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We are doing Whale excursion in Juneau . Need to find out if there is anything like a scenic bus drive to the national Forrest or if there are any other smaller tours for walking challenged people. We want to see the area but no zip line,no long walks, or no airplane helicopter please. Just a relaxing couple hour excursion THANKS!

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I asked a similar question a month ago about peoples experiences in Icy Point (without reading through millions of trip reports from the last few years)  and got similar responses with links to the towns websites.  

When I look at similar forum topics for people asking for help with things to do/peoples experiences in Juneau, Skagway and Ketch - there are many many detailed responses with multiple thoughts, ideas and experiences.  I wonder if it's just lack of people having been to ISP

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Well, I will say that there is a trend of what is best to see at each of the locations.  ISP is on an island.  It's well known for whale watching, and Native American history.  There's a neat little hike in the area.  You could go into town of Hoonah, but from what I hear there isn't much there touristy.

 

I did see the Native American history presentation many years ago.  I appreciated it because now I better understand the importance of totems.  The raven became a favorite animal for me.  

 

I don't think you'll find a tour to a national park or helicopter, as both of those are better apt for Juneau or Ketchikan.

Edited by Jnsplace1
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2 hours ago, AKStafford said:

Have you looked here at Icy Strait Point's website: https://icystraitpoint.com/  ? They offer a wildlife trip: https://icystraitpoint.com/tour/wildlife-and-bear-search/ .

And here the local vendors in Hoonah (which is where Icy Strait Point is located): https://www.visithoonah.com/tours.html

 

 

Thank you for posting this.  I checked out lots of those sites and the minimum age for many of the charters are 8 and over.  Any idea of why they will not allow younger guests?  Thank you.  Might just have to make ISP a ship day for the family.

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I have been to ISP several times.  It's a good place to get off the ship and relax.  There is a short nature trail near the pier.  It goes into the forest and it's an easy walk.  Great place to take pictures of the forest.  I have been whale watching and bear watching.  Both were good trips.  At times you can see whales right near the ship.  RCCL has built a pier there now and it's easy off and on the ship.  There is a zip line, restaurants and gift shop at the pier. You can take a bus into Hoonah.  It's about a mile from the pier and you walk along the shore line.  Hoonah is a small fishing community and there are several restaurants and crab shacks in town.  Just keep in mind it a small Alaska fishing town and there isn't much to see there but it interesting little town.  I hope this answered some of the questions.  My suggestion is if your going whale watching book a trip through a local vendor because they have smaller boats and the captains communicate with each other as to where the whales are located.  Booking a ship whale watching trip is ok but there are many people on the boat and it's hard to get good pictures.  The boat my DW and I were on carried 6 people and we got up close and personal with the whales.  The company we used is out of business now because the owner retired.  Also we will be in ISP again this summer.  The TV show "Alaskan Brush People" is filmed in ISP.

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On 2/13/2020 at 3:47 PM, KristyMisty14 said:

When I look at similar forum topics for people asking for help with things to do/peoples experiences in Juneau, Skagway and Ketch - there are many many detailed responses with multiple thoughts, ideas and experiences.  I wonder if it's just lack of people having been to ISP

 

ISP isn't as popular a port stop as the others you mentioned but I don't believe the lack of detailed response is due to a lack of visitors to ISP...more due to the fact that there is simply a limit to the things that you can do at ISP.

 

ISP is a unique Alaska port. Straight from the ISP website, the About Us..."Icy Strait Point is...Owned and operated by Huna Totem Corporation, Icy Strait Point is Alaska Native owned-and-operated and all profits directly support the local community. With roughly 85% of our staff calling Hoonah home..." Trying to describe this in such a way that it makes sense to someone who hasn't been there...the "port" of ISP is basically a fully constructed day use resort for the express purpose of entertaining visiting cruise passengers and offering a set of seasonal excursions, or opportunities, for those passengers to get a taste of undeveloped Alaska...using the former cannery as the basis for the design and construction of the entire "port".

 

Before ISP invested in the pier, so that ONE ship could dock there...it was a tender port. But the pier was constructed so that there would be fewer skips of port because of weather conditions. The port area is basically a business location...about one mile away is the actual village of Hoonah. I think thinking of the port as a day use resort is a really good one.

 

I think it's very helpful to take a look at the satellite map of the area:

 

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Hoonah,+AK/@58.130892,-135.4591955,891m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x54016e328db9b761:0x6cb7fb631ee5abfd!8m2!3d58.11!4d-135.4436111

 

When the map comes up, you should be able to see the pier. Yes...it is a bit of walk from the ship:

 

RIMG0601.jpg

 

This will be one of the first sights you see:

 

RIMG0610.jpg

 

That whole area that is near to the pier...it's single story...multiple buildings...very picturesque in what one might think of as "log cabin" and/or "mountain" look buildings...the shore line boardwalk where there are multiple buildings looks like this:

 

RIMG0821.jpg

 

This is NOT a city. In a different thread about ISP...I likened the port to a mini-amusement part...where everything there has been built and focused on providing entertainment or recreation for the day visitors. 

