So my cousin came to visit. She is from the flat, land locked mid-west. She wanted to "do Alaska things". And see a moose. (We succeeded in "doing Alaska Things". We failed at seeing a moose) I wasn't sure where to start. I am quite comfortable with a lot of the local hiking trails and land based activities and was happy to serve as her Alaskan guide. For the water-based activities though... while I can BS my way through water-based activities for myself, I am severely lacking in water sports gear and wanted to take her out with a guide.
I did an unusually small amount of research prior to choosing Sound Paddler for our Whittier Kayak adventure. I ultimately chose them because their prices were similar to other companies but the trip was private. The cost per person went down the more people booked. Three of us went which ended up being a total of $99 per person.
The private trip was a big selling point for me. I have been out on kayak trips with large groups and been frustrated. Due to the varying skill levels of paddlers, the guides have to go at the slowest person's pace. The last guided kayak tour I took, I was disappointing by the slow pace and lack of available guides to answer my questions regarding the wildlife and such, since all three of the guides were busy with the other 15 people out. Who knows, maybe I ask too many questions.
I elected to take the 3 hour "waterfalls and bird rookery" day trip. Booking was easy and straight forward. I sent them an email inquiring about their availability. Within 24 hours they had responded. I called to confirm the date and time. The lady I talked to was both helpful and cheerful; overall, booking was a pleasant experience. No payment or deposit was required at the time of booking.
Upon my confirmation, I was sent a text with detailed information regarding how to get to Whittier, which tunnel opening time they suggested, and how to find their office. With their directions, we showed up at the appointed date and time.
We were greeted with the same cheerful helpful attitude that I had experienced over the phone. Within minutes, we were outfitted with the gear we needed and introduced to our guide, Michael. Once we were all set, they loaded up our boats and dropped us off at the put in point.
Michael expertly guided us around the area, answering all of my questions, and allowing us to linger at the spots we found interesting. Our departure date of July 23 proved to be fantastic for salmon viewing. Approximately 15 minutes after departing, we paddled into a cove full of jumping salmon. We lingered here as we watched a much larger group from another company come and then be hurried along.
After the salmon cove, we paddled along the coast until we reached an inlet full of salmon that lead to a waterfall. Michael let us beach our kayaks and explore the area. My cousin enjoyed the chance to literally walk with salmon. Upon returning back to our boats, we were offered hot cider and snacks. While munching on a granola bar, another large group came by. They again came and went without being given the opportunity to stop while we lingered in this beautiful spot.
After the waterfall, we crossed Prince William sound. Michael pulled out a radio and notified someone of our crossing, inspiring confidence that we might not get run over by the boats that were everywhere. We quickly paddled across and to the bird rookery and more waterfalls. Michael guided us right up to the cliff face for a front row view of the birds and the thunderous water.
After that, we began the leisurely paddle back to shore. We were picked and taken back to their shop where we changed back into our dry clothes. At this time, the full payment was taken.
The trip was laughs, smiles, beauty, and fun. What a fantastic first day in Alaska for my cousin. It was a great trip for the Alaskans too!
Overall, our kayak trip with Sound Paddler was an excellent experience from start to finish. Booking was easy, the team was knowledgeable about the equipment and gear, our guide was fantastic, and the price was reasonable. The private nature of the tour allowed us to truly take in the beauty offered by Prince William Sound. I will be taking my future guests out with this company.