A brief overview of the place
Ketchikan is an Alaskan city facing the inside passage. It’s known for the feisty salmon, idyllic scenery and rich Alaskan culture, with a wide display of totem poles.
Ketchikan is also known as the fishing capital of the world, so you will find that many ‘out-of-towners’ will come here purely to fish. There is lots to see and do here, so be sure to make the most of your time in Ketchikan.
What I did there.
Whilst the ship I was working on was cruising around Alaska, we visited Ketchikan a handful of times, but the most memorable day there was one filled with history and nature.
My friend Claudia and I disembarked the ship and booked an excursion whilst outside. It was a very spontaneous decision but one I am glad we made. The trip was called ‘Totem and Bear Tour’ and it was exactly what it said on the tin.
Firstly we were taken to search for bears. Deep in the forest is one of Ketchikan’s lakes that is famous for its salmon, so we parked up in between the trees and wandered over to a large viewing point that looked over the great lake. As I looked down at the clear water, I could see all the salmon swimming downstream. Our guide said that we would have to wait a while and then it would be ‘pot luck’ if we saw any bears. We were alone for about 10 minutes, waiting and taking in the beautiful scenery very quietly so as not to scare any potential bears.
However, a coach load of people showed up so, the silence was broken. We were advised to leave, as with all these people making noise there was no point wasting time here because the noise would scare the bears away.
Next, we went to Saxman Village. Totem poles have always interested me, so it was a real treat to be able to see so many. They were amazing to see but really came to life when you knew the story behind each one, so if you get the chance to visit here, I would definitely ask for a guide. This may cost a little more, but it’s worth it to be able to learn more about the history of the place. It took us about an hour to walk around the park and see all the totem poles.
On the way back to the ship, our driver showed us various little things along the way that only locals would know of. We stopped at a waterfall that was hidden away in a valley that was beautiful, and we also got the chance to see some eagles. So, if none of the bigger excursions take your fancy, you can always organise your own personal one ashore with the dozens of local tour guides waiting for your business.
Most popular excursions
Ketchikan is the totem pole Capital of the world, and if this is something you want to see, you must visit Saxman village. Here you will see 25 totem poles that are authentic replicas of original poles, that were left behind when native Alaskans moved to more populated cities.
If you go on your own, entry will cost $5, or you can go with a tour which will include the entry in the fee.
Ketchikan is where the black bears live and in the Summer you can watch them fishing for salmon in the Alaskan lakes. This is a good tour to do in the morning, as in the bear spotting point will gets busier with tourists, so the bears are less likely to come out.
Back in 1903, Creek Street was Ketchikan’s red light district. Today the boardwalk that is propped up over Ketchikan Creek and is filled with boutiques and various gift shops.
There is a very popular destination here called Dolly’s House which was once the house of a very famous prostitute. Men used to come from far and wide to visit Miss Dolly, and she was one of the wealthiest women in Ketchikan.
Ketchikan is teaming with gift shops, supermarkets, bars and restaurants so if you don’t book an excursion, there is plenty to see just weaving in and out of the streets.
Food and Facetime
Bar Harbour Restaurant
Famous for its fresh seafood, this is a wonderful place to enjoy a slap up meal. It has a lively atmosphere and has brilliant wifi.
Due to cruise ships having a lot of Philippino crew, Ketchikan tries to cater for everyone. Diaz is a true Philippino cuisine that is popular with everyone and also has good wifi.
Dwyer’s crab and fish restaurant
This restaurant is not only popular with tourists but the locals too, for its wonderful array of seafood.