Glacier Island Kayak Day Trip with Anadyr Adventures, Valdez, AK

Billed as the kayak trip for wildlife enthusiasts, the Glacier Island kayaking trip, with beautiful scenery, numerous wildlife sightings and fun swells did not disappoint. 

We had decided against Anadyr Adventures’ most popular trip, to the face of the Columbia Glacier, because we had spent time kayaking around glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park and were looking for something different.

Scott, the manager of Anadyr Adventures, was kind enough to arrange the trip for us on a last minute request even though he did not have a Glacier Island trip running that week. He had another couple heading the same direction on a 4 day kayak/camping adventure and let us tag along on their boat, each couple with a different guide.

We arrived at the office at 8:30 to get fitted with boots and rain gear. They also supply any dry bags you made need but you need to provide your own snacks and lunch. After gearing up we headed to the boat dock right across the street from their office.

The morning was shaping up to be a beautiful day for kayaking – overcast, patches of blue sky and only a few drops of rain. On the way out on the boat we stopped for sea otters, which came much closer to the boat than at Glacier Bay, porpoises which are so fast they look like just a blur and a splash and a huge iceberg from a recent calving event. They can tell this by the blue ice. Once it’s been floating around for a while it turns white.

The scenery is spectacular. Valdez and the inlet heading out are surrounded by steep green snow- capped slopes.

We reached our starting point at 10:30. As we loaded our kayaks harbor seals watched us from the water. We first followed the coast of a protected bay to the south side of the island which is exposed to the ocean currents. Turning the corner out of the bay the excitement begins. The ocean swells crashing on the island coast are much stronger here. We kayaked further from shore to avoid the magnitude of the swells. For experienced kayakers it wasn’t that bad, maybe 3ft at the highest. For me, new to these conditions, it was a little intimidating at first, but once I got over my nervousness it was quite fun.

The coast is beautiful, rocky cliff shoreline worn by the currents into caves and rock pillars. The scalloped cliff wall is topped by a green forest. Waves crash on the rocks. Focused on the waves I’m surprised by a sea lion that pops up in front of the kayak. He follows us down the coast, popping up at various intervals only for a moment before diving back down again under our kayak. A humpback whale also makes a brief appearance.

Nearing lunch time we head to Whale Rider Beach. On the shore next to the beach is a bald eagle pulling a fish he has caught up above the waves. The fish is nearly half his size and he struggles to move it. Scott explained to us later that eagles will often get in trouble trying to move fish that are too big for them to land, exhausting themselves in the process.

The surf on the beach was fairly strong and Don and I, not used to the conditions, struggled a bit to beach the kayak. I soaked my rubber boots over the top in the process but otherwise we made it to shore just fine.

After lunch we continued down the coast. We cut across Chamberlain Bay, heading straight across the open water about a mile to reach Cave Point. The crossing was relatively calm with long slow swells.

Once along the coast again we checked out the caves. Although in certain conditions you can explore some of these caves, today the surf was rough enough to preclude such exploration.

Around the corner is where the sea lions hang out. Each beach has a bull and his harem, with at least 3 beaches of sizable harems. Most just laze in the sun but others make a ruckus grunting at each other.

Nearing 4 Scott picks us up in the boat and we head back to Valdez, getting there at 5:30.

For links to all the posts in this series see the Alaska page.

June 18, 2021