There is an amazing night time light show in Florida that shines and sparkles more than any other show you’ve ever experienced. Water glimmers and dances with millions of lights, and there are no huge crowds to contend with, no tight time schedule to keep, and the best part is, every seat in the house is the best. You also won’t find this in one of Florida’s amazing theme parks. This light show is exclusively shown in the Indian River Lagoon, and while there’s many ways to see it, the best is by Kayak tour.
So what is this amazing light show? It’s not put on by any theme park, and it’s not something that’s even mad made. It’s called Bioluminesence, and essentially what it boils down to is hundreds of millions single cell microscopic organisms floating in the river. Every year, from June to around October, the warm weather causes these organisms to glow. This is a natural occurring phenomenon that happens all over the world. The Indian River Lagoon in Merritt Island, Florida is about the best place in the world to see this phenomenon, simply because you will not find a more concentrated area anywhere else in the world.
We were actually asked to take part in a two hour tour, presented by A Day Away Kayak tours (click here). A Day Away offers nightly tours of this rare phenomenon that begins at Sunset. The tours are roughly two hours and takes you on a trip through the lagoon to not only see this rare light show, but also other rare wildlife.
Florida is home to some of the best collections of wildlife in the world. Parks like SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Tampa have a wide variety of animals that you can’t see anywhere else. However, Florida wildlife is also unique. There are more species of birds, fish and reptiles here in Florida that you can’t see anywhere else in the United States. Our journey was no exception as we encountered several different animals, including Osprey, Alligators, and even dolphin and manatee. As we made our way through the water, we encountered a pod of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. They are playful by nature, and while it is illegal to get in the water, or interact with them, it’s not illegal for them to come up to you. We had several who were very curious, and bumped our boat. The same with the manatees, which was a very cool experience. It is definitely a great experience to see the animals in zoos or aquariums, but it’s altogether different to see them in the wild. Tours like this get you extremely close, all while being very conservative of the environment and the animals.
The other amazing thing is the gorgeous Florida sunsets. The sunsets on the Indian River lagoon are just stunning, and being out in a kayak on the open water gives you a huge show that you normally wouldn’t be able to get on your own.
The real star, however didn’t happen until the sun dipped below the horizon. It started slow at first, then just began to swirl and shimmer in the water. The bioluminesent organisms are absolutely everywhere. We just happened to go on a night where there was very little moon, which makes a big difference. The less light that is available, the more light you’ll see in the water. The water takes on a feel of glowing paint, and as you paddle through, you’re just stirring up a watercolored palette. The fish who swim through it glow, and you can see them for what feels like miles. We were able to see several different schools of mullet and other fish swimming through the lit water. While we did try to take pictures and video, it was impossible to get anything to come out on film, simply because we didn’t want to use any kind of flash or light to ruin the experience. The other amazing thing is that on a nearly moonless night, in the middle of the river, the stars above seem to just explode in the sky.
About the Tours
Tours last around two hours, and take off nightly, weather permitting. The tours can be booked online and can be purchased well in advance. The best time to enjoy the tours is during the week, as crowds tend to be very light. During the weekends, the crowds are a little larger, but it makes for more brilliant light shows around your boats, as the paddling causes more fish to swim by and stirs up the water. The cost is about $35 dollars a person. Tips are not required, or included, but the tour guides will accept them and do an amazing job with the tours. There will be mosquitoes, so either long sleeve shirts and pants or insect repellent is highly recommended. On nights of full moons, tours are not given, like we said the more light, the less you see.
Merritt Island is nestled along Florida’s Space Coast, and is full of old Florida charm. The area has tons of things to offer, from the nearby Kennedy Space Center to tons of wildlife tours and of course beaches. Night time turtle tours are one of the coolest highlights, as guides take you on a walking tour of Florida’s beaches to see turtles laying eggs. There’s also airboat rides, boat races and more.