The fastest way in to Pelican is by seaplane (Alaska Seaplanes offers daily service from Juneau). The flight could double as a flightseeing trip, with views of alpine slopes, hidden coves and maybe even whales, ending with a descent into the fjords of Lisianski Inlet, nestled between 3,000-foot high snow-covered mountains.
If you need to get back home quickly after your visit to Pelican, you can hop back on a plane. However, if you want to extend your travels and see more of the area, you could take the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry back to Juneau. It’s only offered once a month, so you would have to plan well in advance. However, the ferry ride – at 7 hours long – gives you a different perspective of Icy Strait, Chatham Strait and Cross Sound with chances to see humpback whales, sea lions and sea otters. The ferry also stops in Gustavus on the way, so you could spend some time in the “Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park.”
Once you land in Gustavus, your options open up, since the ferry travels several days a week between there and Juneau (spend a few minutes or a few days!). If your schedule doesn’t coincide with the once-a-month ferry sailing from Pelican, you can charter a boat to drop you in Gustavus and then pick up the ferry from there. Local tip: If you charter a boat from Pelican to Gustavus, it’s also fun to stop in Elfin Cove and explore that fishing community on the way.