How to Meet Locals in Pelican

Life in Pelican is quieter than it used to be. The blue-collar town was built on the hard-work of commercial fishermen, and the community spirit reflects that work ethic and straightforward way of life. In its heyday, Pelican could get raucous, especially down at Rose’s Bar and Grill, where crazy antics were welcome. (Even today, visitors like to sign their name on the ceiling tiles.)

You won’t find anyone in Pelican putting on airs or showing off the latest fashions along its mile-long boardwalk. Instead, the friendly people of this quiet community talk over coffee at the Lisianski Inlet Café, shoot the breeze at Rose’s, and head out for fishing or berry picking along Lisianski Inlet or further afield at Lisianski Strait or Stag Bay.

Kids hang out at the school playground or play hide-and-seek in the tall grasses along the harbor. In the summers, they learn to fish with their families.

When the ferry comes in once a month, it’s not uncommon for locals to turn out to greet tourists who are looking for Pelican’s sights, or even new residents (like the K-12 school teacher!)

In winter, the population drops into the dozens. While fairly mild, Pelican does get snow, and the children of Pelican enjoy building snow tunnels and finding ways to make the dark days pass a little faster until the spring brings back more light and more people.

Locals who remember the busy days of commercial fishing and the bustling boardwalk have gotten used to quieter times. Many enjoy the serenity brought by Pelican’s lower population. The slow pace of life in a magnificent setting has been attracting more retirees to Pelican. Other residents would like to see a little more action – with business opportunities, a robust school population and an active tourist industry.

So far Pelican is striking a balance between blue-collar spirit and tourist town. That means you’ll find an authentic rural Alaska experience, and down-to-earth locals who will be more than happy to share their stories of living in this place – maybe over a cup of coffee at the café or just right on the boardwalk. Others are contented in keeping to themselves and prefer not to be bothered.


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