The Prince William Sound is the premier sea kayaking Alaska destination – its pristine waters are often calm and easy to navigate, and kayakers can easily access stunning glaciers from kayaking routes and trails.
It has even been listed by some sites as one of the world’s top kayaking destinations. However, kayaking through this pristine wilderness can be physically exhausting and intense, so kayakers should always come prepared to handle the trip ahead.
These tips will help you get ready for a stunning kayaking journey through Alaska’s Prince William Sound.
Experienced Kayakers Only
Although the Prince William Sound is a relatively calm body of water, Alaska’s intense climate and remoteness necessitate that kayakers have some experience on the ocean and in the wilderness before embarking on a journey through the Sound.
Baseline knowledge of effective paddling techniques, entering and exiting a kayak, and emergency and rescue preparedness are essential on this trek – especially if you plan to head into deeply glaciated areas, where ice can complicate paddling and re-entry.
If you’re still a relative novice, get some more experience under your belt before heading to the Prince William Sound
Having the right gear can make or break your kayaking adventure through Prince William Sound. When you rent a kayak, you’ll typically receive basics like the kayak itself, a lifejacket, paddles, a paddle float, rubber boots, a sponge, and a bilge pump. However, you’ll need much more gear for a successful trip, including:
- A dry-suit
- High-quality rain gear
- Synthetic layers
- Dry bags
- Lots of warm socks
- Camp clothes
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- 3-4 season tent with tarp or footprint
- Fog-resistant compass
Although you may be able to purchase these items through local outfitters, experienced kayakers should already have most of these items on-hand from other journeys.
Timing is Everything
Planning your kayaking journey at the right time and season is essential to ensure a successful trip. Due to Alaska’s intense winters, you should never plan a trip between September and May. However, between May and mid-June, the Sound becomes more easily navigable, and the kayaking season begins.
Locals recommend coming during this time to avoid bugs and crowds; however, beaches along the sound may hold snow through May, so come prepared for snow camping if you come during this time. Peak season is mid-June through mid-August, which offers prime kayaking weather, but it’s also the busiest time of year for the area.
If you come during this time, be prepared for sold-out rentals and crowded campgrounds, so plan to avoid a snafu. Kayakers can also brave the Sound in late August and September when crowds tend to decline, but visitors during this time should pay close attention to weather conditions and be wary of bears that roam the area.
Use the Buddy System
Even the most experienced cold-weather kayakers will never venture out into the wilderness alone. Although Prince William Sound is usually calm, bad weather can cause conditions to deteriorate quickly, and you may need back-up if an emergency arises.
Make sure that you have a solid group to travel with and never leave sight of the group while kayaking. Better yet, if you’ve never kayaked the Prince William Sound before, go on a group tour with experienced guides – they can be an invaluable resource throughout your journey.
Is sea kayaking Alaska on your list?