Few creatures are as fascinating and impressive as whales, with their massive size, air-breathing lungs, and gentle demeanor. For many, a trip to Alaska would not be complete without hearing the percussive burst of a grey whale’s exhale or the slap of a breaching humpback, or spotting the tall dorsal fin of an orca.
And Kodiak Island is a prime spot for whale watching. Located on a migration path and surrounded by a rich, clean ocean, it’s a perfect summer home for whales. The enormous creatures arrive in April, starting with the Gray Whale, which is completing its 2,000-mile migration from Baja to the Bering Sea. Residents and visitors celebrate the return each year with the Whale Fest, a gathering of wildlife enthusiasts, biologists, artists, and musicians. It’s a great time to visit, as spring slowly begins in the far north. Preview this video for a glimpse of what whale viewing can be like.
If you aren’t around for the gray whale’s return, there’s still plenty of opportunity to learn about the creatures at the Kodiak Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center, which hosts the Gray Whale Project. Centered around a gray whale skeleton—the remains of a 37-foot creature which washed up on the beach here in 2000—the project is a great educational display that’s fun for both kids and adults.
Later in the summer, other species of whales show up, including fin, humpback, minke and sei. Orca whales are also spotted in the area.
To see these leviathans you can charter a boat, or drive to headlands and beaches where whales often pass by.
Fort Abercrombie State Park and Miller Point are the closest spots to town to look for whales. If you drive out Chiniak Highway, you can look for whales from any cliff overlooking the ocean, or turn off onto Pasagshak Drive and visit Surfer and Fossil beaches.
Whale Watching Charter Boats