 

Just like Universal doesn't come into WDW to offer other amusements to the guests...there is no competition at the port for excursions. There are very few independent operators in nearby Hoonah. Glacier Winds is one of them. But otherwise...there just isn't competition...nothing "secret" or off the beaten path...because ISP IS off the beaten path to begin with.

 

It's one of the things that makes it so special. You have landed smack in the middle of "rural" Alaska LOL. Except rural is a seaside.

 

This is one view from that boardwalk:

 

RIMG0832.jpg

 

There is quite a bit to enjoy without doing much of anything at all. The nature path is lovely...I liken it to one of those short interpretive paths that you might find at a nature center or regulatory park. The taste of the towering trees of the rainforest is almost library like in peacefulness. I think there are demonstrations is the "center" kind of courtyard area near the excursion building...or should I say the lodge looking like excursion building. The museum is small but detailed and the linked retail area is also full of posters and wall hangings that have information...for instance, you can find out how the state flag of Alaska came into being if you find the article that is framed and hanging on the wall.

 

And if you want to get OUT and experience a more "wild" Alaska...you are ALREADY there...basically. The tours are designed to satisfy that urge that some may have to not be in such a civilized and developed area without having to travel hours to get out of town. You have DOCKED outside of what can't even be called a town...nearby Hoonah may have a graduating senior class that hits double digits when they have big classes.

 

Once you go, you realize how uncomplicated this particular port is. 

 

If you zoom out or move the map around...you'll see the nearby town of Hoonah. It's small. The whole thing could fit in a small masterplanned community in the Orlando area. The harbor is sheltered and lovely:

 

RIMG0800.jpg

 

I've read about and seen the place where they work on totem carving in the town. It's like a sheltered but outdoor workshop that is big enough for one totem. I saw it driving by...but I've read about people walking into the town and stopping and observing and learning. The town itself has nothing touristy about it. All the tourist stuff is at the port.

 

Really checking out the satellite map should help to put it into perspective. Bring up the maps of the other AK ports for comparison...and that will help to understand how when visiting Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, you are visiting full fledged towns, cities even. ISP is not a town. And nearby Hoonah is a village.

 

I loved everything about Alaska...including ISP. I hope everyone going has a great day there.

 

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May I make a suggestion?
 

We did whale watching in Juneau 11 years ago and then again in ISP last August. We had a much better experience going from ISP, including watching a momma and her calf breaching, following a family of Orca and a pod of  seven or eight Humpbacks playing together. Of course, any tour is down to luck and can vary, but I would say do it this way round and you'll find a lot more alternative options in Juneau.

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Anita Latte, you have done the best review of Icy Strait Point I have ever read. I agree with you--it's one of my favorite port visits in Alaska, too.

 

We did a bear excursion there last year in early June (with Misty Bay Bear and Wilderness Tour). We knew that was probably too early to see any bears, but we did see one's backside as he ran across the road in front of us. We enjoyed the excursion anyway. We were with a small group in a van. Our driver took us around much of the island, and we got out of the van in a few places to take photos and in one location to hike down to the water.

 

I agree with Guindalf's suggestion about whalewatching at ISP. We have found it much better than in Juneau, and we'll be going again this May with Glacier Wind Charters.

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You will hear people rave about whale watching from those that had a good experience at ISP but won’t hear much from those who didn’t as those folks usually don’t come back in to share their poor results so most reviews are very positive.  The truth is that humpback whales have declined by more than 50% in Glacier Bay & Icy Strait Point since their peak in 2011.  There are still good sightings but they are decreasing. In our two trips out of ISP we saw one humpback each trip. We have had much better success out of Auke Bay in Juneau.

 

That being said, if we do end up with ISP as a port stop, we’ll do a whale watch tour as there just isn’t much of interest at this port.  Yes, subjective.

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9 hours ago, Cruise_More_Often said:

 

I'll keep my fingers crossed that it's better in May.

 

Fingers crossed for you. The whale watching is really a crap shoot. We had a afternoon tour...the sea was quite rough. Rough enough that we were given the option to not go out. Rough seas make it difficult to spot the whales. It was sad because we were told that the morning tour got to see tons of whales and even bubble feeding. Crap shoot. Fingers crossed. Still...it's a beautiful area and it's lovely to tour around on the smaller boat...our family was a party of 5 so no one else on the boat...it was still a good time.

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17 hours ago, Cruise_More_Often said:

Anita Latte, you have done the best review of Icy Strait Point I have ever read. I agree with you--it's one of my favorite port visits in Alaska, too.

