Sitka, Alaska is a coastal island town nestled between mountains and the sea. Sitka’s native Tlingit name is Sheet’ka, or “Shee,” which loosely translates to “the island behind the islands”. Sheltered from the open seas and high winds by hundreds of tree-studded islands, the calm, protected waters of Sitka Sound are perfect for kayaking.
Sitka is home to over twenty-four nationally recognized historic sites, fourteen designated hiking trails, and 1,600 square miles of rugged backcountry wilderness – so there’s plenty to experience on land. The moment you get out on the water, however, adventure feels truly limitless.
“The Sitka Sound area offers some of the nicest sea kayak paddling terrain anywhere in the world,” says John Dunlap. John is the general manager of Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures, a seasonal kayak guiding company that offers tours, outfitting services, and a treasure trove of local knowledge.
“There are all kinds of great places to go, depending on what the conditions are, and there’s almost always somewhere you can go where the conditions are within your abilities,” he adds. And in Sitka, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a first-time kayaker or a seasoned paddler. Regardless of your skill level, there’s something for everyone.
Sandy white beaches are just a short trip away, and so are the underground bunkers located at Fort Rousseau Causeway State Historical Park. A relic of Sitka’s WWII history, the park is only accessible by boat or kayak. Experienced adventurers often kayak to Kruzof Island, where they can camp in a remote U.S. Forest Service cabin or summit the snowy rim of Mt. Edgecumbe volcano. And in the winter, packing ski gear in a kayak is not unheard of.
You don’t need a destination to enjoy your adventure, either. Look in any direction and you’ll see snowcapped peaks, islands the color of emeralds, and pristine ocean. In addition to the stunning surrounding scenery, kayaking is an opportunity to get up close and personal with Sitka’s abundant marine wildlife: humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, and otters.
As a coastal fishing community in Southeast Alaska, the people of Sitka share a deep connection with the ocean and its ecosystems. Getting out on the water is the best way to experience Sitka like a local. Rain or shine, you can enjoy being in or on the water – jump into fishing, surfing, paddle boarding, and snorkeling.
Here, seasons aren’t dictated by calendar months, but instead by natural cycles: the arrival of the herring, the return of non-resident humpback whales, the salmon runs. It’s no surprise that sea to table dining is the center of Sitka’s vibrant culinary scene. Your salmon fillet or steaming plate of Dungeness crab arrives just off the dock, wild-caught in Sitka’s waters. Each local restaurant has its own specialty, from savory salmon chowder to fresh oysters on the half shell.
Sitka boasts a vibrant culinary scene, with passionate chefs that use local ingredients to create amazing delights for every taste. Visit our brewery to check out their rotating list of beers, and pubs that offer house made signature cocktails like Salmonberry Mojitos and Bloody Mary’s topped with beach asparagus. We have bakers, and chocolate makers, handmade donuts and local catch ceviche! Look for other local ingredients on your plate like seasonal berries, wild edibles, and hand-crafted favorites like artisanal sea salt and crunchy kelp pickles. Whether you prefer grilled steak and hand-made pasta, or are craving a food adventure in a Mediterranean inspired “Wild Alaska” paella, Sitka’s restaurants are ready to safely serve you.
Explore the extraordinary in Sitka, Alaska. Plan your adventure and order your free guide at visitsitka.org.
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