Everything to do in Gustavus involves the outdoors. We've listed the activities here in the order of importance.
Whale-Watching & Fishing -- Whales keep their own schedule, but you're certain to see them on a whale-watching excursion here, where the swirling current of Icy Strait creates such a rich feeding ground that humpbacks come back every summer without fail. The big tour boat in the national park frequently sees whales, but Icy Strait, outside the park, is even more prolific. Currently, there are two operators. Since arrangements change annually, it's wise to call ahead or get advice from your lodge or B&B host.
Cross Sound Express (tel. 888/698-2726 or 907/321-2302; taz.gustavus.com) takes two viewing trips a day all summer and has never failed to find whales. To get an idea, see the amazing orca photos on their website. Their vessel, the TAZ, takes up to 23 passengers and can also do kayak drop-offs and other marine transportation. The cost is $120 per person, $60 children 4 to 6, 3 and younger free. The park concessionaire, Glacier Bay Lodge and Tours (tel. 888/229-8687 or 907/264-4600; www.visitglacierbay.com), offers a whale-watching dinner cruise on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday at 5:30pm. The cost is $138 adults, $69 ages 2 to 12.
Fishing -- Gustavus has superb charter-boat fishing for halibut and salmon (if salmon are running). The waters are protected and seasickness less likely than many places. Your inn host in Gustavus can make the arrangements. A boat typically charters for $300 to $350 per person for a full day, plus the cost of having your fish professionally packed and shipped home to you. Half-days are rarely available because the boats are fully booked. If you do a fishing charter and the others onboard agree, you can take some of the time for whale-watching.
Sea Kayaking -- Gustavus-based Spirit Walker Expeditions (tel. 800/KAYAKER [529-2537] or 907/697-2266; www.seakayakalaska.com) has a good reputation locally. They lead guided day trips to the whale-watching grounds and overnight expeditions as long as a week.
Hiking & Bicycling -- There are few cars in Gustavus, but most inns provide bikes. The roads are fun to explore, and the sandy beaches, accessed from the town dock, are great for a walk and a picnic, to watch eagles and other birds and wildlife. You can go many miles for a run or long walk, but we saw little reason to go far before stopping to play and picnic on a broad sand beach undisturbed by any other human footprint.
Golf -- A unique and spectacular course in Gustavus lies on the shore of Icy Strait. The 9-hole, par-36 Mt. Fairweather Golf Course (tel. 907/697-2214) was built and is mowed and groomed by Morgan DeBoer on his family's land. The fee for 9 holes is $15, and club and cart rental are available. Reservations are unnecessary, and you may have the course to yourself.
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.