Editor’s note: While Alaska has proven popular with private yachts for decades, the past two years have seen record visitors. Cruise ships have, too, but yachts and tenders, of course, can access area they cannot. With that in mind, we invited Brent Bitterman, the president and COO of Alaska Luxury Tours, to provide insight into some of the best yacht-only experiences. Here, he reveals great glaciers to see by superyacht in Alaska, along with not-to-miss hidden gems.
In Alaska, Glacier Bay National Park is the crown jewel. Since permits can be challenging, though, we like to guide our superyacht charters elsewhere. In fact, we highly recommend taking Tracy Arm to the Sawyer Glacier or Endicot Arm to the Dawes Glacier.
The twisting Tracy Arm and straighter Endicott Arm fjords are not only remote, but also surround you with towering cliffs thousands of feet high. All the while, you watch massive icebergs float by, while you look for bears, bald eagles, and whales all around. The experience definitely makes you feel very small.
At the end of Tracy Arm, North and South Sawyer Glacier (top) afford some of the closest tidewater glacier viewing possible, depending on ice conditions. Yet another benefit is seeing harbor seal pups. They’re born in late May and early June. So, if you plan to cruise by superyacht in Alaska next year, keep this in mind. It’s a unique opportunity to see Alaska’s wildlife up close and personal.
On the way up Endicott Arm to the Dawes Glacier, meanwhile, there’s a little-known wildlife oasis called Ford’s Terror. This is not for the faint of heart, only accessible by tender at high-slack tide. Therefore, it’s a commitment few embark upon. To put it into perspective, it gets its name from a naval crewmember who in 1899 paddled into the waterway, only to have the ripping tidal surge trap him for six hours.
Besides these great glaciers, we recommend clients visiting by superyacht in Alaska visit a few charming fishing villages. These include Tenakee Springs, Hoonah, Pelican, and Elfin Cove. Each is quaint and offers opportunities to utilize the knowledge of sportfishing guides to add to your experience. Pelican in particular (above) has only a few dozen residents who mostly run a few fishing lodges and a fish-processing plant. Fishing and wildlife viewing are at their peak in southeast Alaska in July and August. Furthermore, this is when the glacier-fed waters of the Icy Strait and Stephens Passage are as good as it gets.
Finally, two secreted gems are the Hidden Falls Hatchery and Baranof Hot Springs. Both are accessible by tender, on Baranof Island, and cannot be missed! Soaking in the natural hot springs on a cold southeastern Alaska day is invigorating. Equally enthralling is the coastal brown bear viewing at the salmon hatchery. It can be dangerous getting up close to wild Alaskan brown bears. However, and luckily, the abundance of salmon returning to the hatchery to spawn satiates them.
Alaska Luxury Tours alaskaluxurytours.com
Pacific Yacht Management pacificyachtmanagement.com