Sunday, January 27, 2013

Night Kayaking in Grand Cayman

When I first read about night kayaking in Grand Cayman, it sounded like a pretty cool adventure. I read that in a certain bay, you could go kayaking with a guide in glowing (bioluminescent) waters at night. Awesome.

So we decided to take the bioluminescence tour one night with Cayman Kayaks during our vacation in the Cayman Islands. We met our guide down the beach from Rum Point, a popular beach area in Grand Cayman. Rum Point happened to be closed for a private party, but we could still hear the music of the Wailers (who were playing live reggae music at the private party) as we gathered our kayaking gear. About 15 to 20 of us followed our guide down the road to the bay, where the kayaks waited for us.

As I waded into the water to step into the kayak, light sparkled around my foot! Then, in certain areas of the water, as we kayaked across the bay, our paddles glowed as they sailed through the water.

Only a few bays in the world have bioluminescent water. It can only occur in bays where the water doesn’t move much, where there’s a lot of light during the day, and where there’s a high concentration of certain organisms, vitamins and minerals. This combination causes the organisms living in the water to glow in the dark, when irritated by movement.

Later we gathered in the center of the bay as our guide described how the bioluminescence occurred in the bay. We all turned to the sides of the kayaks and placed our hands and our legs into the water. I flexed and pointed my toes and watched as little bursts of light followed my movements. I pointed my finger in the water, making curves and circles and letters, watching the trail of light follow my finger.

For you Star Wars fans, our guide suggested putting our paddles in the water, pretending to move them like lightsabers, and make the sound effects too. And it looked like our paddles were lightsabers!

For some time, I moved my fingers, hands, toes, feet and legs in the water, leaning towards the water and watching the glowing water. Above us, the stars shone brightly. The moon didn’t shine that night, which helped us to see the bioluminescence in the water clearer. The Wailers still played in the distance, and the reggae music floating through the air somehow fit the mood perfectly.

Others in the group asked questions about the organisms in the water and the causes of the bioluminescence in the water, but I just kept looking at the water sparkle around my feet and hands as I moved them in the water, not even noticing as our kayak drifted a bit away from the group.

Eventually we paddled back to shore, and I’d catch my paddle glowing every so often as I dipped it in the water. Arriving back at shore, I wished our bioluminescence tour in the glowing water could have lasted longer. It was a great experience, and I hope to experience it again someday!


Mike Kalmbach said...

Sounds wonderful! Quite the adventure!

Did you guys take any pictures? I'm not sure that they'd turn out, even if you did, but that would really make this blog entry. :-)

Alison said...

Mike, it was really fun! Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos, and our guide said cameras wouldn't really be able to show the bioluminescence. I found a couple videos/photos online showing bioluminescence in water, but they don't really show it well either.

marni said...

Awesome! I hope we get to try this in March!