Alaska Kayaking

Alaska kayaking tours are a great choice for a cruise ship excursion for anyone who enjoys getting close to nature and wildlife. Small boats without noisy motors, kayaks are quiet, relaxing, and can get to places you can’t easily access on a larger boat. On a kayak tour, you will see Alaska from a different perspective, getting close to seals, sea otters, fish, and other marine life, and paddling near shores for viewing birds, bears, and goats. It is not surprising that kayaking tours have become a popular cruise excursion.

What is a kayaking tour in Alaska?

Kayaking tours in Alaska can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. A typical length for a kayaking tour is about half a day. Tours usually begin with a short lesson on kayaking techniques and safety. Some trips include stops for hiking, a picnic lunch, or biking, while overnight and multi-day trips include camping or lodging on a private boat.

Tour groups are usually small with no more than six paddlers per group with one guide. Most tours in Alaska use sea kayaks, which are wider and more stable than regular kayaks. They have tight fitting protective skirts to keep you dry.

What you will see?

The best part about an Alaska kayaking expedition is all that you will see in terms of nature and wildlife. Sea lions, otters, seals, whales, humpbacks, and porpoises are among the possible marine creatures you will encounter. Because kayaks are quiet and unobtrusive, you can get much closer to marine birds and mammals. You will also have greater access and better views of calving glaciers, icebergs, and other breathtaking landscape.

What is special about a kayaking excursion?

Including a kayaking excursion is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Alaska’s natural beauty and forces you to slow down and enjoy the scenery and fresh ocean air. Kayaking tours offer tranquility, the opportunity to visit places that are otherwise inaccessible, and a chance to see wildlife in its natural environment.

What should you wear and bring?

To make your trip as enjoyable and comfortable as possible, it is important to dress appropriately. Alaska’s weather is unpredictable, so be sure to bring rain gear, warm and waterproof layers, and to protect yourself from the sun.

For a one-day excursion, wear a splash jacket and a reflective vest, extra layers under your jacket made from synthetics and/or fleece, water repellent footwear and gloves, sunglasses, a brimmed hat, and plenty of sunscreen to avoid getting burned by the sun reflecting off the water. Cotton should be avoided as it absorbs moisture and won’t provide insulation. Dry suits or wet suits are recommended for longer excursions and can be rented or purchased.

Be sure to bring your camera and to carry it in a waterproof case. Alternatively, you can bring a waterproof digital camera or carry it in a dry bag. Dry bags float and are waterproof, making them useful for carrying your phone and other valuables. Some tour companies provide dry bags and wind/rain equipment so you won’t have to bring your own. In any case, be sure to wear warm and comfortable clothing made from materials that dry quickly.

Who will like this excursion?

A kayaking excursion in Alaska is great for just about all ages and levels of ability and experience. Kayaking tours are recommended for ages 11 through 70 and require an average level of fitness. Younger children can participate in some private tours. Kayaks are low to the water and small, so some flexibility and strength is needed to get into it and out of the boat.

If you choose a guided tour, you don’t need to have any prior kayaking experience. Your guide will provide you with instructions on safety and basic techniques to get you started. Children can ride with an adult in a double kayak, a two-seater, and share the paddling. Just about anyone can enjoy sea kayaking and it makes a great excursion for families.

What are some of the best tours?

When choosing a kayaking tour, you will want to find one that is the length you are looking for, that starts at a convenient port, and that will take you to the places that you want to see. Fortunately, there are many tours available, so it won’t be hard to find one that is just right for your needs and interests. Here are some of the best kayaking tours available with descriptions of what they offer.

Orcas Cove Kayaking Adventure

This tour starts at Ketichan, lasts for 4 hours, and includes 2 hours of paddling. You will explore Tongass Nation Forest and Orcas Cove, seeing wildlife such as bald eagles, humpback whales, orcas, porpoises, and harbor seals.

Ketchikan Kayaking Adventure

This 2.5-hour tour with almost 2 hours paddling time starts at Ketchikan’s Creek Street Historic District. You will paddle through the Tongass Narrows and view bald eagles nesting on Pennock Island.

Harbor & Islands Guided Kayak Paddle

Starting in Sitka, this 2.5 hour tour includes 2 hours of paddling through Sitka’s waterways, harbors, and coves. You will see marine and land wildlife while your guide shares stories along the way.

Sitka Half-day Sound Paddle and Cruise

For something slightly longer and more in depth, consider this 4.5 hour tour with 3-3.5 hours paddle time. Starting from Sitka, you will paddle through reef, identify marine wildlife, visit a remote island for beach combing and a snack, and learn about the area’s history.

Sitka Full day Wild Coast Paddle & Cruise

Starting in Sitka, this tour offers five hours of paddle time through coves, islands, and passageways. Marine life, undersea gardens, kelp forests, and a stop on a remote island for a picnic and beach combing are among the highlights of this trip.

Glacier View Sea Kayaking

Lasting 3.5 hours, this kayak adventure starts in Juneau and brings you through Auke Bay. You will see the Mendelhall Glacier, whales, sea lions, and bald eagles. This is a good kayaking tour for beginners.

Glacier Blue Kayak & Grandview Train Tour

If you are looking for a full day trip that combines kayaking with a train tour, this might be the best trip for you. It starts in Girdwood, and from there, you will take a scenic train ride to Spencer Lake for a morning or evening of kayaking near a glacier.

Anadyr Adventures Sea Kayaking

Starting in Valdez, Anadyr Adventures offers a range of sea kayaking adventures lasting anywhere from 3 hours to 7 days. The Valdez Glacier tour includes paddling on a lake, an easy hike to the glacier, exploring icebergs, and kayaking into a glacial cave.

Just Add Water Adventures

Starting in Homer, these half or full-day tours include kayaking along the quiet coastline and through the protected waters of Tutka Bay for amazing views of wildlife, woods, shoreline, and coves.

Alaska Wild Guides Sailing Kayak Excursions

If you are looking for a unique kayaking excursion, you might want to try a sailing kayak excursion. A sailing kayak uses wind and pedal power instead of a paddle for a hands-free journey. Starting in Whittier, you can choose from a half day, full day, or a multi day excursion.

Alaska Mountain Guides Sea Kayaking

Starting in Haines and Skagway, this excursion offers guided sea kayaking in Alaska’s Southeast. You can choose a one-day or a multi-day tour through the marine environment to see gorgeous views and an array of wildlife and marine life.

Final thoughts

With its vast waterways, lakes, and seas, Alaska offers practically endless possibilities for kayaking. If you are looking to add to your adventure, you might want to customize a kayaking excursion by including fishing, hiking, or a bike tour. Whatever tour you choose, a kayaking adventure in Alaska will be a one-of-a-kind adventure. It will bring you to some of the most amazing, and otherwise inaccessible, glaciers, icebergs, inlets, and bays in the world.