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Tljcruiser

Help with Icy Strait Point please!!

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I have a private whale watching excursion booked for the morning and trying to decide what would be best to see in the afternoon.   Whale tour ends at 12:30 figured we would have lunch around the pier but ship is in port until 6:00.  Any suggestion?  First time to Alaska and the planning is overwhelming!  I have a few notes from all my research.....tribal show, cannery museum, walk beach path into Hoonah see the the cultural center??  Traveling with a 9 year old but she's up for most anything as long as we keep her fed otherwise she's a hangry one!

Thanks in advance for any suggestions from those of you with Alaska experience. 

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FWIW I have no experience with Alaska, but am planning to do the walk to Hoonah.

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This is the only place on  the inside passage. cruise itineraries,   to consider a brown bear tour,  with road access.    However,  depends on when you are there?    

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On our day in ISP last year, we did a whale watch with Glacier Winds.  I'm not sure which company you're using, but it was a drive to the boat dock from where our ship was located.  They provided the transportation to the whale watch and then dropped us off in Hoonah.  We walked around for a bit and then she drove us back to our original pick-up spot near the cannery.  We walked around the cannery (there were some good shops), had a crabby bloody mary and were happy to board our ship early (we had been on the go a lot in other ports and didn't mind some downtime).  We didn't go to the Tribal Dance.

 

Hoonah is small and doesn't take long to walk around.  We enjoyed watching the totem carving. Our friend bought some of the delicious donuts at a stand near the cannery.  Maybe have a big/late breakfast, do the whale watch, then have a snack at the pier and walk through the cannery?  Check with your whale watch vendor to see where they leave from and if they're able to drive your group as I described above.  It worked out really well for us.  BTW Glacier Winds served a delicious salmon dip and crackers on our tour.

 

Our overall itinearay was very similar to yours! Have a great trip!!

 

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g31010-d4293812-r166319837-Oh_So_Goood-Hoonah_Alaska.html

 

 

 

 

 

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Last two years we visited ISP and did completely different things. Two years ago we  toured the port area and took the bus to Hoonah. Hoonah is an old fishing village that you can tour in about  45 minutes. When we returned we ate, had a few drinks and admired the scenery from the deck by an open fire pit. 

Second visit we arrived around 130pm and had a bear and whale watching combined excursion from 3pm to 830pm. Saw a few bears but the whales were incredible.

The photo with the drinks on the bar looks like where we ate, it’s right around the bend from the pier. The donuts are so good.

 

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30 minutes ago, skrufy said:

Last two years we visited ISP and did completely different things. Two years ago we  toured the port area and took the bus to Hoonah. Hoonah is an old fishing village that you can tour in about  45 minutes. When we returned we ate, had a few drinks and admired the scenery from the deck by an open fire pit. 

Second visit we arrived around 130pm and had a bear and whale watching combined excursion from 3pm to 830pm. Saw a few bears but the whales were incredible.

The photo with the drinks on the bar looks like where we ate, it’s right around the bend from the pier. The donuts are so good.

 

we are thinking of doing the whale and bear trip in august our ship gets in in the morning. was it a good trip and would you recommend the excursion  

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2 hours ago, Budget Queen said:

This is the only place on  the inside passage. cruise itineraries,   to consider a brown bear tour,  with road access.    However,  depends on when you are there?    

We are there the first week of June

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Bearvet thanks for the info and the great pictures.  We are booked with Hoonah Whale tours. 

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I believe the boat you see in my picture is Thor Too, which is Hoonah Whale Tour's boat.  They work closely with Glacier Winds.

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It's been a while and I have slept since then but I believe I contacted Glacier Winds first and they are no longer taking children under 12 so she suggested I contact Hoonah.  My mom is gong to have a heart attack when she sees how small that boat is 🤣  

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6 hours ago, Budget Queen said:

This is the only place on  the inside passage. cruise itineraries,   to consider a brown bear tour,  with road access.    However,  depends on when you are there?    

We are looking forward to our whale watch/bear search with Hoonah in about 3 weeks!  We were told that the bears would be looking for food at that time, so they should be out and about.  If we don't have luck there is always Fortress of the Bear the next day in Sitka!

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6 hours ago, Budget Queen said:

This is the only place on  the inside passage. cruise itineraries,   to consider a brown bear tour,  with road access.    However,  depends on when you are there?    

We are there in mid May.  Considering the brown bear watching tour  

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The basic for the Hoonah bear watches,  and success in seeing is feeding.   Predictable areas in the rivers.   This is NOT going to happen in May into June.   In my opinion,  a poor choice to consider.    Better odds is a rental car and a drive on the South Klondike Highway out of Skagway.  I have close to 100%  sightings of bears over the last 10 years on my early season trips.   It requires taking your time,    driving some areas a few times,  and luck.    But early season the bears-   both black and brown are low.   

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8 hours ago, Budget Queen said:

The basic for the Hoonah bear watches,  and success in seeing is feeding.   Predictable areas in the rivers.   This is NOT going to happen in May into June.   In my opinion,  a poor choice to consider.    Better odds is a rental car and a drive on the South Klondike Highway out of Skagway.  I have close to 100%  sightings of bears over the last 10 years on my early season trips.   It requires taking your time,    driving some areas a few times,  and luck.    But early season the bears-   both black and brown are low.   

Thank you!   We are going to rent a car in Skagway and give it a shot.  Could you share any additional information that will be helpful in our search!!! Thanks again 

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18 hours ago, coopster said:

we are thinking of doing the whale and bear trip in august our ship gets in in the morning. was it a good trip and would you recommend the excursion  

Yes, I would. As you know bears are unpredictable, don’t be disappointed if you do not see many. We saw bears down river from an observation deck, crossing in front of our vehicle and in a river we crossed over. The whale experience was dramatically different. We went to the Adolphus Point area just outside Glacier Bay and saw many whales. They were breaching, and bubble feeding many times. The captain knew just where to go to find whales.

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6 hours ago, skrufy said:

Yes, I would. As you know bears are unpredictable, don’t be disappointed if you do not see many. We saw bears down river from an observation deck, crossing in front of our vehicle and in a river we crossed over. The whale experience was dramatically different. We went to the Adolphus Point area just outside Glacier Bay and saw many whales. They were breaching, and bubble feeding many times. The captain knew just where to go to find whales.

When was this trip?    The bears were in the river because there was salmon-   it is NOT a salmon run when the above posters are going.   The last few years,  the humpback, feeding area of Point Adolphus  has declined significantly.  

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1 hour ago, Budget Queen said:

When was this trip?    The bears were in the river because there was salmon-   it is NOT a salmon run when the above posters are going.   The last few years,  the humpback, feeding area of Point Adolphus  has declined significantly.  

What do you care when the trip was, I described our excursion exactly as it happened. Could care less if it was or wasn’t a salmon run, the bears were lounging around a small dirt area along the river, coming and going from one side of the river to the other from the woods. The bear we saw by the bridge was wading in the river, went under the bridge and then disappeared into the woods, he was not looking for salmon. Guess bears in your mind only go in water to hunt salmon.

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45 minutes ago, skrufy said:

What do you care when the trip was, I described our excursion exactly as it happened. Could care less if it was or wasn’t a salmon run, the bears were lounging around a small dirt area along the river, coming and going from one side of the river to the other from the woods. The bear we saw by the bridge was wading in the river, went under the bridge and then disappeared into the woods, he was not looking for salmon. Guess bears in your mind only go in water to hunt salmon.

Can you tell me what tour group you used please? 

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10 hours ago, skrufy said:

Yes, I would. As you know bears are unpredictable, don’t be disappointed if you do not see many. We saw bears down river from an observation deck, crossing in front of our vehicle and in a river we crossed over. The whale experience was dramatically different. We went to the Adolphus Point area just outside Glacier Bay and saw many whales. They were breaching, and bubble feeding many times. The captain knew just where to go to find whales.

ok great thank you did you go through your ship or a private guide. do you remember who the tour operator was?

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On 4/20/2019 at 6:15 PM, Tljcruiser said:

It's been a while and I have slept since then but I believe I contacted Glacier Winds first and they are no longer taking children under 12 so she suggested I contact Hoonah.  My mom is gong to have a heart attack when she sees how small that boat is 🤣  

 

It's possible that they changed their rules, but as of August 2018, Glacier Wind absolutely allowed kids under 12. Our kids were 10, 10 and 6 when we sailed with Captain Casey.

