Who needs an Orlando theme park when fun adventures await in our own backyard? This summer, get outdoors and take advantage of the Space Coast’s natural beauty.
The Fourth of July may be over, but the sparks continue as Mother Nature puts on quite the show in Brevard. The lady has a veritable theme park of natural attractions, beginning with the most flamboyant of all, bioluminescence.
June and July are the best months to witness this wonder of nature. In the dark of night, a kayak paddle or a hand in the water encourages millions of dinoflagellates and comb jellies to light up the dark waters of the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoons. Once you see it, you never forget it.
It’s been a banner year for bio tours, thanks to June days hitting 90-degree marks.
“Most nights this summer, bioluminescence was a 5/5 for all our locations,“ said BK Adventure guide Jacob Horvath.
“We’ve also seen lots of manatees and dolphins daily. New moon is always the best time to see bioluminescence, but it has been so bright out there that June’s full moon also had a 5/5 bio night.”
Plenty of tour companies are happy to guide you to the best spots. Some, like BK Adventure, offer see-through kayaks for taking the experience to the next level.
Here is a list of bio-tour operators, courtesy of Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism:
While not as dramatic as bioluminescence tours, daytime eco-tours aboard kayaks or canoes offer the opportunity to get up close and personal with dolphins, manatees and other wild denizens, and to explore mangrove tunnels. You can have it all, too, since many operators offer combination tours, such as BK Adventure’s Sunset-Bio in Cocoa Beach.
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At Brevard Zoo, kayaking is truly a wild experience, since gliding along the Zoo’s Nyami Nyami River positions kayakers past giraffes, ostrich and zebras inside their enclosures in the Expedition Africa exhibits.
Take to the air after kayaking with the Zoo’s TreeTop Trek to traverse a self-guided rope and zipline course through the Rainforest Revealed jungle amongst spider monkeys.
As one of the top surfing destinations in the United States, Brevard welcomes both seasoned and aspiring surfing dudes of all ages. Ron Jon Surfing School, for example, offers private one- or two-hour lessons, as well as surf camps.
“We provide all necessary equipment,” said owner Lauren McLean. “We specialize in beginners but can cater to any skill set.”
McLean adds that while the minimum age to take lessons is five, you are never too old to channel your inner Kelly Slater and some students are well into their golden years.
Whatever the age of the surfer, photographer Frankie Hubbard is there to capture the experience with a special photo package.
Here are some surf schools for starters. Some also offer paddleboarding. Adventure Surf even welcomes canines and their humans to try doggie paddleboarding.
The sky is the limit, literally, to outdoor fun in the Space Coast, thanks to several skydiving outfitters eager to get you up in the air tandem skydiving. Skydive Space Center claims the world’s highest tandem jump at 18,000 feet over Titusville.
“We are the only center anywhere that takes you this high,” said jumpmaster Chris Parente.
You and your jumpmaster board the aircraft wearing a dual harness assembly. Once you reach your jump altitude, you will exit the aircraft securely harnessed to your instructor for an unforgettable one-and-a-half minutes of freefall at 120 mph, before your parachute glides you down safely during an additional seven minutes.
For those who don’t want to go high or go home, the Center also offers jumps at 15,000 and 11,000 feet. Photo and video packages capture jumpers against an exceptional backdrop of the Kennedy Space Center and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
“The view is amazing,” said Parente.
While you must be at least 18 to participate, there is no upper limit and physical disabilities are not an issue.
“We’ve had people as old as 96 jump,” said Parente, who helped the late U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful George McGovern go tandem skydiving when he was 88.
For beach lovers, Skydive Melbourne Beach offers the only tandem drop zone in the Southeastern United States with a dedicated beach landing.
You need not drop from 11,000 feet or higher as you take to the skies over Brevard parasailing or paragliding. Cocoa Beach Parasail explores Space Coast beaches and waters from the air at 500 or 1,000 feet, while Sky 1 Parasail, 321-328-7591, sails over Merritt Island.
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This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Summer on the Space Coast: Get outside and have some fun