Bear Viewing Alaska
Are you ready to experience the best brown bear viewing tour in the entire state? Bear Viewing Alaska will take you on the adventure of a lifetime as you get up close and personal with wild coastal brown bears weighing over half a ton.
Your Alaska bear viewing tour will begin in Homer where we take you by boat across Cook Inlet to Chinitna Bay, part of the beautiful Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. Once there, you will safely watch Alaska brown bears from several viewing areas accompanied by one of our experienced guides.
Chinitna Bay is home to one of the densest populations of brown bears in the world and it’s not uncommon to see more than 20 bears while standing in one spot.
Because our tours are done by boat, you will get to see TONS of wildlife on our journey to Chinitna Bay. All while riding in comfort aboard our spacious and stable forty-foot class catamarans.
Your seven to eight hour excursion will immerse you in the Alaskan wilderness where you’ll be surrounded by glaciers, volcanoes, wildlife, and endless mountain peaks as far as the eye can see. There are few tours in Alaska where you can see humpback whales, orcas, and brown bears all in a single day, which is why our tours are truly unique.
If you’re visiting Alaska, what are you waiting for? We cater to travelers staying in Homer for the day, week, or the entire summer season. Bear viewing in Chinitna Bay is great throughout the entire season, so contact us today and book your tour!
Breaking down your tour from start to finish
You’re probably wondering what to expect when you embark on your bear viewing tour in Alaska. We entertain guests from all over the planet who are looking for an authentic Alaskan experience. When you see Alaska in advertisements, television shows, or travel brochures, a picture of a mighty brown bear is almost always included. This is the tour that will turn that picture into your reality.
We want our guests to have a good idea of what takes place on one of our tours and what to expect. What follows is a breakdown of our brown bear tour, as well as some important information.
Please remember that each of our tours are based around the high tide. Each tour will begin and end at a different time each day. When booking we will inform you of your departure time, but remember that this is subject to change. If there are any changes to your departure time, we will notify you in advance..
Arrive at the harbor - Bear Viewing Alaska is located on the famous Homer Spit in Homer Harbor. Upon booking your tour we will provide you with the slip number, name of the vessel and departure time so you can meet us at the boat ready for your day’s adventure. Safety briefing - ALL passengers are required to attend this safety briefing. We will outline boat safety and how to remain safe while in the park. It’s very likely you will be in close proximity to multiple bears weighing over 1,000 pounds, so safety is priority. We pride ourselves on offering a safe bear viewing experience, which is why we require all guests to attend this briefing.
Depart Homer Harbor - As we cruise out of the harbor into Kachemak Bay, you will marvel at the scenery that unfolds. You are entering pristine marine wilderness where surprises await. At this time you'll be able to get better acquainted with your crew while we depart from the harbor. We will also be outlining the tour for you as well as answering any questions you may have.
Travel through Kachemak Bay and across Cook Inlet - You will be traveling across waters abundant with wildlife. Many marine and land animals inhabit Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet because they are rich with nutrients and food. After departing the Homer Harbor you will take a 50 mile journey to Chinitna Bay, leaving Kachemak Bay and crossing the Cook Inlet. This takes about 2 hours (depending on weather) and gives us a great opportunity to spot whales, otters, and other marine wildlife. On every tour we will always stop the boat and let you get a close look at the wildlife we come across. When everyone is done watching and taking pictures, we’ll keep on heading to our destination.
History, geology, wildlife, geography - As we keep an eye out for wildlife and indulge in the scenery, your guides will provide you with information about the geography, geology and wildlife of the area as well as identify the wildlife you will be seeing. Every visitor is eager to see bears but it’s common during this part of the trip to see humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, sea otters, porpoises, eagles, and many varieties of seabirds. Other highlights include, St. Augustine, Mt. Redoubt, Mt.Iliamna and Mt. Douglas, all of which are active volcanoes. Your guides will make sure to point these out to you and will even slow down for pictures if requested. Meanwhile, your captain and crew will be on the lookout for wildlife and immediately inform you when sightings are made so keep your camera handy.
Arrive at Chinitina Bay - This is where your Alaska bear viewing adventure truly begins. You will be escorted by a knowledgeable guide to the viewing areas where the bears congregate. Photography is encouraged throughout your stay. Before walking onto the beach via our vessel's bow ramp, your guide will ask for your attention for a quick speech about the rules of the park, and what to do when the boat lands on the beach. Remember if you are hungry to eat any food or snacks you have before we arrive at the beach, as you are not allowed to bring food into the park.
Once everyone has departed the boat, your guide will begin the tour. They will start with giving you some interesting information and facts about the park and the bears you’ll be seeing there. You may be divided into groups at this point to prevent overcrowding, as we want your experience to be the best possible. Each viewing area will have benches to sit on and flat ground for a camera tripod. These areas overlook the salt marsh where the bears feed on sedge grass throughout the day. This grass is filled with nutrients and makes a perfect meal for these coastal brown bears, which is why we sometimes see twenty or more bears at a time in the marsh.
If bear activity slows down in one area, your guide might suggest moving onto the next. There will be a bit of walking involved, about 100 meters between viewing areas. This walking is done on the beach and in the open. Remember to keep your camera ready because this is when a majority of our closer encounters happen. Some people are faster walkers than others and being that we have multiple guides, you will always be accompanied by one and not be left behind.
The viewing areas also offer some of the best bird watching in the world. If you’re a bird enthusiast, this is a fantastic time to add some difficult-to-spot birds to your list. You have four hours to enjoy the viewing areas, so make the most of your adventure. You never know what you will see on your particular excursion but we guarantee it will be the highlight of your Alaska vacation.
