We were lucky enough to spend a whole day at Kelp Bay and it started with a bang. As soon as we woke up, we were greeted by six humpback whales, including a mother and calf surfacing and fluking in the middle arm of the bay. We rubbed bleary eyes and listened to the whales breathe as they surfaced close to our ship.

Just as breakfast ended, the calf began to breach and tail slap as it waited for its mother, a perfect Southeast Alaska picture completed by layers of islands and mountains behind it. Some of us hopped into kayaks to explore the mouth of a salmon stream, catching glimpses of bears fishing for salmon and harbor seals resting on a sand bar. Others went out in Zodiacs to watch the humpback whales and came upon one sleeping at the surface, breathing every few minutes.

Over lunch, rain began to fall and once we had warmed ourselves up with tomato soup, we braved the weather and returned to the shores of Kelp Bay. Everyone divided up, some going for a fast hike to explore a muskeg and pond, some going to explore the forest and shorelines towards the salmon stream, and another group across the tidal flats towards the stream. Those that reached the stream had an opportunity to see shy brown bears fishing in the stream and the remains of successful hunts. The hike I was on was lucky enough to happen across the bones of a smaller brown bear. As everyone returned to the ship for cocktail hour, we looked on from the sundeck as the bears continued their fishing in the stream.