Orcas Cove Boat and Sea Kayaking 3 hour tour

Kayakers heading out of the Salmon Stream at Orcas Cove

If you imagine Alaska as a place to get away from it all and enjoy the serenity of the wilderness then the Orcas Cove sea kayaking is the tour for you. Our 3 hour tour is a kayak and boating adventure that allows visitors to escape the crowds in Ketchikan. Orcas Cove is the name of the place where we kayak, unfortunately we don't see orcas every day, but with 3 hours on the water we do have excellent chances to spot marine wildlife. The true highlight of the Orcas Cove tour is exploring the secluded coves and rainforest islands by sea kayak with friendly, knowledgeable guides, although the snack of local smoked salmon on board the mothership is ranked a close second by many of our guests.

Duration: 3 Hours

Price: $139 per person

Tour Highlights

  • Small boat cruise to and from Orcas Cove

  • 1.5 - 1.75 hrs wilderness sea kayaking

  • Explore islands and watch for wildlife

  • Friendly, professional and knowledgeable guides

  • Only 6 guests per group

  • Smoked salmon picnic and hot beverages

See Scott McMurren of Alaska Travelgram on the Orcas Cove Tour.

What’s Included

  • Kayaking paddle jackets and pants

  • Dry bags for cameras and binoculars

  • Snacks and beverages

What to wear and bring

  • Warm, comfortable layers

  • Hat or cap and sunglasses

  • Camera and binoculars

Timing for Cruise Ship Visitors

No bus or van rides are required - our tours meet at our downtown office, conveniently located across the street from cruise ship berth 3 at 540 Water Street Suite 303. Our bright 3rd story window signage (KAYAK) makes us easy to spot from the boardwalk in front of the Arctic Bar. If you are arriving by cruise ship, please allow at least 30 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. We'll be punctual - no one on our tours has ever missed their cruise ship - and don’t worry, if you accidentally book a tour time that doesn’t work for your ship we will let you know and arrange a time that works.

Ella and Chelsea were great to paddle with and really informative about all the wildlife we saw. You and Greg have a wonderful thing going and we wish for your continued success! I won’t hesitate to recommend your tour to anyone going to Alaska as our friends recommended you to us!
— Tucker, 2015
A 20 minute boat ride from Ketchikan brings kayakers to the mothership, Arctic Fjord, in beautiful Orcas Cove.

A 20 minute boat ride from Ketchikan brings kayakers to the mothership, Arctic Fjord, in beautiful Orcas Cove.

Orcas Cove Tour Details

Our downtown office is centrally located for the 4 cruise ship berths here in Ketchikan and we’re happy to provide locally roasted coffee, hot tea and free wi-fi for the early birds. Don’t be deterred by the possibility of rain (Ketchikan is in a rainforest after all) we’ll outfit you with everything needed for kayaking in Alaska including waterproof jackets that are specially designed for paddling with hoods and neoprene wrist closures; rain pants, when needed; and dry bags for cameras and personal items that you want to bring with you on the kayaks.

Swift boat ride to Mothership Arctic Fjord at Orcas Cove

Climb aboard our swift cabin cruiser and enjoy a 20 minute boat ride to Orcas Cove with your experienced, local captain. On the way out keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles and marine mammals. The small boat ride ends at the mothership, Arctic Fjord, a floating base that allows us to enjoy Orcas Cove without having an impact on the delicate intertidal ecosystem. There’s a head (a nautical bathroom) on board;  a platform that makes it easy to get in and out of the kayaks and a warm galley where guests enjoy their smoked salmon after kayaking. Once on board the mothership we’ll get outfitted for paddling and load into the kayaks.

Explore By Sea Kayak

Kayakers head off from the mothership at Orcas Cove

Orcas Cove is one of the best places for sea kayaking close to Ketchikan and it’s the kayaking that is the true highlight of the tour. Sea kayaking allows us to slow down and enjoy the quiet dip of the paddle in the water, the sound of birds singing in the rainforest and the salty smell of low tide. Once on the water, we have 1.5 - 1.75 hours kayaking time which allows us to set a leisurely pace. In our 20 years in business we've learned a lot about how to make kayaking in Alaska safe and fun for our guests. It begins with great quality equipment. Our fiberglass double touring sea kayaks are fast and stable. They have rudders to help with the steering and you don't have to co-ordinate paddle strokes with your partner which makes for happy couples. We also have triple kayaks that make the paddling easier for families with smaller children.

This was our second adventure with Southeast Sea Kayaks. After a quick, beautiful boat trip to Orca's cove we were quickly in our kayaks and out exploring. These guys do everything right-from the guides to the equipment, everything is top-notch. If you aren't an experienced kayaker don't worry they will help you get comfortable and out paddling really fast. If you are a kayaker this is the company you want to paddle with. If you have the time make sure you do the Orca's cove trip, if not the Ketchikan harbor trip is great too. If you can only do one thing in the Ketch, make sure you book a trip with these guys! 

