8 Great Places to Kayak in Alaska

Canoes and Kayaks

Alaska is one of the few places left in the world with an abundance of nature. The sheer natural beauty can be an escape from your mundane life and a ticket to rejuvenation. There are glacial adventures, tours featuring the northern lights, mountains to climb, and wildlife to see.

An excellent way to explore Alaska is by using its beautiful water bodies, thereby getting the best of both worlds. Although Alaska has a significant number of places to go, here are eight of the best places to kayak in Alaska.

Kenai Fjords

Kenai Fjords is an absolute marvel of nature where the ocean meets ice and mountains. Around 40 glaciers flow from Harding Icefield, partially located in the Kenai Fjords National Park.

Kayaking at Kenai Fjords can be a unique experience. The fjords are covered in ice (even in spring!), and the lush green forests cover the expanse of land around the fjords. Despite being icy cold, the waters have wildlife blooming because of their high nutrient content.

kenai fjords
kenai fjords

A Kenai Fjord kayaking trip means you will see a lot of wildlife, so keep an eye out for birds and sea mammals!

We would advise you to use the help of a guide; these are not the kind of water any beginner kayaker should experiment with. The fjords are exposed to the Gulf of Alaska, and there are hardly any sheltered coves. If you don’t have a kayak, you can hire one easily from the Alaska kayak rentals.

Eklutna Lake

Eklutna Lake, Anchorage, is a popular attraction in Alaska. It is an artificial lake located in Chugach State Park.

Eklutna Lake is a recreation area. Not only can you kayak in the lake, but there are hiking trails, mountain biking trails, fishing, and canoeing. Mountain hikers will be met with beautiful views of Eklutna lake. There is also a campsite where you can set up camp for an extended adventure.

A good kayak trip can begin at the beautiful Eklutna Lake and end at the scenic Thunderbolt Falls. With beautiful views of glaciers and snow-capped peaks that line its shore, Eklutna Lake is truly one of the magnificent places to kayak in Alaska. Kayak rentals and bike rentals are available by the hour.

Sitka Sound

Sitka Sound encompasses Baranof Island to the south and northeast and Kruzof Island to the northwest. Therefore kayaking around Sitka Sound offers a vast array of options for you to explore. Your kayak tour can begin in downtown Sitka, and you can kayak across the waters with the Edge­cumbe volcano serving as a one-of-a-kind backdrop.

There is so much marine life in Sitka Sound’s waters, which can be seen only while kayaking. You can even spot some whales here! (Be careful if you do, or it’s better to opt for a guided kayak tour altogether). You may also see some sea lions, bald eagles, brown bears, sea otters, and harbor seals.

sitka sound
sitka sound

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall is a magnificent 13.6-mile-long glacier near the town of Juneau in Alaska. Kayaking here is a good activity for those who love to be outdoors. A Mendenhall Glacier tour will take you through the lake’s pristine waters, sailing past the blue icebergs while simultaneously enjoying seeing the wildlife. You will see porcupines, gulls, black bears, mountain goats, arctic terns, beavers, and bald eagles. 

A typical Mendenhall Glacier tour looks like this; launch from the Mendenhall Lake, kayak in a loop around the lake, and sight the Tongass National Forest and the towering peaks of Coastal mountains Nugget Falls. Lastly, you will see the stunning Mendenhall Glacier itself. 

mendenhall galcier

Halibut Cove

Halibut Cove is a small town with only 90 permanent residents. Initially, it was a small fishing village but now has some businesses and multiple artists. Although small, it is a precious town hidden away in Alaska’s state park, the Kachemak Bay State Park. Additionally, it is one of the best spots to kayak in Alaska.

halibut cove kayaking in alaska
halibut cove kayaking in alaska

If you don’t have a kayak, don’t worry! The Alaska kayak rentals will come to your rescue. Rent yourself a kayak, dip a paddle in the water, and share the space with sea otters and seals as bald eagles fly above you.
Although Halibut Cove is a well-loved place and receives many visitors, efforts have been made to maintain it as the quiet and quaint charming little place it has been known for.

One very unique attraction of Halibut Cove is the floating post office. Yes, you read that right, a floating post office. When the water freezes in winter, it stays put, but at other times you can see it doing a happy little dance in the waters.

Prince William Sound

Prince William Sound is a sound in the Gulf of Alaska. It has fjords, islands, and about 150 glaciers that make up almost 10,000 square miles of protected waters.

Kayaking at Prince William Sound means getting the chance to see the diversity of wildlife. There is a treasure of marine life, more than 30 species of land mammals, and 220 species of birds that live in the Prince William Sound!

prince william sound kayaking in alaska
prince william sound kayaking in alaska

Some of them are mountain goats, black bears, orcas, Dall sheep, moose, bald eagles, humpbacks, sei, and killer whales. Quite a lot, huh? Make sure you do your research before embarking on a kayaking trip to Prince William Sound; you will regret seeing all this wildlife and not being able to recognize it.

Since Prince William Sound is so extensive, tours offered are more focused. Popular excursions in the Prince William Sound are from Harriman Fjord to Pigot Bay/Whittier, Applegate Island & Culross Passage, and Port Nellie Wan and Culross Passage. Or you can go on some standalone trips to Harriman Fjord, Blackstone Bay, or Culross Passage.

Gastineau Channel

Gastineau is a channel that connects Douglas Island (located near the Alexander Archipelago) and mainland Alaska.

Interestingly, Gastineau Channel becomes a passage that ends for most water vehicles. They have to return the way they came in. This is not because of the bridge or any other reason. This is because the channel gets too shallow for any boat to pass through.

So when you do go to the Gastineau Channel, ask around to make sure you are choosing the right path to paddle. You do not want the trip to go to waste and return halfway through.

Gastineau Channel is in Juneau, so some of the places it will take you through are Tracy Arm Fjord, Auke Bay, and Mendenhall Glacier.

Noyes Island

Noyes Island is located in the Alexander Archipelago of Southeast Alaska and makes for another great place to kayak in Alaska.

Quite a spectacular attraction on Noyes Island is the Puffin Grotto. It is a sea cave that is still being sculpted by the waves. The lower levels of the cave are filled with driftwoods, whereas the upper levels are filled with bones left by scavenger birds. It is named after the puffin birds that frequent the caves, especially when mating or laying eggs.

noyes island kayaking in alaska

Besides the Puffin Grotto, you can explore many other caves on your kayak. The captivating structures and many wildlife to spot make for a great kayaking adventure in Alaska.

Keep in mind the waves here receive the full energy from the Pacific ocean, so it is not a good idea for novice kayakers to be out in the open. We recommend you go for a guided kayak tour instead.

What is the best time of year to kayak in Alaska?

There are three kayaking seasons in Alaska; early, peak, and late. The early season begins in May and lasts until the middle of June. Peak season begins in the mid of June and lasts until the first ten days of August. Finally, the late-season begins in the mid of August and ends in September.

The locals recommend visiting Alaska for kayaking during the early season. Why? For a couple of reasons. Early season means no boat traffic so that you can enjoy your day out on the water. Less boat traffic also implies flatwater conditions, so navigating the water body is much easier.

What’s more, your guides and boat personnel will be able to cater to you better if they have a fewer number of people to assist. So if you are planning a trip to Alaska, this is the best time to do it.

Wrap Up

Alaska has a lot of tourist spots and is a paradise for nature lovers. There is no better way to explore Alaska than kayak in the waters. You will be met with amazing views that are impossible when only traversing through the land.

Additionally, if you’ve had your fill of the water adventures, there are many other activities you can do, such as hiking, mountain biking, camping, and fishing.

Scroll to Top