Bioluminescence | Kayaking in Bioluminescent Water

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Bioluminescent Kayaking – A Unique Perspective on Kayaking.

Bioluminescence is one of nature’s exquisite displays of enchantment and brilliance. You will think you have eaten bioluminescent mushrooms when you witness it flaunting its wondrous display.

Bioluminescence is way coooool…..

This otherworldly phenomenon of sparkling ethereal blue and green lights is a result of algae called bioluminescent dinoflagellates emitting lights when momentarily disturbed.

One of the outcomes is a splendid, glowing beach that will leave you breathless.

It’s unbelievable!

This enthralling phenomenon can be seen in only a handful of places on the planet. And the bioluminescence kayak tour offers a unique way to experience it.

Kayaking itself is a thrilling experience. Paddling through rough rapids or calm bodies of water with nothing but a paddle and your arms can be quite fulfilling.

Imagine doing this through mirror-like water which glows and illuminates your surroundings.

Add a transparent kayak through which you can see the waters parting as if to welcome your presence. You feel like you are in another world as you depart from your private glowing beach.

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Today, we take an in-depth look at this awe-inspiring activity that is kicking up a lot of dense dust in the adventure-loving world.

What is a bioluminescence kayak tour?

It is essentially a kayak tour but with a beautiful twist. Most bioluminescence kayak tours are scheduled for early morning or nighttime which can go up to midnight.

The majority of kayakers in this category indulge in it for the sheer joy of watching and marveling at the glowing algae.

The tours are available for individuals as well as groups such as family and businesses. Two of the most popular tours are

  • Clear Kayak Bioluminescence Tour
  • Dino Bioluminescence Tour

Get comfortable as we take a closer look…

Clear Kayak Bioluminescence Tour – In this tour, a clear transparent kayak takes center-stage. These kayaks are typically made of polycarbonate sheets which are lightweight, durable, and resistant to water and of course, transparent.

Some of the clear kayaks are also made with a combination of polycarbonate and fiberglass with aluminum frame. Either way, the experience they provide is AMAZING.





Some of the clear kayaks are also made of Innovex material. This is a clear and sturdy industry-grade material used in the cockpits of fighter jets.

These kayaks are built to withstand quite a beating and maximize the paddlers’ nighttime adventure all the while keeping them safe.

When should I go bioluminescent kayaking?

These types of tours are best during the warm summer months. It is usually from June to October when the bioluminescent algae are very active.

Apart from watching the microorganisms light up as you kayak through the waters, watching schools of fishes and other marine inhabitants darting right underneath your feet is pretty cool. You might even see dolphins and manatees, depending on where you are.

Oh, and there are bioluminescent algae on the rocks!

Dino Bioluminescence Tour – These tours are so named as the illumination is caused by bioluminescent dinoflagellates, a group of algae that lives in these waters.

The microorganisms light up when momentarily disturbed by a passing fish or, paddles and kayaks in this case. You’ve seen cloud trails left in the sky behind certain airplanes up high?

Imaging your own glowing cloud trail left behind your kayak on a warm summer night.




Summer is typically considered an excellent time to undertake this tour. It is when the bioluminescence algae activity is at its peak.

Kayaks await on the glowing beach ready to disembark on the illuminated water which appears to have its own light show.

This type of kayak tours does not necessarily require a clear kayak to see the bioluminescent activity.  You can take your normal kayak out to the waters to see the marine fireworks.

The bioluminescent water will perform magic for you regardless of what you sit in.

Best places to undertake bioluminescent kayaking.

The heart of these tours is watching the glowing algae. Only at a handful of places on earth does this magical congregation takes place. So the best places to undertake bioluminescent kayaking are:

Florida Bioluminescence Bay – This bay on Merritt Island has one of the best populations of bioluminescent marine organisms and is definitely top on the list. Another reason why this place is a hit among the bioluminescent kayakers is its accessibility.

There are even rumors of bioluminescent mushrooms… but you didn’t hear it from us.

The Comb Jelly Bioluminescence Tour is another attraction that many kayakers can’t get enough. These iridescent comb jellies (jellyfish)  populate the cool Floridian waters and make it magical to watch.

These marine creatures do not sting, and you can even hold them in your hands to observe their soft lighted bodies for an intimate experience. (Have you packed your bags yet?!)

