Our Review of Whale Watching Excursion
with Captain Paul & Hoonah Travel Adventures
Blog Post by: Eddie
When Tammy and I started planning our first ever trip to Alaska, the discussion of scheduling a whale watching excursion was at the top of the list. Not all Disney Alaskan Cruises stop in Icy Straight Point (Hoonah, AK) so we knew this would be a great opportunity to schedule a whale excursion.
We arrived in Hoonah, AK to the mystic scene of light fog rising through the trees, as if to point towards the zip line high above the mountain top (Icy Straight Point is home to the World’s Largest Ziprider; over a mile long and soaring at speeds exceeding 60 mph). Upon hearing the “all ashore” announcement around 12 noon, we departed the ship and took a quick walk towards the Adventure Center for our 12:15 appointment with Captain Paul and Hoonah Travel Adventures.
Once inside the Adventure Center, which was very open and clean, our directions were to walk through the center and back out through door #2 (see picture below).
See door #2 in the background. The monitors on the table is the “Smart Waiver” process for all the excursions
There was a short walk along a granite dust path to the Excursion Hub (think bus loading area) for Hoonah Travel Adventures. Along the route there were signs leading wanderers to paths for exploring the island.
Nature trail to the left
The walking trail was short and the scenery was great, and there were a few signs directing us in the right direction. Just around the bend was an open area surrounded by large logs forming a circle, and in the middle were the friendly faces of the Hoonah Adventure staff members. There were also other groups of people waiting for their bear excursions to begin (Sorry, I couldn’t find the picture I took of the waiting area!)
After a 5-10 minute wait, a clean, comfortable commuter bus pulled up. We all hopped onboard and traveled another short five minute ride (1.5 miles) to the Hoonah marina where Captain Paul and his two daughters were waiting to share with us the natural beauty of Icy Straight Point.
Our boat is circled
We couldn’t have asked for calmer waters, and the weather was perfect: overcast and cool. Captain Paul and his two daughters were wonderful hosts. The boat we were on was new, clean, and very spacious, offered a nice restroom, and free snacks were included (bottled water and granola bars). Our group consisted of about 20 people, and there was a seat for everyone onboard. There were plenty of windows for viewing from inside the boat, and ample space at the bow and aft of the boat for outdoor viewing; in fact, the aft has an elevated platform for even better views. The selfie below was taken on the aft platform.
As advertised, siting a whale was guaranteed, and it didn’t take long at all. A short 15 minute boat ride North of Hoonah to the Point Adolphus area put us right in the middle of several whales for viewing. We quickly learned that one of the easiest ways to spot a humpback whale was searching for what looks like a mist of spray on the surface of the water (see picture below).
Once Captain Paul sited a whale, he would calmly position the boat to give us all a great vantage point to watch and photograph the whales. There were several other whale watching boats nearby, and all of them were careful not to crowd and impede the whale’s path of travel. There were plenty of whales nearby, so there was no rush or worry to get a good photograph.
A humpback whale will breech the waters surface 5-6 times before making its famous dive that produces the iconic tail view.
On the way back to Hoonah, we were treated with a spectacular scene of seeing the Disney Wonder moored to the Hoonah gangway.
This was a fantastic excursion and one that my wife will be recommending to all her Alaskan cruise clients!
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