Beaches of Alaska
It’s easy to conjure up images of towering mountains, diverse wildlife, exciting outdoor adventures and rich history and culture when Alaska comes to mind. But, imagine strolling along a beach under Alaska’s midnight sun while surrounded by scenic, snow-capped mountains. With over 33,000 miles of coastline, Alaska has many accessible beaches perfect for strolling, picnicking, fishing or soaking up the summer sun. There truly is something here for everyone!
From black sand beaches to frozen oceans, Alaska is reinventing beach vacations. Whether you’re exploring beaches along the coast of Utqiagvik, the northernmost city in the U.S., island hopping through Alaska’s Inside Passage, or soaking up the midnight sun on one of Interior Alaska’s lakeside beaches, every beach is surrounded by unparalleled natural beauty. We spoke to some local experts across the state who shared their favorite Alaska beaches.
"If you travel to Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands, make sure to visit Summer Bay (Uglugax). A short drive out of town takes you to a beautiful, sweeping black sand beach with large dunes and breathtaking views. A popular recreation site year-round, this is a wonderful spot to explore, fish, have a picnic and beach comb. It has even become a popular surfing destination! The beach is nestled between the shore of Unalaska Bay and a stunning freshwater lake. Summer Bay has significant cultural value to the Indigenous Unangax people and in the summer months you can often find archaeologists digging at ancient sites nearby. Summer Bay land is owned by Ounalashka Corporation, so don't forget to purchase a land use permit.” - Carlin Enlow, Executive Director, Unalaska/Port of Dutch Harbor Convention & Visitors Bureau
“Beaches in Kodiak are amazing, and you will often see surfers taking advantage of the great waves. My favorite beach is Surfer’s Beach, located at the south end of our road system and is part of a much larger section of sandy coastline. This area is great for camping, bonfires, long walks on the beach, and surfing. You can also watch the migrating whales from there. It is a favorite spot of locals and visitors alike.” - Aimee Williams, Executive Director, Discover Kodiak
“In Ketchikan, I would pick Settler's Cove State Recreation Site, especially during a minus tide when the beach is fully exposed. Settler's Cove offers day-use areas for picnics, campsites, a cabin rental, and access to trails in a beautiful rainforest setting.” - Patti Mackey, President & CEO, Visit Ketchikan
“Boy Scout Beach is the perfect combination of accessible and remote. This beach is located at mile 25 ‘Out the Road’ north of Auke Bay and the two-mile hike in along the Herbert River means that the beach is just remote enough that it is never crowded but not so remote you can’t head out for a spontaneous afternoon trip. Make sure you know where you're going, though! The trailhead is located in a cul de sac off of the Glacier Highway. There are several turnoffs in the area and cell reception is spotty so be sure to download the map before you leave town. Once you’re there, Boy Scout Beach is a huge, sandy delta that gives you views of both the Coastal and Chilkat mountain ranges. Of all the beaches in Juneau, Boy Scout Beach gets the most sun which makes it a popular spot on summer solstice. The best part? I’ve seen humpbacks or orcas every time I’ve been there.” - Ben Rubenstein, Destination Marketing Coordinator, Travel Juneau
“Sitka is lucky to be on the west side of Baranof Island facing the Pacific Ocean, so this means lots of coves and beaches. When in Sitka, two favorite beaches are Sandy Beach and the Starrigavan Bayside Loop Picnic Area. Both beaches are managed by the U.S. Forest Service and are accessible by car. The best time to visit Sandy Beach is during low tide, where a wide expanse of beach is exposed and you will find local kids playing in the water. Usually in the hour before and after high tide rolls in, dozens of surfers can be found riding Sitka's only wave spot. The Bayside Loop Picnic Area offers a calm beach area adjacent to multiple picnic and tent camping sites, where you can spend a day grilling, beach combing and taking a dip in the salty water.” - Laurie Booyse, Director, Visit Sitka.
“Utqiagvik - to just know one is standing literally at the edge of the world. Nothing is between you and the North Pole except polar ice. The stretch of beach is long and one can walk for miles (check with locals first on what the recent polar bear activity has been). In Utqiagvik, there are no barriers to get to the beach outside of getting oneself to Utqiagvik easily done with daily flights on Alaska Airlines.” - Kathy Hedges, Marketing Coordinator, Northern Alaska Tour Company
“Besides the gold on our beaches in Nome, we also enjoy the golden rays of sun that we get fairly often on our backs as we comb the beach for sea glass! Nome’s Bering Sea beaches are referred to as East, Middle, and West beaches by the locals, with easy access to all three. Middle Beach is centrally located behind Nome’s Historic Front Street, West Beach begins west of the Port of Nome, and East Beach begins at the east end of town and goes all the way to the mouth of the Nome River. While the water temperature is cold all summer, it’s not uncommon to see young folks in the water or on the beach with a bonfire cooking hotdogs and sorting through their sea glass findings.” - Drew McCann, Director, Nome Convention and Visitors Bureau
“Although almost 330 miles from the coastline, at one of Fairbanks’ sandy man-made beaches like the ones at Tanana Lakes and nearby Chena Lake, you can truly capture the feeling of an ‘Endless Summer.’ During Interior Alaska’s midnight sun season - which runs from April 22 to August 20 - the sun never seems to set. Wearing sunglasses while getting a suntan at midnight would definitely give you a great photo and bragging rights.” - Jerry Evans, Public Relations Manager, Explore Fairbanks
“At the end of the road in Seward is my favorite spot for an afternoon stroll, hike, or run, Lowell Point Beach. Set in the Alaska State Parks system, the Lowell Point Recreation Area is full of creatures and adventure. You can hike out along the coastal trail all the way to a historic World War II bunker, peeking into tidepools for sea stars along the way. Jutting out of the coastal forest, the Lowell Point beach and the trails surrounding it bring together the forest and the sea in a magical way.” - Kat Sorensen, Communications Director, Seward Chamber of Commerce
“My favorite beach is at the western edge of Kincaid Park in Anchorage: Perched along the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, it’s perfect for wildlife watching, an afternoon picnic, or a leisurely day in the sun. The big views of surrounding mountain ranges and the wide sandy beach give it a really unique only-in-Alaska ambience; plan an evening trip for idyllic sunset scenes over Cook Inlet.” - Kirsten Swann, Content & Engagement Manager, Visit Anchorage
Ready to dip your toes in the water and plan your Alaska beach vacation? Order the Alaska vacation planner to plan your beachside getaway!
Editor’s note: The health and safety of Alaska’s visitors and residents, along with its member businesses, remains a top priority to the Alaska Travel Industry Association throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Alaska tourism businesses are open under the Reopen Alaska Responsibly plan and can help you decide if it’s right for you to travel now or in the future. We encourage you to stay in touch with your travel providers for the latest updates and guidelines.