Hoonah Alaska, the Icy Strait Point port, is a popular destination on Alaska cruises and a great place to whale watch, fish, hike, shop, and enjoy!
We visited Hoonah Alaska as the first port on our Alaskan Cruise and enjoyed it immensely! At lunch in the Icy Strait port we saw a whale and enjoyed a delicious smoked salmon dip. We spent the whole day walking and shopping and then took a sunset hike in the mountains.
This article is published in partnership with Princess Cruises. All content and opinions belong to Mama Loves Food.
Cruise to Hoonah Alaska
Taking a cruise to Hoonah Alaska is one of the only ways to get there. Hoonah Alaska, adjacent to the Icy Strait Point cruise port, is an island community near Glacier Bay National Park and is only arrived at by sea plane or boat. We took an Alaskan cruise with Princess Cruises and Hoonah Alaska was our first port of call.
The wonderful thing about visiting a town that is so isolated is seeing all the incredible unadulterated nature. The town of Hoonah Alaska is very small – you won’t find a mall here. But you will find snow capped mountains, whales, dandelions, and very friendly people.
What to do in Hoonah Alaska
- Outdoor Adventures – Enjoy what is truly an outdoorsman’s paradise, with activities you won’t find anywhere else. Go ATV riding, whale watching, bear searching, nature watching, flightseeing, ziplining and more.
- Arts & Culture – A site not to be missed is the Heritage Center Theater. Experience an interactive performance showcasing the rich heritage of southeast Alaska through interpretive song, dance and storytelling.
- Hoonah – This authentic Alaska Native village was established when the Tlingits were forced from their ancestral lands by advancing glaciers.
You can really go back to basics here; the community has few paved roads and no stoplights.
- Whale Watching – Stunning Point Adolphus is one of Alaska’s premier whale-watching sites. Orcas, humpbacks, Steller sea lions and harbor seals congregate here each summer to feed in the nutrient-rich waters.
- See details about these excursions at the Princess Cruise website.
What to do in Hoonah Alaska
- Bear Search – The Alaska coastal brown (grizzly) bear flourishes on beautiful Chichagof Island when the salmon are running and the berries are ripe. View them from a platform overlooking the Spasski River.
- Glacier Bay National Park – Glacier Bay National Park, a World Heritage Site, encompasses 3.3 million acres and is part of the world’s largest internationally protected area. It features snowcapped mountains and deep fjords.
- Alaska Cuisine – Sample some of the delicious local seafood that is enjoyed all over the world, including wild salmon, halibut, Dungeness crab and more. Learn fisherman’s lore and try your hand at grilling some of the locally caught catch.
- ZipRider – Experience the highest ZipRider cable ride in the world at 1,300 feet above sea level. Adventure seekers will thrill at the 5,330-foot-long descent that could reach a maximum speed of 60 mph!
- See details about these excursions at the Princess Cruise website.
What we did in Hoonah Alaska
We signed up to do an evening hike in Hoonah. I’ll admit we actually didn’t realize the hike was at night, but it worked out perfectly. We took our time in the morning getting breakfast at the Horizon Court Buffet, then wandering into the Icy Strait Point port area. We did a little walk through the woods and then checked out the cannery.
After that we grabbed lunch at Duck Point Smokehouse Restaurant where Wes enjoyed chili and brisket and I ate salmon pizza, and salmon dip. We both had a delicious local beer. Mmmmmm. We worked off our lunch by walking into the town of Hoonah – there’s not much to the town, but the walk was spectacular. You can’t get views like that in Orlando!
We grabbed mini donuts when we arrived back at the port and then found our friends at the Hoonah Cannery, a former salmon canning factory that has been converted into shops, and did a little damage to the credit card.
Just when you’d think the day was winding down, we went back to the ship to grab hats and gloves, then set off on our evening hike. We had a wonderful very knowledgeable guide and saw the most gorgeous sunset.
Where to eat in Hoonah Alaska
- The Crab Station at Icy Strait Point
- The Fisherman’s Daughter
- The Cookhouse – at Icy Strait Point
- The Office Bar
- Misty Bay Lodge
- Mary’s Restaurant
- Espresso & Snack Bar
- Duck Point Smokehouse Restaurant
- Lil’ Gen’s
Shopping in Hoonah Alaska
The main place to shop near Hoonah Alaska are is the Warehouse Shops at Icy Strait Point. It’s a collection of 12 authentic Alaska gifts shops located in the historic Cannery complex. All the stores are 100% Alaskan-owned and are dedicated to presenting a true Alaskan experience.
We found everything from food, to jewelry, clothes, and toys here. It’s a large and nicely maintained shopping area.
If you walk into the actual town of Hoonah, there are also a handful of mom and pop souvenir shops as well as a small convenience store.
What to pack for Hoonah Alaska
If you’re heading to Hoonah Alaska during the typical tourist season (April – September), you’re going to want to pack light layers. When we visited in May, it was cool enough to wear a light jacket during the day and in the evening we added hats and gloves.
