Seward Resort offers military personnel and their guests the adventure of a lifetime for half the cost. Located on the Kenai Peninsula and sandwiched between Resurrection Bay and Mt. Marathon with 3,022 feet at its first peak, the town of Seward offers stunning views in all directions. It is often described as the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park, accessed by boat via Resurrection Bay or by land via Exit Glacier.
Whale, porpoise, sea lion and sea otter are abundant in the area. Seeing this much wildlife from a boat makes you feel as if you’re part of the cast of Animal Planet’s Wild Kingdom! Best of all, Seward is the departure point for the best halibut fishing in the Northern Pacific Ocean and Seward Resort makes it affordable. If you love the great outdoors with breathtaking scenic beauty and access to plenty of wildlife, Seward Resort is the place. My husband and I enjoyed a week there in early August, when the days were still long and the weather mild. It was one of our most exciting outdoor experiences ever!
The premier attraction is halibut fishing and Seward Resort is unmatched in getting you there for less! Each of the Resort’s four (4), fourteen foot charter fishing boats carries up to 14 passengers to the Gulf of Alaska. The small boat size, limited number of passengers, and experienced crew make this fishing adventure more like hiring a personal guide. Halibut is a tasty white-fleshed fish, known to grow as large as 500 pounds and 8 feet in length. The typical catch is similar to the size we caught, 30 to 45 pounds but 50 to 60 pounds is not uncommon. Even the smallest of our catch brought me to my knees in the boat as I muscled it from the ocean floor to the boat. I was sure I had caught a 500 pound halibut!
After seven hours of fishing, everyone on our boat had caught their limit and we headed to port with a feeling of exhilarating satisfaction. Upon our return to the resort, we had work to do at the fish house. Seward Resort is equipped with cutting tables, butcher paper, filet knives and vacuum bags and freezers to store the catch. I secretly wished that the guide would clean my whole fish during the demonstration but with a doubtful look, he returned the fish to me after a few cuts.
With such good fishing results, we tried our luck with other types of fish by hiring a guide outside the resort. With the guide’s knowledge and our good fortune, we anchored in a spot where the water appeared to be boiling. Hence the fishing term “boiling water” indicates a feeding frenzy and this was sea bass in a feeding frenzy! We dropped our multiple hooked lines into the sunlit water and watched as the sea bass raced to them. As they say, in this situation all you have to do is drop the bait into the water and hold on!
Salmon were not as cooperative, but occasionally one would take the bait and suddenly burst out of the water and into the air. It was the most exciting catch! The cost of our guide was about double the cost of fishing with the crew at Seward Resort but he cleaned and bagged our catch. As guests at the resort, there was no cost to add this catch to our storage unit there. The best part of this fishing adventure is that with assistance from Seward Resort and FedEx, you can enjoy your catch at home. Just before our departure, we sent home enough halibut, bass, and salmon home to feed family and friends for the next six months!
Don’t leave anyone behind on this incredible journey! Seward offers a wide variety of activities for all ages. Wildlife viewing is one of the greatest attractions. From our sightseeing boat, we watched sea lions sway and bark on rocky islands, sea otters floating on the waves, and glaciers calving into the ocean. The humpback whales came up close and lifted their heads curiously before diving deep with a flip of their tails. Horned puffins and eagles were also a common site. I suggest renting a kayak and taking a closer look! As for activities on land, the dog sled ride was a favorite. The dogs loved the attention of visitors and their eager excitement was contagious. We started our ride at mile 0 of the iconic Iditarod Trail. Other options include zip lining, horseback riding, glacier hiking, scenic air tours, and the aquarium. All of these and more are listed on the Seward Resort website at a 20% discount for guests who book their activities through the resort. With our budget in mind, we booked our favorites and filled the gaps with cost-free activities. Trails are everywhere, from light walking to more robust climbing and after a short walk, we found ourselves up against Exit Glacier!
Accommodations and Food
Seward Resort offers accommodations to suit everyone including hotel rooms, townhouses, log cabins, RV and tent sites, and even yurts. The cost of accommodations and charter fishing trips are based on the season and the military rank of the person making the reservation (there’s a convenient chart for this and other details on the official website of Seward Resort). As for eating, there are many restaurants in Seward from seafood to barbecue. The average costs per person range from $15-$17 for breakfast; $15-$20 for lunch; and $20-$25 for dinner. Alternatively, Seward Resort offers less expensive fare from Memorial Day through Labor Day when they open the onsite bar and grill. A popular year-round alternative at the resort is grilling at the common picnic area.
If you are thinking about making this trip, it is strongly advised to book your accommodations and charter fishing trip a year in advance!
How We Got There
My husband and I booked a commercial flight from Columbia, SC to Anchorage, AK, picked up our reserved rental car and drove the three hours (about 125 miles) south along the Seward Highway through the Chugach State Park and National Forest. The drive was a prelude to the abundant beauty and diversity of wildlife to come. In 2012, Life Magazine included the Seward Highway on its list of Most Scenic Drives in the World. The beauty of the majestic mountains with snow covered peaks was literally breathtaking! Along the way we saw moose, sheep, and mountain goats.
In conclusion, this truly is an amazing trip! Seward Resort Manager Scott Bartlett says that guests often tell him that they are so glad that they saved and splurged for this once in a lifetime experience!
Brig Gen, US Army Retired
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