Kayaking with Fairweather Mountains © 2010 Kaylyn Messer

Wilderness Isles Kayaking Adventure

Family Kayaking © 2007 Gary Carlson
Intertidal Life

Thousands of years before Glacier Bay was formed, nearby Pleasant Island was a lush oasis of temperate rainforest and muskeg.

Only a short paddle from the Gustavus beach, Pleasant Island is suitable for sea kayaking novices and families. This special wilderness area stands in striking contrast to much of the mainland.

Easy access and ample opportunity for rainforest exploring make this a great day trip or overnight camping adventure. Upon reaching the island, we are usually greeted by bald eagles. In the shallows along shore we can see a multitude of intertidal creatures, including sea stars, urchins, and kitons, as we drift along in our kayaks.

Expedition Details — Wilderness Isles [WI]

Family Adventures © 2009 Stephen Van Derhoff
Old Growth Forest Hiking

Location: Icy Passage, Pleasant Island Wilderness Area, Icy Strait

Duration: One-day trips. Expeditions of two days or longer.

Paddle Distance: 3-12 miles.

Activities: Paddling, fishing, photography, rain forest hikes, tide pool exploration, wildlife watching.

Highlights: Paddling sea kayaks, exploring wilderness islands, superb meals, marine wildlife, old growth rain forest

Schedule and Prices: see Schedule for currently available trips and prices.

Book Your Trip: go to Trip Reservations to book your trip today, or call 1-800-KAYAKER!

Trip Description — Wilderness Isles [WI]

We start this trip at the Gustavus beach, where we put on our raingear and boots. While on the beach, your guide will provide an orientation to the kayaks and paddling technique. Crossing Icy Passage, we keep an eye out for sea otters, porpoise, sea lions, minke whales, orcas (killer whales), and seals.  Upon reaching the island we are usually greeted by bald eagles.  In the shallows along shore we can see a multitude of intertidal creatures as we drift along in our kayaks.

Gustavus Alaska © 2007 Leonid Teytelman
Wild Strawberries

Rounding the western point of the island we see a string of lovely sandy beaches.  This is where we land our kayaks to enjoy a lunch of locally smoked salmon, fresh veggies, fruit and our home baked desserts.  On clear days we dine with a fantastic view of the Fairweather Mountains, and any day is a great day to explore the beach.

While on land, we'll explore the moist interior of the forest, home to myriad species of ferns, mushrooms and wildflowers. Moss carpets the forest floor and drapes the branches.  Unlike the young groves of Gustavus and Bartlett Cove, this forest is truly old growth.  Coming to open areas of bog muskeg we soak up the ambience of this beautifully unique place. There are not many places where one can go through so many interrelated yet distinct eco-systems in such a short distance.

Returning to the beach and a snack, we paddle back to Gustavus to complete our day. Or, if overnighting on Pleasant Island, we paddle on to our campsite and prepare a fine dinner of fresh local seafood while relaxing around our driftwood campfire. Later, the gentle lapping of waves lulls us to sleep.

A second full day allows time to explore farther along the shoreline watching wildlife, improving our paddling stroke, beachcombing, seeing the tides come and go, and fishing for salmon.


Extend your stay to circumnavigate this Pleasant Island and explore its satellite islands. With more time, we may hike through the island's arch and see its pillars. Or walk in the rain forest to a small, clear lake, possibly even to the top of the "Knob", the island's ancient volcanic core. During this time, we are also alert for signs of wildlife… the cry of a bald eagle, the bleat of a blacktail fawn, the explosive whoosh! of a whale's breath, or the silent surfacing of a seal's smooth, bald head.

Request Information for additional details about this trip!

Trip Map: Wilderness Isles

[Trip Map]

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Even with the information age upon us, it's difficult to match the level of knowledge our guides have accumulated over the years. Our staff is always ready to help — if you have additional questions, please contact us today!

From Our Clients...

“It was perfect for our family, ages 7-41 years.”
– Karen M.

Did You Know?

Pleasant Island is easily accessible from the Gustavus dock, and offers ample opportunity for upland exploring. This unique environment makes for a great trip for visitors with a limited amount of time to see the Gustavus area.

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