You have to be on a boat to get to this island and you can't get off the boat once you reach it, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.
This island is only one tiny part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge which is the largest NWR is the US. It extends from the Aleutian chain down the whole coast of Alaska, and that's a huge, huge coastline. The whole stretch is a nesting place for over 40 million seabirds, more than half of the nesting seabirds in the whole US.
St Lazaria is home to half a million of these birds, which is pretty amazing because it's only 65 acres.
You can see petrels, murres, auklets, cormorants and puffins! Of course, on the way out there, you might see whales, seals, sea otters, eagles, sea lions and maybe some other things.
Charters go out there every day, Wildlife Quest, Sitka Secrets, Sea Life Discovery...
Here's what we did:
Harris Air can take you to Baranof Warm Springs. You will land on a lake. Reserve the Forest Service cabin on the FS website. The cabin is equipped with a dinghy and oars. Row across the lake to the warm springs (about 3 miles)- avoid the middle of the day there. Sometimes chartered yachts stop there and unload 20 people. Late afternoons and early evenings are best at the springs. Otherwise, enjoy the quiet cabin, build a fire and spend at least 2 days there. Definitely bring supplies. There is a general store by the springs- but it's super basic. And it's a dry town too.
For the daring: Cross the island from Sitka and end at the cabin at Baranof. Careful crossing the ice field!
Enjoy reading the cabin log... I wish I was there right now...
At the far end of Sitka is Starragavan park. Literally at the far end, the road ends here.
They have a nice campground with gorgeous large spots (no hookups) and only $10, I think? There is a new platformed pathway around the perimeter of the estuary that is really nice. We saw eagles, cranes, a blue heron, etc. When we went in late summer, you could look over the bridge and see salmon neck to neck, so thick you couldn't see between them. Fishing is permitted further out a little, but they were Pinks, so not as good eating as I'd like.
WARNING: It rains a lot here. Even more than in town, only 5 miles away. I'm not kidding. We had one brief 4 hour stretch without rain, then a 3 day deluge. It was cloudy in town, but not like this. We watched the creek rise and rise and rise... They don't call it the rainforest for nothing! Wear layers and bring your rain gear.
Sitka has a lot to offer to young and almost old, trails to hike, camping, fishing, hunting, Eating (I love to eat), shopping, walking, sitting and watching, boating kick back on a boat and see the wilds of Alaska out the window or on deck, wails, birds (Eagles), up here very day life is off the beaten path. That’s why I am still here.
There are lots of islands just like this one--only accessible by boat, hidden from any main passage, a place where a few people might go each year, but someplace you're happy you found. We knew of this island only because of a girl who spends a good deal of time commercial fishing with her father. It took about 1/2 hour by boat to reach it (heading out of Starrigavin) and then we were dropped off and told someone would come back for us the next day. Definitely a place where you need to provide your own entertainment, but we had everything we needed. It was probably one of the best weekends I spent in/ around Sitka. There was no chance anyone else would be coming to this island, we were miles away from Sitka in this incredibly beautiful place. The "beach" is made up of small white and black pebbles, the water is this amazing clear blue green, the island isn't developed. One of the things that was there was someone in the past had installed a zipline from the trees down to the water. Combined with the beer, the guitar and the food and the company, I was incredibly happy:)
The point is, getting out of the few populated places in Alaska (Sitka, for example)--and going to little islands or other out of the way places, you feel like it's your place. There are no fences, no signs telling you to stay out, no one standing there watching you. People respect these areas, too and perhaps that's the reason.
Alaska seems to be the only place in the United States where I felt like there were no boundary lines, gates or barricades. It's also a place where I felt like I could escape the things that I normally have to worry about, if only temporarily.
Given the fact that there are under 20 miles of roadway in Sitka, there isn't isn't much that people don't know about. However, if you have a car, you can see a few more things than most of the people who visit. One of these things is the "Harbor Mountain Drive" which is beautiful at sunset. You can stay up there in the summer pretty late and see the sunset, about an hour after the sun sets down in the town.
To get there, take Halibut Point Road about 4 or so miles out of town, you'll see the road on the right. Sometimes one of the gates are locked...I think there are 3 gates, but even if you don't get the whole way up, it's spectacular.