Bioluminescence Kayaking Guide

By: Jess Anthony

Few things create a greater sense of awe than kayaking in bioluminescence. These beautiful waters are scattered across the globe, you just need to know where to look.  Pack up your Oru and start searching for plane tickets!

Pro tips to keep in mind:

  1. Plan your trip around the moonlight. The new moon is when the sky is darkest and you will have the best visibility. The full moon will dull the glow.
  2. Are you taking a camera? The best way to photograph bioluminescence is with a wide open aperture and a higher ISO. You will need a longer exposure. Try 10 seconds to start. To capture people or kayakers, use a flash or a bright flashlight for light painting! 


Merritt Island, Florida

The Indian River Lagoon is home to bioluminescent jellyfish don’t just emit the same-old blue-green glow — that scatter their light like a prism, shooting brilliant rainbows over the water.

Mission Bay, San Diego

Bioluminescent algae creates red ocean waves during the day and neon blue ocean waves at night. It can be toxic, so look but don’t touch!

Puerto Mosquito, Puerto Rico

Photo credit: @palmaaaa

Kayaking through mangroves filled with bioluminescent dinoflagellates that react to motion, lets off an array of tiny blue shooting stars.

Koh Rong, Cambodia

This island has glowing ocean plankton you can swim with. Every ripple creates a wake of twinkling lights.

The Maldives

Photo credit: @marcocervee

Another swimming and kayaking spot on the Indian ocean. These tiny shrimps maintain their glow for longer than the average bioluminescent animal.

Trelawny, Jamaica

Photo credit: @jennielovesnature

The Luminous Lagoon is one of the brightest in the world due to its steady warm climate. You can see fish swim through the water leaving a trail of glittering stardust. 

Halong Bay

This bay in Vietnam also has bioluminescence activated by movement. Paddling through the water leaves a glowing wake.

Manasquan Beach, New Jersey

At low tide, you can see an algae that glows red and blue. The best time to see it is  between July and September!

Oakland, California


Photo credit: @damontighe

Lake Merritt is just around the corner from Oru Kayak headquarters and sometimes home to bioluminescent algae.