State of the Beach/State Reports/AK/Surfing Areas

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Alaska Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access55
Water Quality23∗
Beach Erosion3-
Erosion Response-4
Beach Fill5-
Shoreline Structures3 5
Beach Ecology1-
Surfing Areas28
Special comments:

∗Since the water quality monitoring program in Alaska only exists on a limited basis, the recreational water quality is largely unknown. Only 117 samples were tested for the state in 2013.

∗∗The Alaska Coastal Management Program (ACMP) is scheduled to sunset at 12:01 AM, Alaska Standard Time, on July 1, 2011 per AS 44.66.030. The Legislature adjourned the special legislative session May 14, 2011 without passing legislation required to extend the Alaska Coastal Management Program (ACMP). This webpage will be viewable for reference purposes through June 30, 2012. It will then be archived within the Department of Natural Resources. Beginning on July 1, 2011 the website will remain static and there will be no further updates to the content of the former ACMP website. If you have any questions, please contact the DNR’s Commissioner’s Office at 907-269-8400.

Inventory and Perception of Status

Yes, it is possible to surf in Alaska! Along the Alaska coast there are countless surf spots. Most are in good condition. Access to many spots requires travel by boat or airplane.

Outside magazine named Yakutat, a town of 680 people northwest of Juneau, as one of the five best surf towns in America in its June 2005 issue. In its May 23, 2005 issue, Newsweek wrote a small profile on the town in an article headlined: "Travel: Surfing With Sea Otters." Both articles mentioned Icy Waves Surf Shop, run by the Endicott family since 1999.

"Have bush pilot Les Hartley drop you and your gear on one of countless unknown, unnamed and potentially perfect point breaks along the rugged coast," the magazine said.

Another article on surfing in the Yakutat area appeared in the October 2006 issue of Outside.

Yakutat is reportedly visited by about 100 non-Alaska surfers each summer. The best waves can usually be found from mid-April to mid-June, or mid-August to October 1.

The waves near Yakutat are also being evaluated as a potential source of energy.

Recognition by State

Although the state does take recreation (swimming, kayaking/canoeing, surf fishing, hiking, camping, boat fishing, hunting, berry picking, wildlife viewing) into consideration during coastal planning, Alaska does not recognize surfing as an economic, cultural, and recreational resource.

District coastal management plans have enforceable policies for recreation that proposed development activities must comply with. The policies tend to require measures that will minimize adverse impacts to identified recreation activities or resources. DNR area plans also include policies that address impacts on identified recreational values.

Under the Yakataga area plan one of the management intents is to protect or enhance conditions for dispersed recreation, particularly for hiking, wildlife viewing, surfing, and beachcombing. All activities will, to the extent feasible and prudent, avoid significant adverse impacts to recreation users.

Surfrider Foundation Chapters

Ten people attended an organizational meeting of Alaska's first chapter of the Surfrider Foundation Oct. 29, 2010 in Homer. The chapter's first official meeting Wednesday was March 2nd, 2011 at Captain’s Coffee in Homer, Alaska. Although not currently active as a Surfrider Foundation chapter, the organizers' goals remain to empower a growing base of engaged users by connecting the Alaska surfing community and promoting active and responsible use of the coastline; educating members and others about the conservation issues affecting the coastline of Alaska; and introducing opportunities for responsible use of the coastline through wave-riding. For more information see Surf Alaska's Facebook page or blog.

Information Sources

Sources of information on surfing in Alaska include:

State of the Beach Report: Alaska
Alaska Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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