Alaska is a paradise for sea kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts. The only real problem will be deciding where to go kayaking from among the many options that exist here. But there are four primary regions for Alaska sea kayaking tours: Southeast, Kenai Peninsula, West Prince William Sound and East Prince William Sound.
Southeast Alaska Sea Kayaking
Icy Bay, Glacier Bay, LeConte Bay... the sea kayaking possibilities of South east Alaska are endless. Lots of opportunities to see whales, seals, otters and other marine wildlife exist. Getting into the area will be by air or ferry on the Alaska Marine Highway (ferry system) as there is no road access between most of Southeast and the rest of Alaska. You can even take the ferry from Bellingham Washington with the ability to make as many stops along the way as you like. Be sure to make plans well in advance.
Sea kayaking opportunities abound throughout the region and just about anywhere one can fly or ferry into can be the starting point for your Alaska sea kayaking adventure. Or if really adventurous, kayak the entire Southeast Passage.
Kenai Peninsula Sea Kayaking
Homer, Soldotna, Anchor Point, Kenai Fjords, Cooper Landing...the Kenai Peninsula teams with options for outstanding sea kayaking trips. And while, in the area,put on a pair of hip waders and get out in the Kenai River for some of the best Salmon fishing to be found anywhere. Hiking and river rafting potential make the Kenai a great destination not only for sea kayaking but for a whole range of outdoor activities. If an open canoe is preferred to a sea kayak then the Kenai Canoe Trails in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is the place.
Western Prince William Sound Sea Kayaking
There are two entry points for sea kayaking trips in Prince William Sound - Whittier on the west and Valdez on the eastern end of the Sound. Whittier is accessible by road and is about an hours drive out of Anchorage but allow an extra half hour or so for waiting time at the tunnel. Traffic under the mountain is one way so you have to wait your turn. The sea kayaking routes out of Whittier are simply amazing - there are glaciers everywhere. In fact there is a glacier cruise out of Whittier that is billed as the 26 Glacier Tour. Nuff said. You could just start paddling out of Whittier but you can also arrange for water taxi service to get your sea kayaks out to the area you are interested in. There are several sea kayaking outfitters in Whittier where you can arrange for rentals or guided trips of any length. This is sea kayaking at it's finest.
Eastern Prince William Sound Sea Kayaking
Valdez Alaska is the point of entry into this end of the Sound. Just standing on the dock and looking around you at the dramatic mountains that surround this port town will have your eyes popping and your jaw dropping. There are many excellent options for kayaking adventures here. Again, just hop in your kayak and go or take a water taxi to get to the glaciers. Or do both - take a water taxi to get out of town fast and then kayak back to Valdez. Like all sea kayaking area in Alaska this place is jumping with wildlife.. and of course Salmon. The Shoup and Columbia Glaciers are popular destinations with sea kayakers and for good reason.
Combine a sea kayaking trip with some river rafting or maybe a little hiking out of Thompson Pass. If you drive to Valdez take a side trip to McCarthy in the middle of Wrangell-St. Elias. No sea kayaking there but lots of things to do including glacier hiking, ice climbing, hiking and history buffing.
Sea Kayak Rental or Guided Trip?
Most of the areas mentioned above offer sea kayaking routes in fairly protected waters. But this is Alaska not Baja and the water is cold here. So whether a sea kayaking trip is on your own or with a guide is going to depend on your level of experience, skills and confidence. Even in these more protected waters you will have to make open crossings. Weather can come up quickly on the water and you need to be properly equipped and prepared for an Alaska sea kayaking adventure. It can get pretty warm out on the water in the summer time but don't be fooled, the air might feel warm but the water is chilly.
If renting kayaks from an outfitter plan on demonstrating a wet exit and reentry before being allowed to take out their kayaks. Doubles offer a lot more stability and safety than singles so if you are not totally confident then this would be the way to go.
Sea Kayaking is a great way to explore Alaska and a great way to see a lot of wildlife.