Boasting mountains, sea, culture, art and so much more, many cities claim to have it all, but few can back it up like Vancouver. Famously livable, just visiting this highrise city - surrounded by staggering natural beauty - is a thrill. Offering all of the creature comforts of an ultra-modern, worldly metropolis - even downtown has a hint of mountain-freshness to its air - and part of Vancouver's appeal is how easily you can swap the skyscrapers for whale-filled oceans.
A common sailing route due to its calm sheltered waters, gorgeous natural set pieces constantly play out here - whether it’s killer whales accompanying you through the breathtaking icy passages, harbour seals catching a break on floating hunks of ice, or wisps of cloud clinging to distant mountain peaks. Witness Mother Nature at her most dramatic and elaborate along this Alaskan coastline, where glaciers groan and creak melodramatically, before finally releasing colossal shelves of ice.
The Salmon Capital of the World is a thrilling introduction to wild and wonderful Alaska, sitting at the southern gateway to the Inside Passage's famed route of larger than life scenery. Home to grizzly and black bears - as well as cruising whales and swimming seals - the wildlife spotting opportunities in this majestic corner of the world are nothing short of spectacular. Towered over by steep banks and valley walls, Ketchikan's ocean inlet is peppered with granite stacks.
Endicott Arm is a long fjord branching off Stephen’s Passage, the major inner passage heading southeast from Juneau. The easternmost tip of Endicott Arm nearly reaches the Canadian border. Like all the fords in this region, it was carved by glaciers during the last Ice Age which ended about 11,000 years ago. One either side of the fjord the steep, nearly vertical walls, rise to a height of about 370 meters or 1,200 feet.
This is glacier country, and no fewer than 38 ice flows branch off from the main Juneau Icefield, slowly carving out valleys in their wakes. Taku Glacier cuts deep into the mountain, forming a colossal sculpture that is one of the world's thickest - almost a mile deep. Mendenhall Glacier cascades down, just 12 miles away from downtown, terminating in its own lake and visitor centre. There are over 1,500 square miles of ice field to explore!
A distant land of bears, wild landscapes and icy adventures, sail between glorious islands and witness the diverse wildlife of the Inside Passage. Eagles watch over the scenery overhead, while whales and sea lions add glorious weight to the animal life that thrives and thrashes in these icy seas. With a quintet of Pacific salmon species filling the rich rivers and waterways with life, settle back to enjoy the show, as Sitka's immense setpieces play out before you.
To begin with, Icy Straight Point is stunningly beautiful. It is the Alaska of your imagination: eagles soaring overhead, whales breeching before your eyes. Moody, low-hanging clouds set the scene while velvety green mountains provide the backdrop. Sparklingly clear waters lap at pebbly shores. These are beaches of the adventure kind, you won’t find sun loungers and sombreros here, more like kayaks and canoes, ready for those who want to take their discovery off shore.
Wild, raw, and unrestrained, Haines is Alaska at its most intoxicating. Crisp white snow crowns charcoal-coloured mountains, while seas of impenetrable pine forest flow down to swathes of scenic coastline in this magical setting. Explore a rejuvenating Alaskan escape of temperate rainforests and glaciers, as you dig into Chilkat Tlingit culture, and explore a landscape of frayed waterways, alive with Alaska's renowned wildlife.
Hubbard Glacier, off the coast of Yakutat, Alaska, is the largest glacier in North America, with a calving front that is more than six miles wide. One of the main sources for Hubbard Glacier originates 76 mi inland. It has been a very active glacier, experiencing two major surges in the past 30 years. This glacier was named after Gardiner Greene Hubbard, a U.S. lawyer, financier, and philanthropist. He was the first president of the National Geographic Society.
Colombier Glacier is one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world, renowned for its dramatic carving, leaving colossal chunks of ice in the water. Get up close to this icy phenomenon by boat or by helicopter. Flightseeing tours having the advantage of offering exceptional ariel views of the glacier and the surrounding Chugach mountains. Sea kayaking is popular navigating the vast landscape in allowing you to visit forgotten glaciers and icy sea caves.
The city of Anchorage is easily within reach from here, offering an incongruous contrast to the wild wonders of Alaska. A place where deep-sea fishermen bump shoulders with businesspeople on the 9-5, it's a fascinating, remote city. Home to almost half of the Alaskan population, Anchorage and its humble skyline is dwarfed by the snowy peaks of the wilderness beyond. Don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the unique culture and traditions of the First Nation people of these lands too.