Ketchikan Snorkeling Excursion Reviews
Snorkeling in Alaska - who would have thought it! We have snorkeled a few times in the Caribbean and this is a very different experience. As others have said, the thick wet suits are very hard to get on, but kept us very warm. It was sunny when we were in the water but rained right before and right after. The water was clearer than I thought and we saw tons of sea life. I was surprised how much you could see right off the coast. They had prescription masks for people like me who are nearsighted that worked really well. The guides were first rate, friendly and very attentive. There were three in the water with us - Marcus, Marie and Cassie. No complaints and nothing but praise.
As an avid "water person" and I have snorkeled in many places I thought this would be unique. I was not disappointed. We were lucky to have a beautiful sunny day - the water temp was in the 60's. We were suited up in very heavy wet suits and off we went to the water's edge. I had no idea what to expect to see - very few fish - the starfish were magnificent. The staff engaged you the whole time and were very helpful throughout the trip.
Snorkeling in Alaska? You've got to be kidding, right, but this was pretty cool. There are no glaciers in the area and there is a warm current so it's warmer than you'd think. They provide you with a thick wetsuit complete with hood, booties and gloves. If they fit right you get a thin layer of water between you and the suit which keeps you warm. Too loose you're cold, too tight and you can't move or breath well. Make sure your suit fits and you'll love this.
This isn't like snorkeling in a tropical setting. You can't see forever and the colors aren't vivid but you swim through kelp forests and see starfish, jellyfish, crabs and sea anemones.
And people won't believe you actually snorkeled in Alaska.
The day in Ketchikan was warm 75 degrees. We took a bus ride to the shop to get outfitted in our 7mm wetsuit with boots, gloves and a hood. We could not wait to get in the 50 degree water to cool off. We saw lots of different sea life, stars, cucumbers, kelp and lots of interesting jellies. When we stopped to rest you look up in the sky to see Bald Eagles. It was a great trip and a fun day. The staff at the Snorkel Shop was very helpful.
We took only one ship's excursion on this cruise, the Mountain Point Snorkeling Adventure with Snorkel Alaska (www.snorkelalaska.com). Our driver, Kevin, whisked 14 of us from the dock to their headquarters, where we were outfitted head-to-toe in 7 mm neoprene: wetsuit, boots, gloves and hood. All of this gear fit me VERY snugly (despite my being totally honest about my height and weight) and I welcomed the help provided by the staff to get it all on. They also provided fins, masks and snorkels. They even had prescription masks that were able to accommodate both me (+1.5) and my extremely-nearsighted (+5) husband.
Next it was back to the bus for the short drive to the snorkeling site at Mountain Point. Those who wanted to free dive were given weights and we took the short, rocky trail down to the shore. As we were heading down to the water, a bald eagle flew by and perched on a light tower right next to us.
John and I usually snorkel and SCUBA dive wearing 3 mm shortie wetsuits. I now learned the disadvantage of wearing all that extra neoprene: in the salt water, even with the weight belt, I was as buoyant as a toy balloon. In fact, I had difficulty remaining seated on a rock in shallow water to don my fins without floating away. Once we started snorkeling, I felt like I was floating on top of the water! Whenever we stopped to view sea life that the snorkel masters brought up for our inspection, I was wafted around by the small waves and light breeze. Oh, for a pair of ankle weights!
Except for being super-buoyant, I did not have any real problems and did not feel particularly cold except on the small area of exposed skin around the mask. The visibility was surprisingly good and would have been outstanding if the sun were shining (which it apparently does once or twice a year in Ketchikan). Our three snorkel masters (Tad, Dylan, and Cassie) were very good and Dylan was particularly adept at free diving to retrieve sea stars, urchins, sea cucumbers, etc. to share with us.
After the snorkeling, Cassie pulled off my fins while I held onto a rock to keep from floating off. Back at the bus, we could remove the hoods, douse our heads with warm water and exchange the weight belts for dry towels. Then it was back to the shop to strip off the rest of the gear and warm up with a hot shower and lots of hot chocolate. This was an excellent opportunity to sample cold water snorkeling with a very professional operation. It was not a strenuous excursion and we would recommend it to water types.