Chichagof Island Tour: Brown Bear Search - Hoonah

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Tour Information

Key Details

  • Mobile Voucher Accepted
  • Free Cancellation
  • Instant Confirmation
  • Lowest Price Guaranteed
  • Duration: 3 Hrs
  • Language:
  • Departure Time :
    Tours coincide with cruise ship arrival and departure time Tour departs within walking distance of the cruise port
  • Departure Details :
    Hoonah Travel Adventures, 335 Harbor Way, Hoonah, AK 99829, USA
    Traveler pickup is offered
  • Return Details :
    Returns to original departure point
  • Cancellation Policy :
    For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience. Tours booked using discount coupon codes will be non refundable.


Embark on a small-group, 3-hour land based tour of Chichagof Island. The community of Hoonah, with a year round population of approximately 850, is located in the northern part of Chichagof Island. The vast majority of the island is pure, uninhabited, Alaskan wilderness teeming with wildlife! Chichagof Island has the highest population of bears per square mile of any place on Earth.


  • Family friendly
  • Multiple times offered throughout the day
  • See native wildlife in their natural environment
  • Free port pickup and drop-off included
  • Led by a local guide
  • Seasonal Offer

Know More about this tour

Your tour begins when you are picked at the Excursions Hub at Icy strait point. Chichagof Island, or Shee Kaax, is an island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Alaska Panhandle. At 75 miles long and 50 miles wide, it has a land area of 2,048.61 square miles - making it the fifth largest island in the United States. Chichagof Island has the highest population of bears per square mile of any place on Earth.

The community of Hoonah, with a year round population of approximately 750, is located in the northern part of Chichagof Island. The vast majority of the island is pure, uninhabited, Alaskan wilderness teeming with wildlife! The Ursus arctos, or Brown Bear, is the king of the forest but Sitka black-tail deer, bald eagle, mink, marten, beaver, duck and sea birds thrive on the island and are frequently spotted on this tour. One of the last grizzly strongholds, the dense rain forests of Chichagof Island in southeast Alaska hide more of brown bear per square mile than any other place on Earth.

This tour is offered May through September because those months afford the highest probability of seeing bears. In late April and May bears are coming out of hibernation. In June, the bears are mating and eating grasses on the tidal flats. Older males fight other males for dominance and mating rights with the females, who at times, are not receptive and force the male to give chase. Not too far off from human behavior is it? In July, the Salmon start their migration from the ocean up the rivers and you'll find the bears feeding in coastal rivers and streams. In August and September, the salmon have made it further up the rivers to shallow streams where the bears chase them.

Depending on the month and the weather, the wildlife can be found in different locations throughout the island. Your guide spends a lot of time in the forest and knows where to look.

Please Note: While there is a high probability of seeing bears, we cannot guarantee sighting. We can guarantee a journey into wilderness and a chance to experience the sheer beauty and ruggedness of the Tongass National Forest! This tour is limited to 12. We will allow up to 14 if the group is all together. Otherwise, we like to leave extra room for comfort.

This tour is operated in the Tongass National Forest under special use permit from the Forest Service, USDA.


Picks Up & Drops Off at Icy Strait Point

All individual seating in van, no bench seating

Small Group Tour - Max of 12

Local Native guide

Bottled water

National Park fees $5.40


Gratuities (Never expected always appreciated)

Additional Info

Confirmation will be received at time of booking

Tour Time is Departure time. Please meet 15 minutes prior at the Icy Strait Point Excursions Hub

Each Child on tour must be accompanied by an adult

No Smoking

At time of booking, cruise ship passengers must provide ship name

Not wheelchair accessible

Most travelers can participate

Children Under the age of 8 are not permitted on this tour

This experience requires a minimum number of travelers. If its canceled because the minimum isnt met, youll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund

Traveler Reviews

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  • 27-Sep-2019

    I absolutely loved this tour. We got to to see a mommy bear and her 2 cubs. She was just walking on the street. Then we went down to a river and saw a couple more bears. I would highly recommend this tour.

  • 12-Sep-2019

    There were six of us on this beautiful tour of Icy Strait. The guide, Stu, was very informative. We didn't see any bears, but the forest, the trees, the shoreline, were all wonderful to see. I would definitely suggest this trip being done in the early morning, if possible. The bears are more likely to be viewed, but then again, they are wildlife and come and go as they please. We all did enjoyed this tour. Thank you for a great afternoon.

