Best Place For Whale Watching In Alaska: 7 Spots You Can't Miss

Best Place For Whale Watching In Alaska

Something magical happens in Alaska every spring that puts the planet’s most majestic creatures directly in the viewing path of humans. Alaska is surrounded by the North Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea, and the Arctic Ocean. As a result, dozens of whale species are seen frequenting the waters of what the world knows as The Last Frontier.

Springtime is whale time in Alaska. This is when thousands of humpback and gray whales find their way northward from the tropical waters of Mexico and Hawaii to eat krill and plankton in abundance in Alaskan waters. Throughout the spring and summer, whale watchers can enjoy unmatched views of these majestic creatures.

While spring is considered the best time for whale watching in Alaska, some species of whales and other marine mammals are present throughout the year. Here’s a rundown of spotting times for Alaska whale species:

  • Humpback (May through September)

  • Orca Whales/Killer Whales (Year-round)

  • Gray Whales (March through May)

  • Beluga Whales (July through August)

  • Minke Whales (May through September)

  • Fin Whales (Spring and Summer)

The only question left is where to catch glimpses of these beautiful marine mammals! This roundup of whale watching opportunities will help you find the best place for whale watching in Alaska during your upcoming trip.

 

1) Icy Strait Point

One of the best ways to spot whales in Alaska is to sign up for a three-hour whale watching tour from Icy Strait Point Excursions. Departing from the Icy Strait Point Excursion Hub in Hoonah, Alaska, our shore excursions bring you to the waters of Icy Strait Point near Point Adolphus and Glacier Bay to reach one of Alaska’s largest summer populations of humpback whales.

Icy Strait Point is considered the best place for whale watching in Alaska by many because humpbacks surface near Hoonah each summer to feed in the nutrient-rich waters. Often weighing up to 50 tons, these mammals show off their diving, blows, and whale songs as their beautiful tails are seen rolling with the chilly tides.

It’s even possible to witness humpback whales participating in a habit called bubble net feeding that involves forming a pod underwater to blow air that creates a wall of bubbles that forces plankton and krill to the surface.

Each whale watching tour with us includes:

  •  Round trip transfers

  •  Comfortable heated cabins

  •  Clean restrooms

  •  $100 whale sighting guarantee

  •  “Anytime Shuttle Pass” to get back to your cruise ship on regular shuttles from Hoonah to Icy Strait Point

  •  10% discount that can be used at the popular Oso Gordito Food Truck on the harbor in Hoonah

Passengers also get to see sea lions, sea otters, harbor seals, and porpoises during these incredible adventures! In addition, it’s not uncommon to see brown bears ambling along on the shoreline.

Don’t miss your chance to see these stunning animals of the Alaskan wilderness. Book your spot on one of our whale watching tours today!

Icy Strait Humpback Whale

 

2) Kenai Fjords National Park

Covering nearly 670,000 acres on the Kenai Peninsula in southcentral Alaska, this national park is known for its ice field, glaciers, and coastal fjords. While exploring the park, you are most likely to encounter the impressive sight of humpback or orca whales gracefully swimming through the pristine waters.

These majestic creatures often put on a show, breaching and tail-slapping, leaving visitors in awe of their power and beauty. Gray whales, fin whales, and minke whales have all been spotted from time to time.

Whether you choose to embark on a boat tour, kayak along the coast, or simply enjoy the scenic views from the shoreline, the chance to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is an experience that will leave you in awe.

 

 

3) Prince William Sound

Spanning 10,000 square miles of water, Alaska’s Prince William Sound is a hotbed for whale sightings. Species that occupy the protected waters here include humpback, minke, fin, and killer whales.

Most people who pick this spot for spotting humpback whales and other marine mammals pick up cruises and excursions from Whittier, Valdez, or other towns along the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system.

 

4) Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, located in southeastern Alaska, is not only a haven for glaciers but also a paradise for whale enthusiasts. As a Humpback Whale sanctuary, Glacier Bay attracts more and more humpbacks each year. In fact, you might even spot one of the few dozen humpbacks to hang around all year instead of joining the migratory humpbacks that only stick around from June through September.

A jewel of southeastern Alaska, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve contains more than 1,000 glaciers. In addition to being a great spot for whale watching in Alaska, it is also a top spot for harbor seal, bear, and mountain goat sightings.

Humpback Whales In Glacier Bay

 

5) Resurrection Bay

Resurrection Bay near Seward is a fjord within Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. The moody landscape here has rugged alpine glaciers, jagged cliffs, and soaring seabirds. With the waters of Resurrection Bay being quite protected, a number of marine species find their way here.

In fact, it’s quite common to see back-floating sea otters and harbor seals covering the rocky shore. Puffins are known to perch on the cliffs when they’re not bathing in the swells off the shore of the bay. This is also a top spot for seeing Steller sea lions in Alaska.

If you’re coming for a whale watch, you can usually expect to see humpback whales during the right season. Orca whale pods also favor this spot for hunting.

Wildlife Viewing At Resurrection Bay

 

6) Turnagain Arm

In the Anchorage area, Turnagain Arm is a place where you might see a beluga whale tracking salmon toward the Cook Inlet. Belugas tend to follow the tides down the arm just yards away from shore while chirping.

If you’re looking for an Alaska whale watching opportunity that doesn’t require a boat, Beluga Point in Anchorage is a rocky outpost that juts into the waters of Turnagain Arm a little bit south of the city.

Spot Beluga Whales In Turnagain Arm

 

7) Juneau Channel Island State Marine Park

Located near Juneau in Southeast Alaska, Juneau Channel Island State Marine Park is a haven for adventure seekers looking for a thrilling kayaking whale watch adventure. Just be aware that whale watching in Alaska via a kayak is a high-endurance activity that requires proper gear and preparation.

