Dip your paddle into the clear saltwater of Southeast’s only outer-coast sea kayaking destination. Explore kelp forests and tidepools as you float over giant, fuzzy starfish and bright green sea anemones. Paddle past sea otters or sea lions and explore remote islands and coves. You can do it all with Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures. This family-run company limits its trips to small groups, so you get plenty of attention from your guide. They offer half-day, full-day and multi-day expedition trips—there’s even a water taxi, so you can explore for hours and then get picked up, avoiding paddling back the way you came.

Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures operates from Crescent Harbor in Sitka. Cruise-ship shuttles land here, so you can step into an adventure right from the dock. The company will outfit you with raingear and lifejackets, but you’ll want to bring warm clothing, sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat.

After a brief orientation, guides will get you set up in a kayak—usually a double, since they’re more stable, easier to steer, and faster than singles. John & Alison Dunlap own and run the company, and they’ve decided to limit groups to 12 or less. With a ratio of one guide per six guests, you know you’ll be well taken care of, whether it’s paddling tips, natural history lessons about volcanoes and islands, or stories of life in Alaska.

With a core of five guides, all certified in first aid, plus top quality gear, food, and trips, Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures is the sea kayaking expert in Sitka. And even though they offer full-day and multi-day trips, we’ve highlighted their most popular half-day tours.

Harbor & Islands Tour

This sea kayak sampler is perfect for beginners—you’ll get a wide variety of waterscapes in only two hours. From the harbor, you’ll head out into the myriad of nearby islands that frame Sitka’s sheltered passages, where you can look for bald eagles, seals, bright-billed oystercatchers and other wildlife, then paddle over kelp forests, keeping an eye out for sea otters. It’s a great paddle for kids and families, and your guide will teach you all about the rich marine environment.

Islands Paddle & Lost Fort Trek

This is the ultimate combination of natural history and human history. You’ll paddle for about an hour, looking for birds and wildlife along the way, before arriving at the Causeway Islands. Now abandoned, these islands housed 10,000 soldiers during World War II, and you’ll hike to old military defense sites and buildings. Learn about this overlooked naval air station, nicknamed “The Eyes of the Pacific,” then head off for a scenic paddle back to town.

Half Day Cruise & Paddle

This is one of the company’s most popular tours, partly because you’ll get picked up by a water taxi at the end of your route—it’s not an out-and-back, so you’ll always be exploring new territory. Paddle over schools of giant round jellyfish, explore remote beaches, and look for wildlife at creek mouths. You might even see a humpback whale surface for a breath! You’ll paddle for about three hours, then go ashore to beachcomb. Check out the giant spruce and cedar trees covered in moss and ferns as enjoy a hearty snack of individual smoked salmon quiches, fruit, veggies and hummus & crackers, followed up with their famous homemade cookies.