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Alaskan Whale Watching Adventures: Discovering the Giants of the North

Whale watching is one of the best ways to see Alaska’s majestic marine life. It’s super accessible and is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Whether you’re in Juneau or Anchorage, there are many different whale watching tours available for you to enjoy! Some of these tours also include an expert naturalist to help you get the most out of your tour.


Juneau is known for its whale watching and a trip here will give you an opportunity to see the majestic sea mammals in their natural habitat. You can take a whale-watching tour from your cruise ship, or plan an independent excursion during your time in Alaska to catch the humpbacks feeding in their own backyard.

A good whale-watching trip is also a great way to learn about the surrounding marine life and history of Southeast Alaska. Tours often include a naturalist guide who will point out wildlife such as sea lions and bald eagles.

If you’re planning to book a tour from your cruise line, be sure to check the whale season before booking to ensure that you are going during the best time of year to see humpbacks. It’s not uncommon to spot humpbacks as early as May, and they are most likely to be seen through the end of August or early September.

The best whale watching in Juneau is a full-day tour that takes you to the Mendenhall Glacier. Afterward, you’ll board a jet boat to cruise through Auke Bay for a chance to spot humpbacks and other whale species.

You’ll also get to visit a Tlingit master carver who crafts 10-foot-tall totem poles and silver jewelry. Then, dig into a traditional salmon bake in a gold rush setting to round out your adventure.

Many of the tours in Juneau are a bit pricey, but you can find deals on a number of different excursions. Some even offer free meals, so you can really stretch your dollar.

Some of the best Juneau whale-watching tours are offered by small, family-owned businesses. One of these is Alaska Sea to Shore, which offers a 4-hour whale-watching cruise that floats right up to shore.

Another is Harv & Marv, which offers a 3-hour whale-watching tour that takes you to Mendenhall Glacier and then to Auke Bay. The boat can accommodate up to 18 people, so this is a great option for groups.

All of the above tours are geared towards visitors who want to see whales, so you can expect them to be a little more on the expensive side, but they all provide an excellent experience that you’ll remember forever. And they’re all safe, friendly and backed by experienced captains who know where to look for whales.

Turnagain Arm

Whale watching tours are a great way to experience the beauty of Alaska’s pristine coastline. You can witness the majesty of humpback whales leaping into the air against a backdrop of ice-capped mountains or spot curious harbor seals peeking at you from the water as you cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park.

While humpbacks are the most common whale to see on a whale watching excursion, other species like gray whales and killer whales also call Alaska home. If you’re planning a trip to Alaska in the early season, you may be able to spot these creatures as they migrate north from the Gulf of California.

Located just south of Anchorage, Turnagain Arm is a tributary of Cook Inlet that offers excellent opportunities for whale watching. Beluga whales, the only all-white whale, are especially abundant in this waterway from mid-July through August. Guests can view them from several vantage points along Turnagain Arm, including Beluga Point, Windy Corner, and Bird Point.

Another whale watching option is to head to Kodiak Island, a remote island off the coast of southeast Alaska that’s home to many endemic marine mammals. You can book a whale watching tour or kayak trip from this port to spot gray whales as they make their way down the coast on their annual migration from the Bering and Chukchi Seas.

You can also take a scenic hike on the shoreline of this remote island to enjoy a sweeping view of the ocean. If you’re lucky, you might even spot bald eagles flying overhead.

A few things to keep in mind before taking a whale watching tour include:

Consider booking a boat tour instead of a land-based adventure for better chances of spotting whales. A smaller-scale whale watching excursion on a small boat is often more personal and doesn’t require elbowing your way through crowds to get a clear view of the water.

When booking a whale watching tour, choose an experienced guide who knows where to go and when to look for whales. They can also provide you with a lot of useful information about the local pods.

Kodiak Island

If you’re visiting Alaska, you may want to consider whale watching tours as part of your trip. The pristine icy waters surrounding the state are home to many of the world’s largest mammals, and there are plenty of tours to choose from in Ketchikan, Sitka, Seward, or Kodiak.

Whether you’re interested in observing humpbacks, fin whales, or gray whales, you’ll have no trouble spotting them from the deck of your boat, though you will want to be prepared with a pair of binoculars to see these majestic creatures better. You’ll also want to bring your camera so that you can capture photos of your experience.

Kodiak Island is the second-largest island in Alaska, surrounded by a marine ecosystem that produces a wide variety of wildlife. The most famous is the Kodiak brown bear (Ursos arctos diakobis), but there are also elk, Sitka deer, mountain goats, and king crab.

The island is also home to the largest Coast Guard base in the United States. This military facility has several buildings that can be visited, and it is located on a peninsula that rises above Pillar Mountain.

One of the best places to spot whales is in Marmot Bay. You’ll find puffin rookeries here, along with whales such as humpback and fin whales. You can also spot sea lions and other marine animals, depending on the season.

Another popular spot is Whale Pass, where you can visit rookeries for humpback and fin whales as well as sea birds. There are a number of different tour options to see these incredible creatures in the area, so it’s important to find the one that fits your interests and budget.

For a more personalized experience, you can go on a private tour with a professional captain who really cares about providing a great experience for his guests. He has a variety of snacks and beverages for your enjoyment, will be happy to share local lore, and will take you to some amazing spots where you can get up close and personal with the whales.

Floatplanes are another great way to access remote parts of Kodiak and the rest of southwestern Alaska, and these tours can provide you with an unparalleled view of the scenic mountains and fjords in this region. They’re also very safe to travel on and have pilots who know the area very well.


Whale watching is a great way to enjoy a scenic cruise in Alaska, with a variety of tours available throughout the year. Not only can you see whales, but you may also be able to spot other marine life such as sea lions, harbor seals and bald eagles.

Humpbacks are one of the most common whale species that you will encounter during a whale watching tours in Alaska. These baleen whales are about 60 feet long and can weigh up to 40 tons.

These whales are commonly spotted in the Cook Inlet, along the Kenai Fjords and around Southeast Alaska. You can also find them in Prince William Sound, and the Aleutian Islands.

If you are planning on taking a whale watching tour in Anchorage, there are a few things that you will need to bring with you. The most important thing to bring is a camera, so you can capture these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.

Another tip is to prepare for weather conditions. Summers in Alaska can be a bit chilly and rainy so make sure to pack some sunblock as well!

It’s not always possible to predict what the weather will be like in Alaska so it is important to have an umbrella and a pair of rain boots. You should also take a good quality camera with you as the chance of getting a decent photo will be very high!

There are many whales in Alaska that you can see including humpback, gray, minke, and orca (killer) whales. Some of these whales migrate from their winter homes in the Pacific Ocean and make their way back to Alaska.

For the best chances of spotting these majestic animals, visit Alaska during the spring and summer months. These are the peak viewing seasons for humpbacks and orcas.

During this time, you will also have the opportunity to see sperm and minke whales as they pass through Alaska’s coastal waters. These whales are a lot smaller than humpbacks and orcas, but they are a sight to behold!

You can catch a glimpse of these animals as they bubble-net feed. This intricate, highly synchronized activity involves a single whale leading the rest of the group, creating bubbles to confuse fish and corral them in.

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