Yakutat is Alaska’s surfing capital, with mile after mile of sandy beaches, virtually no competition for waves, and great swells rolling off the Gulf of Alaska. On a stormy winter day you might see as many as 15 surfers—typically a mix of locals and wandering California beach bums—riding the waves at Cannon Beach (named for the World War II cannons here) and other spots.
Because of all the rainfall, the ocean around Yakutat is less saline than in California or Hawaii, so the boards need to be thicker and more buoyant to keep surfers from sinking.
A local surfer, Jack Endicott, runs Icy Waves Surf Shop (907/784-3253, www.icywaves.com) from the back of his house, with a mix of surfboards (including some Cowabunga long boards), wetsuits, and boogie boards for sale or rent. Icy Wave T-shirts and hats are a great gift. Fall storms often bring the biggest waves, so the shop isn’t generally open in the summer. Jack Endicott’s day job as a forecaster for the National Weather Service means he has a good idea of what to expect.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition