Icy Strait Point lies about a mile from Hoonah, Alaska. It is located on Chichagof island. It is a privately owned cruise destination point. It is owned by Huna Totem Corporation, which is owned by around 1400 aboriginal Alaskan natives, many of them Tlingit people.
The local economy is largely dependent on cruise tourism. With over one hundred docking of ships per season, this little spot provides a day’s activities and a number of restaurants and shops for the visitors. A remnant from the 1930s, the Hoonah Packing Company premise is now converted into a museum, shops, and restaurant.
Getting off the ship, one can walk to an area with restaurants and gift shops. There is also the Adventure Center where the various excursion groups meet and wait in line. Tickets and information about the various excursions are also available here. There are some vending machines as well as restrooms. Further, walking along the waterfront, past some quaint private residences, one would reach the converted Packing Company premise. Along the waterfront, you can get down to the pebble-filled gravely beach. I tried picking up the pebbles but they had tiny barnacles and did not look inviting. The water was clear and even on a cloudy day, it was beautiful. There were hills on now side and it is a good spot for kids to enjoy the water up close.
Walking along the path, parallel to the beach, you can get to the restaurants, stores and museum.
The Crab House is quite popular with visitors. Many who do not opt for the activities, spend time here. But keep in mind that you need to to get back on to the ship often by 4 pm. Of course, it depends on each cruise. The museum has machinery used in fishing and the old cannery. There is not much to see in this museum. You could just walk by when going to the stores. The stores have the usual gift items and also do have locally made items albeit on the expensive side. Not all are local though. Even though they have local designs, they are made in China. But there are clothing and wood items that are locally made. The famous Ulu knife is also made from local wood.
One of the popular and most advertised activities here is the ZipRider Zip-line, which is touted as the “World’s largest ZipRider” with a “1330’ Vertical Drop.” It does make a lot of noise as riders come zipping down. The tickets need to be booked in advance. You would have etc take the gondola up, to the point from where you would then come down on the ZipRider. You would be harnessed and seated as you come zipping down.
Some of the other popular shore excursions in Icy Strait include –
Spasski River Valley Wildlife and Bear search
Hoonah sightseeing with Tribal Dance
Back Country Jeep Tours
Gondola rides and Forest tram rides
The Gondolas connect the Ocean Landing to the Wilderness Landing and further to Sky View. Ships can be docked at Ocean Landing or Wilderness Landing. The Green Gondolas from Ocean to Wilderness is free. From Wilderness Landing, you can take the Skyglider Gondola to the Mountain Top Terminal at 1600 ft elevation where the tram ride takes place. The 360-degree view tram ride is of an hour and a half duration. It is a scenic ride making stops at various spots for pictures and short walks. It gives a bird’s eye view of the mountains and town of Hoonah.
The Gondola to the Mountain Top Terminal is the one you would take if you are riding the ZipRider down. The ZipRider Launch zone is a short walk from the Gondola. These need tickets to ride. The ATV rides, ZipRider rides etc need waivers to be signed.
Whale watching here is quite successful since the Point Adolphus feeding area for the Humpback whales is nearby. In fact, there is a money-back guarantee in case you do not spot whales on the whale-watching trip.
The Back Country Jeep Tour is a fun activity for adults. Children can accompany. Each eligible person gets to drive the jeep or if only one person wants to drive that is fine too. The jeeps are led by the tour guide who will take the caravan of jeeps on a pre-set route. S/he can communicate via radio to all jeeps and gives details of the flora, and fauna along the way. A segment of the route is tarred roads and most are narrow dirt roads thus providing a sense of adventure. Before entering the wooded areas, the drive is through Hoonah, which is largely inhabited by the Tlingit community. There are a couple of stops for pictures and scenic views. The Chichagof island is part of the Tongass temperate forest and thus vegetation is lush. The bear population is high in these areas.
Hoonah is a small city on Chichagof island mainly inhabited by the Tlingit people. With a local population of fewer than 1000 people, Hoonah’s economy is largely dependent on tourism, especially cruises. In summer, the population swells with workers from other areas coming in as demand for employees in tourist attractions and restaurants increases.
In the town per se, local stores and a totem pole carving shop are the main attraction. It is a quaint town with little else since most of the activities are based in Icy Strait Point.
Chichagof Island is the 5th largest island in the Us and is part of the Alexander Archipelago of Alaska panhandle. Chichagof Island boasts of the highest population of bears per square mile than any other place on Earth.