New York to Yakutat = 15 hours
Yup, you read that right. Garrett McNamara, Greg Noll, and Layne Beachley are just a handful of the pro boarders who’ve made pilgrimages to Yakutat, 225 miles northwest of Juneau, for its unspoiled scenery and killer breaks. At Icy Waves Surf Shop (635 Haida St.; 907-784-3226), you can pick the brain of owner Jack Endicott (he taught all seven of his kids to surf), hobnob with local riders, and rent or buy boards and other gear. (Though air temperatures from May through October peak in the low seventies, the water hovers in the mid-fifties, making wetsuits a must.) Glacier Bear Lodge (from $195; 812 Glacier Bear Rd.; glacierbearlodge.com) is surfer-friendly, with boards on the wall, a bar and restaurant open year-round, and a free shuttle to popular Cannon Beach, about four miles from the village. (Ocean Cape and Point Carrew are also good bets.) Before heading out, talk logistics at Fat Grandma’s coffee shop (Mallott Ave.; 907-784-3395) and hit up Alaska Commercial grocery store for lunch supplies (716 Ocean Cape Rd.; 907-784-3386). Once on the water, you won’t have to look hard for sea lions, otters, and seals; springtime also brings a migration of gray whales. April 15 to May 21, June 15 to July 15, and August 21 to September 30 are best avoided, as salmon runs attract a glut of motel-hogging fishermen. Worst-case scenario: You can always sleep under the stars at one of three makeshift campgrounds near Cannon Beach (not for wimps).