We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
Nearby Hotels
Reviews (85)
Filter reviews
85 results
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
LanguageAll languages
Show reviews that mention
All reviews joe allen aialik glacier kayak guide highlight of our trip great guide kayak portion great guy kayaking trip water taxi seals and otters sea life boat stories alaska cabin candid bbqing
Updating list...
13 - 18 of 85 reviews
Reviewed 22 December 2017 via mobile

I can highly recommend Joe Allen's water taxi service. In August 2017, my wife and I used Joe's service to take our kayak and gear from Seward to the Aialik Bay public use cabin, with a pickup seven days later at the Holgate cabin in Kenai Fjords National Park. Joe was very friendly, patient, and easy to work with. I would not hesitate to use his service again.

-Ed Muzik,
Milwaukee, WI

Stayed: August 2017, travelled as a couple
Thank Ed-in-Milwaukee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 September 2017

We had an awesome trip! watching the glacier calve while BBQing hotdogs. It can't get better than that. Sure we saw a lot of different stuffs, you might be able to see those stuffs on other tours, but the experience with Joe is something you won't be able to find on other trips :) There's only 1 Joe, so you gotta book him early!
Thank you Joe!

  • Stayed: July 2017, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank sgjoannesg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 August 2017

**Super long, but I promise you'll read this and then want to book a trip with Joe!! Also you can just scroll to the bottom for a summary... :))**

