Located on the remote Popof Island where the Alaska Peninsula meets the Aleutian Island chain, Sand Point is one home to the largest fishing fleet in the Aleutian Islands.
About Sand Point
The island is mostly treeless, with the exception of trees planted long ago by the Russians. A rich carpet of alpine tundra produces salmonberries, moss berries, blueberries, and cranberries in the summer. The island is unique for its many large, sandy beaches. Most Alaska coastal towns have rocky beaches, but in Sand Point, several giant sand beaches make for excellent walking and beachcombing.
Things to do
The island has a fantastic network of trails and is a favorite with hikers and outdoor adventurers, in large part because of its beautiful views and lack of bears. The wildlife viewing isn’t bad either. Birds, marine mammals, and even a herd of bison call the island home. In 1955, a bison herd was transported to the island. Today, the local tribal corporation manages a herd of about 120 animals that roam the uninhabited side of the island.
Popof Island is home to a large population of bald eagles, puffins, cormorants, and kittiwakes. In the harbor and hauling out on the beaches are otters, sea lions, and seals. Migrating whales are also seen during the summer months in Popof Strait and local charter boat captains can arrange cruises for wildlife viewing. Sea kayaking along the island’s shoreline is another excellent way to view marine life and sea birds
Of course, the commercial fishing industry has chosen Sand Point for a reason – the fishing in the area is excellent, particularly for halibut, pollock, cod, and salmon. Charter boats are available for hire to take visitors fishing. A popular day trip destination is nearby Unga Island. Here, you will find a rare petrified forest, one of the largest abandoned villages in the Aleutians, and relics of gold mines. There are a few lodging options including a motel and bed & breakfasts.
In town, the scenic St. Nicholas Chapel Russian Orthodox church is located next to the boat harbor. The church was built in 1933 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Getting to Sand Point
Despite its remote location and tiny size, the community is very accessible due to the cargo loads of fish that fly out of town each day. Regular flight service from Anchorage is available. In the summer, the Alaska Marine Highway stops at Sand Point twice a month, and many visitors take the seven-day voyage from Homer to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor just for the experience.
Established in 1898 by a San Francisco-based fish processor, the community of Sand Point is also easily identifiable for its Russian heritage. Like many coastal communities in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, many residents still adhere to the Russian Orthodox religion.
Learn more about the Aleutian Islands and Eastern Aleutians.