We were sitting in the sound looking at all the kelp and listening to Mitch tell us his story of moving to Alaska when we heard them. They passed about 100 yards away moving along the channel as if it was a whale highway. There are a variety of whales that travel the Sitka sound - humpbacks, greys and orcas. It was hard to tell by sight what kind they were but I saw sleek grey, no black or white, so I'm guessing our first sighting were greys.
After that incredible experience, we started paddling towards our lunch spot. This time we saw the spray from their blowhole before we heard it. The whales were much further away, probably about 300 yards and the weather was getting choppier so it was tough paddling. They appeared to be playing in the water with lots of spraying going on. We did our darndest to get closer but it was rough going. But we were running out of time. Our kayak tour would be over and we needed to get to our meet-up place so we paddled on.
Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures met us at the beach with a healthy and delicious lunch. We ate and then they transported us and the kayaks by boat through the sound. We saw otters and passed by the Sitka harbor with it's cannery and fishing boats.
We paddled about 7 miles in all and I thought I wouldn't be able to lift my arms the next day but lo and behold, I could! It was, hands down, one of the best experiences ever. I would do it again in a heartbeat! Kayaking with whales - you can't beat it!
Full disclaimer: We paid for our tours with Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures - nothing was complimentary. I just really, really liked them. And I can't recommend them enough.
1. Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures provided us with kayaks, paddles, kayak skirts, wet weather clothing, lunch, transportation back to Sitka and ginormous homemade cookies to munch on while we paddled. You can find out more info here.
2.We booked our kayak tour on a whim but I would recommend advance reservations if you know that is what you want to do.
3. They operate guided tours, multi-day tours and have kayak rentals.