Sea Kayaking in the Channel Islands, Alaska [Video]

The Channel Islands, off the coast of southeast Alaska, are hugely popular with sea kayakers due to their accessibility and the abundance of marine wildlife…

sea kayakers in alaska
Alaska's Channel Islands State Marine Park provides world-class sea kayaking

Alaska’s Channel Islands State Marine Park, near Juneau, is an ideal sea kayaking destination. The area is stunningly beautiful—surrounded by mountains and glaciers—and part of the largest intact temperate rain forest in the world.

The Islands are unique in that there’s no road access. In fact, getting to Juneau requires a ride on a ferry, too, or flying into their International Airport. From there it’s via boat or float plane to get to the Marine Park.

There are many reasons to consider the Channel Islands as a sea kayaking destination. Ken Whiting of Paddle TV brings us there by video:

The Wildlife

As Ken says in the video: “The wildlife is definitely the highlight of a Channel Islands trip…” and there’s an abundance of it. The whales are the stars here. Humpbacks are the most common, but you may spot orcas (killer whales), too. Sea lions, seals and porpoises are also in the area, along with many bird species and land-dwelling wildlife.

sea kayakers meet a humpback whale
An unforgettable encounter with a humpback whale

Great Camping on the Islands’ Beaches

Many of the Park’s 16 islands have level pebble beaches ideal for camping. Surrounded by the lush rain forest and with mountain views in every direction, it’s not a bad place to throw up your tent!

Relatively Protected Shoreline

Because the Channel Islands are within Alaska’s Inside Passage, the shorelines are relatively protected as opposed to kayaking along the open sea. Inclement weather is always a possibility, of course, but you won’t be kayaking through large surf.

map channel islands alaska
The Channel Islands are close to Juneau, Alaska's capital city

Channel Islands Weather

The fact that the Channel Islands are covered with rain forest will clue you in that the area gets a lot of rain each year—60-90 inches. Dress in warm layers and wear good rain gear. The average temps during the summer stay in the 60s, although can push into the 70s and 80s occasionally.

Book an Outfitter

Ken traveled with Above & Beyond Alaska for his kayak tour around the Islands. They also operate Alaska Boat & Kayak Shop where you can rent boats and equipment if you’re a seasoned kayaker wanting to explore on your own.

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Sources:
Alaska DNR website
Above & Beyond Alaska
TravelJuneau.com
Google Maps