How to Spend Your Day in Icy Strait Point, Alaska as a Cruise Port

Although I loved my Alaskan Cruise experience, I did not love the cruise port cities themselves. They are generally just shopping areas with very little chance to see real Alaska unless you take an excursion outside of town. The exceptions are Vancouver, Seward, and Icy Point Strait. Read on for things to do in Icy Point Strait that will help you get the most out of your cruise port day.

What to do in Icy Strait Point Alaska

What is Icy Strait Point? Is it the Same Place as Hoonah?

Icy Strait Point is a bit confusing because it is only the name of the cruise port, not an actual city. When your ship arrives in port, you will be in the native-run area of Icy Strait Point. Here you will find shopping, restaurants, and an old salmon cannery.

The excursions depart from Icy Strait Point. I would recommend using half of your day to take advantage of one of these excursions. Icy Point Strait is on Chichagof Island. It is rainforest on water– one of the prettiest of the Alaskan cruise ports.

What is Hoonah, Alaska?

The city itself is Hoonah, which has a mainly Tlingit population of under 1000. Hoonah is easily accessible and will give you an excellent chance to talk to Tlingit natives and learn about their culture.

Icy Strait Point- Things to Do and One-Day Icy Strait Point Itinerary

icy strait point excursions
Three Rocks and the walkway from Icy Strait Point to Hoonah

Spend the Morning on the Water

Half a day is enough time to spend in Hoonah, so start your day by seeing the wildlife and natural beauty of Icy Strait Point.

Icy Point Strait Excursions

Kayak in the Bay

This Alaskan trip was heavy on kayaking for my family. We all love it, so we did it in three out of our seven cruise ports. We kayaked in the extremely calm waters in Hoonah right off Port Frederick/ Icy Strait. You will see eagles and perhaps humpback or orca whales and Dall’s porpoises. The whales had migrated when we were there because of an extremely warm summer. Alaska cemented my knowledge that finding animals depends on their food sources. Read more about ensuring Alaskan wildlife viewings. On our day in Icy Strait Point, we saw many bald eagles and a few Dall’s porpoises.

Book a Hoonah Kayak now.

Explore the Bay in a Tlingit Canoe

The area’s First People, the Tlingits, made long canoes out of a single tree. You can get out on the water in one as part of the Tlingit Canoe and Culture Experience.

Book the Tlingit Canoe and Culture Experience now.

icy strait point things to do
Setting out for our morning kayaking into Icy Strait
Which Alaskan Cruise Port has the Best Whale Watching?

From people on the boat, I heard Hoonah. Everyone we spoke to who did a whale watch at this port saw a lot of whales.  If I return, I will do whale watching in Hoonah. So spend your morning either kayaking or on a whale watch. There is also the highest population of brown bears on the island, although I didn’t hear only good things about the brown bear tours.

Book a small boat Hoonah whale watch now. Seeing whales is guaranteed, or you get your money back.

Walk into Hoonah

The path to Hoonah is to the right at the port. It is a flat 1.5-mile walk into town along the ocean. You will go by the picturesque Three Rocks. Sit on the bench and spend some time looking into the bay. This is where I saw Dall’s dolphins jumping through the waves. Stop by the historic Old Bear Clan Cemetery across the road. It is absolutely worth the experience to walk at least one way to town. The town is small, so it won’t take too much time to visit, but it is worth the effort.

Stop for Lunch at the Hoonah Beach House

Crab is one of my favorite foods. Surprisingly it is hard to find fresh crab in Alaska. It generally is sold for export. Although we ate it a few times, it was typically frozen and costly. The exception was at the Hoonah Beach House with its patio right on the water and yummy Thai iced teas. The Dungeness crab came from the bay we were dining on and was the best I have ever had! Even better than the crab on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

icy strait point cruise port
A simple, but incredible meal with a stunning view

Explore Hoonah, Alaska

Carving Hut

In the middle of Hoonah is a carving hut where we found Tlingit locals carving a totem pole. They were happy to explain what they were doing and share stories of their upbringing and culture. The man we spent most of our time with told us that they didn’t have a written language until very recently, so all their stories and history have been passed down through oral stories and art. I learned the most culture on my three-week trip in this short time, other than my time in Barrow on the Arctic Ocean.

