Bioluminescent Kayaking in Central Florida: A Local’s Guide

A hidden gem in Florida, bioluminescent kayaking should be on everyone’s bucket list! This kayak adventure is pure magic and Central Florida is one of the best places in the world to experience the natural phenomenon of bioluminescent kayaking.Bioluminescent Kayaking in central florida

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Located along the space coast in Florida, bioluminescent kayaking is absolutely worth the hype whether you are a local or a tourist. Many local Floridians don’t even know this amazing experience exists.

I had the opportunity to experience bioluminescent kayaking near Titusville, Florida. It truly was unlike anything else I have ever experienced. The closest thing I can compare it to is the Northern Lights, Moana’s grandma, or Avatar’s Pandora. It is real-life magic, and it is beautiful to witness.

I absolutely think this magical activity should be on most Florida itineraries, so in this post, I will answer frequently asked questions about bioluminescent kayaking and offer my 10 best tips to make your trip worthwhile!

What is Bioluminescent Kayaking

Bioluminescent Kayaking  

Bioluminescent Kayaking is a natural phenomenon that occurs at night when water turns a vivid blue. This blue color appears when there is movement in the water. This can happen when you are kayaking, a fish swimming around you, or you are swimming. It also can be seen from the beach. You don’t necessarily need a kayak tour to experience this.

The blue color in the water actually is caused by the phytoplankton. Upon movement, the phytoplankton are stirred around causing them to glow a vibrant blue!

Bioluminescent Kayaking will blow your mind! The pictures and videos give you a glimpse of what you are about to experience. In person, it is incredible to witness.

Bioluminescent Kayaking is a popular activity for people in good health, of all ages.

Where is the Best Place to Bioluminescent Kayak

kayak on a beach in florida

The best place to experience bioluminescent kayaking is along the space coast in Florida. Many tours operate out of Titusville, cape canaveral, and Coco Beach. 

More specifically, the Merit Island National Wildlife Refuge is the famous spot for this adventure. This spot is located next to Titusville and the Kennedy Space Center. What makes it so great is the little light pollution in the area, making the glow easiest to see.

If you want to book a tour, which is best if you need to rent a kayak, most depart near Titusville and the Merit Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Additionally, nearby spots like the Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon are also incredible.

What is the Best Time to go Biolumenescent Kayaing

beach at night in florida

The best time to go bioluminescent kayaking is in the hot summer months. Although the phytoplankton glows year-round, the best time is the summer because the bioluminescent organisms are most active in warmer weather.

In the winter, bioluminescent jellyfish come to life. These are also fascinating and offer a different and less popular experience.

Besides the time of year, there are other important factors to consider before booking your tour.

  • Moon Phase – The darker the night sky, the more vibrant the colors will be. It’s best to book as close to a New Moon as possible.
  • Tidal Conditions – Calm and shallow waters are the best to enjoy this natural phenomenon. Minimal tide movement ensures a smoother experience.
  • Water Quality – In central Florida, rain is expected almost every day during the hot summer months. Too much rain may be a bad thing in experiencing this magic. Heavy rainfall can stir up the water a bit too much, but a little rain should be okay.

All of these factors play a role in your bioluminescent kayaking experience. Although you can plan and predict the best time to do it, at the end of the day it is a natural phenomenon, meaning it is hard to predict in full certainty. Following these guidelines can help you have the best chance possible to see this bucket-list experience.

What to Wear Bioluminescent Kayaking

girl Bioluminescent Kayaking in florida

When bioluminescent kayaking in Florida, it’s best to wear dry-fit clothes. Clothes that will dry off easily and not weigh you down are best. This is because you will get wet! 

Also, it’s best to wear water shoes. You will be out on the water in a kayak, you’ll want to stay comfortable in water-proof shoes. 

Additionally, it’s also good to bring a long sleeve or long pants to help deter mosquitos. Any mosquito repellant only helps you, because there will be many when you’re out on the water.

Keep Reading: 30 BEST Day Trips from Orlando, Florida

10 Best Tips To Make the Most Out Of Bioluminescent Kayaking

It’s time to get to the fun stuff! Now that you’ve learned a bit more about the logistics of bioluminescent kayaking, you’re ready to go!

Here are my top 10 tips for bioluminescent kayaking to help you make the most out of your trip!

Visit During a New Moon

Bioluminescent Kayaking is best done in dark conditions, the dark the better! Visiting during a new moon significantly increases the vibrant colors of the phytoplankton. The week during the new moon is the best time to visit.

Opposite the new moon, it’s best to avoid bioluminescent kayaking during the full moon. Full moon nights are when the sky is at its brightest, making it much harder to see.

I did my bioluminescent kayaking trip 2 nights before the new moon, which was incredible. The colors were so bright and vivid, although still difficult for the phone to capture.

Bioluminescent Kayaking in central florida

Bring a Change of Clothes/ Pack a Towel

During your kayak trip, you will get wet! You’re on the water, and some is bound to get on your clothes and inside the kayak. Be sure to bring a change of clothes, especially if you have a long drive back to Orlando ahead of you! You don’t want to sit in the car with wet clothes all uncomfortable.

