The Alaskan town of Haines, located on the iconic Inside Passage, is renowned for the spectacular panoramas that form its backdrop.Snow-capped mountains overlook rippling blue waters and lush, green slopes.The town’s motto is ‘The Adventure Capital of Alaska’, with many activities on offer so that visitors can make the most of the breathtaking landscapes.
In summer, there are hiking adventures, kayaking tours of Chilkoot Lake and rafting on the stunning Chilkat River. Fishing is popular in Haines; tourists and locals alike enjoy trying their hand at catching Pacific Salmon that are plentiful in its waters. Yet Haines is perhaps most famous for the migratory phenomenon that occurs every winter, when thousands of bald eagles descend upon Chilkat River Valley.
Haines is less touristy than some of the other ports on Alaskan cruise itineraries, so it is a good opportunity to experience the culture of an Alaskan town and get to know the locals. Recently the picturesque area has become more popular, with companies such as Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line and Alaska Dream Cruises, all offering itineraries that stop at Haines.
Haines is situated in southeast Alaska, also known as the Alaskan Pan Handle, on the Lynn Canal - America’s longest fjord. There are two ports for docking: the Port of Haines, which is located just to the north of the town itself, and Port Chilkoot, situated right opposite the historical Fort William H. Steward, near downtown Haines.
Both the Haines and Chilkoot docks are within walking distance of the town and its facilities. Though a relatively small town, there are plenty of shops, eateries, bars and hotels in Haines to ensure visitors have a comfortable and enjoyable time. There are a few cafés, as well as the local library, that offer access to computers and Wi-Fi for keeping in touch. Haines only has facilities for one large cruise ship at a time, which means that visitors can enjoy the quiet pace and peace of this small town. There is a Visitor Centre located in downtown Haines, on 2nd Street, with plenty of information to help tourists make the most of their time in the area.
How to Get Around
Most of the main attractions of Haines can be easily accessed on foot. However, for those looking to explore the local area, there are ferries, taxis and car rentals that allow you to travel further afield. There are relatively few taxis available, so make sure to book in advance if you want to get around this way.
- Currency – Alaska, as part of the United States, uses the U.S. dollar (USD). Coins are available in 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢ and USD$1 denominations. Notes are available in USD$1, USD$5, USD$10, USD$20, USD$50, and USD$100 denominations. Major credit cards are also generally accepted.
- Time Zone – Haines utilises Alaska Standard Time (AKST), which is 9 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Alaska switches to their Daylight Saving time (AKDT), from March until November, when the clocks are moved forward by 1 hour.
- Weather – Haines experiences a generally cool climate, with an average yearly temperature of 5 degrees Celsius. During the summer months, it generally warms up to about 17 degrees Celsius during the day, while in winter temperatures can hover around -1 to -8 degrees Celsius. Haines receives a high level of snowfall each winter, with an average annual snowfall of 262.4 inches.
- Chilkoot River – An excellent way to see the wildlife, and the famous bald eagles, is to embark on a freshwater lake cruise. Virtually guaranteeing sightings of eagles, Chilkoot Lake Tours also boasts that bears, mountain goats, moose and many other animals are frequently spotted on the tours. It’s also a fantastic way to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the mountains and waterfalls.
- Hammer Museum – This quirky museum began as the collection of a local resident, but has become a unique historical experience, chronicling history through the use of the hammer. The Hammer Museum is open May through September, Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm. It is closed on Sundays and open for a few hours, 10am – 2pm, on Saturdays until mid-August. Admission costs USD$5 for adults and is free for children aged 12 years and under.
- Hiking – One of the best ways to see Haines is to hit the hiking trail. The local Visitor Centre hands out two free trail guides, one for hiking and one for bird watching. There are plenty of birds to look out for, so make sure you bring a set of binoculars with you for one of the best bird watching experiences in the United States.