Discover the best ways to explore Alaska’s stunning coastline, from sea kayaking and glacier cruising to sailing and the Alaska Marine Highway, with these five tips.
Alaska is known for its stunning scenery, vast wilderness, and abundant wildlife. But despite the vast expanses of frozen tundra and towering mountain ranges, it is Alaska’s shores that really deliver the thrills and most awesome experiences that the Last Frontier has to offer. And without a doubt, the best way to explore its coastline is by water.
However, with so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which activity is the best fit for you, whether you are boarding an Alaskan cruise in Seattle or exploring the 49th state as part of a road trip. In this article, we will discuss five tips for exploring Alaska’s shores and the best ways to do so.
Image courtesy of Peter Hansen
Sea kayaking is a popular way to explore Alaska’s coastline, offering a unique perspective on the natural environment. You can paddle through remote bays and coves, observe wildlife up close, and experience the beauty of glaciers from a different angle. There is nothing quite like the peace and tranquility that comes from an early-morning paddle, and kayaking is without a doubt the best way to explore areas of the coast that no other form of transport lets you access.
Image courtesy of Kedar Gadge
Of course, exploring the coast doesn’t always mean staying in the sea. Alaska is crisscrossed with pristine rivers, lakes, and fjords, and taking a kayak upriver is one of the best and most exciting ways to explore the wilderness. Popular river kayaking destinations in Alaska include the Kenai River, the Chilkat River, and the Yukon River, all offering amazing opportunities to see wildlife like bears, eagles, and moose up close.
With both sea and river kayaking it is important to come prepared, as Alaska’s wilderness can be unforgiving. Choosing a reputable guide and ensuring that you have the necessary safety gear is vital, and you should always check weather reports before heading out onto the water.
Alaska is home to some of the most impressive glaciers in the world. Glacier cruising allows you to see these glaciers up close and experience the wonder of calving ice. Many cruise lines offer glacier cruising as part of their Alaska itineraries, with options to visit magnificent, majestic glaciers such as the Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, and the Sawyer Glacier.
One of the most peaceful and eco-friendly ways to explore Alaska’s shores, sailing lets you get off the beaten path and experience the natural beauty of this fantastic state at a slower pace. Sail through remote fjords and bays, see stunning wildlife up close, and even fish for your dinner, it’s a truly wonderful way to get closer to nature and see the most exquisite side of Alaska. Sailing does require skill and experience, of course, so make sure you know what you are doing or hire a reputable captain to take you where you need to go.
Image courtesy of Carlos Wolters
The Alaska Marine Highway
One excellent and underrated way to explore Alaska’s coastline is the Alaska Marine Highway. A unique combination of transportation and sightseeing, this wonderful ferry system serves many of Alaska’s coastal communities and allows you to see the state’s rugged beauty from the water. The Alaska Marine Highway is a popular way to explore Southeast Alaska, including destinations such as Ketchikan, Juneau, and Sitka.
Exploring Alaska’s coastline by water is an unforgettable experience, offering unparalleled access to the state’s natural beauty. From setting out by kayak to paddle through remote bays to commuting up the coast along the Alaska Marine Highway, the greatest way to experience Alaska is from the water!