Picture this: It’s after dark and you’re kayaking through Florida’s Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, about an hour from Walt Disney World. The sky is so dark that the stars are in clear view. The only noise you hear is your paddle as it slices through the water. You’re already perfectly content.
Then, a pod of more than 20 dolphins shows up. That, in itself, is enough to get the endorphins going.
But, wait, it gets better.
When the dolphins exhale, the water spray expelled from their blowholes begins to glow. You are suddenly surrounded by sea sparkles in every direction. As dolphins dart beneath you and beside you they glow a lovely neon blue. Dip your hand in the water, and the brilliant blue shows up yet again.
It’s all thanks to a large concentration of single-celled bioluminescent organisms called dinoflagellates that bloom here from June to October each year. They light up like fireflies in the water, creating an unforgettable spectacle like something straight out of “Avatar.”
Just ask Justin Buzzi, the founder of Get up and Go Kayaking, an Orlando-based company that leads guests on this bucket-list adventure in see-through kayaks. He’s experienced the phenomenon for the past several years.
“The unique thing about where we paddle in the refuge is that it’s in the middle of a 140,000 acre wildlife refuge with no light pollution,” Buzzi says. “It’s so dark that you can even see the Milky Way on clear nights.”
It’s equal parts peaceful…