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St. Michael's Cathedral, Sitka, Alaska

Sitka Information
By Tom Ogg

Language and Currency
What is Sitka Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?

Sitka Port Reviews

Language and Currency

The Official language of Sitka is English and the currency is the U. S. dollar.

What is Sitka Like?

Sitka's Harbor

Sitka is a small village with excellent unique shopping and tourist attractions. Enjoy the downtown area and then walk out to the Raptor Center passing by the marina and numerous residences is always a wonderful experience. The remnants of Sitka's Russian influence are apparent in town and Sitka's fabulous outdoor activities are obvious even to the casual visitor.

What is the Weather Like?

Sitka is on the outer edge of the islands that make up the Inside Passage and is open to the ocean influence from the Pacific Ocean. Sitka can be cool and wet most of the year so dressing in layers is mandatory.

Where Does the Ship Dock?

Ships at Anchor (From the Raptor Center)

The ship will anchor up in one of the channels outside of Sitka and tender into the main wharf (just below Castle Hill). Downtown Sitka is a 2-block walk from the tender port and the balance of Sitka's sites are within easy walking distance. The tender ride in is lengthy due tot he distance that the ship from the tender port the ship can find water deep enough to accommodate it. Smaller ships (Cruise West and Glacier Bay Cruises) simply tie up at the tender wharf.

Where is the Shopping?

Sitka's main shopping street (Lincoln) is difficult to miss. Just walk either to the right or the left from the tender port and you will find it. By walking to the left you will be deposited on the foot of the street where you can shop its length before making you way over to the Raptor Center.

What is There to Buy?

Because of Sitka's roots being in Russian ownership until the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 by the United States, there are many boutiques, stores and shops offering unique Russian collectibles such as lacquer boxes, nesting dolls and other Russian collectibles (easily 25% of the asking price here than in Russia), Tlingit baskets, carvings, jewelry and other local Indian items. Also there are a number of galleries offering local paintings, carvings and sculptures from local artists. Finally, many shops sell fabulous furs, jewelry and other fine items that would be of interest to those that collect these types of things.

What is There To Do?

Sitka is an interesting place as it is ripe with nature's gifts found in Alaska. Years ago I was tempted to purchase one of the ship's fishing tours for $175.00. I decided against it simply because I couldn't take the fish I caught home with me. I disembarked in Sitka and on my walk to the Raptor Center I passed two young boys casting jigs along the shore. I stopped to watch them as they pulled one huge salmon after another into shore. One of the boys saw me and asked "want to try?" I took his rod and cast several times before snagging a large salmon (I would say an easy 20 lbs.) I wrestled it to shore and was exhausted after the event. The boys cheered for me and I gave them the salmon. After much interchange I continued onto the Raptor Center and was treated to sights, visions and sounds that made me fall in love with Sitka. Bald Eagles, a salmon run in full progress and the overall experience with the views, weather and totem poles had a huge effect on me.

Indian River in the Raptor Center (Notice the Salmon)

Oh yes, at dinner that night I sat with two of our group that brought the fishing expedition for $175. Of course, you guessed that they got skunked.

Sitka itself is interesting. The Raptor Center (aka Sitka Historical National Park) is unique in that this is where bald eagles (and other raptors) are sent when they are found in the wild injured or otherwise able to take care of themselves. If you are an animal person (many aren't, but I am) you will find this center fascinating. It is an easy walk from downtown and the trails are well mapped. It is interesting to me that Ketchikan claims to have the most totem poles but the Raptor Center seemed to have more to me. JMHO. To get to the Raptor Center simply keep the right and walk along the coastline past the marina and onward to the entrance to the raptor center.

One of the Many Totem Poles in the Raptor Center

St. Michael's Cathedral is also historically significant even though it burned down in 1966. St. Michael's was the first church structure in Alaska. Many of its treasures were saved from the blaze and now adorn the current structure that adorns the cent4er of downtown Sitka.

I also like visiting Swan Lake that lies in the interior of Sitka's city limits. It is surrounded with residences and has a beauty all its own but I suspect most folks would wonder why I like it.

Again, if you like to fish Sitka has a wonderful selection of fishng opportunities.

Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?

I haven't found anything but if you have I would love to post your review.

Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?

Shee-Atika Lodge

On a tip from a local bartender, we dined at the Shee-Atika Lodge and it was great! Full of locals, I suspect this is the finest eatery in Sitka. I would recommend it for a lingering lunch on a rainy day. We had the halibut and it was excellent.

Travel in Sitka

 Port Reviews

  • Ellen Hall,

    The boat had a covered but open top deck and below was a row of seats down the middle with windows on each side. The lower part was about 6 feet below the more

    6 users found this review helpful.
  • Eric Benshetler,

    Surprisingly, Sitka wasn’t as Russian as I expected. As with many of the early Alaskan towns that were mostly built from wood, Sitka has had it share of fires more

    17 users found this review helpful.
  • Ed Kocher,

    Arrived Sitka at 7:00am in pea soup fog. At the sun warmed the air, the fog slowly lifted to reveal a naturally beautiful harbor area. There is no dock for more

    4 users found this review helpful.
  • N. Suryamega,

    In Sitka, we did halibut fishing. My husband loves fishing, and I tagged along. This turned out to be quite bad. We were a ship of 4 people and the more

    5 users found this review helpful.
  • William Freeman,

    On our August visit to Sitka, I was pleased to find that it had the "Alaska" weather I'd been denied in Juneau and Ketchikan (it was up to 85 in more

    8 users found this review helpful.
  • 1 2 (1-5 of 10)

     Sitka Shore Excursions


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