About Above & Beyond Alaska
Since 2002, owners Becky and Seanpassionate environmentalists and longtime guides themselveshave run Above & Beyond Alaska. Excursions marry their love of the Tongass National Forest and Inside Passage areas with their excitement for sharing this special place with visitors. All their trips are by kayak, foot, boat, or plane, and all are in intimate, small groupsthe best way, they say, to experience Alaska, since thats how they would want to do it themselves!
Background History Of Orca Whales In Alaska
Orcas are usually between 27 and 32 feet long, and live and hunt in small family pods ranging from 10 to 50 members. These black and white whales feed off birds, sea turtles, fish such as salmon, and even other whales.
They are the second most widely distributed mammal on earth, second only to humans. They can be found in almost all oceans across all hemispheres, but usually live in colder waters.
Orcas fall into three distinct subspecies that each has its own unique genetic signature. The first, and most widely, studied are resident orcas. These usually stay within a couple hundred miles of their home territory.
The other two subspecies are transient and offshore orcas. As their names suggest, these orcas range for hundreds of miles often following the migration patterns of salmon and other prey.
The most mysterious of these three are the offshore orcas. Scientists haven’t been able to study them as thoroughly because they live so far from land.
What To Look For
Resident beluga whales cruise offshore right where the city meets the water. These white whales are easily spotted as they surface in silty waters of Turnagain Arm. About the size of a car, belugas feed on hooligan and salmon runs returning to local rivers and streams. The best spots for beluga include turnouts alongside the Seward Highway, Bird Point and of course Beluga Point.
Fin, minke, humpback, gray, and orca whales are among the dozen species that ply the rich waters of Prince William Sound and the waters outside Resurrection Bay. Day cruises out of Seward and Whittier combine the opportunity to whale watch with views of puffins, sea lions, seals, and glaciers.
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Whens The Best Time To Cruise To Alaska For Salmon Fishing
Luckily, any cruise season month is a good time to fish for salmon in Alaska. Heres a quick guide to help you time your trip to match when your favorite salmon is running:
- King salmon: May-June
- Silver salmon: Mid July-late August
- Chum salmon: July-August
Cruise ship in Alaska. Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line.
Best Time For Viewing Whales In Alaska
Best Time To See Gray Whales: Your best chance to see the Gray whales would be in Ketchikan, Sitka, Kodiak or Seward during the months of April and May. They can be spotted as they move to the far north Alaska waters of the Bering Sea by late April.
Best Time To See Beluga Whales:Beluga whales can be seen along Cook Inlet heading south from Anchorage along what is known as Turnagain Arm in the spring through fall months. They can be viewed year round in in the southern Alaska waters of the Shelikof Strait between Katmai National Park on the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island. There are no known dedicated whale watching tour boats operating in the Cook Inlet.
Best Time To See Humpback Whales: During the summer months you will see Humpback whalesin the Barren Islands between Homer and Kodiak. June and July are the best months for seeing these enormous whales feeding using bubble-netting. Over 500 humpback whales make Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage their home during the months of summer in the land of the midnight sun.
Best Time To See Blue Whales:Blue whales can best be seen in the northern and eastern portion of the Gulf of Alaska in July and August. They are more likely seen in open water and rarely near the shoreline.
You also have a good chance of seeing Minke whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall’s Porpoises or Harbor Porpoises if you visit Alaska between June and early September.
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Whale Watching Prince William Sound
Prince William Sound is a vast waterway close to Alaskas largest townAnchorageand usually accessed by small ship from Whittier. Because of the sounds size, whale watching day tours have trouble reaching areas where whales congregate. This problem is solved aboard overnight small ship cruises.
Whale watching Prince William Sound offers humpback whales, gray whales, blue whales and minke whales. But the most famous opportunity in this region is orca whale watching. Prince William Sound is home to several resident pods of orcas in Alaska and transients are also known to visit the area in search of abundant marine mammals. Occasionally these pods gather to mix and mate in what are known as superpods in which 50 or more animals may be seen at one time.
Whale Watching Alaska Pro Tip: Whale watching Prince William Sound offers a better chance to see orcas in Alaska than anywhere else in the state.
Timing Your Alaska Whale Watching Cruise
Minke whales in Alaska and orcas in Alaska can be spotted year-round, but the migratory humpback whales are only present from late spring into early fall. Learn more about timing your Alaska whale watching cruiseincluding our recommendationsin the Alaska whale watching season section of our by-month primer for travel to Alaska.
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Advantages Of Visiting Alaska In July
- Looking for warm weather? July is Alaskas hottest month, with daytime temperatures ranging between 50-70 degrees and 18-19 hours of daylight.
- If youre planning an arctic cruise, prepare for cooler weather, as the temperature up north dips down to 33-45 degrees. Also pack an eye mask for sleeping, as arctic cruises enjoy nearly 24 hours of daylight.
