How Long to Spend
There’s no multi-tasking in Elfin Cove. Your phone doesn’t work too well. There’s no public wi-fi. What does work brilliantly is the magical effect Elfin Cove has on you after about three days. You relax – utterly. There’s no rush – no place to “be,” except in the moment, in a 360-degree wilderness of scenic views.
There’s just two ways in to Elfin Cove: by floatplane or boat. When you arrive, you’ll spot a few colorful buildings, with a backdrop of Brady Glacier and the Fairweather Range creating a majestic icy mountain vista.
Once on solid ground, a quaint boardwalk leads you further into the community, with post office, general store, restaurant and lodges, but no roads – and no motorized vehicles. Home to fewer than 25 year-round residents, the population grows to around 200 in summer, when fishing is hopping and Alaska Seaplanes are landing three times a day. Elfin Cove’s lodges and resorts can accommodate about 125 visitors all together, so you should be able to find a place if you book ahead.
Here you can take advantage of fishing or sight-seeing charters, a quick trip to George Island to see a World War II gun emplacement, or a simple stroll down the boardwalk. There’s a small museum documenting the history of Elfin Cove, where you can find out how it changed its name from “Gunk Hole.” The bar and grill is a great place for to chat it up with fellow travelers and locals over burgers and draft beer.
Elfin Cove has been making itself known worldwide for its tremendous fishing opportunities. Book a charter to fish for halibut, King salmon, ling cod, rockfish and more, with lodges packaging it all neatly up for your trip home.
Humpbacks hang out in Cross Sound, feasting on krill and fry. Sea lions bellow on nearby haulouts, and sea otters frolic in the kelp. Eagles swoop to catch fish, and large numbers of sandhill cranes and geese migrate through in spring and fall. While rarely in town, brown bears are also prevalent on the island. You may see them fishing or playing on nearby beaches.
With the laid-back attitude, folks here are friendly and willing to share their tips for fishing and exploring the area. Expect that if you pop out for five minutes to pick something up at the store, you’ll be gone for half an hour!
Summer is the best time to visit, with 4th of July being an opportune time to soak up the community culture (banana slug races, chili cook-off and more), enjoy the fishing and spotting the abundant wildlife.
With so much community and nature to soak up, locals advise that three days is really rushing it. Spend five and you’ll be back again, they promise.
From Juneau, book an Alaska Seaplanes flight, available 3 times daily in summer and 1-2 times daily in winter.