I met the unicorn known as Captain Joe Allen on June 4th, 2017, when I flew from my home of Chicago to Anchorage for ten days that would - literally - change my life. My super incredible Jersey friends/travel companions picked me up at the airport (they got there way earlier that morning and got the rental car, 'cuz they're awesome) and we promptly raced to... a pizza place! I mean... we were starving. Make time to stop at Moose's Tooth before you get on the road to Seward. Trust me on this. We got the giantest of giant pizzas, and popped those leftovers in the car to bring to Captain Unicorn, cuz he loves this place. We also stopped at Fred Meyer for last-minute things I forgot to bring, then we were on the road. The drive took about 2 1/2 or three hours - I forget because time stands still in Alaska. On the way, we stopped at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, which I would usually hate and be bored by, but this place is super cool and we saw the cutest bears up close and personal! They were behind strong chain link fences, which is how I prefer my bears.
We arrived in Seward around 7, and drove straight to Captain Unicorn's house. We had arranged to rent the ADORABLE cabin on his property for the whole eight days we would be in town. Please note that this is the best idea ever. Don't even bother looking elsewhere and just rent it. Thirty five seconds after we got out of the car, the unicorn arrived - with a bottle of Patron, a handful of lime wedges and some shot glasses. I mean... THAT is hospitality!! My friends have known Joe for 13 years, and I had a few phone conversations with him before the trip but never expected to be greeted so warmly and with a gift so perfect after a long travel day! This little nugget is just the beginning of what makes Joe the best. THE. BEST. His cabin is a perfect landing pad - plenty big enough that we weren't tripping over each other or our stuff, two queen-sized beds, roomy bathroom with lots of towels and soap/shampoo, good hot shower, a microwave and toaster oven, coffee maker, electric water kettle, and plenty of coffee and teas with sugars and creamer, plates, flatware and utensils. And blackout curtains, which are totally necessary since the sun really never sets. AND cable. I only watched tv when I was there by myself, but that's a whole other part of the story... He also has a great gas grill out front! Everything you need!
We all ended up going into town to grab dinner at one of Joe's fave places, Thorn's Showcase. We were there to get the highly discussed "Bucket of 'Butt", which is deep fried halibut chunks. I can't explain how damn delicious 'butt is. Once again, Joe was right. And, of course, everyone knew him. After dinner, he wanted to show this city girl a little Seward nightlife so we hit a couple popular haunts, met some locals and had just a hilarious time. The city girl (I use that term loosely, btw, cuz I'm pretty old, but city hag doesn't have a ring to it, LOL) was settling in just fine.
The next day, we all went down to the harbor for a yummy breakfast at a charming place called Smoke Shack. I happened to get the seat that allowed me to look out on the harbor... incredible! The food was great, the service was warm... At this point I want to move to Seward. Not kidding. It's awesome!!! After breakfast, we walked around the docks looking at boats and enjoying the views and the weather, then headed back to the cabin to get ready to go out on Joe's boat.
This turned out to be the most magical day of my life. I am not kidding. We left in the early afternoon, rode around for a couple hours, took in the most incredible scenery and breathed in the cleanest, coolest air EVER. I'm sighing as I type this... I brought cocktail stuff on board and Joe had glacier ice for my cup. Glacier ice. What?? Yeah. So crazy cool, right? Joe has an impressive snack stash on the boat, so it kind of felt like the best happy hour ever. On the way back toward Seward, Joe heard on the radio that there were humpback whales bubble net feeding (Google it, it's fascinating) in the bay so he zoomed that boat to the exact right spot. OMG. I felt like I was in a Disney movie. We saw that whale - or whales - fly out of the water at least 20 times! It was THRILLING!!!! At one point, a whale jumped about ten feet from the boat! After that exhilaration, when we were in an area where no boats were close to us, Joe let me drive the boat. I was petrified, but he encouraged me to do it and it was a blast! I didn't know it at the time, but he has another steering wheel in the cabin and he was actually doing most of the driving...!! Regardless, it was awesome and I felt like the coolest broad in all the land. I swear I had more non-stop fun and adventure in my first 24 hours in Alaska than ANY time in my life.
Now to "The Big Adventure" - three days on the boat, exploring glaciers and kayaking in glacier bays. Completely remote, no contact with anyone except for the Coast Guard in case of emergency. There was an emergency, but more on that later.
Here's the deal in Alaska - you are at the mercy of the weather. If the ocean says no, you aren't going out. As concerned as Joe is with your fun, he's even more concerned with your safety. We ended up delaying one day, which was fine because that day we went out on the boat in the bay for five hours anyway! It also gave us more time to shop for provisions for our time in the middle of nowhere. Even though we had only planned on being out there for three days, we shopped for almost a week just in case we got stuck out there. Again, the ocean dictates your schedule. Let me tell you, as a city person who can do anything at any time I want, this was a little disconcerting! I was really nervous with anticipation! But I pushed on. Cuz... of course.
The day we left for our big trip, we loaded up Joe's kayaks and his motorized rubber boat thing - I forget what it's called - and all our clothes and provisions. We took off just after noon and started our journey to Aialik Glacier, the first stop. It took three or four hours and when we got to the glacier, I am pretty sure my heart stopped. It was THE most majestic sight. Aaaaaaaabsolutely breathtaking. We sat in silence for a long while, listening to the waves gently lapping the boat as we skimmed the water, and the distant sounds of the glacier caving. OMG. Unreal. Joe anchored right in front of the glacier and we grilled reindeer sausage for sandwiches. Yes. We grilled on a boat in a glacier bay. If you do anything else in your life, you MUST do this. After lunch, we hopped in that motor boat and zipped to the beach for the short walk to the forest service cabin we rented. The cabin is very simple, but huge! Two bunk beds and an outhouse a few yards away. We had a walkie talkie and once we got settled, we called for him to pick us up so we could go back to the boat for dinner. I forgot to mention that we used the fishing nets to pull more glacier ice out of the water for our drinks. These are the little things that make me so happy. We grilled halibut that Joe himself had caught (!!), had a lot of great conversation and laughs and then boated back to our cabin to get some sleep before our big day.
This is when the story gets a little wacky. I won't go into great detail because it will make you wince, but suffice it to say that I ended up getting injured in the cabin so badly that I had to be helicoptered out. Yes. Joe sleeps on the boat, of course, so we radioed him that I needed to go to the hospital. He was on the radio with the Coast Guard in a flash, the rescue peeps came as soon as they could - it was a couple hours cuz there was another emergency south of us - scooped me up and we were at the ER in Seward in less than ten minutes. It was kind of like being in a movie. Joe doesn't usually offer a helicopter ride, but maybe if you ask real nice...!! Seriously, I am lucky that my captain remained cool as a cucumber and knew exactly what to do. I ended up leaving the hospital about 5:30 am with 28 stitches and a couple free days. I had the keys, so drove back to the cabin and slept, grilled, did some sightseeing and watched Bravo until they all came back. The Coast Guard informed them that I was fine and didn't want them to come home, but they ended up heading back a day early because the weather was getting weird again and they may have been stuck for a couple more days.
The next day, Sunday, was our last full day in Seward and we decided to go on an easy little hike to Exit Glacier, which is really close to town. SO cool!! Joe came with us and gave us so many little fun facts along the way. He's lived there for about 30 years and LOVES Alaska, so he is verrrrrry informative. Also, as I have said before, he is very sassy, hilarious and fun! Being in Alaska made me feel like a kid again. I live in downtown Chicago and I pretty much forgot that there was an Ice Age. I mean, do you ever think about those things?? It was both amazing and depressing at the same time. Global warming is real, people. That night, we made dinner at the cabin and enjoyed our last night with Captain Unicorn. We grilled fresh sea bass, fresh corn and I forget what else. It was bittersweet. The last night! Boo hiss.
On Monday morning, we made breakfast at the cabin before we had to head out. Pancakes, bacon and eggs on the grill and hot coffee in the fresh morning air? Yes, please! *Can you tell that I'm a little obsessed with food and atmosphere? :)* That afternoon we drove to Anchorage and stayed at an Airbnb for two nights before our early morning Wednesday flights home. Per my request, we stopped in Whittier on the way. I saw a story about it on 60 Minutes and it is just as beautiful and creepy as I imagined! Also, when we were in Anchorage, we went to one of the last Blockbuster stores in the country. !! It IS The Last Frontier, after all. Aside from that, we had a couple more delicious meals (get breakfast at Snow City, it's fantastic), shopped at tourist trap gift shops and walked around like zombies. It felt like how I imagine astronauts feel during reentry except none of our food came in tubes...!
So this is the end of the story about the city girl who went on an Alaskan adventure, came home with incredible memories and an epic arm scar and CAN'T wait to do it again! I literally fell into a depression when I got home. I love my Chicago, but I really didn't want to leave Seward or my peeps. Joe and my friends created the best time of my life. Seriously. This trip would have never been as amazing if I had booked a cruise or did things that involved large groups or stayed at some random motel. It was THE most perfect vacation ever. I am not kidding!!!
Now let me tell you why you MUST must must mussssst book with Joe Allen:
1. He is Mr. Alaska. Lived there for 30 years, knows what is UP. He will bring you to great adventures while keeping you safe.
2. He's fun and funny!
3. His rental cabin is super charming, perfectly appointed, in a great location (you can have morning coffee with your captain and it's close to town!) and it's A DEAL.
4. He's generous and thoughtful.
5. He lives for giving people the experience of a lifetime.
6. He's a good, honest man.
7. He will tailor your trip to your needs! There is no "package", he creates YOUR trip!!!
8. He is totally transparent. You know EXACTLY what you're getting when you set things up. No BS, no hidden weird fees. Love that.
9. He's a total bargain!
10. He is doing what he loves, and that is the kind of person with whom you want to spend your precious time and hard-earned money. I mean it.

