Ketchikan Kayaking

2.5 Hours

$89 Adults/$59 Children 6 - 15yrs

Ketchikan Kayakers paddle across the Tongass Narrows

Southeast Sea Kayaks has been introducing visitors and locals to sea kayaking as a unique way to experience Ketchikan  and the surrounding islands for over 20 years. The 2.5 hour Ketchikan Kayaking tour is our original kayak adventure and one of the best value tours available in Ketchikan. Our tours are not sold on board any cruise lines and unless you have a private group, we take just 6 guests on each tour. Highlights of the trip include: the historic Ketchikan Creek, where we often see seals and are surrounded by salmon from July - September; exploring the intertidal zone; watching for bald eagles and paddling the rainforest shoreline of the nearby islands. Despite its name, Ketchikan Kayaking is not just a paddle around town: only a short part of our paddling time is spent exploring the Ketchikan Creek. We leave from Ketchikan's historic harbor and head across the Tongass Narrows to the neighboring islands. It is remarkable how quickly  the bustle of town recedes as we paddle the shore of Pennock Island. There are no roads to the island and several bald eagle nests are active in the area.  Sea kayaks are ideal for exploring the 20 foot intertidal zone which is home to many colorful creatures. Our paddling route takes us to historic Snows Cove and into the beautiful West Channel of the Tongass Narrows. The tour ends back at our dock in the heart of Ketchikan with the historic Creek Street District, the Cruise Ship dock and all of Ketchikan's shopping just a few minutes walk away.  

Southeast Sea Kayaks made our first adventure in Alaska an amazing experience. We paddled out into the Creek Street tide water among the jumping Salmon while a harbor seal swam alongside. We then turned and crossed the channel paddling around the point of the island seeing bald eagles and many other birds and sea stars. Our guide was great and we became great friends with the other couple - who was also on our cruise ship.
— Molly S on TripAdvisor

Who should take this tour?

No experience is necessary for this kayaking adventure and anyone with average physical fitness can participate. Minimum age to participate is six years old. Outerwear and dry bags for cameras are provided. We use double kayaks for the tour and we do have some triple kayaks for families with younger paddlers. With only 6 guests per tour, the Ketchikan Kayaking trip is one of the best value excursions in Ketchikan! It is ideal for first time kayakers, families, travelers on a budget and people with short stops in Ketchikan who would like to have time after paddling to explore the town. For people looking for a  wilderness experience we recommend the Orcas Cove trip. Experienced kayakers seeking a challenge may prefer the Icehouse Cove Kayak & Hike.

Kayakers in the Ketchikan Creek

Ketchikan Kayaking Tour Details

We meet all our guests at the 20 foot tall Liquid Sunshine Gauge on the Cruise Ship Dock and walk a short distance to our floating office. Guests are outfitted with paddle jackets, rain pants when needed, spray skirts and dry bags for cameras and personal items. After a brief safety orientation from our guides we depart the dock in our kayaks.

Ketchikan Creek

Sea kayaking is a unique way to experience Ketchikan's famous Creek Street Historic District. When the tide is right we can paddle under the bridge and into the Ketchikan Creek. The charming wooden houses on stilts have changed little since the 1920s  when Creek Street was a bustling red light district. Bootleggers once passed their wares through secret trapdoors in the floors of the houses and Ketchikan's "Sporting Women" ran a busy trade which is now remembered in Dolly's House Museum on the Creek. Ketchikan Creek is also an active salmon stream with all 5 species of Pacific salmon running at different times throughout the summer. In July, August and September the salmon swim around our kayaks and we frequently see harbor seals or river otters pursuing a salmon snack. As we head out of the Ketchikan Creek on our way to the Tongass Narrows we pass though historic Thomas Basin, Ketchikan's oldest boat harbor, and home to sailboats and pleasure boats and many working fishing vessels. We may even catch sight of some of the "Deadliest Catch" boats. Many Bering Sea Crabbers spend their summers in Ketchikan tendering for the salmon canneries.

What a thrill to paddle through the creek with salmon jumping on both sides of the kayak. The islands where just magnificent and seeing that Bald Eagle nest with the young ones in it was just the highlight of the day. And by the way the wife did feel that Seal bumping the Kayak, but being the good sport that she is, did not freak out. If ever we do go back on another Alaska cruise and are still able to , we certainly will be booking again with this company. So if you are tired of the crowds and kayaking is your sport, you must try this company.
— Jean A on TripAdvisor

Snows Cove has intertidal cliffs and old-growth trees.  