The Tomales Bay – This bay in northern California is also a great place to watch bioluminescent activity through a kayak tour. The bioluminescence Tomales Bay is quite popular among the kayak community.

When is the best time for bioluminescent kayaking?

The population of the bioluminescent algae is thought to increase during the warm summer months. The warmer waters, as well as the weather conditions, produce a conducive environment for their increased activity.

Therefore, the best time for bioluminescent kayaking is during the summer. Most of the popular tour companies such as the A Day Away Kayak Tours have bioluminescence kayak tours scheduled for these periods. The tours typically begin from May and go all the way into November.

Apart from the season, the ideal time for watching this amazing marine activity is on dark moonless nights.

Whether it is on a clear kayak or otherwise, there is nothing like watching the fireworks in the water when it is dark all around.

The bright lights on the moon can diminish the brilliance of the illumination to a significant degree. The intensity of the moon’s light must be below 55%.

However, don’t bother yourself with such frivolities as your tour company will know when to undertake the tour.

What about the Comb Jellies?

bioluminescence jellyfish
Courtesy Smithsonian Ocean

On the other hand, if it is the comb jellies that you are after, the cooler months are best.

These glowing globs of marine goo are most active after the water has cooled down.

Ideally, you want to undertake the tour scheduled anywhere between November and March.

The comb jellies are also best observed when the activity of the moon has waned. Watching these glowing organisms in the dark allows you to see them in all their glory.

Bear in mind that bioluminescence is a phenomenon that occurs due to the activity of living organisms. The level of illumination, as well as the color, will change according to the season and how active they are.

It is unfair to expect your experience to be exactly like the ones you see in the pictures on the internet.

What we are trying to say is, keep an open mind, do not keep your expectations on a pedestal but let Mother Nature light your way as you sojourn through the waters.

Practical tips to make your bioluminescence kayak tour memorable.

There are no hard and fast rules in kayaking, and the same can be said for bioluminescence kayak tours.

However, you do understand that safety is a priority, and so are things such as following the rules of the tour company and the guide.

In this section, we offer you some practical tips to incorporate into your bioluminescent kayak tours.

Bioluminescent Kayaking Booking Tips

  • Book your tour in advance. Most tour companies start their bookings two to three months early so don’t waste time in booking yours.
  • Double-check the tour companies’ cancellation as well as refund policies. You don’t want a nasty surprise after you reach your destination.
  • Wear a personal floatation device. No activity in the water should be undertaken without these life-saving vests.
  • Wear long-sleeved t-shirts with lightweight material. Also, consider wearing long pants. Rashguards would be an awesome choice. Checkout our Rashie Review article.
  • A bug spray is a must. Use it on exposed areas of the body before your tour starts. Carry the spray with you throughout the tour. Check out our Best Kayaking Bug Spray review.
  • Although you don’t have to be a kayaking veteran, you need to know how to paddle and swim. Most tour companies have their own rules and regulations regarding weight, age, and experience of those who will embark on the tour, so it is wise to check with them.
  • Take a camera to capture your heavenly experience. A GoPro or a vlogging camera is the ideal choice, but any good quality camera will suffice.
  • Comply with safety rules and regulations set by the company. Whether it is getting you to experience the bioluminescence activity, or ensuring your safety, they have your best interest. If the weather conditions such as rain resulted in the cancellation of the tour, respect the decision.
  • It is ok to tip your tour guide. Of course, they are doing their job, but a little generosity never hurt anyone. So you can tip your tour guide. But don’t feel pressured to do so.

Final thoughts.

Kayaking is a water sport that has been the favorite of many an adventurer. With its amazing benefits both mentally and physically, it is a seamless blend of adventure and being in nature.

Although it still remains a hit among many thrill-seeking individuals, the advent of bioluminescent kayaking is making a huge impact on the community.

Unlike paddling furiously down the rapids, this rather new phenomenon is a mellow and much calmer activity which is great for your soul.

The brilliance of nature has always been fascinating and wondrous. And bioluminescence is just one of its fantastic offerings.

A bit of parting advice, if we may. Although we hate to sound ominous, the rate at which we are damaging the earth is alarming. So, it may not be long before bioluminescence on the water bodies become a thing of the past.


Therefore, we suggest you strap on your vests and experience the beautiful phenomenon of the bioluminescent kayak tour while it lasts.