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Silence fell as the boat pulled away from the beach, leaving us behind with the kayaks and our guide. For the rest of the day my son and I absorbed the water-reflected sunlight and glided past fancifully shaped rocks and resident sea otters around Yukon Island. We explored beaches, picnicked, raced, and discovered tiny bays too small for any other craft. At the end of the day, we had a new friend in our quietly cheerful guide, Alison O'Hara, and discovered that she'd imperceptibly taught us a lot about sea kayaking. O'Hara runs True North Kayak Adventures (tel. 907/235-0708; www.truenorthkayak.com). Her 8-hour beginner day trips cost $150, including lunch and passage across the bay. The firm also offers an all-day trip combining a glacier hike with sea kayaking, for $199, and more challenging overnight and multiday trips to remote waters in the area. A $375 package includes the day tour, a night in the attractive Hesketh Island Cabins, and a second day of hiking.

Rick and Dorle Harness offer another kind of special kayaking day trip, or overnight, from their place in Little Tutka Bay. After boating across Kachemak Bay from Homer, guests join kayaking, bird-watching, and foraging expeditions, gathering kelp, roots, beach greens, and other wild foods to add to halibut and salmon for a special meal. Rick himself guides every trip, as he has for more than 20 years. They also offer a couple of cabins for overnight stays. The business is called Seaside Adventure Ecotours (tel. 907/235-6672; www.seasideadventure.com). A day trip costs $150 per person.

Experienced paddlers can explore Kachemak Bay's protected waters, tiny islands, and remote settlements on their own. Take a water taxi across and explore at will, camping or staying in cabins over much of the bay. Check with Kachemak Bay State Park for guidance. Mako's Water Taxi (tel. 907/235-9055; www.makoswatertaxi.com) offers rides and rents and delivers kayaks. True North Kayak also rents to experienced paddlers and rents camping gear. For kayaks, expect to pay $65 a day for a double, $45 single.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.