This summer 2016 I was cruisin’ the chilly Alaskan seas with the family, and yep, it was incredible. I feel like people don’t really think to go to Alaska and don’t consider it their first choice of holiday destination, but it really is such a beautiful place and so worth it. The salty smell of the sea and fishing boats when you walk ashore, the rustic towns and the Crab Shack – a major highlight of my trip. Here are a few unforgettable experiences I had when I was living it up in Alaska …
Glacier Sea Plane Tour in Juneau
The feeling of taking off into the air from water is like no other. I was nervous to begin with as they were taking our weights in order to distribute it equally for each side of the plane, thinking “Ohhhh god we’re going to drop out of the sky …” But once in the air you forget you’re in a tiny plane, and just keep taking pictures of the exquisite glaciers below. Floating ice that moves forward from miles and miles back, you can’t really comprehend it.
Salmon Feast, Forest Walk and Making New Friends at Taku Lodge
The title sort of explains itself, except the friend we made was a 7ft bear. Yes, roaming out in the wild, where we enjoyed a salmon feast and listened to the history of the lodge and the forests around it, was apparently the dominant male bear of the island. He really didn’t seem phased by all the people trying to take pictures of him, only a few metres away, in fact he just stood up and starting picking the leftover salmon off the barbecue. The scary thing was, the only thing standing between me and the bear was a guy with a long wooden stick. Are you supposed to save me with that?! This day will always be unforgettable for me.
Tracy’s King Crab Shack, Juneau
If you like seafood then this place is incredible. Fresh crab cooked on site, served in little baskets with warm bread and garlic butter, and you’re given tools to basically just hack and eat away. You just pick the crab you want, how much and sit and wait for them to call your name out. I love how this restaurant just sits on the pier with a view of the water, the boats and the sea planes taking off.
Sailing through glaciers
Sailing through glaciers is a different but just as wonderful experience as flying over them. You actually hear the ice cracking as it’s moving slowly forward into the sea, only a few inches a day. This is Margerie Glacier and goes back 25 miles into the mountains. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you even see huge wedge of ice just fall and crash into the water. It’s something you only get on camera if you happen to be videoing at the time, but it’s incredible just seeing it happen.
Family Hike in Skagway
For those of you that know me well, I don’t do sports. So I wasn’t too excited when I heard we were all planning on going on a hike when we reached Skagway. But the more we talked about it the more I got quite psyched up for it. And I’m glad I did, because if we were to do it again I’d be the first one there. Walking (sometimes climbing, sometimes tripping over) through a stunning Alaskan forest, we wandered around a beautiful lake for a couple of hours and took lots of pictures. And we definitely made up for the calories we burnt off in a huge meal afterwards in one of Skagway’s finest.
Royal Butchart and Butterfly Gardens, Victoria, Canada
Now I’m the kind of person who loves a good stroll around a garden, so this was so nice and relaxing, and a lovely way to spend the day and get some pretty pictures. The Butchart Gardens are completely family-run, and have been passed down through generations. Victoria is just generally a really beautiful city, we also wondered through and did a bit of window shopping before sipping a cold glass of rosé in the sun.
I keep saying I have unforgettable experiences in Alaska but it’s true, and seeing whales in their natural habitat just swimming along side the ship was one of those experiences. You can actually do tours specifically for whale watching where you can go out on a boat and sail to the spot where whales tend to feed, but we were lucky enough to see them just alongside the ship leaving port one day. Whales are like glaciers, if you want to catch them moving, in this case, jumping in the air and splashing into the water on their backs like you see in nature programmes, then you need your camera videoing the entire time you’re outside. I, unfortunately, did not manage to capture this moment when it happened, I believe a couple of my family members did however. But it was extraordinary and something I’ll never forget.
If you love lodges, hikes, stunning landscape, fisherman’s towns and lots of seafood then Alaska really is the place to be.