Icy Strait Point, AK, USA cruises
Icy Strait Point port guide.
Picture Alaska and you’ve more or less conjured Icy Strait Point. This natively owned cruise port on Chichagof Island offers the best of what makes this region unique; piercing blue waters, emerald green forest and myriad ways to enjoy the outdoors.
You may decide to spend the afternoon whale watching, join a fishing expedition or take in the scenery on a guided kayaking experience. Then there are the nature hikes, offering the chance to spot native brown bears and eagles in their natural habitat. For the truly brave, Icy Strait Point is also home to the world’s largest zip rider, which propels you over 5,000 feet from a 1,300 vertical drop. It is an adrenaline-fueled experience, perhaps not one for everyone, but definitely something you won’t forget in a hurry.
Of course, there’s much for the leisurely paced visitor to enjoy on shore too. Icy Strait Point is situated just outside Hoonah, the largest Tlingit village in the world. Near to the cruise port, you’ll also find quaint shops selling local artifacts and insightful museums expanding on local history. While along the waterfront a smattering of restaurants are ready to treat you to the freshest crab plucked from Icy Strait bay, an Alaskan delicacy you won’t want to miss.
Top landmarks and sights in Icy Strait Point.
A port call to Icy Strait Point means a choice between whether to spend your time on land, sea or in the air. The island is a natural playground; its waters as dense with whales as its forest is with brown bears.
If you harbor a desire to see either, now’s your chance. So abundant is the population here that tour guides as good as guarantee a sighting. In fact, Icy Strait Point even has its own resident whale who bucks the migration trend to stay put year-round. Nicknamed Freddy by locals, the sight of his colossal tail rising from the water or spray shooting skyward is a common sight on a port call here.
Icy Strait Point’s other claim to fame is its ZipRider, hailed as the largest zip line in the world. The descent takes you from Mount Hoonah’s summit at speeds of 60 miles per hour as the rainforest rushes by below. If you can keep your eyes open for the experience you’ll be treated to stunning views out to the bay as you descend from the mountaintop towards your beach landing.
Things to do in Icy Strait Point Alaska.
Icy Strait Point has any amount of activities to create outstanding memories. Explore the Spaaski River Valley, learn about the history and heritage of Alaska’s native Tlingit people on a tour of Hoonah village, or take a flight-seeing excursion over the UNESCO World Heritage site of Glacier Bay.
Besides its brown bear population, Chichagof Island is abound with wildlife, including Sitka black-tail deer, red squirrels, bald eagles and land otters. Discover this side of Icy Strait Point on an ATV or Jeep tour through the island’s old logging roads or take a helicopter ride to see the area’s outstanding natural beauty from a bird’s eye view.
The charming small community of Hoonah is also just a mile or so from where the ship docks at Icy Strait Point. Home to Alaska’s largest Tlingit village, a visit here offers the chance to see carved totem poles and voyage on an authentic Tlingit canoe.
Eating and drinking near Icy Strait Point cruise port.
As you might expect of a destination with a fresh supply of seafood on its doorstep, Icy Strait Point offers some of the freshest catch, native to Alaska. Dining here is a laid-back affair, with an emphasis on showcasing local produce, served in the surroundings from which it’s been sourced.
Cooked-to-order crab, locally smoked salmon and rich Alaskan reindeer are among the native delicacies you’ll find in abundance, each one offering an authentic taste of the Inside Passage. The emphasis is very much on allowing Alaska’s produce to sing so many dishes here are served simply, with a humble accompaniment and little fuss.
Of course, if you just want to sit and relax with a cold beer, you’ll be in good company too. Nearby to Icy Strait Point cruise port you’ll find a smokehouse restaurant with an outstanding outdoor deck. And, if you do get peckish at any point you can always order a slider (a small burger, just a couple of bites in size) to keep hunger contained until you re-join your ship for your evening meal.
Shopping in Icy Strait Point.
If you’re looking for an authentic Alaskan keepsake you could easily find it among the souvenir shops surrounding Icy Strait Point’s historic salmon cannery. While not extensive, the shopping offer here is staunchly community focused (each shop is 100% Alaskan-owned) and for those inclined, just a five-minute stroll from the point of disembarkation.
Jewelry, fashion and homewares are among the unique finds to take back on board, while canned Sockeye salmon, Icy Strait Point’s other notable export, is available to purchase by can or by case.
Icy Strait Point culture and history.
Although it’s only been welcoming cruise ships since 2004, Icy Strait Point has been an intrinsic part of Alaskan life since 1912 when a salmon cannery was established on the island. The cannery provided employment to the local community, and even a place to live when a fire raged through nearby Hoonah village in the 1940s, leaving many residents homeless.
After changing ownership several times, the cannery was eventually bought by the Huna Totem Corporation – a collective of Alaska natives – and Icy Strait Point developed into the privately-owned Alaskan port call visitors recognize today. The former cannery, now a museum, is still an important part of the community, giving all who come here an opportunity to learn about Alaska’s culture, Tlingit customs and Icy Strait Point’s history.
Icy Strait Point Port Facilities and Location.
Alaska cruises to Icy Strait Point call at Port Frederick, a floating dock that allows for passenger disembarkation directly to shore. Once you step off your ship, everything Icy Strait Point has to offer can be reached on foot in under ten minutes. There’s also a shuttle bus that runs between Icy Strait Point and Hoonah if you prefer to visit independently rather than by organized tour.