Aside from the awe-inspiring humpback whales and orcas, visitors to this marine park are often treated to sightings of playful sea lions, graceful seals, and a variety of captivating seabirds. The park’s diverse ecosystem provides a rich habitat for these fascinating marine creatures, making every kayaking excursion a potential encounter with Alaska’s incredible wildlife.

Whale Watching In Juneau

 

Fulfill Your Dream Of Whale Watching In Alaska

Have you always dreamed of floating among gray whales, killer whales, sea lions, and marine mammals in the frothy, jewel-like waters of the Alaskan wilderness? While the best time for whale watching in Alaska generally happens when humpback whales migrate for the warm season, you may actually be able to see a humpback whale anywhere from April to November. Of course, whale watching in Alaska can be a year-round activity if you’re looking for orcas.

We offer guaranteed whale watching tours in Icy Strait Point which many consider the best spot for whale watching in Alaska! We bring you directly to humpback whale feeding and migration locations. The best part is that you can simply sit back on our comfortable boats with heated cabins and roomy viewing decks to enjoy an unforgettable day on the water.

Our three-hour excursions can accommodate groups of up to 30! Cruise ship passengers in Hoonah can easily get to and from their ships using our free “anytime” shuttle service. Book your spot with us for this adventure of a lifetime today!

Whale Watching

 

Duration
3 hours
Group Size
Up to 10

Wilderness Tour and Brown Bear Search - LEO, Military, Teacher Discount!

This Alaskan wilderness and bear search tour is offered on Chichagof Island, a one-of-a-kind location with the highest population of bears per square mile of any place on Earth. Depending on the season, catch the bears coming out of hibernation and looking for food; or later on in the season when the bears are mating and eating grasses on the tidal flats. Older males fight each other for dominance and mating rights with the females, who at times are not receptive and force the male to give chase. This is truly an experience for the books, and cameras.

Duration
3 hours
Group Size
Up to 30

Guaranteed Whale Watching Tours in Icy Straits - LEO, Military, Teacher Discount!

Join us for the best show in town, a 3-hour whale watching excursion (includes transportation time and approx 2.5 hours on the water) which begins when you board the bus that departs from the Icy Strait Point Excursion Hub, just a short 5-minute walk from your cruise ship. Travel just 1.5 miles through the picturesque landscape of Hoonah, Alaska. On arrival at the Hoonah Harbor, it's “All aboard!” and you’re off for the waters of Icy Straits and the ultimate whale watching experience. The area near Icy Strait Point, with its proximity to Point Adolphus and Glacier Bay, is home to one of the largest summer populations of humpback whales found in Alaska and the whale watching is second to none.

Duration
3 hours
Group Size
Up to 6

Saltwater Fishing Adventure

Join local maritime hero Captain Billy, a locally raised Tlingit of Hoonah, Alaska on this unforgettable fishing adventure. His knowledge of area waters is unsurpassed and his desire to share it with you is second to none! Southeast Alaska and Icy Strait in particular, is home to some of the best halibut and salmon fishing around. The biggest halibut on record was caught inside Icy Strait! Hoonah is just a stones throw from Icy Strait so no time is wasted getting to the fishing grounds and the hooks down!

Duration
3 hours
Group Size
Up to 12

Kayak Adventure

Your Kayak experience will take you into the peaceful waters of Port Frederick. Enjoy the serenity that can only be had while quietly gliding across the waters near Icy Strait Point enjoying the beautiful Alaskan scenery. Wildlife such as; eagles, seals, sea lions, Sitka black tail deer, whales, and even a bear on the beach are possible sightings. Take a journey into this serene kayak adventure on Icy Strait for an unforgettable experience!

Duration
3 hours
Group Size
Up to 14

Whales, Wildlife & Drones

This whale watching tour is personalized, as it takes out a maximum of 14 guests at a time. This allows for a great crew to guest ratio, ensuring your experience is personal. The areas we search near in Hoonah near Icy Strait Point and Point Adolphus are known Humpback whale feeding grounds. Josh has captained in this area for many years and knows the area well! He know how to find the whales! Add in the communication he has with other captains on the other boats, and it's a perfect whale finding system!

What really makes this tour unique is the Drone imagery. Drones are able to see below the water surface and broadcast live video back to the boat.
View pods of orcas effortlessly gliding under the waves, on rare occasions, see humpback calfs playing with their mothers, on rare occasions, the amazing phenomenon of "bubble-net" feeding by groups of humpbacks is seen. Your personal view of the whales is not repaced with drones; just supplemented! You will experience seeing and hearing these amazing animals with your own eyes and ears, and then we take you to the next level with our displays onboard.

Duration
4 to 5 hours
Group Size
1 to 6

Freshwater Stream Fishing

Professionally guided stream fishing excursions on the hidden edge waters of Chichagof, Island.

Duration
3 hours 30 minutes
Group Size
2 to 10

Icy Strait Birding & Nature Experience

Come experience the birds and nature of Chichagof Island, near Icy Strait Point! Every trip is an adventure in this lush rainforest where Brown Bears outnumber humans. While we love delivering stunning target birds like Varied Thrushes, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Red-breasted Sapsuckers, Bald Eagles, and Steller’s Jays, we aren’t just about birds on this tour. You will be led by an expert birder and naturalist who will set the stage by sharing the human and geological history of the area. You will then get to see how the birds, fish, mammals, plants, forests, rivers, and climate all weave together to create this lush, vibrant ecosystem!