Hiking with UnCruise Adventures

It looks different in each destination. And from day to day. Desert, tropical stream, temperate or tropical rainforest. Hiking is part of every UnCruise. And in UnCruise style, there is something for every skill and interest level. We want everyone to get out there. Don’t worry about hiking poles – we got ‘em for you. Do think about your footwear! But we will talk about hiking gear in each kind of hiking. In all locations, your group will be 12 people or fewer, led by an expedition guide for your safety and to show you all the cool stuff and identify what you should and shouldn’t touch or snack on trailside. (I’d listen to them on that by the way!)

Tide pooling: walking carefully in the intertidal zone, on rocks or wading in shallow water, looking for anemones, crabs, little fish, and other cool critters. Hiking poles, if not a must, are a great idea to keep your balance on very uneven terrain. Footwear for this is the Alaskan Sneaker: your rubber boots (or wellies to our international friends!). Bring your camera.

Meadow Meander: slow gentle walk through a meadow, identifying birds and plants, tracks of critters, that sort of thing. May include very shallow streams. Hiking gear for this one is the same as tide pooling. Rubber boots are recommended because of those streams and boggy low-lying areas. Hiking poles are available on board if you want them, but most probably won’t need them for this hike.

Trail hike: walking further inland on an established trail. These vary a lot. Might have a boardwalk, might not. The expedition leader will explain before you sign up how long the hike will be, if there will be elevation gain, how uneven it is, etc. This will be places we have been before, generally. That said, there is a wide range depending on which adventure you are on. Footgear varies accordingly!

 In Alaska, our guides and most guests hike in those rubber boots – often with insoles in them for support. The land can be wet everywhere, but the main reason is the wet landing at the beginning. With few exceptions, you will get to shore by getting on a skiff, riding to shallow water, and getting off by swinging your legs over the side and stepping into up to a foot of water. Wet landing. If you really want to wear hiking shoes, you should bring a bag to carry your shoes on the way out and your boots during the hike. Be sure those hiking boots are waterproof!

In Hawaii, you may well hike in sandals or water shoes – again, though, ones that can get wet. The waterfall hike in Halawa Valley is amazing but very wet! In Baja, on the other hand, you need to consider sand and cacti. Many people carry their shoes with them on the skiff, wade to shore, and then dry their feet and put on socks and shoes. Or, you know, live dangerously and wear your sandals, grin.

Hiking in Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize definitely requires shoes. You are in the rain forest. The trails are uneven, over roots and under trees that drop sticks. There are also, in these areas, more critters at ground level to consider. Closed toe shoes are required. Trust me, you don’t want to be thinking about your feet – the monkeys and birds above and around you are the show!


Bushwhack: this is an Alaskan hike where there is no trail. Up and down hills, under and over fallen trees, crossing streams. These tend to be longer and are more adventurous – the start and end points are decided in advance, but the route in between is unknown and decided as the guide goes along. Searching for signs of wildlife and telling apart the types of trees. Getting moss in your hair. Look high, look low, and calling out “Hey Bear!” as you go so that nobody is surprised. Pure UnCruise. Footwear for these is rubber boots or hiking shoes. Hiking poles can be a good idea. If there is an adventurous enough group, these can be paired with kayaking, in which case we call ‘em a “yak-n-whack”. Kayak, box lunch, hike, kayak.

Hard-Charger: this is more a description than a category. Some trail hikes and some bushwhacks (definitely the yak-n-whack) are chosen for guests who want a workout rather than a lot of stopping to identify plants and tracks. Likely to have elevation gain, uneven terrain. Offered in all destinations. The difficulty level of the hikes is tailored to the guests that we have that week, with more hard-chargers when there is more demand for them.

If you want more hiking adventure, here are some pre or post cruise ideas:

Hiking at elevation: guests who take our Galapagos cruise may choose to add on our Machu Picchu land extension. Machu Picchu is at nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, which brings its own challenges. The Camino Petonal trail offers a two hour hike up through lush rainforest.

Hiking on a glacier with crampons: not sold through UnCruise, but a former partner and recommended, is Above and Beyond Alaska. Their strenuous 8 hour Mendenhall Glacier hike is an amazing experience. Mendenhall glacier is outside of Juneau, so this would be something that you would do pre or post any Alaska cruise.