This past summer we decided to make a quick stopover visit to see a friend in Anchorage, Alaska. We were on our way back from Canada, and we really wanted to get a taste of why my friend loves it there so much. And man, were we in for some amazing experiences. In fact, one of my favorite adventures EVER, in all of my life (it’s that good) happened this summer in Seward, Alaska. Let me explain…
Paddling to Aialik Glacier (Seward, Alaska)
It isn’t a secret that Alaska has some amazing waters. Gorgeous fjords, bays with calving glaciers, and unruly seas abound. Because we were short on time, we went where my local friends recommended: Seward. Seward is situated right next to Kenai Fjords National Park, home to Exit Glacier (a very popular and, from what I’m told, absolutely gorgeous hike). We opted to hit the water there instead of hiking.
(Warning: This tour is a bit pricey. We were really going back and forth on whether we should spend the money, but ultimately the stellar reviews and countless people saying, “BOOK THIS NOW” on Tripadvisor convinced us to go for it. And trust me, it’s definitely worth it!)
It was a foggy, drizzly kind of morning. My husband and I, along with about seven other people, all loaded into the water taxi and began the bumpy three hour water taxi ride from Seward to Aialik Bay.
It was an exciting ride that allowed us to see lots of puffins and sea otters, about half a dozen orcas, and roughly 20 humpback whales – many of which were breaching. And clearly the wildlife were enjoying the brisk, dreary weather.
After tackling some 4-foot swells, our excellent captain dropped us off toward the end of the bay, where our kayaks were waiting for
us. We suited up and organized our gear. Within about 10 minutes, we were on the water. Our guide was super friendly and knowledgeable, and you could tell she was deeply passionate about the natural wonders of the area. And as we paddled out to the glacier, bald eagles were soaring by us. We quietly paddled through the calm waters toward the glacier, just taking it all in.
Right as we were about a mile out from the glacier (it is a calving glacier, so you can’t get too close; and it’s miles wide, so you will
definitely see it very well), we hear on the radio from the group ahead of us that they had spotted an ocra about a half mile from them. We froze and started looking. About two minutes later, two orcas popped up about 70 yards from our kayaks. And that moment right there, friends, was easily one of the most incredible experiences of my life. We could hear them breath!
After our kayak session, we headed back to Seward – this time with
much calmer, sunny conditions. We were only on the water for a short time, when our water taxi detected a large group of humpback whales. Our captain quickly turned on the hydrophone (which allows you to hear sounds underwater) and slowed down, and suddenly we could hear these giant whales talking to each other. They were coordinating a hunt. The whales continued back and forth for a few minutes making their amazingly beautiful sounds, then went silent. Two seconds later, about twenty whales popped out of the water and gobbled up an entire school of fish. While this couldn’t top my orca encounter, it was definitely towards the top of the list. (Here’s a video of this experience. The video is a bit blurry unfortunately.)
Moral of the Story: Seward, AK did not disappoint! I don’t think I could replace my time there with better memories if I tried.
Kayak Adventures Worldwide is a fantastic company, and I highly recommend checking out their tours. Remember to get outside, and opt for the adventure when given the chance. You never know what amazing things you’ll encounter.
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