Depart Chinitna Bay - You will be escorted back to the boat in time for our departure. Kick back and relax for the ride home or keep your eyes peeled for more wildlife sighting opportunities. Share your experiences with others on the boat. Eat a snack or even take a nap. It will be another 2 hour ride back to the Homer Harbor.
Arrive/return to Homer Harbor - That’s it. You’re one of the few adventurous souls to see these amazing animals in their natural habitat. After your Alaska bear viewing adventure, you will have memories to share for a lifetime.A few other things to note:
- Restrooms are available on the boat and onshore at Chinitna Bay.
- Bring your own lunch and snacks. Please remember that any food or drinks (besides water) are not allowed to be brought into the park.
- Make sure to wear layers and be prepared for any weather conditions.
- Don’t forget your camera and binoculars.
- Bring along any medication you need.
- If you’re even slightly prone to motion sickness, take motion sickness medication. (Dramamine or Bonine)
- Follow all safety instructions while on the tour.
- Always do exactly what your guide says to do.
- Stay with the group! Make sure to not get too distracted and fall behind.
Alaska Bear Viewing
If you’re visiting Alaska, you probably want to know the best bear viewing Alaska locations. Chinitna Bay ranks at the top of the list because of its accessibility, remoteness, and the size and concentration of brown bears.
Some of the other top Alaska bear viewing locations include:
Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park - This is one of the most well-known bear viewing locations in Alaska. Almost anyone who is interested in Alaska has seen an image or video of brown bears feeding on salmon in Brooks River, where a platform extends right above the location where bears feed in the rapids and falls. Bears also can be spotted in Hallo Bay, which is also in Katmai. Here, bears feed on clams and protein-rich sedge grasses just as they do in Chinitna Bay.
Anan Wildlife Observatory - This is the best bear viewing Alaska destination in Southeast Alaska. The observatory is located in the Tongass National Forest, which is the largest in the U.S. The bear viewing platforms are connected to the mouth of Anan Lagoon by a half-mile long boardwalk. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the observatory (unless you cross paths with a bear, which happens frequently). Anan boasts one of the largest pink salmon runs in Alaska and that’s what attracts all the bears. What makes Anan truly unique is that both black and brown bears feed side by side. Permits to explore Anan Creek are limited and it’s accessed from Wrangell or Ketchikan.
Admiralty Island - Located near Juneau, this Alaska bear viewing location is also called Fortress of the Bears. There are a lot of bears in this area but you are required to explore on your own. Salmon-filled Pack Creek is a popular spot for bear viewing when they feed on salmon but you have to keep a safe distance. Brown bears will also feed on clams at the mouth of the estuaries. It’s best to reach Admiralty Island by floatplane.
Sable Pass in Denali National Park - While every other bear viewing location on this list is located on or near the coast, Denali offers a good chance of seeing an inland grizzly bear. A grizzly is the same as a brown bear but its habits are very different because of its diet and lifestyle. Bears on Sable Pass live in the high alpine, so they feed on big game animals like mountain goats and caribou instead of clams and salmon. Seeing a bear in Denali is amazing but it’s far from a guarantee.
Seeing a bear is Number-One on most visitors' lists
Most visitors coming to Alaska list seeing a bear as the Number-One thing they want to experience. However, seeing a bear from a tour bus on the side of the road and seeing coastal brown bears feed in their natural habitat are two very different experiences.
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is unspoiled, pristine wilderness. Bears in this region have little to no human interaction and because bear viewing is mostly done from platforms and designated viewing areas. The bears have little regard for humans as long as they stay safely on the viewing platforms.
You will not be viewing bears who are scared, timid or aggressive because of negative human interaction. You will watch bears lumbering, playing, eating and sleeping just as they do every day throughout the season. What you’re seeing is nature in action as it plays out in Chinitna Bay in real time.
This kind of experience is sublime yet thrilling. You may watch a mother brown bear sit patiently while her cubs play all around her. You may see a bear sleeping and snoring with its feet pointing straight up in the air. You may see two bears fight over a food source or dominance. You may see anything at any given moment and that’s what makes Alaska bear viewing truly special.
Being that we use 40 foot landing crafts for our tours, we are able to move around the bay quickly depending on the bear activity. Many times we will arrive at the beach with bears walking right on the tide-line! Because we are a landing craft, we are able to slowly creep up close to the shore in the shallow water and get some awesome photos/footage. This does not disturb the bears and makes for some very unique opportunities for photos and viewing.
Along the way, you may see whales breach, sea lions feeding on salmon, or majestic bald eagles patrolling the skies. Natural wonders like glaciers and active volcanoes provide a backdrop like something out of a storybook or movie. This is the real Alaska and it’s one you will never forget.
We love our Alaska home and we never get tired of seeing these amazing sights. We are eager for every guest to share in this experience as it was intended and we go out of our way to ensure you have a great time.
Book your tour today!
If you’re traveling to Alaska by boat, car, or airplane, you should be sure and reserve your spot on our bear viewing tour. If you have any special needs, please let us know so that we can address them. While you’re in Homer, be sure and take some time to check out some of the other sights and book a tour on one of our incredible halibut and salmon fishing charters.
Alaska is truly America’s last frontier and the mighty brown bear dominates the wilderness. This is your chance to experience that wilderness in a sustainable and responsible way. Contact us today to book your bear viewing tour and make your friends and family jealous when you show them your photos.