I love this rainproof windbreaker – I purchased mine a size up so I could wear a sweater underneath if need be. If you’re heading out for an excursion on the water, especially toward the beginning of the season or end of the season when it tends to be cooler, fleece leggings under your pants will also make you more comfortable.
Make sure to check out our comprehensive (and printable!) cruise packing list!
Fun Facts about Hoonah Alaska
- Home to the World’s Largest ZipRider! Icy Strait Point features the world’s largest ZipRider, with six 5,330’ ziplines dropping 1330’. After launching, you quickly accelerate to speeds exceeding 60 mph as you soar 300 feet above the rainforest below.
- Native owned! Icy Strait Point is Alaska Native owned-and-operated, with all profits directly supporting the community of Hoonah, Alaska’s largest Native Tlingit village.
- Fifth largest island! Hoonah is the only first-class city on Chichagof Island, the 109th largest island in the world and the 5th largest island in the United States.
Things we loved about Hoonah Alaska
My favorite part of Hoonah Alaska and Icy Strait Point was walking around and taking in all the beautiful sites. Even though there’s not much to see in the actual town of Hoonah, I suggest still taking the walk there. It’s one of my favorite memories from this trip. And make sure to stop in and support a local shop – even if it’s just for a bottle of water.
There is a sidewalk all the way from the cruise port into town that is right up against the water in most places. While we were there the dandelions were in full bloom and the water was full of wildlife. We even saw an eagle’s nest with baby eagles!
Weather in Hoonah Alaska
The weather in Hoonah tends to be mild and similar to that of Seattle, Washington. During the tourist season, April through September the temperatures tend to sit in the 60’s (Fahrenheit) during the day and dip into the 40’s and 50’s overnight.
Hoonah, Alaska as a coastal island is rainier than average and gets 67 inches of rain, on average, per year. (The US average is 39 inches of rain per year). While you probably won’t be visiting during the snowy season, Hoonah averages 90 inches of snow per year.
Definitely make sure to pack a rainproof windbreaker.
When is the best time to visit Hoonah Alaska?
The best time to visit Hoonah Alaska,the typical tourist season – when the cruise ships visit Icy Strait Point – is approximately April through September.
This coincides with the best weather (warm but not hot), the salmon fishing season (May – September), and whale watching season (April – September).
When can you see whales in Hoonah Alaska?
Whale watching in Hoonah Alaska is best done between the months of April and September. You can often see the whales right offshore near the Icy Strait Point port – we saw one from our lunch table! There are several whale watching excursions, some that even guarantee a whale spotting.
What you should know before visiting
- No roads in or out. Hoonah Alaska is a small island community and as such there are no roads in and out. There are also no commercial airports. Hoonah and Icy Strait Point can only be reached by bush plane or boat.
- No hospital. There is no hospital in Hoonah Alaska. There is a clinic that operates daily, but the nearest hospital is a twenty minute flight.
- No cab service. You won’t be calling Uber or Lyft here. It’s not a problem though as the area is very walkable. We were able to walk from the cruise port into town in about 20 minutes. There is also a bicycle rental station as well as a regular shuttle that goes back and forth between the port and the town.
Where is Hoonah Alaska?
Hoonah Alaska and Icy Strait Point are located on the western side of North America in Alaska’s panhandle in the southeast region of the state. It is 30 miles (48 km) west of Juneau, across the Alaskan Inside Passage.
What time is it in Hoonah Alaska?
Hoonah Alaska and Icy Strait Point operate on the AKST (Alaska time zone).
AKST (Alaska time zone) is four hours behind EST (Eastern time zone), three hours behind CST (Central time zone), two hours behind MST (Mountain time zone), and one hour behind PTD time zone (Pacific time zone).
Events in Hoonah Alaska
- Jeet’s Challenge Neighbors Day – Held in August, participants race 8.5 miles from Icy Strait Point to the top of ZipRider. In honor of J’eet, the first four finishers will each light signal fires at the top of the mountain. Then, ride the ZipRider back to Icy Strait Point.
Where we cruised after Hoonah Alaska
- Juneau (Alaska) – Kayaking near a glacier, a fun bar, good beer, and great ice cream.
- Skagway (Alaska) – Canoeing to a glacier, the best fish and chips, and fun shopping.
- Whittier (Alaska) – A scenic bus tour, a scenic glacier cruise, and sad goodbyes.
- Vancouver (British Columbia) – Where we started!
More places we’ve cruised
Caribbean, Central, and South America
Recipes inspired by Hoonah Alaska
More recipes inspired by our travels
- Nutella Cookies
- Mango Pineapple Salsa
- Pickled Green Tomatoes
- Whole Fruit Popsicles
- Chocolate Overload Cake
Must-read cruising tips
Why you should cruise to Hoonah Alaska
Hoonah Alaska, was truly a gem of untouched Alaskan beauty. If you have the opportunity to take an Alaskan Cruise I strongly suggest finding one that stops at Icy Point Strait. Get the salmon pizza at Duck Point Smokehouse, do some adventuring, and send me pictures!