Here’s an experience that you probably won’t soon forget. Think of being on a kayak after the sun sets, and seeing beautiful green and blue lights in the water below you. This is the bioluminescence kayaking experience, here’s what to know and where to find it in Washington.

According to Sea Quest Kayak Tours in San Juan Island, “Bioluminescence is a biological light display that produces no heat. It is created by special protein, and enzyme combinations found that evolved in organisms ranging from fungi to fish. Some objects emit light in a single color, while others can produce a rainbow of colors.”

It adds that in the sea, “most bioluminescence is produced by plankton – organisms that drift on the currents.”

These include pulsating “jellyfish,” clusters of salps, and even masses of mating marine worms, states the tour company. And “at night, they produce sparkles of light when disturbed by the movements of fish, seals, kayaks, and swells.”

Most tours provide all you need, and no experience is required. Ready to experience the natural phenomenon in person?

Recent Posts:
10 stunning swimming holes to visit in Washington State this summer
Small beach towns and cities to check out in Washington this summer

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sea Quest Kayak Tours (@seaquestkayak)

Here’s where to join a bioluminescence kayaking tour in Washington State:

Sea Quest Kayak Tours

Sea Quest offers bioluminescence kayaking tours in the San Juan Islands every night, and no prior experience is required to join the experience. The company states that June, July and August are best “due to plentiful sunlight and warmer surface waters.”

When: Daily
Where: Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands, WA
Cost: $139+

Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures

You can also join a bioluminescent kayaking adventure in Bellingham Bay! This paddle takes place at Larrabee State Park, and trips are scheduled “around new moon phases as the less light on the outside world provides a better opportunity for us to see these glowing dinoflagellates in the water.” All guests will be in stable fiberglass northwest made TANDEM sea kayaks, according to Moondance Sea Kayak Adventure.

When: Select dates including July 26th, 27th, August 2nd, 13th, 30th and 31st
Where: 909 Squalicum Way Unit #122, Bellingham, WA
Cost: $105

Shearwater Kayak

Check out this tour on Orcas Island, which has guests kayaking through sheltered Deer Harbor in search of the magical, twinkling bioluminescence. These tours are very popular as they run on select nights only, “so book early to experience the natural marine lights from the depths of the Salish Sea”!

When: On the darkest nights of June to September
Where: Deer Harbor Marina, with meeting occuring outside The Barge Gift Shop
Cost: $99

Hood Canal Adventures

If you want 100% guarantee to see the bioluminescence, try Hood Canal Adventures. They state that they have a “100% success rate for seeing bioluminescence on our tours in the last 4 years, however the amount and brilliance varies.” But either way, the experience on the water at night is peaceful, and enjoyable on its own too!

When: Thursday to Sunday nights in July and August
Where: 306146 Hwy 101 N, Brinnon, WA
Cost: $120

San Juan Outfitters

Departing at sunset from Roche Harbor, this is a 3-hour long guided kayak tour in the sheltered and still waters of Garrison and Westcott Bays in search of the unique microorganisms. Of note: shuttles with San Juan Outfitters are not offered on Bioluminescent Tours, additionally they add “as there is not a ferry off island after this tour, you will need to plan on staying the night of your tour on San Juan Island.”

When: May 31-June 9, July 1-10, August 1-10, August 29-September 7
Where: Roche Harbor
Cost: $145

Discovery Sea Kayak Tours

Discovery Sea Kayaks was the first company with dedicated Bioluminescence Kayak Tour on San Juan Island, they state. And have selected the best dates each month to ensure dark evenings for their tours. They operate a small group size, and all kayak tours use fiberglass tandem sea kayaks. They also provide dry bags, waterproof jackets, and waterproof pants.

When: Select nights in June through October
Where: 260 Spring St. Friday Harbor, WA
Cost: $145-$160

Olympic Outdoor Center

Paddle amongst the bioluminescence at night on Port Gamble bay! At Olympic Outdoor Center, they use “stable double sit-on-top kayaks.” But you are also welcome to bring your own kayak or SUP, however the cost of the tour will still be the same.

When: Select nights in June through September
Where: Olympics Beach Site in Port Gamble
Cost: $69

Happy kayaking!