 

We did a bear excursion there last year in early June (with Misty Bay Bear and Wilderness Tour). We knew that was probably too early to see any bears, but we did see one's backside as he ran across the road in front of us. We enjoyed the excursion anyway. We were with a small group in a van. Our driver took us around much of the island, and we got out of the van in a few places to take photos and in one location to hike down to the water.

 

I agree with Guindalf's suggestion about whalewatching at ISP. We have found it much better than in Juneau, and we'll be going again this May with Glacier Wind Charters.

This also also really great info!  We aren't interested in Whale Watching, as we live in Vancouver and have local companies we can take from Victoria that do tours if we anted too. I do want to do the walk from the pier into the town of Hoonah and try their local beers and some food.... But I also didn't want to not get out and see some of the Chichagof Island, so I like what you said about the the driver took you around.  Did you book that directly with Misty Bay Bear and Wilderness Tour or through your cruise line?

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On 2/18/2020 at 2:30 PM, Anita Latte said:

 

ISP isn't as popular a port stop as the others you mentioned but I don't believe the lack of detailed response is due to a lack of visitors to ISP...more due to the fact that there is simply a limit to the things that you can do at ISP.

 

ISP is a unique Alaska port. Straight from the ISP website, the About Us..."Icy Strait Point is...Owned and operated by Huna Totem Corporation, Icy Strait Point is Alaska Native owned-and-operated and all profits directly support the local community. With roughly 85% of our staff calling Hoonah home..." Trying to describe this in such a way that it makes sense to someone who hasn't been there...the "port" of ISP is basically a fully constructed day use resort for the express purpose of entertaining visiting cruise passengers and offering a set of seasonal excursions, or opportunities, for those passengers to get a taste of undeveloped Alaska...using the former cannery as the basis for the design and construction of the entire "port".

 

Before ISP invested in the pier, so that ONE ship could dock there...it was a tender port. But the pier was constructed so that there would be fewer skips of port because of weather conditions. The port area is basically a business location...about one mile away is the actual village of Hoonah. I think thinking of the port as a day use resort is a really good one.

 

I think it's very helpful to take a look at the satellite map of the area:

 

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Hoonah,+AK/@58.130892,-135.4591955,891m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x54016e328db9b761:0x6cb7fb631ee5abfd!8m2!3d58.11!4d-135.4436111

 

When the map comes up, you should be able to see the pier. Yes...it is a bit of walk from the ship:

 

RIMG0601.jpg

 

This will be one of the first sights you see:

 

RIMG0610.jpg

 

That whole area that is near to the pier...it's single story...multiple buildings...very picturesque in what one might think of as "log cabin" and/or "mountain" look buildings...the shore line boardwalk where there are multiple buildings looks like this:

 

RIMG0821.jpg

 

This is NOT a city. In a different thread about ISP...I likened the port to a mini-amusement part...where everything there has been built and focused on providing entertainment or recreation for the day visitors. 

 

Just like Universal doesn't come into WDW to offer other amusements to the guests...there is no competition at the port for excursions. There are very few independent operators in nearby Hoonah. Glacier Winds is one of them. But otherwise...there just isn't competition...nothing "secret" or off the beaten path...because ISP IS off the beaten path to begin with.

 

It's one of the things that makes it so special. You have landed smack in the middle of "rural" Alaska LOL. Except rural is a seaside.

 

This is one view from that boardwalk:

 

RIMG0832.jpg

 

There is quite a bit to enjoy without doing much of anything at all. The nature path is lovely...I liken it to one of those short interpretive paths that you might find at a nature center or regulatory park. The taste of the towering trees of the rainforest is almost library like in peacefulness. I think there are demonstrations is the "center" kind of courtyard area near the excursion building...or should I say the lodge looking like excursion building. The museum is small but detailed and the linked retail area is also full of posters and wall hangings that have information...for instance, you can find out how the state flag of Alaska came into being if you find the article that is framed and hanging on the wall.

 

And if you want to get OUT and experience a more "wild" Alaska...you are ALREADY there...basically. The tours are designed to satisfy that urge that some may have to not be in such a civilized and developed area without having to travel hours to get out of town. You have DOCKED outside of what can't even be called a town...nearby Hoonah may have a graduating senior class that hits double digits when they have big classes.

 

Once you go, you realize how uncomplicated this particular port is. 

 

If you zoom out or move the map around...you'll see the nearby town of Hoonah. It's small. The whole thing could fit in a small masterplanned community in the Orlando area. The harbor is sheltered and lovely:

 

RIMG0800.jpg

 

I've read about and seen the place where they work on totem carving in the town. It's like a sheltered but outdoor workshop that is big enough for one totem. I saw it driving by...but I've read about people walking into the town and stopping and observing and learning. The town itself has nothing touristy about it. All the tourist stuff is at the port.

