Seaplane Sightseeing in the Misty Fjords, Alaska

Going on a seaplane / floatplane / flying death trap (delete as applicable) has been a dream of my husband’s for a really long time. I’ve never been on one either, so when I saw that one of the excursions we could book from our Alaskan cruise was a flightseeing trip over the Misty Fjords in a seaplane, I was booking it whilst simultaneously planning our meals of baked beans for the next 6 months. Yes, it’s expensive. But oh, my, is it worth it.

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This post will be picture heavy so I apologise for that. It might make a nice easy Monday morning read though?

So, back to the flightseeing. We had a horrifyingly early pick up time at Ketchikan docks, which meant an extremely early breakfast on account of having to eat all our meals in the main dining room (gluten free problems). We were about first off the ship and everything. However, as we’d booked through an outside company the process was seamless and not at all stressful, unlike the bunfight that proceeded the excursion we booked via the cruise line.

Anyway, having met our representative at the docks and climbed into the minivan to wait for the rest of the party, we were feeling pretty excited.

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Soon enough they all showed up (a lovely family of 4 from Georgia) and off we went. We watched a quick safety briefing in the ‘terminal’ of the Taquan Air facility, left any bags we didn’t want in the lockers provided, and headed down to the jetty.

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There was our seaplane waiting for us. It suddenly looked very small.

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Then we looked inside. How were all 6 adults going to fit in there?!

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The floatplane enthusiast from Georgia took the seat in the cockpit next to the pilot, and the other three in the family bravely squeezed into the back of the plane. S and I took the first row. It was a somewhat treacherous clamber into the plane – it felt a bit early for a dip in the freezing water…

The pilot gave us a quick briefing, we put on our headphones, feeling giddy with excitement.

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Then we took off!

And soon we all had our faces plastered to the window, mouths agape. What a view!

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The day started off a little overcast, and with the movement of the plane it was a bit difficult to get good photos. Nonetheless, we saw all sorts of amazing things.

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We saw seals basking on an island. We saw a big rock named the New Eddystone Rock, after a lighthouse. Because it looked a bit like a lighthouse to one early English explorer.

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I mean… sure.

We saw hidden valleys and lakes.

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We saw above the clouds and below the clouds.

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We saw all sorts of trees.

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We saw lots of evidence of logging.

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We saw beautiful blue water. So much blue!

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And then the pilot took us on a graceful downward swoop and we landed on the water of one of the fjords.

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There was nobody around. We bobbed around in the stillness for a minute, and then the pilot said, ok who wants to get out?

We all blinked at each other.

So the pilot, noticing our blank faces, explained that we could get out and stand on the floats of the plane. If we wanted to.

Right! Ok. Holding on to everything and everything extremely tightly, I gingerly stepped down onto the float whilst eyeing the cold water nervously. I am a very clumsy person so for me it was an absolute miracle I didn’t fall in.

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Instead, I stood on the float of that seaplane and listened to the water lapping gently near (but definitely not on) my feet. The stillness was incredible. Broken only by the occasional clicks of a camera shutter, we all marvelled at the wild open scenery before us.

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And then the seaplane enthusiast from Georgia belched loudly.

The spell broken, I clambered back on board ready to take to the skies again.

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We did ask the pilot whether he’d ever fallen in – he said he actually had, once. A passenger hadn’t realised he was stood on the float and had opened the passenger door vigorously, knocking the poor pilot into the water.

He had to fly the rest of the way home in cold soggy clothes.

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Poor pilot. I’m just glad that passenger wasn’t me!

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So we flew back to the seaplane base, the pilot continuing to add his own (much more informative) commentary to the taped one we heard over our earphones.

We flew above all 3 cruise boats docked for the day, dwarfing the tiny town of Ketchikan. Our was the Norwegian Jewel, on the far right. Also in port was the Norwegian Star (far left) and a Holland America ship.

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It was all fascinating, it was all beautiful, I had the time of my life.

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If you’re considering booking a flight on a seaplane, please do it. You won’t regret it. Even if you have to live on beans for 6 months afterwards.

We booked through Alaska Shore Tours who were extremely professional, friendly and helpful. They had the most competitive pricing (certainly much better value than booking via your cruise line, and you’ll end up using the same people anyway) and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to a friend. They also have plenty of other tours on offer so they may have just what you’re looking for. Nobody paid me to say that, just to be clear.

Would you go on a seaplane?

-Rachel

Linking up with Claire, Lisa, Karen and Sarah for Monday Escapes and with Erin, Clare and Katy for Faraway Files

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21 Comments

  1. 27th November 2016 / 13:09

    Hi Rachel. I used to go on seaplanes. These days I go on float planes and that way I can land on lakes and rivers too! I am lucky to use float planes for work quite often and I am always glued to the window watching to coast and forests go past. You took some great photos.

