I am planning a visit in july & would like to get in some kayaking i’ll be in seward for 4 days & whittier for 2…Not sure if i should do day trips or guided overnight…Any suggestions on where to paddle…
i did a day paddle one day out of whittier, for about 3 hours. rented a boat from a local outfitter, whose name i can’t remember. there are a couple there i believe. they gave me a boat and gear, dropped me off at a boat ramp, and picked me up. boat was a decent pws composite and the paddle was a fiberglass werner. not at all bad. it’s all gorgeous- i just went up the main channel, poked around some coves, crossed over to the other side, went by a few waterfalls and came back. glaciers everywhere.
Both are great
If you go out of Whittier, see about having a water taxi drop you off in Blackstone Bay for the day. It’s not far from Whittier. The taxi costs a bit, but it’s worth it.
From Seaward, I believe you can paddle right from town & be in a really nice area (Been there, but didn’t paddle).
bringing a boat or renting one? What's your skill level like?
For Whittier: http://www.alaskaseakayakers.com/
Both are located in Whittier and are good companies. I'm pretty partial to ASK, though. Great bunch of folks! ;)
In Seward there's a few, but Miller's Landing has everything from cabins right on the beach to water taxis to guided yak tours and horseback riding, all in one location. They're very friendly folks, as well. http://www.millerslandingak.com
Browsing all three sites will give you a good idea of what trips are out there, the length, duration, etc. If you have your yak with you and just need a ride, there are water taxis that work with and without the kayak shops. Miller's Landing has their own.
The weather in both Seward and Whittier does kick up without a moments notice. Resurrection Bay gets some killer chop in the afternoon, very windy. In Whittier, the wind whips off Portage Glacier and right through Passage Canal. A lot of times it'll be calmer once you get around Decision PT, but it's a few miles.
Personally, I'd go on an overnighter and get out of Passage Canal. There's some really neat places that they hit. Lots of glaciers. However, if you just wanted to do a day tour to say Blackstone Bay, you can always hike Portage Glacier the next. There isn't much else in Whittier as it's a seasonal town. I've heard good things about the Aialik Bay Kenai Fjords trip in Seward. Lots of hiking between Whittier and Seward. Exit Glacier is just before you hit town.
Damn, I'm a plethora of information this morning. Hope I helped.
Thank You that was a world of info…I am not bringing my yak, will rent…I would class myself & partner as intermediate…Although i live in bklyn ny i have not done much cold water kayaking & i am a bit concerned about the alaska water which is y i was looking into guided trips…but in the past did not have good experience as the group was too slow, too many restrictions etc…Thanks again…
once you are done paddling (or before)- there is this fantastic hole in the wall fish and chips place there, right next to the small boat docks. ask anyone local, they’ll know. great piles of fried food and microbrews!!!
Don’t remember the name either. The fried Halibut is out of this world!
I visited Seward last August for a couple of days. It’s a pretty busy tourist town at that time of year. The water temp was 42f when I was there. The outfitters rent sea kayaks and won’t rent you one unless you can self-recover with a paddle float. On guided tours they use tandems so expect to be paddling with another person.
I didn’t get a chance to paddle Resurrection Bay because it was very windy on the first day I was there and I took a one-day cruise to Aialik Glacier on the second day. The cruise and food was really good. Some passengers got sea sick in pretty rough seas. I thought the rough conditions added excitement to the trip. We got pretty close to Aialik glacier and did see and hear calving activity. Also saw a whale and lots of Bald Eagles, Kittiwakes & Puffins etc.
Without a doubt, the highlight to my trip was visiting Kodiak Island. If you have time, a visit to Kodiak is well worth it. I think you can take a ferry from Seward to Kodiak. Here are a few links for more info and a link to webshots where I posted a few pics:
Have a great trip!
The name of
that place in Whittier that afolpe and abc are talking about is called The Swiftwater Seafood Cafe or Swiftwater for short. It's a little place near the ferry terminal (the end of town). It -really- does have great fish n chips and if you order a burger you won't be able to finish it, it's huge! They serve beer, too. I highly recommend sitting outside on the back patio. Swiftwater is really small and sometimes it's kinda packed, but well worth it. ;)
As a side note, ASK has two shops in Whittier, at both ends of the harbor. Given your concerns and non-local knowledge I, too, recommend guided tours. Tell the shops about your previous good and bad experiences with guided tours. They'll work with you.
Another advantage to going on a guided overnighter is there really isn't anyplace to stay in Whittier. They have a new hotel just completed last year, but they are VERY, VERY pricey. The other place is the Anchor Inn...I highly recommend you DON'T stay there. It's a pretty rough place. The toll for the tunnel into Whittier is 12.00/RT.
Good luck. I'd wish you fun, but I -already- know you'll have that. :)
The best paddling there is
Was up that way this past summer. Had an incredible time paddling around the Kenai fjords area, lots of Orcas, sea lions and porpoises. Ask locally about tides, they can be fierce. Unfortunately I don’t remember his name but there is a fellow who runs a few boats out of Seward, they all have names that begin with “Steller”. The two I remember are the “Steller Explorer” and the “Steller Sunrise”. He’s a retired schoolteacher I’m told and one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Might look him up for a pick up and drop off. Also might look into having him run you out to Aialik for a day or two, you won’t be disappointed. (Check with the National Park Service re; permits) be forewarned, an entire summer is not nearly enough time to spend exploring that area. It’s world class paddling all the way. I guarantee you’ll be heading back for more. By the way how are things in Brooklyn? I lived there up until about ten years ago. Happy paddling.
Guided vs. self-guided
"in the past did not have good experience as the group was too slow, too many restrictions etc…"
“Although i live in bklyn ny i have not done much cold water kayaking & i am a bit concerned about the alaska water which is y i was looking into guided trips”
I see your dilema. When I went there, I was a rank beginer. In fact, AK is the place where my kayak touring interest really got jump-started (I’ve whitewatered before, years ago in my younger days) So needless to say, I think the paddling is FANTASTIC!
However, to echo your experience, even on our second trip, I began to find the guided tours a bit too “mellow”… Too slow for your average “real” kayaker. As an example, we were paddling around Fox Island on the mouth of Resurraction Bay. The pace was slow even by our beginer standard! Moreover, one of the young client in the group got sea-sick by the teeny-tiny swell. And the entire group has to turn around! Not that experts don’t get sea sick, but this kid was never comfortable in a kayak to begin with. He was simply dragged there by his dad…
So, that’s the downside of a guided tour. You may got stuck with rank beginers who’re slow, have high probability of having problems that prevents the trip from completing as planned.
However, the water in Alaska is COLD! More over, some of the good destinations are not reachable from the dock by paddle power. And the water taxi can be pricy. That’s why many guided tours need to book a minimum of clients to go togather, to split the transport cost to a more reasonable level.
After our incident with the sea sick kid, I decided to approach the tours with a little more care. Most of them are very nice and willing to work with you, I felt. Before I put down any deposits, I asked who else would be on the group and what’s their paddling abilities. All of the outfitters were willing to work with me to put togather a group of comparable physical level and paddling abilities before the booking gets firmed up. The other trips worked out nicely.
How do you show them…
…that you can do a paddle-float re-entry? In the 42-degree water? Just curious.
Most companies up here
have you get into one of their boats or your own and demonstrate your skills in the boat basin. You're wearing a drysuit, you have to, unless you're a fool. There are a couple of places to conduct this in Whittier. Where I live, the local companies will ask you to demonstrate your skills to a guide if you're going to rent one of their boats for a non-guided tour or if using one of their singles or your own boat on a guided tour. The latter is where I fall in.