 

Really checking out the satellite map should help to put it into perspective. Bring up the maps of the other AK ports for comparison...and that will help to understand how when visiting Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, you are visiting full fledged towns, cities even. ISP is not a town. And nearby Hoonah is a village.

 

I loved everything about Alaska...including ISP. I hope everyone going has a great day there.

 

Thank you for sharing...I was not sure what to expect from this port but now I see that it will be an enjoyable and relaxing day for us.  We now plan to just play it by ear and stroll around to take in nature.

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2 hours ago, TSUmom said:

Thank you for sharing...I was not sure what to expect from this port but now I see that it will be an enjoyable and relaxing day for us.  We now plan to just play it by ear and stroll around to take in nature.

 

100%!! Alaska cruising can be more like TRAVEL and less like VACATION...depending on your itinerary, you may need alarms set and to get up early and be on the go...and be active. ISP is a great port for having one of those more leisurely days. I recall seeing people skip rocks from the rocky beach areas...etc. I had thought that it would be lovely to just sit by the fire pit and watch the bay for a while...don't know if you need to purchase anything to sit on the patio or not:

 

RIMG0648.jpg

 

And if you are able to...if your arrival into ISP is later in the morning...I think we arrived around 9-10? The approach is pretty fabulous. Again, just look at the zoomed out map...

 

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Hoonah,+AK/@58.1075886,-135.9665889,8z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x54016e328db9b761:0x6cb7fb631ee5abfd!8m2!3d58.11!4d-135.4436111

 

The land is so very close to the ship...people spot all kinds of things on the land. I recall walking through a lower deck and all I could see out the window was the cliff like side of the land filling the window frame and going beyond...we were that close to the land. Early in the season, in May...people have reported being able to see whales in the bay...didn't have to go out on an excursions.

 

It'll be a great day!

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4 hours ago, KristyMisty14 said:

This also also really great info!  We aren't interested in Whale Watching, as we live in Vancouver and have local companies we can take from Victoria that do tours if we anted too. I do want to do the walk from the pier into the town of Hoonah and try their local beers and some food.... But I also didn't want to not get out and see some of the Chichagof Island, so I like what you said about the the driver took you around.  Did you book that directly with Misty Bay Bear and Wilderness Tour or through your cruise line?

 

We booked through the Misty Bay website, but we were directed to another company that handles their bookings (https://www.mistybaylodge.com/bear-wilderness-tour). We went with Misty Bay because we had done a whale watch with them in 2012. AK Stafford (Post #2) provided a link to another provider that sounds good as well. 

 

 

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On 2/21/2020 at 10:20 AM, KristyMisty14 said:

Is this at the pub or ?

No - Icy Strait Brewing is right in Hoonah - it was a little closer to the ship (relatively) on the edge of town when we went in 2016 but it looks like they moved a bit further in and have expanded their offerings. I don't recall any food when we were there. Icy Strait Brewing

20160530_150300.jpg

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3 hours ago, etoilefj said:

No - Icy Strait Brewing is right in Hoonah - it was a little closer to the ship (relatively) on the edge of town when we went in 2016 but it looks like they moved a bit further in and have expanded their offerings. I don't recall any food when we were there. Icy Strait Brewing

20160530_150300.jpg

 

Excellent we will find it!! And I will take some updated pics to post on here.... Mmmm looks good - going to have to try them all!

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I researched the brewery after hearing about it , reading about it's location and seeing pictures of the old brewery and new. From what I recall the owners/ brewers sold the brewery and recipes to a local restaurant and the location moved to restaurant location in the village. It did not sound like the new owners were brewers but very enthusiastic to continue the breweries traditions.   I would like to know if someone has tried the beers since the brewery moved to it's new location . from the beer list nothing pops out but I would try a flight to support a local craft brewer, just wish it was on the water like the old brewery seemed to be. maybe they bottle and I will just have to brown bag it.!

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15 hours ago, charlie murphy said:

I researched the brewery after hearing about it , reading about it's location and seeing pictures of the old brewery and new. From what I recall the owners/ brewers sold the brewery and recipes to a local restaurant and the location moved to restaurant location in the village. It did not sound like the new owners were brewers but very enthusiastic to continue the breweries traditions.   I would like to know if someone has tried the beers since the brewery moved to it's new location . from the beer list nothing pops out but I would try a flight to support a local craft brewer, just wish it was on the water like the old brewery seemed to be. maybe they bottle and I will just have to brown bag it.!

Oh interesting!  I would also like to hear from anyone that's been (this year, which should happen soon) or after this move.  I had read on trip advisor about people sitting at the brewery watching the harbor (possibly with whales) and I thought it was still on the water. 

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I think the shuttle into town is $3 per person. My whale watching trip took us into town after the excursion was complete I stayed in town and walked around and ate lunch. I took the shuttle back as it was starting to rain but got off about 1/2 mile and walked.

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Great sandwich here

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