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2 hours ago, TwinMamainMN said:

 

It's possible that they changed their rules, but as of August 2018, Glacier Wind absolutely allowed kids under 12. Our kids were 10, 10 and 6 when we sailed with Captain Casey.

Like I said I have slept since then and I have researched A LOT for this trip but I'm thinking  that is who I contacted first.  I talked to a lady on the phone who was an owner or manager or someone in charge.  She did tell me that it was a new policy that they were implementing for the 2019 year.  I was bummed because that was my first choice of a tour for that day.  She was very nice and directed me to the Hoonah folks.  She explained that they had had some issues with kids not behaving and creating safety concerns on the boat so they had just decided to start limiting ages.  I am happy with the folks she recommended tough so I'm sure it will be fine!    

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5 hours ago, Tljcruiser said:

Like I said I have slept since then and I have researched A LOT for this trip but I'm thinking  that is who I contacted first.  I talked to a lady on the phone who was an owner or manager or someone in charge.  She did tell me that it was a new policy that they were implementing for the 2019 year.  I was bummed because that was my first choice of a tour for that day.  She was very nice and directed me to the Hoonah folks.  She explained that they had had some issues with kids not behaving and creating safety concerns on the boat so they had just decided to start limiting ages.  I am happy with the folks she recommended tough so I'm sure it will be fine!    

 

That's a bummer. We loved them and had great service. Above and beyond what we expected really. Our daughter (age 10) has some mobility issues and they were super helpful. They even stowed her small wheelchair in the pick-up/drop off van while we cruised. I'm sure the referral is legit - I know that the locals work together and share information about where to find the whales, so it makes sense that they would share the referrals too. Very lovely people in ISP and Hoonah.

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On 4/21/2019 at 8:33 PM, coopster said:

ok great thank you did you go through your ship or a private guide. do you remember who the tour operator was?

Did a search on you tube and found a 52 second video that’s a glimpse of the bear portion of our excursion.  Google you tube Spaaski River Ak.

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On 4/20/2019 at 9:18 AM, Tljcruiser said:

I have a private whale watching excursion booked for the morning and trying to decide what would be best to see in the afternoon.   Whale tour ends at 12:30 figured we would have lunch around the pier but ship is in port until 6:00.  Any suggestion?  First time to Alaska and the planning is overwhelming!  I have a few notes from all my research.....tribal show, cannery museum, walk beach path into Hoonah see the the cultural center??  Traveling with a 9 year old but she's up for most anything as long as we keep her fed otherwise she's a hangry one!

Thanks in advance for any suggestions from those of you with Alaska experience. 

 

ISP is one of the easiest ports...so I wouldn't be too worried about exact plans. With your free afternoon...I highly recommend allowing your mood of the moment to dictate what you do here. That and the weather...

 

Coming from a viewpoint of absolute admiration for ISP, the feeling of the ISP port area is like an Alaska-themed day park. There's an eatery or two...a shop or two...items of interest along the boardwalk path along the water front. You can go to the more "natural" area walking along the Nature Trail which takes you along the beach directly across from the one pier and into an area of the rainforest where the trees tower above you. This singular highly developed but comparatively small area is absolutely surrounded by the brilliance of the Alaskan landscape with little other evidence of civilization.

 

The town of Hoonah is very small. The local high school usually has a graduating class in the single digits. 

 

Of all the ports you are likely to be at...this is the one where your 9-year old can really "run free" so to speak as if she were at your local park. If you are prepared, you can play in the ocean water a bit...there is a bit of a beach, like a strip...suitable for beach combing and possible rock skipping...the mountains in the distance absolutely picturesque. My point is that you can have a more unstructured afternoon here without the FOMO that might be what contributes to the overwhelming feeling that planning an Alaska vacation is.

 

It's likely that you will be in Hoonah itself, where the local marina is, for your whale watching. I'm not aware of dining opportunities in the town...but if you go back to the port area, you could easily just get back on board the ship for lunch and head out again. Nothing is far away here. Not really.

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7 hours ago, skrufy said:

Did a search on you tube and found a 52 second video that’s a glimpse of the bear portion of our excursion.  Google you tube Spaaski River Ak.

Thanks!  They say 65-70% chance of seeing bears on the search.  Hopefully we will be lucky in a few weeks.

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