I can easily say I am hooked on kayaking! We have been out on the Banana River a handful of times and I am a little disappointed it took until I was 50 to get out and explore our waterways.
The mangrove tunnels
We went and explored the mangrove tunnels off Ramp road park in Cocoa Beach. The waterway directly across from the main boat ramp is where this labyrinth is located. It started out simple enough…about a 40-foot wide opening….then it started getting narrower and narrower until the canopies from each side were touching. They do eventually open up, but they also will close up so tight we had to crouch low on the kayaks and pull ourselves through because we couldn’t use the paddles. Some of the paths would lead to dead ends. Some of the paths were forks in the road and you had to decide left, right or straight. Because I was very new at this, we did lose our sense of direction and had to rely on google maps to lead us out (thank goodness for technology) If you haven’t been through the mangrove tunnels, you should definitely put it on the “places to kayak list”. I know a lot of people also have stand up paddle boards. Yes, you can easily make it through the tunnels. Just be prepared to crouch low to get through some of the spots.
Have you heard of this? It is when the water temperature warms up in the Banana River and Indian River. There is a type of plankton in the water that glows when disturbed. So, the paddle and kayak going through the water or a fish swimming by will light up the water with a blue’ish glow. It is magical. Pretty much anywhere in Brevard County is a good place to go. According to Google, (and a couple of the kayak tour companies) North Merritt Island is the best place to go.
Our first taste of the bioluminescence was with a group of friends off North Shore Drive off 2nd St North in Cocoa Beach. There was a new moon, so the skies were pretty dark. We did have a cloud off in the distance that was also putting on a lightning show, but since there was no thunder; we presumed it wasn’t a real threat. We hit the water around 830 pm, just as the sun was setting; which was nice. It allowed us all to get our bearings and paddle rhythm down. About 915, as our eyes were adjusting to the low light; our paddles starting to glow as they cut through the water. As we rounded one of the islands and enter the flats is where we started running into little schools of fish. They were blue flashes in the water. Leaving zigzag patterns as they tried getting out of our path. Mullets would jump out of the water and splash a few feet away. I said it in the previous paragraph…it was truly magical. I am guessing it was part of the inspiration for the movie Avatar and the night shots and effects in the forests of Pandora.
We did go out on a second excursion this past weekend when my niece and her friends were in town. We did get to see a lot of fish darting past, our paddles glow with each stroke and our feet glow blue if you let them hang in the water. Since it was the weekend before Independence Day, we also were able to see a lot of the do it yourselfers light off their fireworks. This, along with a half moon provided a lot of light around us and did diminish the bioluminescence show. My niece and her friends were still pretty impressed with what our waterways turn into at night during the summer months.
If this is something you would like to try, I would recommend heading out during a crescent moon to new moon lunar cycle, go out with friends who have done this before (or waterways you have been out on) or do one of the many tours that are available. They appear to be $50-$60 per person and they supply the kayaks. There are a couple that offer a $40-50 tour if you have your own SUP or kayak.
Thanks to google and a little research, I found out this bioluminescence experience doesn’t happen everywhere. Depending on the search, it appears to be as few of 6 parts of the world up to 12 parts of the world that have something like this. SO, if you live here in Brevard County or central Florida…put this on your “things to do this summer” list. If you are traveling here to Central Florida; you should definitely consider doing this. Another reason Why Brevard is a Great place to live!