Your One-Stop Guide To Bioluminescent Kayaking

Bioluminescent Kayaking

Kayaking is a fun activity that offers you a nice mixture of relaxation and workout and the added benefit is you can get away from the chaotic urban landscape. However, even in kayaking, you get plenty of options to pick from. You can choose from artificial water bodies, large rivers and lakes and the adventurous lot opt for Ocean kayaking. Kayaking can be done in many seasons of the year as well. However, for those seeking a memorable and extraordinary experience, indulging in bioluminescent kayaking is advisable.

The Basics Of Bioluminescent Kayaking

Nocturnal kayaking is something so many people have experienced but bioluminescent kayaking takes the experience to a new height! Imagine paddling slowly at night-time on rivers or lakes and the marine wildlife lightening up beneath the water. It may sound strange but it happens in some places. The plankton below water surface emits light when they detect movements. These organisms are very small but the glow emitted by them can be seen. The fluorescent bluish-green light emitted by thousands of glowing organisms makes the water look heavenly. As you paddle through the water, the plants and fish below can be seen in the light. The effect can be felt well on dark nights.

What Makes The Water Glows Beneath?

In some lakes, rivers and seaside coasts, the water is replete with specific types of organisms and sea animals. They emit light when there is movement in the water. These are:

  • Dinoflagellates
  • Comb Jellyfish
  • Sea Fireflies
  • Mullets

The marine planktons and organisms create the light as a stimulus to water movements, scientists are of the view that it is a defence mechanism. However, the brightness and light hue depends on the concentration of specific organisms in the water. The underwater light may be sparkling and flashing, based on the type of organisms present in the water

The bioluminescent water varies from one place to another and even in the same place the light glow and intensity may not be the same yearlong. The weather condition is also a factor here. You cannot expect the glow to be bright on a full moon night, for example.

The Best Season For Indulging In Bioluminescent Kayaking

Since the impact of Bioluminescence depends on environmental factors to an extent, you have to be careful about the timing. Ideally, the time to indulge in Bioluminescent Kayaking is the months between May and November. The weather remains moderate and the warm water brings out the plankton in large amounts. The comb jellyfish species are more visible before March. 

Veteran bioluminescent kayakers prefer the hours after sunset to late night. It is a good idea to plan your kayaking trip during the new moon. 

Things To Keep In Mind

You need to be mindful of certain aspects when indulging in bioluminescent kayaking. You have to learn about regional laws, for example. In some regions, you may have to carry communication devices before venturing out kayaking. In some regions, you are not allowed to swim in the glowing water as doing so can endanger the plant and animal species. However, these restrictions may not be in force in other places. 

Sometimes, such kayaking trips may get cancelled owing to heavy rain, lightning or turbulent waves. In some places, tour agencies do not allow kids below a certain age. In most cases, kids have to be accompanied by adults. 

Usually, bioluminescent kayaking is deemed safe. However, to be on the safe side, opt for a group tour instead of going solo. Adhering to basic kayaking safety practices is highly recommended. 

It is possible that you come across other marine wildlife species while indulging in bioluminescent kayaking. The glowing water is enticing to various fish species, for example. Some kayakers are lucky enough to spot dolphins too. You can also spot manatees, stingrays in the water beneath and they can get close to the kayaks. In some kayaking spots in Florida, you will also spot some alligators. While this may seem scary, experts opine the alligators prefer staying near the shore and if you stay away they will not target you. Practically speaking, unless you disturb the marine wildlife species, they will not respond aggressively. 

What Do You Need To Carry And Use?

When venturing into bioluminescent kayaking in an unknown place, you have to be prepared for untoward developments. So, you must carry whistles and flash light sticks. Wearing a life jacket may not be compulsory but it is recommended, more so if it is your first time. Carrying a small water bottle can be helpful, too.

In warm months, you have to be careful about insects and mosquitoes when indulging in bioluminescent kayaking. Wearing long-sleeved tees and trousers that cover the legs well is advisable. Also, apply a coat of insect repellent gels or creams on skin. Unless you have a professional-grade camera like a high-end DSLR capturing the glowing water and marine wildlife can be pretty tough. 

Places Where You Can Indulge In Bioluminescent Kayaking

Bioluminescent Kayaking in Florida

A lot of kayakers choose the Florida coastline for enjoying bioluminescent kayaking. The coastal towns of Titusville and Cocoa Beach are thronged by such people. Plenty of agencies offer bioluminescent kayaking tours in these places. You may also opt for the Tampa area if watching a wide range of marine wildlife species is on the agenda. Some agencies will offer transparent kayaks at an added cost. The Merritt Island wildlife refuge is kayaking lover’s destination and the Haulover canal is where they head to.

Bioluminescent Kayaking in Seattle

The Washington coast is where you can indulge in bioluminescent kayaking. The underwater scene is lovely and you are likely to spot several wildlife species. These include schools of fish, salmon, seals and otters.

Bioluminescent Kayaking in Costa Rica

This is another hotspot for people loving bioluminescent kayaking. The west coast is where you should head to. The Gulf of Nicoya is a favourite. The Costa Rican culture is tourist-friendly, too. Paquera is where you can find some affordable tour packages. The only issue is many of the tour agencies operating here do not have websites. 

Bioluminescent Kayaking in Puerto Rico

It is said to be the haven for people loving bioluminescent kayaking. Puerto Rico is home to La Parguera, Laguna Grande and Mosquito Bay. If you look around, you can grab some wallet-friendly packages. The Mosquito Bay is said to offer the brightest bioluminescence. Laguna Grande has an entrance decked with a mangrove forest.

Bioluminescent Kayaking in Tomales Bay

Not everyone indulging in night-time kayaking is fond of crowds. If you want to enjoy the charm of bioluminescent kayaking without jostling with pesky crowd on water, opt for Tomales Bay. This is a kayaking haven in Northern California. You will find some vacation-worthy inns and B&B setups too. Since a majority of Tomales Bay is a protected area, you may not get camping permit. However, you may find local tour companies offering group camping trips. 

Bioluminescent Kayaking in Halong Bay in Vietnam

A popular tourist spot, the Halong Bay is also ideal for lovers of bioluminescent waters. Be aware of the local government norms and it would be best to seek service of a licensed and local tour agency. 

How To Assess A Bioluminescent Kayaking Tour Agency

It is not much different from assessing any other tour company. You have to check out the agency website and its social media profiles carefully. Try to find out as much information as you can regarding the kayak tour packages and exclusions. While some agencies offer insect repellents, you should not depend blindly on them. Ask them on issues like permissible age limit, number of members allowed in a group, type of kayaks offered, tour timing and duration etc. The top agencies guide customers regarding local govt norms on night-time kayaking.


There is no denying that trying bioluminescent kayaking can be a truly memorable and cherish worthy experience. It is not a risky thing as such. However, adhering to basic kayaking safety norms is advisable. You should also be aware of restrictions imposed by local govts in such places. Hiring a reputed kayak tour agency is what you need to do. It is also necessary that you have realistic expectations. Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon and the ultimate impact depends on the timing and weather conditions, too. 

Posted by
Arthur G. Moore

Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.

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