Dutch Harbor Things to Do

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  • Things to Do
    by Jinkyl
  • Things to Do
    by Jinkyl

Best Rated Things to Do in Dutch Harbor

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    Archaeological Digs

    by RickinDutch Updated Jul 12, 2007

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    Bridge Site

    There is usually a dig going on in or near Unalaska every summer. The past 3 summers digging has gone on at the bridge site. Site was selected to make way for a replacement bridge between Amaknak Island and Unalaska.

    The digs have unearthed an amazing variety of items and date Unalaska as a village site for at least 9,000 years. Also being called into question is the Bering Sea Land Bridge theory. Studies are showing that first humans in North America may have boated along the Aleutians from Russia.

    Much of what has been found is available for viewing at the Museum.

    Related to:
    • Archeology

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    Whale watching

    by RickinDutch Updated May 27, 2009

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    Humpback Whales feeding on herring
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    Grab a boat and get out to the Orca Highway. About 3 miles off Cape Cheerful is the Shalan Banks, an area of the Bering Sea rich in marine life. If you time your arrival for just after high tide, the currents coming thru the passes push a great deal of food close to the surface and the place is teeming with Orcas, white sided porpoise, and albatross, to name a few.

    There are several boats for hire. Have been out on two of them - Aleutian Outfitters and Suregood Charters. Both good.

    If you can't find a boat you still have a good chance of seeing whales in the bay. The entry to Captain's Bay, just opposite of the Grand Aleutian Hotel, is a likely spot.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Whale Watching
    • Birdwatching

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    Sport Fishing

    by RickinDutch Updated Aug 7, 2008

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    Women's World record on light (16 lb) tackle
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    Unalaska / Dutch Harbor is home of the world record halibut, 459 pounds, caught in 1996 just ten minutes from the dock. The number of boats available for hire can vary, depending on owner's sked and if they commercial fish as well. Besides halibut, there's cod, rockfish, and many other species. The latest craze with us locals is trolling for King Salmon. Also some great freshwater fishing for salmon and dollys.

    As of 2008 only 2 sport fishing charter outfits operated this summer:
    F/V Lucille, run by Dave Magone for many years (907) 581-5949.
    F/V Miss Alyssa, run by Jimmer McDonald (907) 581-1386.


    Average cost of a days charter runs about $200/ per person with a minimum of 4 people. You clean your own catch or can pay a local to clean and freeze for you.

    The first photo here is of a 220 pound halibut caught on 16 pound test. An IGFA women's world record.

    Related to:
    • Whale Watching
    • Fishing
    • Beaches

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    Get out and walk

    by RickinDutch Written Jun 22, 2005

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    Hiking at Summer Bay

    From easy strolls to challenging mountains, Unalaska is surrounded with fantastic places for hiking. Hike up Mount Ballyhoo for a great view of town. Walk the 10,000 year old trail to Beaver Inlet. No bears! Hardly any bugs!
    Be sure to get a land use permit from Ounalashka Corporation before setting off. $15 per family.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Birdwatching
    • Beaches

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    World Class Birding

    by RickinDutch Updated Feb 14, 2006

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    Laysan Albatross

    Whiskered Auklets, ground nesting Bald Eagles, Albatross, Loons, Cormorants, Shearwaters, puffins, Rock Ptarmigan, Ravens, Black-legged Kittiwake, Eiders, Emperor Geese, and much, much, more. Seems like we get more and more birders every year from all over the world. Rent a car, hire a land tour. For whiskered auklet you need a boat charter to get out to the Baby Islands. Thousands of them out there.