  • 23-Aug-2019

    Our guide provided a wealth of info about the area and about bears. Unfortunately, we didn't see any bears. Might have had something to do with the two kids in our group who, when hiking in an area where 4 had been spotted that morning, felt compelled to wade/splash around in the stream where numerous salmon were. The only negative about the tour was that the guide repeatedly overshared about conflicts he was having with his partner, brother, and supervisor.

  • 29-Jul-2019

    Mark was an amazing tour guide for his beautiful island. The history on the island as well as his own personal Native American history was both sad and fascinating. We didn’t get to see any bear, but the scenery was breathtaking and he worked so hard looking for them. We did get to see a Sitka deer and a beautiful bald eagle in her nest.

  • 03-Jul-2019

    Our chief and guide was excellent. So very knowledgeable and great sense of humour. Was determined and patient to find us bears, which he did. A superb trip, best one we have done whilst on our Cruise. Thank you

  • 03-Jul-2019

    Finding our tour operator right off the ship was super simple. We were greeted by our driver Stu as soon as we showed up to the tour Excursion area. Stu made the tour excellent. He is an Alaskan native with tons of history and experiences to share. He is also a Tlingit cultural leader. Having a local tour guide really can make all the difference. Our tour began with a short drive through town and then into the forest. we quickly came across 2 bears and we were able get out of the van to watch them for a good period of time as they slowly made their way from one area to the next. Unfortunately then a local with their barking dog scared them off. So then we headed out to a different area to try and find the mama and her cubs that had been spotted the previous day. Unfortunately we weren't able to find them, but we did see some other Wildlife... deer and eagles. During the search for bears Stu is constantly providing interesting information about the culture, bears, other wildlife, and also the natural medicinal value in all of the plants that you are seeing on the tour. Very interesting. We then made our way back to the area where we saw the two bears earlier and we were able to spot them again just a little ways from where they previously were. So we got out of the van again to watch them until they trotted off into the forest. Then we were able to get pictures of an eagle that was resting on a mound about 20 yards from where we were. Awesome. The only thing that I didn't like was that we didn't get out to do any hiking through the forest itself to get to see the wildlife. The tour is strictly done by driving in the van to the areas where the bears typically will come out of the forest to get water, munch on vegetation, etc. However, with that being said at least the van is very comfortable and small with only about 10 people in your tour versus the cruise ship buses that we saw that have 40 + people. Overall this was a great experience and Stu did not disappoint.

  • 03-Jul-2019

    Gary was a super guide. He cannot control the wildlife, but we saw three brown bears. One of them came right up to our vehicle before turning into the woods. We loved it.

  • 03-Jul-2019

    While there is not promise to see a bear, they try hard to see something. We saw deer, including a fawn, and when we didn't see any bear, we went to a harbor to see whales, which also didn't show. We retuned at a fast clip, and half way back, w member of our tour shouted BEAR! We backed up, but there was no more bear to be seen. We continued at a fast clip, and then BEAR!! This time we backed up and the biggest bear was just munching away. We watched it for a while and then headed back. The driver gave us an option to go back or be dropped off at Hannoh, as the shuttle back to the ship was free using their tour. Driver was informative about bears and his eskimo culture and struggles with the Icy Point Corp. Sadly the different tour companies are not cooperative nor friendly with each other. They do not share bathrooms nor information on bear sightings. A different experience than what we had in Ketchikan where everyone worked together for guests and their experience. The negativity and non friendly behaviour kinda tarnishes the experience. So while we saw a bear (very cool) we are unlikely to return to Icy Point.

  • 03-Jul-2019

    Though we saw nary a bear (too early in the season, no salmon running), Gary was extremely informative, telling us great stories about his family and their culture. Highly recommend!

  • 03-Jul-2019

    Saw a bald eagle early. Then orcas in the bay, the 2 bears at the very end then a black tail deer. Driver Gary I think was very informative. This a long trip down twisty turny hilly bumpy dirt roads. Be ready for that. Better this one in a small van vs the large bus. Bring binoculars.

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