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Experience the Ultimate Alaska Whale Watching Adventure at Pybus Point Lodge: A Guide to Humpback Whales, Orca Whales, and More!

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Experience the Ultimate Alaska Whale Watching Adventure at Pybus Point Lodge: A Guide to Humpback Whales, Orca Whales, and More!

A humpback whale tail.

If you're planning a trip to Alaska, whale watching is an absolute must-do activity. While many of us have had the pleasure of viewing whales at aquariums, the experience is nothing compared to the thrill of seeing these incredible animals in the wild. Two of the most popular species of whales among whale watching enthusiasts are of course, killer whales and their gigantic relatives the humpback whale

Lucky for you, Pybus Point Lodge is located right in Alaska’s famous Inside Passage, home of some of the best whale watching in all of Alaska. Our all-inclusive resort has everything you need for the perfect whale watching experience–and a whole lot more. 

In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about whale watching in Alaska, including the best time to see these majestic creatures, the types of whales you might encounter, and the tours available at Pybus Point Lodge!

Types of Whales In Alaska

One of our guests fishing as a whale surfaces next to the boat!

Alaska is home to a diverse array of whale species: humpback, orca (killer), gray whales, minke, beluga, sperm, fin, and bowhead whales. Out of the eight types of whales, humpback and orcas are by far the favorites among whale watching enthusiasts. This is partly due to the awesome beauty of these animals and partly due to their sheer abundance throughout Alaska’s gorgeous south eastern region. 

Best Places for Humpback and Orca Whale Watching

A map of the Inside Passage from Mitchell Geography.

The Inside Passage is easily the most popular place in all of Alaska to see these spectacular creatures in the wild. Why? Well for starters, there are a massive amount of humpback and orca whales within this area. With its deep waters, island clusters, and plentiful food, the Inside Passage is the perfect place for a whale to spend its summer. Both humpback and orcas migrate to this region after their winter mating seasons. Humpbacks only eat during the summer months and they visit Alaska to gorge themselves on small fish and crustaceans before heading to warmer waters in the winter. Orcas come to the shallow waters of Alaska’s coast to dine on salmon–Chinook salmon in particular. After all, the Inside Passage isn’t just the perfect ecosystem for whales, but also for animals like salmon, herring, crustaceans, seals, squid and all manner of other small creatures that whales love to eat.

The other reason why the Inside Passage is so popular is because of its beautiful climate and easy access. Alaska’s capital, Juneau, is one of the biggest ports throughout the entire Inside Passage and it’s the perfect place for out of state visitors to fly in and out of. From May to September each year, Juneau is alive with tourists from around the world who are boarding cruise ships and flying to remote wilderness lodges for the chance to see all that southeast Alaska has to offer–including wild whales. 

Humpback Whales

A pod of humpback whales feeding on the water's surface.

Always a crowd pleaser, these gigantic creatures can grow up to 50 feet long and weigh up to 40 tons. The average female humpback whale weighs more than the four biggest elephants on earth combined! Humpbacks are known for their distinctive songs, which can be heard for miles underwater. They are also known for their acrobatic displays, including breaching and tail or flipper slapping, (where a whale slaps its appendages on the ocean surface). Scientists think that humpbacks do these things to communicate to other whales, remove parasites from their skin, or even just for fun! 

As we said, humpback whales don’t eat during the winter, and they spend the rest of their year stocking up on food. For Alaskan humpbacks, there’s no better meal than a school of herring. Humpbacks are what’s known as gulp feeders, meaning that they gulp up huge quantities of small prey at a time and then filter the seawater back out of their mouths. 

Humpbacks also engage in a unique hunting method known as bubble net feeding, a truly spectacular sight to witness. Bubble net feeding is when a highly coordinated group of whales work together to trap their prey in exactly what it sounds like, a net of bubbles. To do this, the whales will dive below a school of fish that they’re targeting. Usually, one whale will take the lead and swim in circles as it exhales a constant stream of bubbles that trap the fish and force them to the surface. While this is going on the other whales will encircle the school of fish to corral them in and prevent them from swimming away. While the bottom whale sprays bubbles, the other whales open up their mouths and enjoy big gulps of delicious fish. If you’re lucky enough to see this phenomenon in the wild, it’ll surely be a highlight of your Alaskan vacation.

A map of humpback whale migration from NOAA

Once the water starts to cool down in September, Alaskan humpbacks swim south to Mexico and Hawaii where they mate and give birth. Humpbacks have a gestation period of about a year and calves are always born in the same region they were conceived. During this entire time humpbacks don’t eat a single thing. 

That’s a big reason why Alaska is such a spectacular place for whale watching. In the summer months, the animals are just so active and easily spotted. In fact, humpback whales are so commonly seen in the waters around Pybus Point Lodge, that we can tell you with near certainty that you’ll see one during your vacation. For our guests, it’s actually more unusual not to see a humpback whale during the day than it is to see one! 

