Guana Lake's Amazing Glow

Magical is the best way to describe the glowing bioluminescence at Guana Lake in Ponte Vedra Beach

May 2, 2022


That’s the word most often used to describe a visit to the glowing waters of Guana Lake. And why not? If you simply allow yourself to be immersed in the moon beams, starlight and silence of the lake, magic is the only possible explanation for the brilliant display of aquamarine and electric-blue light emanating from within the night-blackened water. Could it be light from an aquatic party hosted by the lake’s creatures? Maybe it’s the glowing entrance to a secret city on the lake’s bottom?

“Actually, it’s bioluminescence,” says Ben Brandao from The Geotrippin Adventure Company. “The light is created by billions of comb jellies and single-celled dinoflagellates in the water. Together, they start a harmless chemical reaction that produces visible light.”

Even though that’s a simple biological answer to the origin of the light, there’s no reason to completely dismiss the idea that magic is involved. Even though Ben and other guides experience the lake’s nightly bioluminescence, the glowing water never loses its almost hypnotic appeal.

Located just north of St. Augustine on A1A, Guana Lake is a rare place where bioluminescence can be seen nightly – no matter what time of year. Guided kayak tours conducted by The Geotrippin Adventure Company take guests across the lake to see the phenomena. As they get closer to the light, it’s not unusual to see the glow dripping from the kayak paddles with each stroke. Plus, during the spring and summer, participants get to experience airborne bioluminescence along the way – thousands of fireflies flash in the darkness.

The Geotrippin Adventure Company offers two nightly kayak tours. The 3-hour eco-tour gives participants a chance to experience the full and varied biology of the lake. Continuing through sunset, this tour ends with a close-up look at the bioluminescence display. A 90-minute nightly tour centers on the bioluminescence experience. The company also has several daytime tours. (Note: Guana Lake is located within the Guana River Marsh Aquatic Preserve and is closed to the general public each evening. The Geotrippin Adventure Company has special permits to allow it to operate at night within the Preserve). To book a bioluminescence tour, go to their website or call 904-701-3272.