Rather than flying, which is very expensive to Sitka from Anchorage or Seattle (I paid $400 one way last year) and rather than spending a few thousand per person for a cruise, consider the ferry system. You have your choice of the inside passage which starts as far south as Bellingham, Washington or Prince Rupert, British Columbia, the Southwest (the aluetian chain) or a cross gulf trip. Maybe there's more too. But you can choose when you get on, how long you stay in certain towns and your whole itinerary, rather than have is set up for you. It's much less expensive than the other options if it's just you and your family (no automobile) Adding a vehicle, depending on size, does get a little more expensive...you can check the rates on the website. There are definitely more trips made in the summer seasons, but the cost is less in the Fall, Winter and Spring. There are a total or 9 ships that make these trips to 33 ports. It's an ideal way to travel through Alaska. Once you get to Seward, you can take the Alaska railroad and at any place, you can rent a car.
If you're planning on staying in sitka for a few days and want to get to some of the destinations that require a boat, you can either take a kayak (available to rent) or hire a sea taxi. Such destinations would include the hot springs, Kruzof Island, Sea Lion Cove, and the many many other islands in the area. In order to see these places and most of Baranof Island (where Sitka is located) you will need some sort of water transportation or float plane, neither of which you would have on hand if you were just visiting Sitka for a few days, most likely. One of the more popular water taxi services is called Esther G Sea Taxi who does coastal transport and wildlife tours
The Captain's name is Davey Lubin and his address is 215 Shotgun Alley in Sitka
If you are flying to Sitka and don't want to rent a car to get around, you still need to find a way to get from the airport to your hotel. Well, fortunately, in the summer, this isn't a problem. There is a shuttle called "The Airporter" which is right out in the front of the airport waiting to take you into town. It shows up for all the flights and will drop you off at any of the hotels.
I believe there is a very small fee, but it's cheaper than a cab is. Definitely worth checking out!
the downtown is small, most of the attractions are within walking distance. If you are on a ship, you'll be rushed anyway. If you aren't on a ship and have some time, there are cabs and a bus that runs on the weekday during normal business hours.
BUT, I put this tip in here as more of a heads up. If you are not on a ship, try to do your downtown touring on a day when multiple large ships aren't in. The town in small, the ships are larger. There are days when Sitka's population of 9000 doubles. This past summer, Thursdays seemed to be good days and the weekends for the most part. However, not everything is open during regular hours when the ships aren't in, which I know poses a problem with this tip, but just call. Most places will be open for awhile.
The bus will be waiting when you arrive by ferry in Sitka.
Sitka. Airport Shuttle
provides transportation to the downtown area or to accommodations May - Sept., $5 one way, $7 round-trip. For information, call Sitka Tours at (907) 747-8443.
available at the terminal upon ferry arrivals, provides transportation to downtown or to accommodations year-round. $5 one way, $7 round-trip. For information, call Sitka Tours at (907) 747-8443.
Tours are often offered that will give you a good overview while the ferry is in port. There are longer tours if you will be staying overnight.
Sitka Tribal Tours
200 Katlian Street, Sitka, Alaska 99835 (907) 747-7290 / 1-888-270-8687 toll free / fax (907) 747-3770
Learn about the Tlingit way of life and their living culture on these exciting tours:
1 hr. Bus Tour: On large ship port-of-calls, a narrative drive of Sitka¹s historic sites & includes photo stops at scenic locations. PRICE: $10/person
2 1/2 hr. Tour: Learn Sitka's local facts, Russian and Tlingit history & culture during narrative tour, with stops at S.E. AK Cultural Center, Sitka Nat'l. Historical Park, Sheldon Jackson Museum, Tlingit Native dance performance at the Tribal Community House (includes all entry fees) PRICE: $42/adults $32/child
3 1/2 hr. Tour: Includes all of 2 1/2 hr. Tour plus a stop at the Alaska Raptor Center $55/adult $45/child
Combined Tour: 2 1/2 hr. Hiking & Coach Tour (Starrigavan Trail) Scenic drive to Old Historic Sitka & walk through old growth forest, muskeg & natural bird watching estuary. PRICE: $50/person
Website: www.sitkatribal.com or Email: email@example.com
The Alaska Marine Highway is the only highway that connects all Southeastern Alaska towns. It's fairly easy to design your own customized point to point itinerary, but be mindful of departure and arrival times. Decide how long you want to stay in each place. Check out all the options on the ferry schedule. Book your ferry before your flight.
If you need to reserve a cabin or you are traveling with a car, it is important reserve ahead. Either will add significantly to the fare, with staterooms generally being the less expensive of the two. This can easily be done at the AMH web site, but make sure you reserve everything you need on each segment.
For longer trips they also offer cabins which rent by the room and not by the person. Most have private bathrooms. Rooms with three berths or larger are likely to be arranged with beds side by side instead of bunk style. The Kennicott has many very inexpensive roomettes which provide a private booth/bunk bed setup using public bathrooms.
The Sitka Route
You get a real bonus with a ferry trip to Sitka from Juneau. You wil pass through not one but three narrows. Peril Straight is the most famous and narrow. Olga and Nevis Straights follow. You can often feel the Pacific swell between each of the three straights. These are great wildlife viewing opportunities. We saw killer whales and bald eagles on this route. Look closely at the mouths of creeks for brown bear. Bring binoculars.
Ferry service to Sitka is very regular in the summer, but arrival times are all over the clock. At least one sailing a week from Juneau will arrive and depart at a reasonable hour. We found that the best strategy in Sitka was to arrive on an afternoon or evening ferry, spend the night, and depart on the northbound the following evening. This gave us 24 hours in Sitka, and Peril Straight during the day and the night. These trips on the main line ferrys are about 9 hours from Juneau. The northbound ferrys will continue on to Haines and Skagway.
The smaller M/V Leconte takes the scenic route through many of the smaller villages of this region. This the only way to see places like Tenakee Springs. The M/V Leconte takes 16 hours to make the trip. You will also have to sleep on deck or in the lounge since the M/V Leconte does not have cabins. You are sure to meet many locals on this ship.
The M/V LeConte will typically operates on the following weekly sailing pattern during summer months: Sitka - Angoon - Tenakee - Hoonah - Juneau - Hoonah - Tenakee - Angoon - Sitka - Kake - Petersburg - Kake- Sitka - Angoon - Hoonah - Juneau - Hoonah - Angoon - Kake - Petersburg - Kake - Angoon - Tenakee - Hoonah - Juneau - Hoonah - Tenakee - Angoon - Sitka.
In addition, every other week the pattern includes a round trip between Juneau and Pelican. The trip to Pelican is an excellent day trip from Juneau, and you are almost certain to see whales.
You can get there only by ship (I took the ferry from Wrangel and continued to Juneau) or you might be able to fly.
The ferry tour is very nice, so much nature and loneliness and all nearly untouched.
This is a postcard from Sitka
Unless you have your own boat, you can only get here on Alaska Airlines (you have to stop in either Ketchikan or Juneau - no direct flights) or a cruise ship (you and your 1200 closest friends - get off for a two hour tour, buy a t-shirt and get back on) or the Alaska Marine Highway - the ferry. Get on in Bellingham, stay in the solarium in your dome tent (except the Kennicott doesn't have a solarium) and get off for a few hours in all the towns along the way. Come in the off season - from May to September we tend to hide from visitors.
Rent a bike from Al. Rent a kayak from Larry. Oh - Larry's leaving and Ken's taking over. We only have 14 miles of road hugging the coast. Bike and kayak are the way to go.