LED glass bottom kayaking puts guests in touch with wildlife
Experience Key West’s marine life after dark on a glass bottom kayak lit with powerful LED lights. The Plexiglas viewing area on the bottom of the kayak smoothes the water, making wildlife and submerged features as distinct as viewing them through a snorkel mask.
“I have had people afraid to step into the kayak, because they don’t realize the Plexiglass is there; they think they are stepping straight into the water,” said Pawel Pluciennik, owner of Ibis Bay Paddleboard.
The Night Paddle Tour is a hour and a half long and covers various types of habitat — shallow turtle grass, a hard bottom where sponges and sea cucumbers can be seen, then to the ledge by Sigsbee where the bottom drops out to 30 feet. Pluciennik said that shelf is where guests spot the crab and lobster. Towards the end of the tour, the group passes a mangrove island bird sanctuary, where there are about 350 wild birds. Pelicans, egrets, ibis and commodores roost on the island at night and are illuminated by Pluciennik’s powerful spotlight.
“The reaction most people have is ‘wow,’” said Pluciennik.
Pluciennik said the nightlife underwater is just as lively as the daylight hours, but the species are different such as octopi. The light also attracts certain species of fish and it’s not uncommon for them to jump in the kayak when highly excited.
“If I see an octopus I catch it to show everybody. Its skin can camouflage. I pick up lobsters and crabs, too,” Pluciennik said.
Numerous Tripadvisor reviews rave about the tour including a five star rating by Onthegox5 from Ramsey, NJ, who wrote, “We did a nighttime kayak trip with the glass bottom kayaks which was awesome. We saw lots of fish and sea life and the water was so calm and peaceful. The guide for that trip was great, too.”
Night kayaking with Ibis Bay isn’t physically demanding and is suitable for all ages. Evening trips are scheduled nightly, weather permitting. Locals receive a 10 percent discount. Call 305-896-0342 to reserve a single or tandem kayak, as well as paddleboards with LED lights.