Before departing for my cruise last week, I decided to do something slightly different when booking my on-chore excursions. Hence, the decision to snorkel in the lovely Ketchikan, Alaska came about. The only caveat, naturally, was that you had to be in good enough shape to participate. If you’ve never been snorkeling before and are in Alaska, try this! It was a fantastic time, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone!
I was scheduled to depart at 9 AM, but the night before I received a letter saying they’d have to push that up by an hour. No worries, being in the water would wake me up! Once I arrive on shore, I was immediately escorted to the bus that would take my fellow snorkelers to the Snorkel Alaska shop. As it turned out, I was one half of the Holland America passengers who signed up for this, so we combined with passengers from Princess Cruises. The ride itself took roughly 10 minutes, and it went past the downtown of Ketchikan towards the residential area/outskirts. While we were on the bus, one of our guides, Jonathan, gave us a briefing on how to put the gear on (wetsuit on one leg/arm at a time, roll the bottom of the legs up to facilitate putting on our shoes, then the cap, goggles, then the gloves), which helped speed things up once we were in the changing room. Now, some people may be wondering how we kept warm. The answer is simple: we had wetsuits, not to be mistaken with dry suits; wetsuits are designed to purposely get a small amount of water in, which helps oneself warm up to your body temperature. After changing into our suits (which were tight on purpose, but made us feel that we were a bit bloated), we all received our snorkels and flippers. Next, we were bussed two minutes down the road to our destination. Once we arrived, we were given the option to wear weighted belts, which ranged from 16-20 pounds each. To dispel anyone’s fears, a) our suits were extremely buoyant, as demonstrated by my arms involuntarily floating to the surface, and b) these weights were tried and true. Also, said weights were designed to facilitate snorkelers who wanted to sink a bit in order to get a better view of what was beneath the lake. I myself opted for them, and I was absolutely rewarded-I got to see a ton of the fish/marine wildlife!
Once we were in the water, we all collectively floundered as we were transitioning from land; the floppiness of our flippers was awkward, at least in my experience. However, once everybody was in, it was seamless. Glancing around, I saw that plenty of people tried to swim with their hands. Yes, you can do this, but as one of the guides mentioned, you’ll tire out, thus you need to primarily use your legs. For an hour long excursion, this was extremely useful-I was feeling tired by the end.
Something that gave us a bang for the buck was how all three of our guides were able to provide information about the wildlife. Respectively, we had a marine biologist, biologist, and an ecologist, so they knew their stuff. They showed us, in no order, a sea cucumber, leech, star fish (which actually isn’t a fish), and kelp. We also swam by non-threatening jelly fish, which I will admit initially shocked me. Keep in mind, some areas we went through were shallow enough that all of us could stand up in. The last thing we experienced was swimming through a kelp forest, and boy was it fantastic! It was absolutely surreal seeing kelp on both sides, and it reminded me of the underwater scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in all honesty. Shortly after we went through, we touched back on land, ending the fantastic excursion.
You can find more information on their Facebook page and their website at http://www.snorkelalaska.com, and they’re located at 4031 S Tongass Highway. Bear in mind their season ends in September.