Whales of Point Adolphus

Kayak alongside humpback whales in gorgeous, nutrient-rich waters of the Icy Strait. Experience incredible wildlife viewing opportunities with some of the best whale watching in North America!

Trip Photos

  • Humpback whale breaching near Point Adolphus Humpback whale breaching near Point Adolphus
  • Tandem Kayaks in Icy Straight Tandem Kayaks in Icy Straight
  • Sea Otters are a common sight in the southern part of Glacier Bay & Point Adolphus Sea Otters are a common sight in the southern part of Glacier Bay & Point Adolphus
  • Sea Lions are often spotted in Icy Straight Sea Lions are often spotted in Icy Straight
  • Flukes are a common sight near Point Adolphus Flukes are a common sight near Point Adolphus
     

Trip Notes

Location: Alaska/Yukon
Meeting Point: Gustavus, AK
Destination: Point Adolphus & Icy Strait
Duration: 1, 3 days
Price: $460, $990 (+ tax, in USD)
Activity Type: Kayaking
Season: May, June, July, August, September
Guide:Guest Ratio: 1 to 6
Difficulty Level: 2 out of 5
Paperwork Required: Registration, Health Form, Risk Acknowledgment

Related Trips:

Trip Description

Join our professional sea kayak guides for a truly unique paddling opportunity in one of the best whale watching destinations in North America! Point Adolphus is located across from Glacier Bay National Park and is world renowned for its’ high concentrations of humpback whales. Nutrient rich water from the Pacific Ocean and unique underwater topography make this the most active whale feeding location in Alaska.

Point Adolphus offers excellent kayaking for beginners and experts alike. Our guides offer instruction tailored specifically for your level of experience. Inexperienced paddlers are quickly at ease in the stable double kayaks, while experienced paddlers will feel at home in these efficient touring crafts. The calm waters and stunning scenery make this trip perfect for first time kayakers and families with children.

The day begins with a water taxi from Gustavus to Point Adolphus. Once on shore, your guides will provide the essentials to paddle safely and efficiently in these beautiful Alaskan waters. We’ll continue to paddle and watch for whales until midday at which point we’ll return to shore for a gourmet lunch. In the afternoon, we’ll hit the water and have plenty of time to watch for whales, take photographs, and enjoy the true Alaskan wilderness! After a great day of paddling, we will head back on the vessel to Gustavus. Our 3-day trip offers guests the chance to camp in this beautiful setting and great flexibility to make the most of our paddling time and whale watching in the evenings.

GUSTAVUS: Gustavus, Alaska is the starting/finishing place for this trip. Gustavus is a small community located along Icy Strait in Southeast Alaska and is the headquarters for the park service. Gustavus is easily accessed with several flights departing Juneau, Alaska daily. Ferry service is also available. We will spend the evening before and after our trip here.

KAYAK WITH WHALES: Paddle in the nutrient rich waters of Icy Strait, one of the most prolific whale watching areas in Alaska.

OUR GUIDES: Alaska Mountain Guides & Climbing School Inc. instructors and guides are professionals. They have a wealth of experience from guiding throughout Alaska and the world and they genuinely enjoy sharing their knowledge. Their skill and positive attitudes help our guests to have the best possible experience during their trip. Your safety and enjoyment are their primary goals.

1-day Trip Itinerary (PDF)
3-day Trip Itinerary (PDF)

1 DAY TRIP:

The day begins with a water taxi from Gustavus to Point Adolphus. Once on shore, your guides will provide the essentials to paddle safely and efficiently in these beautiful Alaskan waters. We’ll continue to paddle and watch for whales until midday at which point we’ll return to shore for a gourmet lunch. In the afternoon, we’ll hit the water and have plenty of time to watch for whales, take photographs, and enjoy the true Alaskan wilderness! After a great day of paddling, we will head back on the vessel to Gustavus. Typically we are out on the water for about 6 hours (dock to dock).

3 DAY TRIP:

Day 1- We will meet in Gustavus for an early morning pre-trip meeting. We depart from the Gustavus dock, where we board a charter boat for the ride across Icy Strait. Start watching for whales! We’ll unload onto the stunning coastline near Point Adolphus on Chichagof Island, in the heart of the Tongass National Forest.

Day 2- We will be based in our wilderness camp for two nights. During the day we will paddle the coastline of Chichagof Island watching for whales, sea lions, porpoise, orca, and seabirds. There may be time for beachcombing and forest walks. Our paddling distance will be tailored to the group’s ability and preference.

Day 3- We paddle to our pick-up point and board our charter boat back to Gustavus. We highly recommend our Glacier Bay extension, the Glacier Bay Escape, which takes you back in time to a land of glaciers. This a five-day paddling trip amongst the tidewater glaciers of the West Arm of Glacier Bay National Park. This trip begins and ends in Gustavus.

What wildlife will we see at Pt. Adolphus?
You will likely see high concentrations of Humpback Whales and Stellar Sea Lions. You may see harbor seals, porpoise, sea or river otters, and a variety of birds. Seeing orca is a possibility at Pt. Adolphus as well. It would be rare to see land mammals such as moose or bear, but Sitka black tail deer inhabit the area in high numbers.

