Magazine heralds Yakutat as one of U.S.'s best surf scenes

National Geographic, CBS News among others that focused on the town's beaches

Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Outside magazine named Yakutat one of the five best surf towns in America in its June issue, and that's just the latest honor for the Southeast town of 680 people northwest of Juneau.

In its May 23 issue, Newsweek wrote a small profile on the town in an article headlined: "Travel: Surfing With Sea Otters."

Both articles mentioned Icy Waves Surf Shop, run by the Endicott family since 1999.

"That Outside magazine named us one of the top five is pretty special," said Jack Endicott, co-owner. "We've also been in National Geographic. We were in there four or five years ago - No. 29 of the top 100 adventure destinations."

Outside selected Yakutat; Cocoa Beach, Fla.; Montauk, N.Y.; Santa Cruz, Calif.; and Coos Bay, Ore.; as the top surf destinations in the country.

"Have Bush pilot Les Hartley drop you and your gear on one of countless unknown, unnamed and potentially perfect point breaks along the rugged coast," the magazine wrote. To see the rest of the article, visit outsideonline.com.

Yakutat has received considerable national acclaim since 1999, when the Endicott family opened Icy Waves Surf Shop and stories ran in the Juneau Empire and The Associated Press.

"It just went ape-crap after that," Endicott said.

CBS News saw the story and a crew visited for three days. Yakutat scored a 20-minute segment on "Sunday Morning" with Charles Osgood.

Nowadays, Yakutat is visited by about 100 non-Alaska surfers each summer. The best waves can usually be found from mid-April to mid-June, or from mid-August to Oct. 1. Legendary surfer Greg Noll visited Yakutat this month, and five-time world-champion Australian women's surfer Layne Beachley is expected later this summer.

"I think it's because of the novelty," Endicott said. "It's a very remote place, and it's really a beautiful little town. It's picturesque with the St. Elias Mountains.

"There are several spots where the surf breaks along the coast, so they just go out and surf those depending on which way the swells are coming or how big they are," he said.

That's not to say that Yakutat will be over-run anytime soon,

"It's relatively expensive to get here, and there aren't a whole lot of accommodations, so it's probably going to stay a pretty low-key thing," he said.

• Korry Keeker can be reached at korry.keeker@juneauempire.com.



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