In fact, we usually don’t need to go out and look for whales. The whales come to us! No matter what activity you’re doing on the water there’s a near guarantee that you’ll come across a humpback whale in the wild. While you certainly can go out on a whale watching specific tour, we typically recommend that you choose to spend your time fishing or touring the nearby glacier. Whenever your captain comes across a pod of whales, they’ll kill the motor and let you watch these special creatures do their thing! That way you can make the most of your vacation by enjoying a fun tour or excursion and still get the awesome opportunity to see whales in the wild.

Orca (Killer) Whales

Two orca whales near Pybus Point Lodge.

Orca whales, also known as killer whales, are the largest member of the dolphin family (dolphins are considered a subcategory of whales). That means that orcas are actually more closely related to bottlenose dolphins than they are to humpback whales! With no natural predators, orcas are at the top of the food chain and have even been known to hunt humpbacks! That’s pretty spectacular considering that orcas are only 30 feet long and weigh 10 tons at the most, about a quarter the size of a humpback. 

Orca whales are known for their intelligence and social behavior, and they travel in extremely stable and organized family groups of up to 40 individuals.

Two more orcas near Pybus Point Lodge.

The only animals on planet earth that have more complicated social lives than orcas are elephants and great apes like gorillas, chimps, and humans. Orca whales live with their mothers for their entire lives, and as many as four generations of mothers and calves can live together at a time. These family groups are so organized and structured that they never leave the group for more than a few hours while they mate. 

A “pod” of orcas is a group of multiple families that live, hunt, and eat together. Interestingly enough, orcas nearly always mate with other orcas that are outside of their pod, keeping their gene pool diverse and healthy. Different families within a pod are known to separate for a few weeks to a few months, but they always eventually get back together.

Amazingly, there’s another level of relationships that orca’s have, a clan. A clan is composed of several pods that all speak the same dialect. Wait, whales have different dialects? That’s right! Orca language and communication is so complex that there are multiple different dialects of orca’s language, with some being minor differences (like American English and British English) and some being as different as English and Korean.

The range in dialects observed in orcas is so great that some clans are completely unable to communicate with other clans! Just like human beings, orcas can be found all over the world–so it makes sense that these intelligent creatures would have developed multiple languages. 

While orca’s can be found in every ocean on earth, they tend to prefer colder climates, as well as preferring coastal waters. The areas with the highest concentration of orcas are the northern Atlantic around Norway, the antarctic ocean near the south pole, and the north pacific off the coast of Alaska.

A map from NOAA of orca whale habitats.

Specifically, orca whales thrive in the Gulf of Alaska, the same gulf that funnels into Alaska’s Inside Passage. Studying orca fecal samples, scientists have confirmed that the clan of orcas that live in the Gulf of Alaska mainly feed off of chinook (king) salmon, a species that runs all throughout the Inside Passage.

Though orca whales aren’t as commonly spotted as humpbacks, they are found all around the waters near Pybus Point Lodge. In fact, orcas have been seen right in front of the lodge in our very own bay many times. To be safe, we never guarantee that our guests will see an orca during their vacation, but orca sightings can and do happen regularly.  

Best Time To See Orca And Humpback Whales In Alaska

A breaching humpback whale.

The best time to see humpback and orca whales in Alaska is during the summer months from May to September. For your absolute best chances of seeing both types of whales we recommend planning your vacation for June. By this time of year all the Alaskan humpbacks will have returned from their migration south, and orcas will be at their most active as they hunt down chinook salmon. 

July and August are also great months for whale watching, the humpbacks are still in full force and the waters are still chock full of orcas. Up until August, chinook salmon can still be found within southeast Alaska. Even after the chinook are gone, orca whales remain in Alaska, they simply start hunting different animals. 

At Pybus Point Lodge, we see both types of whale throughout the entire summer, beginning as early as May and ending as late as September. So really, your chances of seeing a whale are always high during the summer months no matter when you visit.

If you want to know more about the best time to visit Alaska, check out this post!

Humpback and Killer Whale Watching Tours And More At Pybus Point Lodge

A surfacing orca whale.

If you're planning a trip to Alaska and you want to see these magnificent creatures up close, Pybus Point Lodge is the place for you. At our all-inclusive resort you’ll be paired up with an experienced guide who will take you on a custom-built boat to see humpback and orca whales, seals and sea lions, glaciers, and more! Our tours are designed to provide an intimate encounter with these majestic creatures, while also educating our guests on their behavior and habitat.

Pybus Point Lodge is located on a remote island deep in the Inside Passage making for the perfect home base for whale watching, fishing, and sightseeing! When you purchase an all-inclusive vacation at Pybus Point Lodge, you’re getting transportation to and from our remote island, luxurious accommodations, gourmet dining, a full-time guide, full access to all of our land tours and excursions, free kayak rentals, free self-guided boat rentals, and so much more. 

