Southeast Kenai Locations:

Kenai Fjords

Kenai Fjords National Park.

Notable Species

  • Dall’s porpoise
  • Gray whale
  • Harbor seal
  • Humpback whale
  • Killer whale
  • Sea otter
  • Steller sea lion
  • Black bear
  • Mountain goat
  • Petrels
  • Shearwaters
  • Red-faced cormorant
  • Black-legged kittiwake
  • Gulls
  • Common murre
  • Pigeon guillemot
  • Murrelets
  • Auklets
  • Horned puffin
  • Tufted puffin

The fjords and rugged islands of Kenai Fjords National Park and the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge showcase the best of Alaska’s marine world in a compact package. Murres, kittiwakes, puffins and other seabirds perch and nest along cliff faces just above the swells. Sea otters float belly-up eating mussels and clams. Harbor seals haul out on icebergs off Aialik and Northwestern glaciers. Humpback whales spend the summers fattening on forage fish such as herring. Gray whales pass in April on their epic migration to the Arctic. Steller sea lions mate and raise pups on Chiswell Island. In early and late summer, pods of fish-eating resident killer whales roam the region in pursuit of salmon.


The park contains shallow bays and estuaries, and deeper marine habitats. Regional currents drive nutrients into outer Resurrection Bay, making that area especially rich in fish and an early location for spring bloom of plankton and algae. Cliffs and rocky shores create nesting sites for birds and haul-out areas for marine mammals.

Cultural Connection

Aialik Bay was the site of a village of the Pacific Eskimos. The village was abandoned in 1880 when the residents moved to nearby English Bay.

Viewing Tip

Scan for concentrations of birds as an indication of schooling fish. Often humpback whales and other marine mammals will surface nearby.

Helpful Hints

Take rain gear on any tour—it will block wind and allow you to remain on deck if the weather turns bad. Bring binoculars. Be prepared for rough seas.

Avid Birders

Make your interests known when booking your trip and to the naturalist on your cruise. Some cruises specialize in birders and most naturalists know a lot more about the birds than they share in their general presentations.

Getting There

Several companies based in the boat harbor offer half-day and full-day excursions to the Chiswell Islands and Kenai Fjords National Park. Charter boats, water taxis and sea kayak tours offer options to spend more time in remote areas. Cruises are offered throughout the fall, winter and spring, but on limited schedules. Spring cruises target the gray whale migration.