Icy Strait Point….Hoonah, Alaska

Icy Strait Point is Alaska Native owned-and-operated. All profits directly support the community of Hoonah…Alaska’s largest Native Tlingit village. The dedicated staff….many who call Hoonah home….is committed to providing a unique experience for every guest. You will be hard pressed to find a port that is more infused with local Native culture and hospitality.

Located on the Chichagof Island, the Gulf of Alaska is directly west and the capital city of Juneau is directly to the east. Chichagoff Island is home to more brown bears than humans. Eagles soar overhead and whales are regularly seen just offshore….sometimes just off the pier going to the ship. The town of Hoonah is about a 30 minute walk from the port or a 5 minute drive. A shuttle into town will be available for a small fee. You can visit a restored 1912 salmon cannery and museum, walk the nature trails through a rainforest and explore the beach.  The port is surrounded by towering forests set against the backdrop of mist-shrouded mountains.

If you want an adventure, Icy Strait Point is the port for you. Here you can ride the world’s largest ZipRider, with six 5,330’ ziplines dropping 1330’. After launching, you will rapidly accelerate to speeds exceeding 60 mph while you soar 300 feet above the rainforest below. If you are looking for a once in a lifetime experience, then the ZipRider is for you. With up to six guests descending at once, it is also a great family or group activity!

Photo courtesy of Icy Strait Point

If whale watching is on your must do list, this is the place! You will depart directly from Icy Strait Point and travel to the celebrated Point Adolphus area….home to Alaska’s largest summer population of humpback whales. Along the way, you may spot orca (killer whales), Steller’s sea lions, seal and porpoise. Don’t forget to scan the shore for bald eagles in the evergreen treetops and bears on the beaches! Onboard, you will be accompanied by a naturalist who will describe the biology and behavior of the diverse species that gather every summer. The whales are so plentiful that there have been sighted on every tour conducted since 2004!

In the the wilderness of Chichagof Island, The Spasski River Valley is famous for having one of the highest populations of coastal brown bears in the world! Chichagof Island is home to over 3,500 coastal brown (grizzly) bears…..that’s almost two bears/square mile! You can book an excursion through your cruise line that will take you through the Tlingit village of Hoonah and out into coastal rainforest and muskegs. Along the way, you may see bald eagles, Sitka black-tailed deer and Alaska coastal brown bears that could be anywhere along the road. On arrival, you will disembark the bus and follow your guide down a gravel path and boardwalks across a muskeg to viewing platforms strategically positioned over the lower Spasski River. Bear sightings are not guaranteed. While they are commonly spotted throughout the summer, this is a true wilderness area….not the local zoo! This valley is also great for bird-watching and the Spasski River is an active salmon stream.

Fishing in Icy Strait Point is excellent and the waters around the area offer outstanding fishing opportunities. Halibut can be caught all season year long. Silver salmon (soho), pink (humpy) and keta (chum) may be caught beginning the first of July through September.  Stream fishing excursions are also available. If you are stream fishing, Icy Strait Point participates in a catch-and-release only program. If you are halibut fishing, you may keep the fish. You will have to pay to have your fish processed and shipped home to you, as you will not be allowed to take the fish back on your cruise ship.

Want a more leisurely visit to Icy Strait Point? That can be accomplished! There are numerous walking trails just off the pier. Walk through the quiet of an ancient forest and feel the soft pine needle covered ground beneath you feet, while watching for eagles and wildlife. You can also explore the beach, hunting for shells and other sea life. At low tide, the tide pools are alive with activity.

A visit to the 1912 cannery and museum is a must! A short walk from the cruise ship pier, the museum is a self guided tour and has no entrance fee. The building has been fully restored to its original condition and shows the history of fishing in Alaska. There are many static displays to enjoy. Also inside you will find a restaurant and shops that sell locally made items, souvenirs and packaged salmon. The Icy Strait Point cannery is connected by smooth paths and boardwalk and every effort has been made to make the site ADA accessible. For guests needing assistance, ISP does have several compact utility vehicles to assist guests in getting from place to place.

If you get hungry while onshore or want some fresh seafood….you are in luck! There are several places to get food, both at the terminal and in town. Ever had halibut pizza? Stop in at Duck Point Smokehouse (steps away from the cruise ship dock and Zipline ride) and let me know what you think! You can also try their signature dish, the Icy Strait Point Surf and Turf, which features house-made crab tater-tots.  

The Crab Station on the pier has fresh king, snow and Dungeness crab. When in season, the Dungeness crab is caught in local waters and kept alive until cooked…you really can’t get any fresher than that!  Their Alaska Crabby Bloody Mary should not be missed! It is packed with crab meat and garnished with a snow crab leg and also comes with celery, shrimp, olives, lime and beach asparagus. YUM!

The historic Cookhouse Restaurant has been feeding cannery visitors (and workers) for more than a century! Be sure to try their Alaska halibut & chips. The fish is purchased fresh from the local dock. Another great option are the Alaska Salmon BLT Sliders, featuring Alaska sockeye salmon cakes. Not a fan of seafood? Try the Alaska Blue Burgers….made with reindeer meat! Other favorites include salmon chowder, reindeer chili and fries.

Alaska has some great local craft beers and Hoonah is no exception. Icy Strait Brewing is located in the Misty Bay Lodge…corner of Front Street and Hill Street. Join them for a beer tasting and some smoked Alaskan treats. They have a great food menu available also. http://icystraitbrewing.company

Enjoy your visit to Icy Strait Point. You will find activities for all ages and interests. There are so many great options for things to do, you will definitely want to return!

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