    Next time you are in BC look into taking a scheduled flight harbour to harbour – many BC cities and towns have such service. You could fly from Vancouver to Victoria for instance. And the cost is competetive with land based flights.

  2. Jen
    28th November 2016 / 01:13

    What a fun experience!!! Take me with you on your travels haha!

  3. 28th November 2016 / 10:15

    Absolutely love your photos they are just stunning and your reference to flying death trap made me giggle. I really really want to do this now! Definitely pinning for another day! Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

  4. Nomadic clan member
    28th November 2016 / 15:34

    Glad my rather ‘functional’ light blue jacket got to go on such an exciting trip in a plane! It hasn’t seen such adventures since its trip to Accra many years ago 😊

  5. 28th November 2016 / 18:55

    Oh my goodness Rachel, all of your pictures are so breathtaking! I feel like the excursions that seem the scariest are actually the ones that end up being the most fun and the once in a lifetime experiences! We did a helicopter ride in Hawaii, and while I was scared, seeing those views was truly extraordinary! Chris keeps on talking about doing an Alaskan cruise, so I’m definitely going to pin this for later, and I’ll see if I can convince him to do it with me! I also love that you stepped out on to the plane when y’all had landed on the water! So cool!

  6. 29th November 2016 / 01:32

    Your pictures are beautiful! I’m not a fan of small planes, but the view looks totally worth it 🙂

  7. 29th November 2016 / 15:24

    ok seriously breathtaking. i could never do this i fear, because of my nervousness with flying and well heights. but in theory i would love to 🙂 the photos are quite amazing i must say!!

    xoxo cheshire kat

  8. 1st December 2016 / 12:02

    Oh wow! Those views are absolutely breath taking!! I would love to do something like this one day! I’ve pinned this for a future return visit to Alaska! #FarawayFiles

  9. 1st December 2016 / 15:57

    I love a sea plane trip! Absolutely stunning photos & scenery. Thanks for sharing.

  10. 1st December 2016 / 16:36

    You don’t need to apologise for being photo-heavy when the pictures are this stunning! Wow. I could almost get over my fear of tiny planes for this view. #farawayfiles

  11. 1st December 2016 / 17:04

    I have flown on a seaplane from Seattle, Washington to the San Juan Islands for my 10th wedding anniversary and it was an AMAZING experience. It doesn’t even feel right that you can and DO land on the water. Such amazing views from the air. I would love to do this in Alaska – have never been! Thanks for sharing this lovely, lovely post for #FarawayFiles, Erin

  12. 1st December 2016 / 19:06

    Woah! I am speechless. That must have been incredible 😀 I really enjoy your blog! Thanks for sharing #farawayfiles

  13. 2nd December 2016 / 09:15

    I am not a great flyer at all but I would have to go on that seaplane! That scenery – WOW!!!! it is stunning. Visiting Alaska is a bucket list destination for me (I have to land at Anchorage airport singing along to Michelle Shocked “Anchorage’ one of my favourite songs! And yes I want to to the cruise!!! It just looks fantastic!! #farawayfiles

  14. 2nd December 2016 / 19:45

    Ooh Rachel you are braver than I but the effort was so worth it for that incredible scenery. Nature is so awesome, I hope future generations can experience this. Worth protecting! Thanks for taking us with you on #FarawayFiles

  15. 2nd December 2016 / 19:45

    Ooh Rachel you are braver than I but the effort was so worth it for that incredible scenery. Nature is so awesome, I hope future generations can experience this. Worth protecting! Thanks for taking us with you on #FarawayFiles

  16. 2nd December 2016 / 20:39

    Very cool! Oh my gosh I’d be terrified in such a tiny plane. Was it bumpy? But it seems like an amazing experience. How excited was S?

  17. 3rd December 2016 / 17:19

    Oh Rachel you’ve completely convinced me – those photos are so stunning. How wonderful that you could stand virtually on the water. Love the story of the pilot falling in – sounds like the sort of accident I’d have. Great post for #FarawayFiles

  18. 4th December 2016 / 14:18

    This looks sooooooooo cool, I would love to go on a seaplane but wow, they are small aren’t they! I am also very clumsy so I’m not sure if I would be brave enough to step out of it as you did although what an experience it must have been, I would definitely try to muster up the courage. Fabulous views and photos, this is a chance in a lifetime you couldn’t miss! #FarawayFiles

  19. 6th December 2016 / 20:44

    Wow that really is stunning… the small plane is a little off-putting but I was sold once I saw the views!

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