Snow's Cove & Pennock Island

The Tongass Narrows in front of Ketchikan are part of the true Inside Passage, the protected route that extends from Puget Sound to Skagway, Alaska.  From Ketchikan, we cross the East Channel of the Tongass Narrows to Pennock Island and head away from town. The paddle north has great views of the town of Ketchikan which is nestled beneath the 3001 foot peak of Deer Mountain. On the water we often see floatplanes taking off and fishing vessels returning to port. Along the shore of Pennock Island, there are several active Bald Eagle’s nests and we are often fortunate to see these great birds perched in trees or swooping to the water to catch a fish. The 20 foot tide zone along the island shoreline is home to an amazing variety of creatures. At low tide, brilliantly colored starfish, sun stars and sea cucumbers are visible beneath the kayaks in the crystal clear water. At high tide, we can paddle right alongside the rainforest shore and learn about the unique ecosystem of the Tongass National Forest. Kingfishers and Great Blue Herons feed along the shore and mischievous ravens are ever present. Although there are no guarantees on seeing whales or wildlife we can see Humpbacks and Orcas, harbor seals and Stellar's sea lions, Sitka blacktail deer and sometimes even black bears.

Kayaking with you was one of the biggest highlights of our trip. We had no idea how beautiful the water life (starfish, pacific sun stars) could be. Your wonderful hospitality and great company were deeply appreciated.

 Pat and Wally, PA

How to Book & Cancellation Policy

Because our groups are small, space is  limited and advance bookings are highly recommended to avoid disappointment. Tours may be reserved online or over the phone at 1-800-287-1607. 

For Orcas Cove and Ketchikan Kayaking Tours, we take payment in full at time of booking. Tickets are fully refundable, less a $25 processing fee, if cancelled at least 14 days before the trip date. Cancellations with less than 14 days prior notice are non-refundable. We do offer a full refund in the unlikely event that your Cruise Ship is running too late for your trip to be re-scheduled, or if your cruise ship misses port. Southeast Sea Kayaks reserves the right to cancel trips for unsafe conditions (occasionally we have high winds) in which case all money will be refunded in full. Rain is not unsafe - we will dress you for the weather. All participants are encouraged to purchase travel insurance to cover for unforeseen events.

A leather star, one of many species of sea star that live in the intertidal zone.

Booking for Groups

Kayaking is a great fun activity for groups of family and friends traveling together. We can accommodate up to 14 guests per trip on the Ketchikan Kayaking tour and we offer a discount to groups of 10 or more who book together. Please call or email us for available tour times and how to book for groups.

What to Wear & Bring

Kayaking in Alaska is all about staying warm and dry. Southeast Sea Kayaks provides kayaking outerwear and dry-bags so that our guests do not need to bring any special gear or clothing. We ask that you dress in warm, comfortable layers. Paddling jackets and rain pants are provided, so most guests will leave their outerwear in the office and wear our jackets for paddling. We use spray-skirts on the kayaks to help keep you dry. Sneakers, sport sandals or rubber boots are ideal for foot wear rather than large hiking boots which tend to be too bulky for the kayaks. Please do not wear high heels which can be dangerous on the docks. A baseball cap or brimmed hat is great on sunny or rainy days and sunglasses are also a good idea. Please do not be afraid to bring cameras: dry bags are provided to protect your camera or video recorder and any other small items you would like to bring on the kayaks with you. everything that we take out on the water will be in a dry bag; we have a safe place to store purses and backpacks while you are paddling.

Trip Timing for Cruise Ship Visitors

Cruise ship visitors will meet us at the "Liquid Sunshine" or  Rain Gauge at the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau. Visitors staying locally  can meet at the Rain Gauge or at our store location. We ask everyone  to aim to be at the Rain Gauge at least 5 minutes early as we depart the Rain Gauge at the trip time. There are restrooms available at the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau next to the Rain Gauge. If you are arriving by cruise  ship, please allow 15 minutes from the time your ship docks to your  trip's starting time and allow 1 hour between your trip's finishing time and the departure time for your cruise ship. For example: the 8:15am  Ketchikan Kayak Tour finishes at 10:45am so that trip would work for any  ships arriving at or before 8am and departing at or after 12noon.  Occasionally we also run trips that depart as soon as a ship arrives, so if you do not see the space that you need for your group, please call  or email us.

Heading down the West Channel of the Tongass Narrows

Looking for More Information?

Learn more About Us and check out our Top Five Reasons to Take a Tour with Southeast Sea Kayaks, or browse our Blog for lots of information about kayaking and Ketchikan. Got a question? Call us on 1-800-287-1607 or email us anytime, or checkout our FAQ page. Already booked? Check out our Tips for Trips to help make the most of your day in Ketchikan.