    Resident & breeding species include:
    Red-throated Loon
    Pacific Loon
    Common Loon
    Yellow-billed Loon
    Horned Grebe
    Red-necked Grebe
    Laysan Albatross
    Black-footed Albatross
    Northern Fulmar
    Fork-tailed Storm Petrel
    Leach?s Storm Petrel
    Double-crested Cormorant
    Red-faced Cormorant
    Pelagic Cormorant
    Emperor Goose
    Canada Goose
    Tundra Swan
    Gadwall
    Mallard
    Green-winged Teal
    Greater Scaup
    Lesser Scaup
    Steller?s Eider
    King Eider
    Common Eider
    Harlequin Duck
    White-winged Scoter
    Black (Common) Scoter
    Oldsquaw (Long-tailed Duck)
    Bufflehead
    Common Goldeneye
    Common Merganser
    Red-breasted Merganser
    Bald Eagle
    Rough-legged Hawk
    Golden Eagle
    Merlin
    Gyrfalcon
    Peregrine Falcon
    Rock Ptarmigan
    Semi-palmated Plover
    Black Oystercatcher
    Least Sandpiper
    Rock Sandpiper
    Common Snipe
    Red-necked Phalarope
    Pomarine Jaeger
    Parasitic Jaeger
    Mew Gull
    Herring Gull
    Glaucous-winged Gull
    Glaucous Gull
    Black-legged Kittiwake
    Arctic Tern
    Common Murre
    Thick-billed Murre
    Pigeon Guillemot
    Marbled Murrelet
    Kittlitz?s Murrelet
    Ancient Murrelet
    Cassin?s Auklet
    Parakeet Auklet
    Least Auklet
    Whiskered Auklet
    Crested Auklet
    Rhinoceros Auklet
    Horned Puffin
    Tufted Puffin
    Short-eared Owl
    Common Raven
    Bank Swallow
    Winter Wren
    American Dipper
    Snow Bunting
    Rosy Finch
    Redpoll
    Pine Siskin

    In addition, we get many migratory and accidentals.

    Related to:
    • Birdwatching
    • Beaches

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    Berry picking is unsurpassed

    by RickinDutch Updated Sep 19, 2005

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    Berry Picking
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    We all have our secret berry patches that we return to each year, but they are easy to find even without a guide. Just head up into the hills. Salmon berries best July-August and blue berries from August to October.

    Don't forget to get a land use permit from Ounalashka Corp.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Museum of the Aleutians

    by RickinDutch Updated Jul 12, 2007

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    Museum of the Aleutians

    The museum is a must see for both locals and visitors. Perhaps the best small town museum in Alaska (sorry Scott), it has a great archaeology collection, Unangan crafts, WWII memoriabilia, and historical displays. A large area is set aside for temporary exhibits that change out every six months or so.

    Some of my favorite displays are:
    --The original sketch that Weber based his etching "Aleut Woman" on from Cook's third voyage. Cook and crew stayed on Unalaska for a month just prior to their return to Hawaii and his subsequent demise.
    --The fantastic works of local sculptress Gert Svarny, including an elaborate Aleut hat.
    --The large collection of Aleut baskets, just recently expanded by a generous donation from the Ounalashka Corporation. Aleut basketry is renowned for it's intricate weaving.

    Cost of Admission is $5 each.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Archeology
    • Museum Visits

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    Take a Land Tour

    by RickinDutch Updated Oct 20, 2005

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    Extra Mile Tours on Ulakta Head

    A great way to see and learn more about Unalaska is to take a tour with either Bobby at Extra Mile Tours or Patty with A.L.E.U.T. Tours. Both have excellent knowledge of local history, birds, flora, WWII, etc. Both usually can include the major attractions or customize your tour to whatever interests you.
    Cost varies depending on length of tour and how many attraction admissions need to be paid.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Birdwatching

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    Aleutian WWII National Historic Area Visitor Ctr.

    by RickinDutch Updated Oct 12, 2005

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    WWII Visitor Center
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    The National Park Service and the local native corporation. O.C., have redone the original WWII Aerology Building and created a great visitor's center that focuses on the Aleutian Campaign of WWII, the bombing of Dutch Harbor by the Japanese in 1942, the relocation of the Unangan people to SE Alaska and their return 3 years later.

    Summer Hours (June - Sep) are:
    Tue-Thu 1PM - 6PM
    Fri -Mon 10:00AM to 6:00PM

    Winter hours:
    Thu-Sun 1PM - 6PM
    Closed Mon - Wed

    Plan on few hours to read thru the all the well done displays. Also show historic films in theater.

