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How to Experience a Bioluminescence Tour Near Orlando with Kids

Brevard County is one of the only places in the country where you can experience the gorgeous sights of bioluminescence.  The Indian River Lagoon has a unique combination of factors, including the right mix of saltwater and freshwater, as well as an abundance of microscopic dinoflagellates (bioluminescent plankton). All of this creates an ideal environment for bioluminescence to thrive. And the best part? There are many bioluminescence tours near Orlando for a breathtaking kayaking experience – and kids can come along too!

Bioluminescence Tours Near Orlando

What exactly is bioluminescence? Essentially it’s when certain organisms in water emit a blue-green light when agitated. The result is a spectacular underwater show where these organisms appear to be glowing. It looks like fireflies dancing in the water.

BK Adventure makes it possible for families to easily experience this beautiful phenomenon. The touring company offers rafts that fit up to 10 people and can accommodate those ages 3 and up. This is a great activity to take the little ones and the grandparents.

Here are some tips you need to know to enjoy a bioluminescence raft tour with your family.

The tours run at night, usually one shortly after sunset and a later one. If your little one has an early bedtime, you might want to squeeze in a daytime nap. The tours are dependent on weather so you need to be somewhat flexible.

Where to go

You have three options as to where the tour launches from. They are Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, Kiwanis Island near Cocoa Beach and Parrish Park in Titusville. You’ll see essentially the same on both tours. Pick whichever one is most convenient to your location.

Be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes before your tour time in order to check in and get prepared for your tour.

What to wear

The bottom of your pants and shoes may get wet. You have to stand in shallow water to get in and out of the raft so it’s advised to wear clothing you don’t mind getting wet. Even if it’s warm out, you may want to wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.

Teen Girl gets ready for Bioluminescence Tour Near Orlando with BK Adventures
Bioluminescence Tour with BK Adventures image by Michelle Spitzer

Whatever clothing you wear, make sure you apply plenty of bug spray. The mosquitos out there are plentiful and hungry. We even wore mosquito-repellent bracelets.  

The raft

The raft fits 10 people comfortably. If your child or grandma doesn’t want to paddle or isn’t up for it, they do not need to. However, you do need a majority of the rafters paddling. Plus, there more paddling there is, the more bioluminescence you will see.

A guide accompanies you on the roughly hour-and-a-half tour and does of great job of explaining what you see. The raft is a great option for people hesitant to be alone in a kayak or are unsure of how to paddle.

Group gets ready to launch raft for Bioluminescence Tour Near Orlando with BK Adventures
Bioluminescence Tour Near Orlando with BK Adventures image by Michelle Spitzer

What will you see

You will definitely see the bioluminescence, which comes across as a blueish glow. As for what animals you will see, that depends on what animals want to show themselves.

On our tour, we all of a sudden heard a massive splash next to our raft. It was a manatee. You are pretty much guaranteed to see fish, but you may even see dolphins, sharks, turtles, or even an alligator.

When to go

Tours are usually scheduled around full moons, which result in brighter bioluminescence. Also, depending on what time of year you go will depend on the organisms you see.

  • From May through October you will see dinoflagellates (glowing plankton).
  • From November through April you will see bioluminescent comb (jellies).
  • In October and April you can often see both comb jellies and plankton bioluminescence, although, one may be more prevalent than the other.


Tickets start at $60 per person and can be purchased online. They often sell out and it’s encouraged to purchase tickets in advance. Tickets are nonrefundable, but if something does come up, you are able to reschedule your tour with 48 hours notice.

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Michelle Spitzer