space Coast (Brevard county) which includes the cities of Titusville, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, and Melbourne. This is about one hour easy of Orlando, and about 2.5 hours east of Tampa – St. Pete. If you are coming from the Miami area, it’ll take you about 3-3.5 hours straight north on I-95 until you get near the bioluminescence tour areas. You can learn more about bioluminescent kayaking and tours here.
There are lots of places to launch your kayak into the Indian River Lagoon, or the Banana River if you are near Cocoa Beach. Some of the places you see tour companies launching from have restricted permits for night launching, but there are many places to go if you have your own paddle board or kayak and you would to meander into the glowing iridescent waters. Here are some parks that are easy to find and launch from. We recommend Parrish Park in Titusville, if you just want to wade into the water.
There has been sightings of bioluminescence around the Florida Keys. It would make sense that there would be some in the waterways and canals around the mangroves. Bioluminescence thrives in brackish water. In this area you may find glowing plankton dinoflagellates, and perhaps in cooler months (because there are no cold months in the Keys), you could see ctenophores commonly known as comb jellies. But bioluminescence is not as abundant in the Keys as it is in the Indian River Lagoon. In fact, the northern region of the lagoon is one of the #1 bioluminescence research areas in the world.
Yes and no. We have asked many tour providers in the Tampa area if there is bioluminescent kayaking on the west coast. Generally the answer is “we have seen some bioluminescence, but never for long, and not a lot.” This could be for several reasons. Bioluminescent dinoflagellates are an algae that need specific conditions to flourish. The waters must be warm, and rather calm. They need time to grow and spread before they are eaten by their natural predator zooplankton. Perhaps the inland waterways in the Tampa – St. Pete lack too much or too little of some the required ingredients to make bioluminescent organisms thrive. There have been sightings, but as far as we know, it’s better to spend the weekend on the Space Coast and see bioluminescence that, in the height of the summer, is considered the best in the world.
There are so many places around the world to see this phenomenon. I have personally done bioluminescent kayaking or snorkeling tours in Puerto Rico, Thailand, and Mexico. I would say (and this is without bias) that in my experience, Vieques, Puerto Rico and Titusville, Florida have the best conditions for consistently bright bioluminescence. The advantage Florida has over any other place in the world is that there is both summer and winter bioluminescence, so you can see it year round. Here is a list of places you can see bioluminescence around the world:
I love to talk to people about bioluminescence and share this phenomenon with others. If you know of a place that you have seen great bioluminescence, or there is an easy drive that people could take to do bioluminescent kayaking, comment below. I will check it out and add it to the list!
I hope so! All of the places listed above are known to have tours. In Florida, you can take a bioluminescent kayaking tour with BK Adventure. There are even family rafting tours and paddleboard tours. BK Adventure is the largest bioluminescence tour provider in the world, with more ways to see bioluminescence than any other tour company. Here are a list of tours you can get on tonight!
Sunset Kayaking with the Manatees.
On this AMAZING tour, we visit Manatee Central, where you see manatees in their natural habitat. As the sun goes down, the dolphins like to play. In summer you will see bioluminescent sea life glowing after dark. Makes a fun, romantic date!
STAFF PICK - BEST TOUR!
Join our Bioluminescent Kayaking Tours just 1 hour from Orlando. Departs nightly throughout the year. See the amazing glowing waters of Florida's own "Bioluminescent Bay" on the Indian River Lagoon. New Moon Tours Sell Out, So Book Early - This is the #1 Bioluminescence Tour in Florida!
Florida Bioluminescence Rafting! The only bioluminescent tour in Florida that is NOT in a kayak. Family friendly and for those who want to see the magic neon glowing waters from the comfort of a paddle raft. Close to Orlando and Cocoa Beach.. This is great adventure for kid or groups of 6-8, Raft guide in each boat.
Join this Family Friendly Bioluminescence tour! This tour launches from Kiwanis Island park just 5 miles from Cocoa Beach. This is a perfect way to spend an evening after your day at the beach. See the magical glow of bioluminescence in one of Florida’s best vacation destinations – world famous Cocoa Beach. BK Adventure is […]
Our bioluminescence tours are the closest tours to Orlando (just 42 miles) and launch conveniently from Parrish Park in Titusville. This weekend tour is considered our "Bio Fun Tour" with a chance for paddlers to get out and swim in the bioluminescence as we paddle to the shallows of the river islands.