    Also part of the Center, the bunkers, tunnels and remaining WWII structures up at Fort Swatka on Mount Ballyhoo are available for viewing. The view of the Bering Sea from up there is one of my favorite spots.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • National/State Park
    • Museum Visits

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    Holy Ascension Cathedral

    by RickinDutch Written Jun 22, 2005

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    Holy Ascension Cathedral
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    This church is the best known landmark in Unalaska and is a another must see when in town. Started in 1826 under Father Veniaminov (St. Innocent), the current structure was completed in 1896. The largest Russian Orthodox church in Alaska, it is filled with 120 priceless icons.
    It is still an active church with over 200 members so remember to remove your hat inside and no photos are allowed inside.
    The church is open for visitors a half hour before services - 6:00PM Saturday & 9:00AM Sunday. Donations appreciated.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel

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    Check out the latest marine casualty!

    by RickinDutch Written Aug 18, 2006

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    Cougar Ace with a slight list
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    Being the hub of the Aleutians, we have seen many a ship damaged and limping into port for repairs. The latest is this car ship, the Cougar Ace, enroute from Japan to Vancouver with 5000 Mazdas onboard. Seems the ballast shift didn't go as planned. Don't worry - they got it almost even keeled after 4-5 days of pumping. Only 400 cars damaged. We offered to take them off their hands but they politely declined. Maybe that's why they haven't come to a dock and stayed anchored up in Wide Bay :)

    But we do see our share. In the 16 years I've been here we have had 3 heavily damaged log ships, many fishing boats and freighters and another car carrier - all coming into port with their fingers crossed. And we have more than our share of ships running aground.

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    Hike the 10,000 year old trail!

    by RickinDutch Written Aug 18, 2006

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    Eli and I starting out at Overland Trail

    This trail really is believed to be 10,000 years old (or at least 9,000 - according to archeaologists). The village of Unalaska has been a trading hub in the Aleutians for at least that long. When villagers from Biorka couldn't kayak around Priest Rock because of weather, they would pull in at Ugadaga Bay and hike over the to Unalaska. That trail is still in use today, and is much safer now that all the spikes from WWII have been located and pulled.

    A nice hike, it is downhill 3 miles going and uphill 3 miles all the way back. Rolling tundra, creeks, beautiful vistas!

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Whale watching from shore

    by RickinDutch Written Sep 29, 2006

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    Humpback whales

    You can take a boat as mentioned above and go out where they are really thick. But every September the humpback whales come inside the bay chasing krill. We have had about ten of them cavorting around for the past week. Very hard to drive along the main street and avoid crashing while we oooo and aaaaaw!
    Outside the bay along the Shelan Banks, I'm told there must be a hundred or so. They are getting as much food as they can before they head south to Hawaii and mating season.

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    • Whale Watching

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    Extra Mile Tours

    by HasTowelWillTravel Written Aug 7, 2008

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    At Priest's Rock
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    We had lots of time to kill, so we spent a day with Bobbie roaming the island as part of her Extra Mile Tours. For those who do not have a car, and would like to see more of the island, this is a great resource. Bobbie has lived on the island for nearly 3 decades, married to an Aleut gentleman, and is filled with knowledge of the area. She participates in the bird counting for the island, an informal count, so she knows where great locations of bald eagle nests are for you to watch and photograph.

    The tour takes in some of the highlights of the islands. It started on the Aleutian WWII NHS, heading past the docks and harbors which figure so prominently on The Dealiest Catch, and onto Unalaska island. We headed around the bend to Summer Bay, where eagles nested. We headed up, through a valley into the alpine-like hills and then back down to Unalaska. All the while she kept us abreast of the flowers, animals, birds, local formations and customs. It was a very enjoyable day.

    I highly recommend her services to any traveling to Dutch Harbor

    Related to:
    • Birdwatching
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Historical Travel

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    Aleutian WWII National Historic Site

    by HasTowelWillTravel Written Aug 7, 2008

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    From the Cliffs of the NHS
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    This rocky outcrop around Mt. Ballyhoo is the site of the Aleutian WWII National Historic Site. This was the second piece of US territory to be attacked by the Japanese. June 3rd and 4th, 1942 the Japanese ran several bombing runs to the island, which at the time held nearly 50,000 US troops. It is a little-known piece of history, but the cliffs where the large artillery stood to help try and repel the attack now sit silently above the ocean, only some of the turrets and ammunition houses remain. Still, it is a fascinating place to look upon the cliffs of Unalaska and Amaknak islands.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology

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