Alaska Travel Guide

The Most Romantic Island in America Is Not Where You’d Expect

PHOTO: Scott E. Whiteman

And it’s all yours.

Many couples looking for that perfect romantic destination think “long walks on the beach,” and for good reason. The ocean is inherently dreamy: mysterious and dramatic, majestic and inviting. But while palm trees and white sands might automatically occupy your getaway fantasies, there’s an even more charming way to combine the seaside with romance, and that’s by exploring a heavenly shore of sparkling clear waves over age-smoothed pebbles and rocks, where a gentle surf exposes galaxies of starfish and the fading mist reveals a variety of puppy-faced sea mammals. And what better way to experience such quiet majesty than completely in nature, hand-in-hand with a loved one who can hold you a little tighter if the breeze picks up.

Slip past rocky headlands of ancient Alaskan islands and dock on remote Fox Island, a destination so far-flung and secluded it’s as though it were made just for beloveds.

Welcome to Fox Island in Resurrection Bay, a three-and-a-half mile spit of land flanked by the breathtaking glaciers and mountains of Kenai Fjords National Park in southeast Alaska. Private Fox Island is home to just eight cozy log cabins built right on the rocky beach, where the Pursuit Collection, curators of adventure travel experiences in unforgettable locales like Alaska, Banff Jasper, and Glacier Park, offers accommodations by way of the Kenai Fjord Wilderness Lodge. Just getting to your cabin is an adventure made for two: sail on a wildlife-viewing cruise from the tiny port town of Seward, Alaska, across icy waters of glacier melt and fjords eons in the making that spill into the Gulf of Alaska. Slip past rocky headlands of ancient Alaskan islands and dock on remote Fox Island, a destination so far-flung and secluded it’s as though it were made just for beloveds.

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Scott E. Whiteman

 

Amble across the rocky beach to your storybook log cabin, where twin Adirondack chairs await you on the rustic porch, which faces either the cliffside shore or the gentle quiet of a lagoon. Cozy and snug, these cabins are furnished with warm plaid flannel blankets atop luxuriously tall beds and soft leather couches. Freshly picked flowers and pine scents ensconce you in intimacy. Curl up with each other and some reading material–there’s no Wi-Fi in the cabins; there aren’t even electrical outlets. If you need a little 21st century, chargers are available in the communal lodge, a warm main house complete with living and dining quarters centered around wood-burning fireplaces and views of the sea. “Communal” is a stretch—with occupancy of the island limited to just eight cabins, you can have a casual chat with other guests over hors d’ouevres or stretch out on cushy couches with a book. You may overlap with other couples or families, or you may have the whole cozy living room vibe to yourself.

1.Scott E. Whiteman 2.Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge by Pursuit 3.Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge by Pursuit

 

Bundle up for sunrise on the porch with a cup of freshly made and delivered French press coffee, or ditch your clothes and crank up the heat and watch from your impressively-sized picture windows splayed across the cabin walls. Sunrise and sunset are famously lengthy in Alaskan summer, so settle into the pacing and luxury of languor. If you don’t dive back into bed for one last snuggle, make your way to the main lodge to tuck in and prepare for day one–the day awaits affairs of the body and soul, and with your +1 at your side, especially the heart.

Scott Whiteman

But start with said affairs of the body. A sea kayaking adventure through the bay provides an opportunity for tandem teamwork, and the reward is possibility. What creatures hide in the craggy nooks of cliffs, behind tumbling waterfalls, or amongst cresting waves? Puffins nest on rocks, seals loll past your paddle, sea anemones cling to slick cave walls. Lean back and look around–alone with your sweetheart (safely within rescue distance of a guide), the two of you can take in the expanse of a thriving natural landscape devoid of human interference. Paddle further out to expand your view, or weave amongst boulders that peek out from the sea. Later, lying in bed, you’ll still feel the waves gently bobbing you along.

Scott E. Whiteman

 

For your soul, the explorations yield discovery. Embrace childlike wonder on Fox Island’s shore as you turn over stones in tide pools created for giants. Galaxies of orange, yellow, and purple starfish curl and flex around your fingers. Moon jellyfish float past, gossamer strings trailing like a wedding veil. Hunt for sand dollars and perfect shell souvenirs, or challenge your partner to a stone-skipping contest (and let them win). Or better yet, help them perfect their technique. Even the rocks on Fox Island intimate romance. Eons of interbedded sandstone and shale have rubbed up against each other to develop a type of “cleavage” between the two slightly different rocks as they were folded and shaped during mountain building. The loose bedrock that has eroded and splintered to the shore is smoothed by the waves, giving rough edges smooth curves and creating heart-shaped stones that freckle the coastline.

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Scott E. Whiteman

Endless beauty just doesn’t get old, especially while you’re holding hands.

All of that intimacy really works up an appetite, and the executive chef and staff know exactly how to keep your mouth wanting more, and gourmet meals are included in your stay. Appetizers, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are hearty and coursed, featuring extremely local seafood like salmon, halibut, and king crab (meat, poultry, and vegetarian options are available) and produce fresh from local farms in the form of various salads and fruity desserts. Craft beer, sumptuous wine, and select liquors (not included, but go ahead and splurge so you can toast to your love) are also available to complement your meal.

After dinner, cuddle up together by the fire pit and watch the tide recede while sharing a s’more and a snifter of brandy or a glass of heady red wine. Endless beauty just doesn’t get old, especially while you’re holding hands. Twilight fades to dusk, and the land of the midnight sun sets fire to the sky for hours–soak in the color and the light of campfire against the impending evening.

Finally, it’s the most romantic time of day: night. Stroll through the quiet under an arc of stars splashed across the dark to your cabin retreat. Under night’s cover, the itinerary is up to you and your lover. The romance scientists who run the Kenai Fjord Wilderness Lodge have had enough foresight to know you’ll need to book the two-night minimum stay to fully succumb to the island’s pleasures. Sleep tight.

On your second day, you’ll realize you’ve fully nested. It’s hard to leave the cabin (fresh coffee again delivered to your door), but there’s plenty more to see and do. Trade sea kayaking for pedal boating on the lagoon, and revel in thoughtful conversation over your shared awe. The island around you is a quiet study in geology, glaciology, and wildlife–natural splendor that cloaks you in its beauty. Hike the mostly unmaintained trail up Fox Island’s craggy peaks, picking blueberries along the way. The views from the top are even more impressive than from the beach. Make sure to spot each other on the way down–the trail is rugged and fun, but it’s always nicer to have someone looking out for you. Grab a glass of wine and hunker down by the fires–inside the main lodge, picture windows frame the fireplace, or the outdoor firepit keeps you snuggling close–and take the time to really enjoy each other’s company before retreating back to your cabin for some well-deserved…sleep.

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Scott E. Whiteman

 

Departure doesn’t mean the honeymoon is over. Set sail for the mainland via the Northwestern Fjord Tour, which visits three tidewater glaciers and features unprecedented wildlife viewing–you’re bound to spot orca whales breaching and tail slapping, sea lions sunning on rocks, otters floating by in adorable crowds, a huge variety of birds (everything from murres and puffins to bald eagles and peregrine falcons) swooping and diving, Dall’s porpoises popping up to surface, and harbor seals honking at each other. Sip hot chocolate and hold each other tight against the cold as you glide past glaciers and ice fields that reach back into earth’s history.

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Scott E. Whiteman 

 

A trip to the beach can be so much more than a cheesy cliché on a tropical island. Indulge in the mystery and the drama of Alaskan wilderness, and experience it all with the one you love for an unforgettable trip to rival a romance novel.