For the 50+ Traveler

Florida is home to beautiful beaches, stunning national parks and preserves, and amazing theme parks. Another thing Florida is home to? Glow-in-the-dark waters. An almost otherworldly glow-in-the-dark phenomenon happens off of Florida’s Space Coast and is one of the most surreal experiences anyone could have in the water. What’s even better than that? You can explore these unique waters from a see-through kayak!

To learn more about how to visit this natural anomaly and how you can encounter it in style, read on and be amazed by what’s in store for visitors of Florida’s waters.

What Is Bioluminescence?

Often referred to as “nature’s glow stick,” bioluminescence is one of nature’s magic tricks. Scientifically speaking, bioluminescence is “light produced by a chemical reaction within a living organism.” The term stems from chemiluminescence which is when a chemical reaction results in light being produced.

Why does this happen in Florida waters? Well, it’s linked to some of the creatures that dwell beneath the surface. Cone jellyfish (not actual jellyfish), which are jelly-like creatures, and dinoflagellates, which are bioluminescent plankton, illuminate the water after certain disturbances according to Coastal Living.

BK Adventure, a company that leads popular tours of Florida’s glowing waters, told Coastal Living, “The state is home to a bioluminescent bay that hosts more glowing plankton than almost anywhere else in the world.”

That’s right -- with a touch of your hand, you can cause a bioluminescent reaction to occur in the water around you!

Get Around In A See-Through Kayak

You can explore these bioluminescent waters via paddleboard, or indulge in the more popular option: a see-through kayak. With each stroke of your paddle, you’ll witness the water lighting up in response, which makes for a more-than-dreamlike picture!

There are several tour options available and many companies to choose from. In addition to BK Adventure, Get Up And Go Kayak offers Florida’s Space Coast tours. Per the company’s website, they’re “Florida’s best-reviewed and original clear kayak company.” They offer tours in many areas including Florida’s bioluminescent waters. Reservations are required so be sure to book your tour before you go!

BK Adventure offers options from family rafting to sunset kayaking and clear kayaking through the bioluminescent water.

Visit Space Coast offers up a few tips for your bioluminescent adventure. Wearing covered but light clothing, packing a change of clothes in case you go into town afterward, and packing bottled water, snacks, and insect repellant are among their suggestions.

The Best Time To Go

The best time to see the water in its maximally bioluminescent state is from May through November. The brightest light displays will happen after 9 p.m. or later, but it’s suggested that you check the lunar calendar before planning your trip because the moon’s position in the sky has a lot to do with the strength of the bioluminescent reaction in the water.

“Typically, five days after the full moon on the darkest of nights, between July and September, are the best times to go,” according to Visit Space Coast.

While you’re planning a trip to Florida’s bioluminescent waters, consider checking out the best Florida beaches that typically aren't ridiculously crowded for some equally stunning but more relaxing options!