Make the most of warm summer days and get out to Kachemak Bay, Resurrection Bay and Prince William Sound

Don’t make the same mistake I did while exploring Alaska. I waited a full 20 years after visiting Homer before I finally went across Kachemak Bay to see the sights.

First, we visited Seldovia. But after a few more hikes and a couple of kayak trips, we got hooked on the whole area. That doesn’t count the great fishing trips!

From Anchorage, there are three distinct areas that offer great adventures on the water. Use the long days and warmer weather as excuses to get out and see more of Alaska in Kachemak Bay, Resurrection Bay and Prince William Sound.

Homer was my first out-of-town excursion after arriving in Anchorage. The town and its environs remain one of my favorite places. Before, our journey usually ended at the end of the Homer Spit. That’s still a nice place to hang out — walking on the beach or having a beverage on the deck at Land’s End Resort. But that’s just halfway across the bay. From the small boat harbor, there are some great options.

1. Take the Danny J across the bay to the Saltry Restaurant in Halibut Cove. You have to plan ahead, since there’s only room for 29 people on the Danny J, a converted fishing boat. The round-trip price is $50 and your meal is sold separately. During the summer, the dinner cruise leaves at 5 p.m. and you’re back on the dock in Homer at 10 p.m.

2. Take an all-day naturalist tour to the field station at Peterson Cove. Offered by the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, this tour is a great way to see the sights and learn more about Kachemak Bay’s unique ecosystem.

The tour includes a boat ride across the bay to Peterson Bay, plus a 3-mile hike into the forest. Bring your own lunch, waterproof boots and a water bottle. Be prepared for rain.


Throughout the summer, the tour runs on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The cost is $195 per adult.

3. Hike from the beach to Grewingk Glacier, then get picked up in Halibut Cove. We’ve done this hike a couple of times. From Homer, go with Mako’s Water Taxi for a beach landing. Many of Mako’s boats have a bow-lander, which is perfect for walking onto the beach. On other boats, I’ve seen the captain take a ladder off the roof, so passengers can just climb down into the shallow water. So — wear your boots.

Get lunch from La Baleine Cafe, near Mako’s office at Homer’s small boat harbor.

We usually eat lunch once we reach the glacial lake, since there’s typically a breeze from the glacier which keeps most of the bugs away. Afterwards, hike over to the pickup spot in Halibut Cove. The cost for the water taxi is $107.85 per person.

4. Take the Seldovia Bay Ferry and spend the day exploring the town. There are two departures each day for $45 each way (plus tax). Seldovia is easy to explore by foot and you can hike the “Otter Bahn” trail to Outside Beach.

Seward sits on the shores of Resurrection Bay — and there are plenty of options to get out on the water and explore.

1. The most popular activity, aside from fishing, is a tour of Kenai Fjords National Park. Both Kenai Fjords Tours and Major Marine Tours offer six- to eight-hour tours from the small boat harbor to Aialik Glacier and as far as Northwestern Fjord to see glaciers and wildlife throughout the park. Don’t miss it.

2. Sunny Cove and Kayak Adventures Worldwide are two companies based in Seward that lead kayak tours into Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park. Some tours leave from a nearby beach, while other, longer tours include a water taxi ride into the park.

3. Seward Ocean Excursions is an option for travelers who have special interests or just prefer a smaller group. No more than six people are allowed on the boat. All of the company’s boats are twin-engine Hewescraft “Alaskan” models. Seward Ocean Excursions offers half- or full-day excursions of Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park.

4. Miller’s Landing is located south of Seward in nearby Lowell Point. First established in 1950, the Miller clan offers all sorts of activities: kayak rentals and tours, water taxi and fishing.

[Heading to Seward this summer? Here are 5 new businesses to check out]

Even if you have to drive through a tunnel to get there, Whittier is the closest port to Anchorage. In about 90 minutes, you can be looking out at the gateway to Prince William Sound.

1. Phillips Cruises and Tours offers the most popular boat ride in town: the 26 Glacier Cruise. The company’s flagship, the Klondike Express is a fast, stable boat that whisks visitors up to the top of College Fjords so you can actually count 26 glaciers! The cost is $189 per person, plus taxes and fees of $29.95.

2. Lazy Otter Charters offers tours and water taxi service, including a six-hour glacier and wildlife tour. Just six passengers are allowed on the boat, which features a bow lander. There’s a beach landing on each tour, where everyone gets to go for a beach walk and stretch their legs. The cost is $290 per person.

3. Both Alaska Wild Guides and Glacier Jet Ski Adventures offer jet ski tours out to Blackstone Glacier. These are popular tours where you get to take a new jet ski from Whittier out to Blackstone Glacier. No jet ski experience is necessary. The cost for the four-hour tour ranges from $360 to $380 per driver. Riders can go for a little less: $290.

Travelers to Valdez can access Prince William Sound from the east. Don’t forget: You can ride the Alaska Marine Highway from Whittier to Valdez (or reverse).

From Valdez, the most popular boat trip is with Stan Stephens Cruises. The Stephens family has taken visitors out on Prince William Sound since 1971. The company was founded by Stan Stephens and his wife, Mary Helen. Today, their daughter Colleen Stephens runs the show.


Choose from the popular Columbia Glacier cruise for six hours, or the longer 7.5-hour Meares Glacier excursion. All the cruises are aboard fast, new catamarans that can zip through the swells and squalls that pop up occasionally. But the seas are mostly smooth in the summer, protected by barrier islands. You can’t miss the glaciers — but keep your eyes open for wildlife, including whales, seals, sea lions, otters, eagles, puffins and more. Princes range from $162 to $185 plus taxes and fees.

Make this the summer you get off the road and out on the water!

Scott McMurren

Scott McMurren is an Anchorage-based marketing consultant, serving clients in the transportation, hospitality, media and specialty destination sectors, among others. Contact him by email at Subscribe to his e-newsletter at For more information, visit