Bioluminescent Kayaking – Adventures in Costa Rica’s Glowing Waters

There are a few moments in everyone’s life where they can’t believe what they’re experiencing. Our first-time bioluminescent kayaking was one of those moments. Words simply can’t express the feeling of floating on the ocean watching the water and sky literally light up around you.

Bioluminescent kayaking is like paddling through an endless wave of stars. Blue and white swirls dance in the waters below, and the Milky Way shines down from above. It’s a once in a lifetime experience you can’t truly comprehend until you try.

Our biggest regret is not being able to share exactly what we saw during our trip. While the bioluminescence is bright, the light it produces is fleeting. Try as we might, we were unable to catch it on camera. It’s one of those things you just have to see to believe and we know the perfect place: Bahia Rica.

While in Costa Rica, we had the opportunity to work with Bahia Rica and try out their bioluminescent kayaking tour. This was a sponsored outing, but the sponsorship in no way affects our opinions or subsequent review of the tour.

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What Causes Bioluminescence?

Strangely enough bioluminescent waters exist around the globe almost year-round. However, few places have the perfect mix of temperature, water depth, and concentration to visibly display the trait. Bahia Rica, located on the Gulf of Nicoya, happens to be one of those magical spots where everything comes together perfectly and the waters visibly glow.

Tiny plankton line the waters surrounding Bahia Rica. The microorganisms are excited by touch and movement, meaning every stroke of the paddle, crashing wave, and hand trailing in the water, lights up the plankton. The intensity of this light can vary but during our tour it was comparable to that of a glow stick.

While the bio water is present year-round, cloudy and moonless nights make for the best bioluminescent kayaking. Bahia Rica clearly organizes their reservations into two groups: Full Moon Kayaking and Bioluminescent Kayaking tours. These tours are dependent on the lunar cycle and how bright the bioluminescence will be.

Bioluminescent Water in Costa Rica

Some of the world’s most famous bioluminescent bays exist in Puerto Rico. Laguna Grande, Mosquito Bay, and La Parguera all call Puerto Rico home. These famed bio bays have created a “must see” attraction. Tourists flock to the bays and prices for a bioluminescent kayaking tour are consistently increasing.

Luckily, in the Gulf of Nicoya these bio bays remain unspoiled. The trip to Paquera, the epicenter of the bioluminescent waters in Costa Rica, is not for everyone. Coming from San José requiress a few hours of highway driving and a 70-minute ferry ride across the Gulf. The journey itself manages to scare off many of the would-be visitors.  As such, tour prices are lower, group sizes smaller, and the bioluminescence remains undisturbed longer.

Bioluminescent Kayaking at Bahia Rica

We were lucky enough to arrive at Bahia Rica a few hours before our bioluminescent kayaking tour started. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Thomas and Vicky, the owners, and a few rambunctious monkeys. They line the trees on the property and seem to be just as intrigued by our presence as us of theirs.

While we waited for the tour to begin, we sprawled out on the hammocks and watched the sun set over the mountains across the bay. Somehow with the fading light, Bahia Rica became even more magical, and we hadn’t even seen the bioluminescence yet!

Finally, after the sun had set and it was well and dark, we got into our kayaks and paddled out. We quickly rounded a bend along the coast and could begin to see faint sparks lighting up the water.

As we drifted from cove to cove the intensity of the bioluminescence would ebb and flow. From light blue sparks there and gone in an instant, to full blue tidal waves shimmering off into the depths. As the night continued, we reached more and more impressive blooms of bioluminescence. At some points it was so spectacularly bright we could physically hold the glowing water in our hands.

After about an hour we pointed our kayaks towards home. Little blue trails whispered behind us as we left Costa Rica’s bioluminescent waters behind. We were tired but thrilled!

Final Thoughts on Bahia Rica

Ultimately, we can’t express how incredible the bioluminescent kayaking was. It’s something we highly encourage everyone try at least once. If you’re in Costa Rica you’d be hard pressed to find a better experience than the time we spent with Bahia Rica.

They limit group sizes so you can have a personal experience, are incredibly affordable, and offer a true taste of Costa Rica. Bahia Rica also offers chartered fishing trips, paddleboard rentals, snorkeling tours, cabin rentals, and much more. No matter what kind of adventure you’re looking for in Costa Rica, Bahia Rica needs to be on your bucket list.

So please let us know in the comments below… Where are your favorite places to visit in Costa Rica? Have you ever tried bioluminescent kayaking? Still have questions or comments, let us know! Please remember to like and share😊 God Bless, K+J!

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