Sea Kayaking In Alaska: The Top Spots

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kayaking in Alaska

Alaska is a wilderness into itself, a land of pulsating scenery and wildlife. Because of this, there is nothing better than exploring Alaska's famous coastline by sea kayaking. 

Kayaking allows visitors to explore Alaska's waters in a unique and compelling way. Witness wildlife from eye level, feel the water move beneath you, and smell the salty sea breeze. Many cruise itineraries offer kayaking as a great shore excursion activity and we definitely recommend trying it. 

Not only does kayaking bring you closer to nature, but it also allows you to explore areas of Alaska's coast that cannot be reached by larger boats and ships. Shallow bays and narrow inlets provide the perfect playground for kayakers with a thirst for exploration. 

So, to help you get into a kayak, get away from the crowds, and experience Alaska in her rawest form, we've put together this detailed guide on the best spots to sea kayak. Read on for more information! 

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How Difficult Is It?

The difficulty level of sea kayaking in Alaska really depends on where you kayak and for how long. Alaska kayak trips range from four or five hours to four or five days. 

Typically, most trips last half a day and are not difficult at all. You're given a full safety briefing, a quick technique briefing and then you're off. The pace will be slow and easy and you'll have a guide near you at all times. For these short trips only a basic level of fitness is required.

For full day trips, you'll need a slightly higher level of fitness as you'll be paddling for at least 4-6 hours. Although not fast, you'll still need some endurance to get through it. Saying that, there will be lots of breaks to watch wildlife, explore rocky outlets and have lunch. 

Sea kayaking trips that last three or four days are geared toward more athletic paddlers and beginners should probably avoid these trips. Once again though, the pace is not fast and there are plenty of breaks. 

How Much Does It Cost?

Like all activities and shore excursions in Alaska, the price varies significantly depending on duration, location, and operator. 

You can find a half day kayak excursion for around $65, but $100 is more common. Full day excursions start around $100-150, but can reach $400 if the drop-off point is remote. 

Multi day trips generally cost between $2,000 - $3,000 per person. This includes accommodation, food, kayaks, transport etc. 

Top Spots To Kayak: Inside Passage

The Inside Passage is by far the most popular destination for cruise goers. The lush fjords, epic glaciers and majestic wildlife make kayaking the Inside Passage a pure delight. Below are our favourite spots to kayak. 

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Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay is potentially one of the greatest se kayaking destinations in the world, let alone Alaska. The incredible scenery of Glacier Bay National Park is simply breathtaking. Because there are so few roads, the park has a very peaceful feel. You'll have the chance to see calving glaciers, orcas, humpback whales, sea otters and much more. 

There are countless kayak outfitters offering trips of every length. You can take longer journeys that visit Point Adolphus and Icy Strait, or short half day trips into Bartlett Cove. The cove is located near the park headquarters and offers very protected waters with plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities. If you want to kayak with humpback whales, you'll need to take a longer trip to Point Adolphus. 

Juneau 

Juneau is the largest town within the Inside Passage and offers plenty of kayak outfitters and options. Almost all Alaska cruise itineraries include Juneau, so short kayak day trios are very popular. 

The most popular itinerary is a half day trip to North Douglas Island. After a brief guided lesson, you'll hop in your kayaks and view epic scenery including the Juneau Icefield and the huge Mendenhall Glacier! Look out for bald eagles, porpoises, and even whales. Trips usually take 3.5 hours and coast around $80-$110. 

Orcas Cove, Ketchikan

This beautiful and tranquil cove gets its name from the friendly orcas that frequently visit the cove. Although you won't see them every day, resident orca pods are seen regularly during the king and silver salmon runs. Although not a wildlife trip, this region is a great place to spot eagles, otters and even black bears. 

What makes this region special is the tranquil coves and rainforest islands. The trip lasts for 3 hours and is reached both ways via boat from Ketchikan. Ticket prices start at around $150 per person. 

Chilkoot Lake, Haines

Chilkoot Lake is one of the most gorgeous locations in Alaska to kayak. The epic surroundings make this one unbeatable day trip for people visiting either Haines or Skagway. 

The round trip takes around 4 hours, 1.5 of which is on the water kayaking. The trip costs just over $110 and includes a lovely picnic. The lake is a great place to see whales, eagles, bears, otters and much more. You'll also see blue glaciers, huge waterfalls and lush mountainous forest rising high above the placid lake. 

Top Spots To Kayak: Prince William Sound

Prince William Sound is another powerhouse location for Alaska sea kayaking. The entire region is rich in marine life, glaciers, idyllic coves and beautiful rainforests. The Sound is easily reached from either CordovaValdez or Whittier. Each town has kayak tour operators ready to guide and assist you.

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Blackstone Bay

Blackstone Bay is one of the most popular day-trip destination for kayakers in the Prince William Sound. The bay is home to plenty of marine life and you begin by kayaking through the ice floe where you'll see seabirds and plenty of harbor seals. Once in the bay proper you'll have the chance to witness calving glaciers from the seclusion of your kayak. This is totally unforgettable!

The trip can be operated from Anchorage, but the charter boat departs from Whittier. Lunch is included and you'll probably get the chance to take several short hikes including to the top of Willard Island where you'll get an epic view over the Sound. Prices start from around $340 per person. 

Kittiwake Tour

Another very popular option (and much cheaper) is the Kittiwake kayak tour from Whittier. This is a great half day option for bird lovers and people wanting to try sea kayaking.

After some basic kayaking instruction in the harbor, you'll visit the thriving kittiwake rookery located just 2 miles from Whittier. This rugged coastline provides the perfect terrain for these nesting birds and gives viewers a great introduction into sea kayaking. Prices start from around $90 per person.  

Shotgun Cove

Shotgun Cove is another beautiful cove in Prince William Sound. Located 5 miles from Whittier, the cove is known for its still waters, lovely waterfalls, and even a shipwreck!

You actually kayak for some distance as you make your way slowly back along the coastline to Whittier. Along the way you'll have a light lunch, an easy trek and explore other coves such a Emerald Cove. Prices start from around $245 per person. 

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Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

Top Spots To Kayak: Seward

Although all of coastal Alaska is great for wildlife watching, the areas around Seward are particularly epic. Teeming with whales, seabirds, and bears, this region is ideal for wildlife lovers who want to explore in the peaceful surroundings of a sea kayak. 

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Resurrection Bay

Resurrection Bay is incredibly big and incredibly beautiful. Dotted with huge glaciers, gorgeous fjords, idyllic coves, all draped by enormous snow-capped peaks, makes this the perfect kayaking destination. 

There are a number of kayaking tours throughout the Bay from two hour trips to day-long trips. Many depart from Lowell Point just two miles from Seward. The waters are very calm, making the region ideal for beginners. Look out for whales, otters, and eagles. SunnyCove are a good operator in the region.  

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park is a wildlife paradise where you're likely to see whales, eagles, otters, porpoises, and much more. If you fancy combining kayaking with a land tour, then you're also likely to see bears. 

The region is famous for being the location where many tidewater glaciers shed their ice, making this one of the most spectacular areas in Alaska. After being dropped off by a private charter boat, you'll kayak beneath rugged coastlines and witness calving glaciers. Day tours cost around $400 per person and include lunch, beverages, and snacks - not to mention the 120 mile cruise to reach the National Park. 

​FAQ

If you have any queries or questions regarding sea kayaking in Alaska, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below. For some great Alaska cruise tips, please click here

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

About the Author Burnham Arlidge

Burnham started his career as a professional tennis player before retiring due to injury. Since then Burnham has thrown himself into adventure travel. He has cruised to some of the most iconic and obscure parts of the planet.

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