Lisa A on TripAdvisor

Although we don't see them every day, Orcas are frequent visitors to Orcas Cove.

Orcas Cove Scenery & Wildlife

Orcas Cove is a serene wilderness location, far from the bustle of town and the busy cruise ship docks. The old growth forest presses right down to the shoreline and the intertidal zone of over 20 feet is home to a colorful array of creatures. The combination of a protected location and an interesting shoreline with small islands and rock gardens to explore are what make Orcas Cove such an excellent place to sea kayak. There is a wild salmon stream and several bald eagle nests are active in the area. By it's very nature, we never know what wildlife we will see on any particular day - that's part of the excitement. All of the photographs here on our site were taken by us or our guests on tours so they give a good idea of the variety of wildlife.

Orcas Cove gets its name because it is an area where the resident pods of Orcas are frequently seen during the king and silver salmon runs. Humpback whales, porpoises, seals and sea lions also inhabit these waters and we have observed humpback whales lunge feeding in several locations near Orcas Cove. Along the shore we may see river otters, mink, deer and even occasionally, black bears. Orcas Cove is not a wildlife tour, our focus is safe and fun wilderness sea kayaking but on those days when the wildlife obliges, the tour is truly a once in a lifetime experience

Friendly Guides and a Relaxed Pace

Our guides receive rigorous safety training and are experts at taking first time kayakers of all ages safely on the water in Alaska. They are also great naturalists and will enthusiastically share their love of the land with you. Guides carry binoculars to share with the group but guests may also want to bring their own. We travel at a relaxed pace: the goal is to enjoy the wilderness and explore the shoreline, not to set any speed records. There are many opportunities for photographing the exceptional scenery and wildlife and guides will happily take pictures for you.

Our local guides love to share their knowledge of the area and immense sea life!

Smoked Salmon Picnic and Hot Drinks

After exploring by kayak, hungry kayakers are welcomed back on board the mothership with hot drinks and a picnic of Ketchikan's finest smoked silver salmon. Our Orcas Cove Select smoked salmon is caught and smoked in Alaska. Many of our guests tell us that it is the best smoked salmon they have ever tasted!

We went on the Orcas Cove trip, and we had a wonderful time. The views were pristine. We saw a couple of bald eagles, sea stars and a bunch of salmon jumping in the water. The staff was very fun, friendly, and professional. Our guide happily took pictures of us when we asked her to. She also told us some cool stories about Ketchikan, and her adventures living there. The light lunch of salmon, cream cheese and crackers were just perfect after kayaking. 

Annie Cooper on TripAdvisor

Who Should Take this Tour

Orcas Cove is a great tour for both beginner and experienced paddlers. Anyone with an adventurous spirit and average physical fitness can participate. Checkout our FAQ page for more information on physical requirements. We recommend this tour for families with children age 8 and older or with enough group members for 6 - 7 year olds to paddle in a triple kayak with 2 adults. For groups of 4 - 10, the Orcas Cove tour can be combined with Misty Fjords Flightseeing for the ultimate Alaskan adventure. 

How to Book and Cancellation Policies

Book early! With only 6 guests per tour space fills quickly. Tours may be reserved online or over the phone at 1-800-287-1607.

Full payment is due at time of online booking. Cancellations due to weather are rare (sometimes we have high winds) but are at the sole discretion of Southeast Sea Kayaks. The rain is not dangerous, it’s what makes the Tongass National Forest so vibrant. We have all the right gear for a rainy day adventure! If you miss your tour due to ship schedule changes (e.g. if your ship is late) or we cancel due to weather, you will of course receive a full refund.

Cancellations made prior to 30 days of tour date receive a full refund.

Cancellations made prior to 14 days of tour receive a 50% refund.

Cancellations made within 14 days of the tour are not eligible for a refund.

This is our official policy, but we know things happen in life, so please call us with any issues and we'll do all we can for you.

Orcas Cove is a beautiful wilderness area for kayaking, the scenery is breathtaking in any weather.

Orcas Cove for Groups

The Orcas Cove tour is available for groups of up to 6 at at a time with a 2 person booking minimum. This tour is intimate and

What to Wear and Bring

Kayaking in Southeast Alaska is all about staying warm and dry. We provide all the necessary outerwear and gear so that our guests do not have to bring special clothing or equipment. We ask that you dress in warm, comfortable layers. Guests usually wear our paddle jackets as the outer layer, leaving their own coats in the office. 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. A baseball cap or brimmed hat and sunglasses are a great idea on sunny days. No heels please - they can be dangerous on the docks. 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. We have a safe place where you can store purses and backpacks while you are paddling.

Orcas Cove paddlers coming back from around Carroll Point past a commercial salmon trolling boat.

Looking for More Information?

See our Frequently Asked Questions, read our Top 5 Reasons to take a Southeast Sea Kayaks tour, check out our Blog or learn more About Us. Call Us at 1-800-287-1607. We are open year round and are always happy to answer questions and help you find the right tour