Kayaking is an incredible way to experience Alaska’s glacial and marine environments, as you can get up close, and see things from a different perspective closer to the water. The Hobie Cat Tandem Island sailing kayaks used by Alaska Wild Guides are unique among kayak watercraft, as they move with wind power and pedal power, not with paddles. Their sturdy frames provide stability and comfortable seating – both important when you’re out exploring the many wonders of Prince William Sound.
Alaska Wild Guides offers half-day, all-day and multi-day tours, with options that are affordable and safe for the entire family (even with young children). Pedal up close to bird rookeries and eat your lunch in front of a calving glacier. Navigate through ice floes, watch for eagles and otters, or even the occasional black bear or whale. Camp on a beach near a waterfall, enjoying fresh food cooked over the grill and extended time to relax and take in the quiet power of this natural world.
Unique Kayak Design Enhances Your Excursion
When Alaska Wild Guides owner Derek Ruckel first saw this unusual design of the Hobie Cat Tandem Island sailing kayaks, he knew it would be perfect for getting people out on Prince William Sound, where it can be windy with choppy waves. He was right. “I’ve had these out in 30 knot winds in five foot seas with beginners that have never kayaked or sailed before. It was fun!” Rather than being preoccupied by technique or fear of tipping over, his guests felt comfortable enough to enjoy every minute of their wild Alaska adventure.
Stable, safe and comfortable. It’s practically an art form to get settled in a typical sea kayak, and also takes some skill to keep it balanced and upright. On an Alaska Wild Guides excursion you ride on top of a stable base in a padded, recumbant seat. You can even get out and walk around on these kayaks while in the water. One warning: After this super safe and comfortable ride, you may be spoiled for future outings on a typical sea kayak!
Pedal power. Most people have more power in their legs than their arms. These kayaks take advantage of that strength, which means that your arms and shoulders don’t get tired out, and your hands are free to take photos as you cruise along. That makes it easier to capture those compelling moments, when an otter bobs along nearby or as you glide past a dramatic waterfall.
Cover longer distances in shorter time. A slow pedal on one of these kayaks sets you on a brisk 3-4 mile per hour pace. Add the mast on full day trips and the sail can move you along as fast as 13 miles an hour. This is a huge benefit, because you can go a lot further than in a regular kayak. (And for certain destinations this means you can get there on your own pedal power rather than adding on the cost of a water taxi.)
Room for extra stuff. The sailing kayaks have lots of space for coolers, roll-up tables, camp chairs and more. This is especially important for longer trips, when you’re taking food, camping gear, and extra clothing. “It’s like car camping with kayaks,” says Derek.
Cut through ice floes with ease. Prince William Sounds boasts numerous active glaciers that regularly calve into the water, creating ice floes that are tricky to paddle through in a regular kayak. Your guide can stand up on the sailing kayak to find a path through, making it easy for you to follow behind. It’s a surreal experience to be pedaling in front of a huge glacier, completely surrounded by ice!
Half-Day Emerald Island (4 hours)
Departing at 1:30pm, you’ll sail the South shore of Passage Canal, taking in the beautiful rock formations and keeping your eyes peeled for bald eagles, seals, and other marine wildlife. Cruise around Emerald Island an into the cove where you’ll be met with crystal clear water. Look into the depths for sea creatures as you slowly drift through. You’ll then cruise back along the south shore into Whittier. The departure and return schedule is ideal for those taking the Alaska Railroad to reach Whittier. The train arrives at noon and departs at 6:45 pm, making for easy travel to and from Whittier.
Full-Day Shotgun Cove Shipwreck (6 hours)
On this tour you’ll leave directly from Whittier at 10am, pedaling five miles each way during a 6-hour exploration of Passage Canal, the Kittiwake Rookery, and an historic shipwreck in Shotgun Cove. After checking out the impressive rookery and waterfall, you’ll head east nearly to Poe Bay, and then cross into Shotgun Cove. This is where the Leschi, a steam sidewheeler built in 1913, washed up in 1978. You’ll land on the beach, learn more about the Leschi, and have a tasty lunch. Later, explore more of Shotgun Cove, a mooring buoy that typically hosts seals, and then cruise back along the shoreline to Whittier, watching for more wildlife along the way.
Spend 3-5 days in Prince William Sound for the full experience – exploring glaciers, watching for wildlife and immersing yourself in the sights and sounds around you.
Alaska Wild Guide’s philosophy is if you’re eating and sleeping well, you can handle anything. They provide comfy, thick sleeping pads, and spoil you with gourmet meals that will satisfy the appetite you’ll work up from all the fresh air and exercise! They’ll also bring camp chairs, tents, dry firewood and a grill. You’ll typically set up a base camp and then kayak to different locations. Tours can be tailored based on your preferences and needs, so be sure to tell them what your dream trip looks like.
3 Day / 2 Night to Blackstone & Beloit Glacier with Water Taxi
This three day adventure begins at the Whittier office at 9am where guides will outfit you with gear and help pack your dry backs. You’ll launch your kayak and follow the coastline for 5 miles to Shotgun Cove. Enjoy a lunch and explore the beach (home to a historic shipwreck), then continue along to Decision Point. Guides will set up camp and cook you a hot meal over the fire. Day two brings you to 17 Mile, a beach with great camping and stunning views. Set up camp and enjoy another great wilderness meal before kayaking to Lawrence Glacier for a short hike up to the glacier. Return to camp for the evening. Your final day is spent up close viewing Beloit and Blackstone Glaciers. Both are actively calving glaciers, so you might get lucky enough to see it in action. Enjoy lunch on the beach before returning to your previous night’s camp site where a water taxi picks up your team and transports you back to Whittier. Opt for a farewell dinner at the Inn at Whittier to finish this amazing adventure.
4 Day to Blackstone & Beloit without Water Taxi
The itinerary mirrors the above description up until day 3. After enjoying views of Beloit and Blackstone Glaciers, you’ll return to the previous evening’s campsite at Decision Point where you’ll enjoy another hearty meal and camp overnight. On Day 4, you’ll be met by Alaska Wild Guide’s jet-ski assist team, allowing you to travel light across Passage Canal to the North Shore. You have the option to stop in Poe Bay for a hike and lunch before venturing back to Whittier for a farewell dinner at the Inn at Whittier.
About Alaska Wild Guides
Alaska Wild Guides owner Derek Ruckel was born and raised in Alaska, growing up hunting, fishing and recreating in the outdoors. His career began in the commercial fishing industry, and then he turned to guiding in 2000. After working for other companies for several years, and then taking time off to raise his twin daughters, Derek launched Alaska Wild Guides, offering summer sea kayaking and winter snowmachine tours. Whether on the water or a snowy winter trail, he finds satisfaction in taking visitors from cities and helping them connect to nature. “We bring them out and push their comfort zone a little bit, so they have a tremendous experience with a safety net.” Between running his business and raising a family, Derek also finds time to serve on the fire department’s all-season rescue team, where he’s taken outdoor skills to a whole new level.