Miami Skyline ‘Lights Up’ Under Virginia Key Full Moon Kayak Tour – NBC 6 South Florida
For South Floridians, kayaking is an activity many have participated in at least once, but few can say they’ve done it under a full moon.
The Virginia Key Outdoor Center has offered a Full Moon Kayak Tour once a month for the past seven years.
The tour launches you into the lagoon near the center and, depending on the size of the group, there may be a few guides to lead the group on the trip. The tour welcomes kayakers of all skill levels, including those new to the activity.
Frank Fernandez, who has been kayaking for more than 20 years and is a guide for the Full Moon Tour, said he likes it when people are a little hesitant at first because when they see the Miami skyline , their worries disappear.
“To be able to paddle your own boat on Biscayne Bay and enjoy the city of Miami as it lights up and then we turn around to see this beautiful super moon rising on the horizon is just a magical experience,” Fernandez said.
Before guests even board the kayaks, the guides perform a thorough safety tour, as well as an overview of the route guests will take to ensure they avoid Bill Sadowski’s Critical Wildlife Area.
The Bill Sadowski Critical Wildlife Area was established in 1990 and expanded in 1993 as a bird, seagrass, and manatee sanctuary in the heart of North Biscayne Bay. The area remains a year-round no-go area and as a result is closely monitored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, law enforcement, and other marine patrol agencies.
For the visit, you can, “BYOK”, bring your own kayak or paddle, but the center offers rentals. Single kayaks for $45, double kayaks for $75 and stand up paddle boards for $45. If you bring your own boat, the tour will cost $25.
Once guests have received their life jackets, light lanterns, and kayaks, it’s time to take off into the bay. The group paddles to Norris Cut and hangs out either by the beach or at the harbour.
Emily Barrett was on vacation with her family and hadn’t even realized there would be a full moon when she booked the excursion.
“I think so, a full moon definitely attracts people, but I want to see all the lights. I want to see the city lit up, you know, when it’s dark and you’re out there. The moonlight moon captures the ocean,” Barette said.
After sunset, kayakers are encouraged to snap photos of the Miami skyline and wait for the moon to begin to rise the other way.
“I’ve done a few of these full moon trips and when I go out it puts me in a good mood,” said a second kayak guide, Bailey Ross. “I think it’s quite contagious and when you have a group of people enjoying a cool natural phenomenon that we see about once a month, it puts everyone in a good mood.”
Although morale was high, the Virginia Key Outdoor Center has been in a whirlwind for a month with the city of Miami.
As of August 17, the City of Miami terminated its lease with the Virginia Key Outdoor Center and they now have until September 13 to move out.
“I am nearing the end of my lease. The city had the right to get rid of me if that was what they wanted to do, but the way they do it, the way they do it,” said Esther Alonso, owner of Virginia Key Outdoor Center. “I mean, I’m a kayak shop, and they’re chasing me on Twitter at 10:30 p.m. on a Friday night.”
Alonso believes the timing of this stoppage is no coincidence. She voiced her opposition to the homeless encampment proposal, led by Commissioner Joe Carollo, to build 50 to 100 small homes for the homeless in Virginia Key.
The issue is gaining traction on social media, with some accusing the commissioner of retaliation and using the city’s code enforcement department to shut down the outdoor center.
NBC 6 will continue to provide updates on next steps for the Virginia Key Outdoor Center.