At most of the kayak ports, there are port-a-potties to change in. If you’re comfortable using those, then great! If not, in Titusville (or on your drive), you’ll pass by a McDonald’s, or gas station where you can use the facilities to change.

On the same note, pack a towel, but leave it in the car during your bioluminescent kayaking adventure. You can use this at the end of the trip to dry off, get the same off your feet, and sit on it in the car.

With this all being said, you probably won’t get completely soaked on your trip, but you will get wet.

Pack a Dry Bag for your Bioluminescent Kayaking Tour

towel, drybag, and flip flops on the beach

A dry bag will be your best friend during your bioluminescent kayaking trip! Use the dry bag to keep your cell phone, keys, and wallet safe! 

Additionally, pack water in a dry bag! The kayak trips have you out on the water anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours, that’s a long time. Packing water will come in handy after being on the kayaks for an extended period of time.

Wear Long Sleeves and/or Pants to Avoid Mosquitos

Mosquitoes love the water, especially in the evening and night. Pack bug repellant and lather up before your trip.

If mosquitoes are particularly drawn to you, it may be a good idea to wear long sleeves and/or long pants. This will give you an extra layer of protection out on the water.

Additionally, depending on the time of year your visit, the extra layers can help keep you warm! In the winter, the evenings can become quite cold, so it’s best to be prepared.

Practice Taking Pictures in Night Mode Before your Bioluminescent Kayaking Tour

If you plan on taking pictures during your bioluminescent kayaking trip, it’s best to practice in advance. Although in real life you can see the vivid colors very clearly, the camera doesn’t necessarily pick it up as well.

What you’ll want to do is play around in night mode on your camera or phone. 

If using your phone, see the photo below for how to adjust the night mode. I found the 3-second default to work best, as anything longer becomes very blurry. Night mode can be tricky to use, especially if you have never practiced with it before.

Additionally, it’s best to kayak in tandem for the best picture results because your partner can help take the pictures.

Arrive Early for your Bioluminescent Kayaking Tour

If you can, make a day trip out of the bioluminescent kayaking adventure! Tour the Kennedy Space Center or stop by Playa Linda Beach before your tour. Playalinda Beach is a gorgeous beach located in Cape Canaveral National Park. Both are worth a visit and will make the drive even more worth it.

Additionally, more than likely you’re making a road trip out to experience this tour, plan to arrive early to ease the hassle and account for traffic.

Book a Sunset Tour to See Wildlife

One of the best tips I can give you is to book a sunset tour. These tours are generally longer but give you the best of both worlds. On the sunset tour, you begin in the evening and get a chance to see different species of birds, play with manatees, see dolphins, and maybe even an alligator! Not to mention, you get to spend the sunset out on your kayak!

Then, at night the water begins to glow and you can begin to see the bioluminescent phytoplankton glow!

These tours truly are the best value and worth it! They still provide plenty of time and opportunity to see the vibrant blues at night.

If you only care about the bioluminescent glow and not as much about the animals, you can book a nighttime kayak. In this case, I would recommend booking a clear kayak so you can see the water glow around your boat. These clear kayak night tours generally last about 90 minutes and cost the same as the sunset tour.

wildlife while kayaking in florida

Water Proof Phone Case

Once again, to capture the photos you want during your trip, you’re going to want to have a waterproof phone case or dry bag for your phone.

I purchased mine from Walmart along the way for about $5, but you can buy one on Amazon here too.

The case works super well, as I’ve fully swam and submerged my phone underwater with it. It’s nice to have an added layer of protection to ease your mind during your bioluminescent kayaking trip.

Pack Water Shoes for your Bioluminescent Kayaking Tour

water shoes bioluminescent kayaking

Water shoes are essential to pack for this kayaking adventure. Although you’ll be in your kayak for the duration of the tour, when you load in and unload out of the kayak you will be stepping in water. Additionally, the water is more than likely going to be inside your kayak.

Pack water shoes such as sandals, slides, or my favorite, Chaco’s! The choice is yours, but make sure you’re comfortable wearing them in the water.

Have Fun Bioluminescent Kayaking!

The last, but most important tip is to have fun! I know this may be cliche, but it’s so true for an experience as unique as this. Bioluminescent kayaking is on so many people’s bucket lists, and you’re lucky enough to experience it! This adventure is well worth the hype, so enjoy it.

The best way to ensure you have a fun and amazing trip is to prepare. This means mosquito spray, water, appropriate clothes, and equipment to take photos. You’re already one step ahead by researching it in advance!

I was so lucky to experience this natural phenomenon near a new moon in August, and absolutely loved it! It is the perfect add-on activity for a day trip to Titusville or the Kennedy Space Center. 

Bioluminescent Kayaking is a magical experience and one unlike anything else in the world! Florida is one of the best places to experience it because of its accessibility, predictability, and consistency. Although it is a hidden gem, this otherworldly experience it is not to be missed.


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I’m Danika! A travel obsessed, Disney adult, with a knack for budgeting.

In 2020 I was furlough from my “dream” job at Disney and have pursued my first love of travel ever since. I have traveled to 33 states and 28 countries spanning 5 continents.

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