Navigating the Gulf of Alaska


Lituya Glacier on the north arm of Lituya Bay.

The Gulf of Alaska is an essential travel route for vessels seeking passage to and from Southeast Alaska and locations further west, such as Prince William Sound, Kodiak, the Aleutian Islands and beyond. It’s a wild place that lures some of the world’s most adventurous boaters. At some 2,500 nautical miles, the Gulf of Alaska spans nearly the breath of the continental United States. The Gulf is alluring but daunting because of its exposure to the Pacific Ocean and its lack of protected bays and coves.


Ice bergs in Icy Bay, Southeast Alaska.

The Gulf of Alaska captured the attention of Terry Johnson, who retired as Alaska Sea Grant’s marine recreation and tourism specialist last winter. An accomplished boater and writer, Johnson created an online guide for anyone contemplating crossing the Gulf of Alaska for recreation.  He first published the guide in 2015 based on his own experience operating a variety of recreational boats from a 40-foot tri-cabin trawler to a 15-foot Runabout.

Boat on Pile Bay Road

A gillnetter makes its way across the Pile Bay bridge on upper Lake Iliamna.

On a newly redesigned Gulf of Alaska Coastal Travel Routes website, we’ve added new sections along with stunning photos, maps and charts, information on sites to explore and safety tips. Among the new sections is a shortcut from Homer to Bristol Bay. Enjoy the guide and be safe on the water!