5 Areas to Experience Alaska by Kayak

There are many ways to experience Alaska’s stunning landscapes and wildlife, but perhaps the most intimate is by kayak. Whether you’re new to sea kayaking in Alaska, a seasoned veteran, or somewhere in between, there are plenty of options for you to explore the breathtaking views.

  • Kayakers of all levels can enjoy small group guided tours, which are usually 2-8 people per group. Day trips range on average from $100-$200 per person. Holland America Group employees often receive discounts on certain activities, including kayak tours. Check with your employer to see if you qualify for discounts at Holland America or other local companies.

    If you’d rather plan your own kayak adventure to make it more challenging or to stop and fish, both single and double kayaks are available for rent. The day rates are usually $45-$65 for a single kayak and $55-$80 for a double. This option may be better for the more experienced kayakers due to Alaska’s often rough terrain. Make sure to talk to the kayak rental company for their advice on experience level depending on the area you’re in.

    After you’ve decided between renting a kayak or booking a guided tour, the next step is to prepare the essential items to bring. Most kayak companies recommend dressing in layers and bringing a hat, sunscreen, water bottle, and sunglasses. And don’t forget your camera or binoculars and a waterproof pouch, so that you can capture Alaska’s natural beauty. Here are five popular areas in Alaska for unforgettable sea kayaking adventures:

    Girdwood

    For those looking for something slightly off the beaten path, a kayak tour of Spencer Lake with Chugach Adventures may be the most rewarding option. The lake is not accessible by car, so you will depart from Anchorage or Girdwood on a gorgeous train ride of the Alaskan countryside. The calm, 3-mile kayak trip features the majestic, 3,500 foot Spencer Glacier as well as see-through icebergs. Both morning and evening trips are available to fit any schedule.

    Valdez

    Just under two hours southwest of Copper River lies the town of Valdez, directly on the shores of the impressive Prince William Sound. If your goal is to have a more extreme adventure among glaciers and icebergs, this may be the place for you! Keep an eye out for sea lions and otters as you paddle your kayak past icebergs and through glacial caves. Pangaea Adventures offers kayak rentals for experienced kayakers and guided tours for all.

    Haines and Skagway

    Explore the Chilkat Peninsula and Chilkat State Park which boasts sightings of spectacular wildlife such as seals, humpback whales, birds, sea lions, bears, and eagles. Rent a kayak on your own or sign up for a tour from Alaska Mountain Guides. They offer trips ranging from a few hours to a few days and even offer a 3-person kayak option for close-knit colleagues. If you’re in Skagway, your tour will start with a picturesque 45-minute catamaran trip to Haines.

    Juneau

    If you find yourself stationed in Alaska’s capital, there are plenty of kayaking options starting right in town. Head to Auke Bay to rent a kayak from Alaska Boat and Kayak, or pick a tour offered by Alaska Travel Adventures. Either way, you can enjoy all the scenery and wildlife of Mendenhall Glacier, Mendenhall Wetlands, Smuggler’s Cove, Tongass National Forest, and Channel Islands State Marine Park.

    Seward

    Venture about an hour south of Copper Landing to enjoy all that Kenai Fjords National Park has to offer—including nearly 40 glaciers! Sign up with Sunny Cove Sea Sea Kayaking tours to paddle past the salmon in Resurrection Bay on the coast of the park. Or if you’re more accustomed to changing weather and colder water, rent your own kayak at Miller’s Landing.

    Navigating the nooks and crannies of Alaska’s pristine landscape by kayak is a unique way to experience this dazzling state. Take a look at our current job openings to put yourself in the middle of it all.