Why are there so many whales at Pt. Adolphus? What makes whale viewing so good there?
Point Adolphus is arguably the best place in the world to view humpback whales. A unique combination of strong tidal currents, underwater topography and a close proximity to the Gulf of Alaska create the perfect conditions for the humpback’s food source to flourish. Whales congregate here each summer in high numbers to feed prior to heading south in the winter. Whales often swim and feed within 100 yards of shore, and viewing can be just as good from shore as it is on the water.

How close will we get to paddle to whales on these trips?
We try to stay 100 yards from whales at all times, but whales may approach us closer. Marine laws prohibit pursuing whales and coming within 100 yards. Marine mammals can pose serious risk to kayakers paddling too close.

Where is Pt. Adolphus?
Point Adolphus is on Chichagof Island, in Icy Strait. It is approximately a 5 mile crossing from Gustavus, done on a motorboat. Point Adolphus/Chichagof Island is within the Tongass National Forest.

What is the weather like? When is the best time to go?
Weather in Icy Strait is similar to the rest of Southeast Alaska, often experiencing cool temperatures and frequent rainfall. May and June offer the least average rainfall of any months, with July and August precipitation steadily increasing up to the rather wet September and October. Daytime temps are often in the 50’s throughout the summer months.

What is the camping like at Pt. Adolphus? Are there any facilities?
Camping at Point Adolphus takes place at established campsites on Forest Service land. It is primitive camping, with little improvements. Camps have been cleared and offer flat tent sites in the forest. Cooking and eating occurs in the intertidal zone (beaches). Certain sites have latrine style toilets. We utilize base camps on most trips and take advantage of day trips from one camp.

What previous experience do I need for this trip?
No previous experience is required, and Point Adolphus offers a great introduction to sea kayaking and wilderness-style camping. Trips offer a relaxed pace and focus on wildlife viewing rather than kayaking great distances. Icy Strait offers plenty of shoreline to paddle for more energetic groups.

What is the difficulty/fitness level of this trip?
Kayaking does not require great upper body strength, and this trip offers a great introductory to sea kayaking. You can expect moderate paddling for short durations, and to assist with carrying unloaded kayaks and camping gear up the beach.

How much will we paddle each day?
Motor vessels take us to our camps on Chichagof Island. Paddling great distances is not required because often wildlife is encountered close to camp and directly offshore. You can expect to paddle 3-5 hours each day, but trips focus on a quality experience over paddling great distances. Having two guides with larger groups enables more freedom for those who do like to go the extra distance.

How do we get to Point Adolphus?
A charter vessel takes us to Point Adolphus. This is approximately a 20 minute ride across Icy Strait from Gustavus.

What is the best way to photograph whales on kayak trips to Point Adolphus?
Tandem kayaks offer a reasonable platform for photography, but avid photographers with specialized equipment will get their best shots from shore with tripods and zoom lenses. Whales often come close to shore and provide fantastic photographic opportunities to utilize tripods and high-end camera equipment. Actively kayaking and taking photos may prove difficult, and we suggest waterproof cameras or housings for taking pictures from kayaks. Point and shoot cameras work the best from kayaks.

What are the waters/paddling conditions like at Point Adolphus/Icy Strait?
Icy Strait is a large body of water but usually, offers reasonably protected paddling. A large kelp bed just offshore can provide relief from wind-driven waves.

Price: $460, $990 (+ tax, in USD)
2018 Dates: May 15 - Sept 15
2019 Dates: May 15 - Sept 15

What is included in the trip price:
  • Kayaking gear (kayaks, paddles, PFDs, etc.)
  • Group camping gear (tents, stoves, cooking pots, etc.)
  • Expedition food – all food while out in the field
  • Transportation during trip – travel to our launch area, boat transfers
  • Professional guides – Our guides have extensive knowledge of the area and a passion for kayaking in wild places.
Guests are responsible for the following:
  • Personal clothing & equipment – review the equipment list included under “Documents”
  • Food & lodging in town – most lodges in Gustavus provide quality food options
  • Trip insurance – we highly recommend trip insurance for all of our programs
  • Airfare – review the “Travel Information” under “Documents” for more details
  • Reviewing trip policies – please reference our policies page for policies regarding payment, cancellations, refunds and guest responsibilities.
  • Gratuities
To Book your adventure, follow the steps below:
  1. Please call to confirm availability at 1-800-766-3396 or fill out an online form to request more information via this link:
  2. Place a $250 deposit to reserve your spot: this can be place over the phone by credit card, check in the mail, or through our payment gateway.
  3. Once you’ve reserved your spot, you’ll receive a welcome packet with all the necessary registration forms and trip information.
  4. We kindly ask that you submit all of the necessary trip registration information at least 45 days prior to your trip.

Feel free to call or email anytime if you have questions about your upcoming trip. Our team is excited to help you prepare for your adventure!

Guest Comments:

What an incredible day with the humpbacks at Point Adolphus. Mike did a great job with providing instruction, pacing our paddling, and coordinating logistics with the charter boat. Despite some inclement weather, we had some great whale sightings and thoroughly enjoyed our time with AMG.
- Susan V.