See a Dugout Canoe and Totem Poles at the Hoonah Indian Association

The Hoonah Indian Association is right near the carving hut. Ask the carvers how the boat is made from one piece of wood– it is fascinating.

See the Eagle’s Nests

Right in front of Huna Outfitters were two bald eagle nests when we visited.

Take the Shuttle from Hoonah Back to Icy Strait Point

You can buy a shuttle ticket for $3.00 from Huna Outfitters. If you want to ride to Hoonah both ways, you can buy a round-trip ticket from the kiosk near the donut shop and kayak center at the far end of Icy Strait Point from the cruise port for $5.00.

things to do in icy strait point alaska
This is what Alaska is like– colorful houses and bald eagles everywhere!

Spend a Little Time at the Canning Museum

The Hoonah Canning Company opened in 1912. It hasn’t been in operation for many years. It now houses stores but also has a small canning museum interspersed amongst the wares. Although it will take less than an hour to tour this free museum, it is a great way to learn about salmon and how it is canned.

Before you get back on the Ship, explore the Tide Pools

Right under the gangway are some fabulous, easily-accessible tide pools. In a short visit, I found sea anemones as well as the most massive starfish I have encountered.

I hope you enjoy your time in Icy Strait Point and Hoonah as much as I did. Please leave any questions or comments below.

If you liked it, please share it. Thank you!

13 thoughts on “How to Spend Your Day in Icy Strait Point, Alaska as a Cruise Port”

  1. This article is very out of date. We arrived at 5:40 pm and found that most activities were closed. There is a free gondola that transports from the pier to the Cannery. The walk to Hoonah would have been very long. We rode the free shuttle bus to town but didn’t get off.

    • As I stated, we visited during the day, so not sure when things close. The walk to Hoonah was long, but worth it if you have the time. Glad to hear about the free gondola!

  2. This is exactly what I was looking for, thank you!
    We will be in port here for about 8 hours so we are looking forward to making the walk to Hoonah and learning more about the area and native peoples.

  3. thanks for info. were tryinh to decide between full day and half day cruisebut talking to the natives very appealing as i know little about their culture.
    linda R

  4. Thank you for your blog review. I understand you wrote this pre-COVID, so I am sure a few things have changed, but I still feel you are giving a lot of valuable nuggets of information. We were given some fantastic news that our NCL Alaskan cruise for this port went from a 7A-4P to 7A-8P, so we can’t wait to go and see everything we can!

  5. I’ve been to Icy Straight Point in 2022 and 2023 and there was a big difference. Cultural experiences that use to be open to all are now “excursions “ and very expensive. For 2024 I look forward to following your guide and walking into Hoonah. Most of the ports I enjoy how close they are to great hiking trails but this one only has short trails covered in disrespectful tourists now.

  6. Where do you go to get to the Zipline in hoonah.i am arriving by cruise ship,thanks to your blog I now know I can walk into you know the price of the Zipline ?

  7. Icy Point is one big souvenir shop. The indigenous people farm out the jobs in the gift stores to people from Thailand and other places.
    I was told to leave a very poorly maintained Christian cemetery: because the indigenous people don’t want you there!
    Apparently cruiseship docking fees and souvenirs (some made in Italy) are fine with the local people, but not a respectful visit to a Christian cemetery.
    The natural surroundings are beautiful. Just be aware that your money but not your presence is welcome

    • I am sorry that you had that experience. The went into town, but our experience with an indigenous man was very gracious and eye opening for us, so the opposite experience.

  8. Your experience is interacting. We’re on our third stop, Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, and we found fresh crab at every stop!


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