- Grizzlies, black bears, and mountain goats dot the landscape. In the sea, humpback whales and otters splash about, and overhead you can spot millions of migrating shorebirds.
- For the anglers, July is spawning season for salmon, making it perfect for fishing trips.
Alaska State Fair. Photo by Matt Hage/State of Alaska.
Whale Watching In Alaska Aboard Small Ships
An Alaska cruise for whales is best done on board one of our small ships to Alaska. Reach remote areas inaccessible to day boats, increase your opportunities to see whales in Alaska with a multi-day program, enjoy a flexible schedule that will pause for whale sightings, spot whales from regular paddle excursions, and appreciate a cruise ship for whale watching that puts you right at see level.
Watching whales in Alaska aboard small ships has many advantages over larger cruise ships or whale watching day tours. Flexible itineraries aboard small ships mean you can linger longer when whales are sighted. Its not uncommon for captains to stop the ship for an hour or two if the whale sightings are good. And over the course of a 7-night itinerary you may have several such encounters.
Small ships are able to venture farther afield to reach the whales, whereas day tours from town are limited to whales that venture close to inhabited areas. Whales can be seen from ferries and large cruise ships but keep in mind that ferries have a schedule to keep so they never stop for whales. It can take a large cruise ship up to two miles to make a complete stop, so they have little interest in stopping for animals therefore watching whales from 10 stories up as they pass by can be an exercise in frustration.
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What Is The Best Month To Cruise Alaska
The best month to visit Alaska depends on what you hope to experience during your trip.
- Do you want as much sun and daylight as possible? Then book a June or July cruise.
- Would you like to see lots of wildlife? Then purchase a May, August, or September cruise as these months feature young animal families and migrations.
- Do you want to get into the interior and see Denali National Park or the Yukon? Then select July or August.
- Are you chasing bright tree foliage? Then book a cruise at the end of August or in September.
- Would you like to avoid mosquitoes? Then May and September are the best months for your cruise.
- Are northern lights on the itinerary? Then your trip will be in September or October. Would you like to fish for salmon? Then select any summer or shoulder month.
The good news is that no matter which month you choose, your Alaskan cruise will reward you with incredible experiences and memories that last a lifetime.
Cruise To Alaska With Windstar
Alaska is a feast for the eyes, whether youre scanning the waters for whales or letting the landscape fill you with awe. If youre excited to visit Alaska to go whale watching or explore its unspoiled beauty, let us know. At Windstar Cruises, we sail guests to Alaskas top whale-watching destinations, including the Inside Passage. As you journey with us through Alaskas fjords, youll also have opportunities to look for whales and other wildlife while on board. Our small, uncrowded ships take guests where large vessels cant go, bringing them closer to the unexpected.
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Whats The Best Time To Take An Alaska Cruise
I have taken Alaska cruises during all the major seasons and can promise you that no two are alike, from the weather to the wildlife to the cost of tickets.
Most Alaska cruises run between late April and early September, with peak season in June and July.
Here is what you can expect from each cruising season.
Alaska Whale Watching Tours
Welcome to Whale Watching in Alaska if your looking for any of the scheduled whale watching tours along the coastlines of Alaska you will find them listed by region and location. If your looking for more information on Alaska whales, please read through the information below for the complete story about locations, timing and something’s related to what you can expect in the form of weather, seas and whale species. Find out when would be the best times are to see the various whales found in Alaska.
No vacation to the Alaska Coastal Areas would be complete without taking the time to view and photograph the spectacular sea life found in the nutrient rich waters of Alaska. This is a Mecca of marine life from our beloved whales to the prized wild salmon that thrive in abundance throughout these waters.
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Best Time To Travel To Alaska
The best time to travel to Alaska depends on what you are wanting to do. The best time to cruise to Alaska is between May and August.
The lowest rainfall in Alaska is during the months of May and June. If you are wanting to visit Alaska to see whales, it’s best to go on a cruise during June and July after the whales have made their migration.
However if you want to see bears in Alaska, the best time to travel to Alaska is during the month of May.
What You Will See In Sitka
- Humpback Whales
- Lots Of Sea Birds And Ducks
A recommended whale watching tour out of Sitka Alaska has to be A Whales Song Expedition. They offer whale and wildlife viewing tours wildlife photography tours and bird watching tours. Below is a promotional video from A Whales Song Expedition.
Go Check Out: A Whales Song Expedition
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Alaska Whale Watching Tours Listed By Area
Whale Watching in Alaska ranks at the top in the most popular tours for visitors to the coastal regions of Alaska. Every summer their are dedicated tour boats taking visitors out whale watching in Alaska from Ketchikan to Barrow. While Juneau is the top location for these tours, other cities offer outstanding whale watching in Alaska too. Below are links to pages that list the best tour companies in each area. Check them out and find the tour that’s right for you.
