Sea Kayaking – Types of Trips

  • Day Trips
  • Overnight
  • Multiday Basecamps
  • Expeditions

I think it’s useful to identify what type of trip you’re interested in early in the planning process. The type of sea kayaking trip you pursue will definitely steer most of the remaining decisions that lie ahead.

For many folks a simple day trip is the optimal sea kayaking trip. Anywhere from a few hours to an all day paddle.

Others will prefer an overnight sea kayaking trip, camping overnight or possibly staying the night in a cabin somewhere. If you’re the hotel type, a lodge might be better. For multi day sea kayaking trips, you can consider a basecamp trip, where you set up a single camp, and do various day trips, kayaking out each day and returning to your same campsite.

For an expedition you break camp each day, paddle with all your gear to a new location, and then make camp again. This might be a 3-4 day sea kayaking trip, or a 1-2 week trip, or even longer. You definitely want to have some experience for these trips. Risk factors increase significantly. The reward factor as well, everything has its tradeoff.

Kayak Day Trips

A great way to get an introduction to Alaska sea kayaking trip. For many people, even 4 hours on the water is time enough. The comforts of a lodge or hotel afterward might be too tempting to pass up. A good option for this kind of trip is to hire a ferry service to drop you off somewhere for the day, you paddle around a fjord, etc,, and the ferry can pick you up at a pre-arranged time and place. Or, you can paddle back. This can be a good way to really get out somewhere remote, and still only be gone for a day. Without the ferry ride, if you take off sea kayaking right from Seward or Whittier or Homer, you’ll see some great scenery, etc, but you won’t get out to the really cool stuff in a few hours, or even a full day paddle. Taking a shuttle is a great option.

But remember. You’ll DEFINITELY want your overnight gear. It’s Alaska and you never can really know what the whether or not other conditions might do. It’s quite possible that your day trip turns into an overnight sea kayaking trip. Even the best laid plans can fall apart off the Alaska coast. Bring a shelter, rain gear, fire starter, food, water, and if possible some kind of contact device like a sat phone or inreach, etc.

Multiday Kayak Trips


Even one night out in Alaska is worth it. Considering you should bring overnight gear even on a day trip sea kayaking, you may as well plan on using it and make your trip an overnighter.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew and plan for stopping to set up camp around 4 or 5 (even in summer when it won’t get dark until late). It’ll take you longer than you think and it may (that is, very likely will) take you longer to make the paddle that you schedule and get to your destination. Even if all goes well and you set up camp smoothly you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the wonderful Alaska evenings. Go for a hike and explore the area a little.

Taking a ferry or air taxi to shuttle you out to a remote spot is a good option and I definitely recommend you do that.

Base camps

Take a ferry or air taxi out to some awesome location, set up a sweet campsite, and spend each day paddling. An excellent, easy, way to enjoy a sea kayaking trip. Get up in the morning, enjoy breakfast, pack a lunch and some emergency gear, and take off for the day. Give yourself plenty of time again so you don’t struggle to get back to camp before too late.

Do bring some kind of emergency overnight setup. I recommend a small tarp with some guy-lines, a sleeping bag per person, rain gear (or your paddling gear, depending on what you have), fire starter, water and food rations.

Don’t take off for the day and get stuck somewhere, away from camp and not have something to take shelter under if things go awry.

Kayak Expeditions

These sea kayaking trips require more careful planning and research, more specialized gear, finely tuned packing, and a little more effort. You’ll be breaking and making camp each day, you’ll be paddling a full load in your sea kayak each day, and you’ll work a lot harder both sea kayaking and camping. But the effort can be well worth it as well with the opportunity to really cover some mileage and get out there. For the super hardy folks take a ferry service to a drop off location, schedule a food and fuel drop with them 7-10 days later. Make it a real expedition sea kayak trip for a few weeks or longer.

You can either schedule your sea kayaking expedition as a point to point trip, a round trip, or an out and back. Just don’t bite off more than you can comfortably chew.

What type of trip you seek is up to you, your schedule, skillset and experience and so on. Each trip type comes with its own pros and cons and you should weigh them all. If you haven’t paddled before, or paddled just a little, a full blown winter sea kayaking expedition circumnavigating the entire Kenai peninsula probably isn’t for you. If you’re an experienced sea kayaker, outdoors person and adventurer, a 2-4 hour paddle around Resurrection Bay probably won’t be quite as rewarding for you either.

Expeditions Alaska
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