At Pybus Point Lodge, we’re all about experiencing everything that Alaska has to offer. That’s why we’ve worked so hard to become a one-stop destination for Alaskan adventure. Throughout your stay, you can fully customize your own dream itinerary and choose from a wide range of daily activities.

Two of our guests posed in front of the beautiful Sawyer Glacier.

Many of our activities pair perfectly with whale watching. One of our favorite things to show our guests is the unbelievable Sawyer Glacier. As you travel by boat through the Tracy Arm Fjord you can gawk at the towering cliffs, bright blue icebergs, and incredible wildlife before you arrive at your final destination, the Sawyer Glacier. In order to reach the fjord, you have to travel across the Inside Passage–a voyage that almost always includes a spectacular humpback whale show!

One of our boats in the gorgeous Tracy Arm Fjord.

If you also plan on fishing during your Alaskan vacation you’ll love our guided fishing program. Each and every one of our coast guard certified captains doubles as your personal fishing guide. Throughout your stay you can fish for halibut, salmon, ling cod, rockfish and pacific cod, all of which we’ll professional filet, clean, vacuum seal and freeze for you to take with you. At the end of your vacation we’ll send you home with a sturdy, mylar insulated box that can easily be taken with you on any major airline as carry-on luggage. While fishing, you’re all but guaranteed to come across whales as they feast, breach, and spray along the ocean surface.

Two of our guests posed with some freshly caught halibut.

Book Your Vacation Today!

One of our guests photographing a stunning iceberg.

Pybus Point Lodge has everything you need for your dream Alaska vacation. Luxury cabins, gourmet dining, professional guides, and so much more. Whether you’re looking to fish, kayak, whale watch, or just experience Alaska’s rugged beauty, we’re here to help. Moments after you arrive at our resort, we’ll introduce you to your full-time guide who will spend your vacation giving you a personalized Alaskan experience.

Click here to book your own Alaskan adventure and we’ll reserve a spot in one of our beautiful ocean-front cabins just for you. The beauty and majesty of Alaska is waiting for you!

If you have any questions about our all-inclusive vacation package, our whale watching tours, or any of our other land tours and excursions give us a call! We’re always happy to answer any questions that you may have about our award winning resort.

Pybus Point Lodge: Come to Disconnect, Leave Connected.

Alaska Packing List PDF


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Discover why people like you can’t stop talking about Pybus Point Lodge. More than 30 years ago, the lodge opened as a simple fishing camp, drawing a devoted following in spite of basic accommodations. With new owners and experienced captains and crew, our corner of Alaska has become an unbeatable fishing and eco-tourism resort.

Andrea Tate

Incredible Experience!

Pybus Point Lodge has some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen. I mean absolutely breathtaking! In addition to the amazing fishing, I hiked to a beautiful secluded lake, soaked in some hot pots, saw several waterfalls, went whale watching, saw bears and all kinds of wildlife and marine life. As a photographer, photographing a wedding under a waterfall will remain a highlight of my life.

Shirley Johnson

Pybus Point Lodge - WOW!

We had the best time! This was our first visit to Pybus, but it definitely will not be our last. The stunning scenery, amazing fishing experience, and the joy of meeting new friends – all outstanding! We did not want to leave!!! If you are thinking about this trip – don’t think any more, just book it. You will not regret it!!!

Sharon Hedding

Trip of a Lifetime!

We had such an amazing time the staff was so wonderful and the lodge was fantastic! capt Joe was so helpful and always doing what ever he could do to make each day special. a special thank you to both Scott and Jody for taking the time to make us feel like family. can't wait to go back next year

Jason Nielsen

Wonderful and Magical Place

We had an amazing business retreat to Pybus Point Lodge.  Everything was top notch... the fishing, the staff, the boat captains, the food, the accommodations, and especially the scenery. I really liked that Pybus took care of everything from start to finish. Chef John is an amazing cook. We had delicious hot meals the entire trip.  The cabins were amazing and very comfortable.  The fishing was awesome and that’s coming from a guy that doesn’t fish that much.

Brandon Foote

We brought home 100lbs of fish!

My wife and I spent a week at Pybus Point this Summer. We had a beautiful, private room overlooking the bay and our own new, ensuite, private bathroom. What an amazing place for couples to get away together. We set our own breakfast time, met our boat captain after, fished the day along, and returned to clean up and enjoy a nice dinner at the restaurant. Next time Alaska is on the trip list, Sherrie and I will go together, and it will be to Pybus Point!

Kent Danjanovich

Fun in Alaska

This was my first trip to Pybus Point. I stayed in one of their new cabins. The accommodations were incredible, the view onto the bay in the mornings was stunning. I loved the staff and the food was really very good. All of this and they have new boats to take you out onto fairly calm waters to fish. The fishing guides were great. Overall a great experience. Definitely going back.


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