- Southeast Alaska Tours The area known as “The Inside Passage”. Includes Craig, Elfin Cove, Glacier Bay, Gustavus, Haines, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Juneau, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka, Skagway and Wrangell.
- South Central Alaska Tours: Gulf of Alaska, Resurrection Bay, Kachemak Bay and Kodiak Island Tours. Includes the cities of Homer, Seward, Kenai, Kodiak, Valdez and the area of Turnagain Arm.
- Also see Cook Inlet Beluga Whales for information on the efforts to save this endangered whale.
- Seward Alaska Gray Whales Info, Trips and Tours in and through the Kenai Fjords National Park out of Resurrection Bay in Seward Alaska.
What is happening to all the Beluga Whales in Cook Inlet?
Cook Inlet Critical Habitat for the protection of the beluga whales and benefiting all species of fish and mammals in these endangered waters.
What Wildlife Can Be Found In Prince William Sound
Sea otters, harbor seals, Steller sea lions, Dalls porpoise, 200 different species of birds, including Eagles, black-legged kittiwakes, glaucous-winged gulls, oystercatchers, storm petrels, Jaegers, arctic terns, marbled murrelets, pigeon guillemots, arctic loons, Arctic warblers, Pacific loons, red-faced cormorants, bluethroats, surf scooters and on a rare occasion a puffin makes its way into Prince William Sound.
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When Is The Best Time For Whale Watching In Alaska
Whales begin their migration from the warm waters of Mexico in February arriving in Alaska waters in April. Various species of whales can be seen throughout Alaska during the months of May through September. It is not uncommon for cruise passengers to see whales right from the deck of the ship. However, you will increase your chances off seeing whales by taking a whale watching tour. The smaller boats allow you to get a closer view of the whales and you will most likely receive interesting facts about the local whale pods from your guide.
Packing For A Whale Watching Tour
- Sunscreen make sure you do not forget to pack sunscreen as the summers in Alaska can catch people by surprise.
- Dress in layers I cant stress this enough. Where ever you are and what ever your doing on your Alaskan vacation always wear layers. It can be glorious weather one moment and a storm can blow in at the blink of an eye.
- Hat and Gloves depending on your tour boat and the weather you will be thankful for packing these. Smaller tour boats may not have heating.
- Rain gear you will be out on the water you will get wet .
- Binoculars some tour boats will have binoculars on board but I would recommend bringing your own.
- Camera Bring your camera as you will want to remember your encounter with these magnificent creatures.
- Drying cloth to clean and dry your lenses of camera and binoculars.
- Food and drink bring some snacks and drinks. Bigger tour boats serve food and beer and have shops but smaller tour boat have less amenities.
Do you suffer from motion sickness/seasickness.? There are only a few things you can do so your whale watching tour is enjoyable. Make sure you have medication . Being well rested will also elevate symptoms of seasickness so get a good night sleep before your tour.
Thank you for reading my article on best time to see whales in Alaska. If you are planning a vacation to Alaska viewing whales in their natural habitat is a spectacular sight. And I recommend you read my article on Whale Watching In Juneau.
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Best Places For Whale Watching
There are plenty of organized tours from Ketchikan, Sitka, Kodiak, or Seward. Depending on where you are planning to visit and when, these areas of Alaska will provide you with great opportunities to spot a whale. Pack your binoculars, strap on your sea legs, and find your ticket to ride in the waters surrounding the United States’ westernmost land mass.
Where Is The Best Whale Watching In Alaska
The best way to ensure youll see whale wildlife in action while on a cruise to Alaska is to visit ports of call that are near whale migration paths and feeding zones in the region.
The best whale watching ports of call are typically Juneau, Icy Strait Point, and Sitka in Alaska, and Victoria, British Columbia in Canada.
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Whales & Whale Watching
Once hunted for oil and bone, today the whales of the northwest coast are recongnized as being unusually intelligent, gentle creatures. The most common whales you are likely to see in Alaska are orcas, or killer whales and humpbacks. From a distance whales can be spotted by the distinctive white spout, as they exhale when surfacing.
Are There Dolphins In Alaska
The Dalls porpoise is discovered in Alaska coastal waters as far north because the Bering Sea. Pacific white-sided porpoises journey as far north as Kodiak Island and are current in the Aleutians and Gulf of Alaska. Harbor porpoises could also be discovered as far north because the Beaufort Sea in ice-free months.
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Most Reliable Way: Get Out On A Boat
Fortunately, getting out on a boat is easy to do in Alaska! Most of our coastal towns feature many excellent tour operators, some of them world-class with naturalists, refreshments and other amenities on board.
Whale watching is a favorite past time of residents, too. People out fishing, traveling by Alaska ferryand even paddling in sea kayaksregularly encounter whales and other marine mammals. There are even a few shore-based locales where whales might be seen.
Gray whales return to Alaska the first week of March. From April through September is prime whale watching for most species.