Paul Wade, NOAA Fisheries


An ethereal glimpse of a fin or tail. Silence, then a gigantic form breaches the surface. Countless whales spend the summer near Alaska shores feeding, and views of these mighty mammals are best in the waters near Anchorage.

What To Look For

Resident beluga whales cruise offshore right where the city meets the water. These white whales are easily spotted as they surface in silty waters of Turnagain Arm. About the size of a car, belugas feed on hooligan and salmon runs returning to local rivers and streams. The best spots for beluga include turnouts alongside the Seward Highway, Bird Point and – of course – Beluga Point.

Fin, minke, humpback, gray, and orca whales are among the dozen species that play in the rich waters of Prince William Sound and the waters outside Resurrection Bay. Day cruises out of Seward and Whittier combine the opportunity to whale watch with views of puffins, sea lions, seals, and glaciers.

When To Go

Whale watching cruises usually begin departing from Seward in early March, with the arrival of gray whales migrating north from Baja. Cruises continue throughout the summer and into the fall, and the season typically wraps up in early October.

Humpback Whale

Cook Inlet belugas (pictured below) are commonly seen in mid-July through August, when they come to Turnagain Arm to feed on salmon running off the Anchorage coast.

Point Woronzof Beluga Whales

Prince William Sound

Shielded from the Gulf of Alaska by a string of islands, the protected waters of Prince William Sound hold dozens of glaciers. Massive tidewater glaciers roll down to the water. With a crack, a rumble...