Palette Magazine

Step into parks and wild places after dark

By Julie Hope Balter

Miami Eco-Adventures’ Sunset Kayak Adventure;
Miami Eco-Adventures’ Sunset Kayak Adventure;

Imagine this — and I want you to stick with me: It’s the kind of sunny South Florida day you see captured on memes with suck-it quotes meant for northerners shoveling snow. It’s also a Saturday, so you’re not one to incubate indoors.

Maybe you’re kayaking through the backwaters of Florida Bay or skimming Wilton Manors’ waterways atop a paddleboard. You might even be gawking at alligators sunning themselves in Everglades National Park. See the azure sky; feel the sun reflecting off your face.

Now, I want you to shut off the lights. You heard me. Do it.

Now imagine you’re doing the very same outdoor activities I just described — only it’s pitch dark. Experience your acute awareness of nearly indiscernible animal calls, the pulsing rhythm of flapping wings.

My point: Anyone can kayak a canal in broad daylight, but come moonrise, your favorite de-stressing outdoor activity can change from chillin’ to thrilling — in a really good way. Should you dare take on a South Florida evening eco-adventure, you’ll be in capable hands with these smooth operators.



 

The Paddler

At night, add high-tech neon LED lights to your paddleboard to transform a familiar sunlit excursion into an ethereal adventure. With a 40-foot circumference of light cast around the dark waters, your attention narrows from a wide-span waterway-vista, to an intimate and up-close commune with nature. Precision Paddleboard in Fort Lauderdale guides night SUP groups down New or Middle River.

precisionpaddleboards.com

For an equally ambient paddling experience in the Key West area, Blue Planet Kayak leads full moon, night crawler excursions along the bay. Watch the water shimmer with the glow of bioluminescent plankton dancing as your paddle laps the bay.

blue-planet-kayak.com



 

The Watcher

Introducing the Campfire & Owl Walk, presented by Bill Sadowski Park in Miami. What happens there stays between you and the owls. “We welcome people from all backgrounds and strive to create a place where everyone feels safe and where everyone feels welcome,” says Victoria Galan, the Communications Manager at Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces.

Suggested Accessories: insect repellent, flashlight and marshmallows. In exchange, you’ll receive an informative talk about life as an owl and a dark park walk.

miamidade.gov/ecoadventures



 

The Prowler

After dabbling with owls, you’re ready to delve into the nocturnal underworld of the Everglades with the hippie guides at Everglades Hostel & Tours in Florida City. You can opt for a two-hour walk along the River of Grass boardwalks. We can’t tell what you’ll see or do, as the hostel teases that trip details aren’t decided until the day of the tour. And isn’t it more exciting to maintain the element of surprise anyway?

If you’re ready for total submission, try the overnight camping trip. It starts with s’mores and ends with fireside farm-raised alligator burritos, served with mango and guac made with ingredients from the hostel garden. In between, canoeing and a barefoot beach dance light the night.

evergladeshostel.com

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