Even though this is the longest review in the history of the world, I still have so much to say about Joe and my Alaska vacation. But I will wrap up and spare you. You're welcome. Just call Joe and get the ball rolling and start planning for YOUR trip next spring/summer! I promise you will love it!!!! Not sure if there is a messaging thing on here - I have never before been motivated to write a review - but if so, feel free to ask me any questions!

  • Stayed: June 2017, travelled with friends
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank kerryabdow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 August 2017

I feel just a little miffed reading all these amazing reviews of Joe. And here we thought OUR DAY was the most special(!) Joe is an incredible guy -- a little rough, a little saltly, a huge heart, and a ton of fun. He likes to say he is not for everyone, but he sure was for us! Both his cabin and our exquisite trip to Aialik Glacier. We had originally intended to do a kayak trip with Joe, but we ended up going with a family who had booked him first who just wanted to sightsee, which in the end we agreed would be fine. Was it ever. We left at 6 a.m. on a glorious morning and arrived at the glacier fully 2 hours before anyone else. Joe said it was the "calving-est day" he'd seen all year. Incredible noises from the ice and huge fronts falling off right and left. We had a few 10 foot waves head our way. We saw plenty of humpback, otters, seals, puffins, sea lions, etc. etc. Now some of this is the luck of the day. But even if we hadn't seen all those things, we would have had the richness of the day with him. A great storyteller, funny, grilled "'but" on the boat, and willing to let us steer the day to some degree. For example, a teen on the trip wanted to hug an iceberg, and so, he got to! Joe sidled the boat up as close as he could, and wrapped in a life preserver, over he went. What a brave (crazy!) kid. We had just an amazing 12 hours on the water with Joe. (Note that his boat is small -- this is a small group experience, and it doesn't have a "proper head." There is a small, um, facility for the women though.)

We also thoroughly enjoyed Joe's cabin. VERY comfortable bed. microwave, coffee pot, fridge, and gas grill. Lovely porch in front. One night, we grilled some halibut that Joe gave us. The place also had whimsical and artistic decor and plantings. For example, on his porch, he had flowers growing in old fishing boots. In the cabin, there were beautiful photos of wildlife, old-time Seward photos, a few skins, lovely rustic quilts and a number of really beautiful and/or playful touches, e.g., a metal moose sculpture peaking through the bushes out the window.

In the end, it is really Joe's hospitality, personality, and warmth that radiates from him like sunshine. I can't say enough.

Room Tip: only one cabin. Wifi was a little sketchy, but not a big deal for us.
  • Stayed: July 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
2  Thank lacaphill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 August 2017

We booked though Miller's Landing for an Aialik Glacier kayak trip and ended up with Joe as our captain. He had us smiling upon his arrival. We had the absolute best day with Joe as he shared his knowledge of the area, landmarks and wildlife. He catered the water taxi trip to be exactly what we were looking for. We never felt rushed and were able to see lots of wildlife up close and personal compared to the larger tour boats. It was everything we were hoping for and more and it was great to spend some time with someone who truly appreciates the beauty and ruggedness of the land and sea. Thanks again Joe!! -Andrew and Rhonwen

Stayed: July 2017, travelled as a couple
1  Thank Rhonwen J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
View more reviews