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From its rugged, mountainous coastline to the native bald eagles taking the place of gulls on its railings and quays, Dutch Harbor is a different kind of paradise: quiet, honest, and blessed with a cold, enduring beauty.
Don't allow Dutch Harbor's small size to mislead you – there's plenty to see and do around the port, which was once used as a military base during a forgotten campaign of the Second World War.
The area is also home to more than 100 species of birds, alongside the plentiful aquatic wildlife, and visitors often opt for birding tours, whale watching, kayaking and hiking on the remarkable hills and coastline that surrounds the port. The Musuem of the Aleutians is a regular draw for tourists, along with a good range of other attractions:
Aleutian World War II Visitor Centre
The remote Aleutian Islands were the only American soil that Japanese forces set foot on during the Second World War, and the visitor centre at Unalaska airport gives visitors the chance to step back in time to learn about the ‘Forgotten Battle' and the island's military base. Personal accounts from locals and war veterans informed the creation of the visitor centre, and those coming to see the base will find a wealth of information about this often unheard-of military campaign during the war. The centre also has a reconstructed radio room upstairs – faithfully restored to look just as it did when it was in active use during the Second World War.
Fishing Vessel Lucille
Tourists can set sail aboard the 32ft Lucille for full- or half-day charters around the island. The trip offers visitors the chance to see the incredible scenery of Unalaska, as well as the chance to fish for salmon, cod and halibut in some of the best waters in the world for saltwater fishing. For those who prefer to observe the natural world, there's also the choice of wildlife viewing and bird watching.
Church of the Holy Ascension
The islands originally belonged to the native Aleut people, but Russian settlers later built homes in the region and brought their own faith and culture with them. A lasting remnant of this culture is the onion-domed Church of the Holy Ascension, a modest Russian Orthodox church built in 1825 and set in stunning natural surroundings. The church stands against a backdrop of mountains with the bay beside it, and visitors venturing inside are met with more than 600 pieces of art – from characteristic Russian Orthodox icons to the country's largest collection of paintings from the 1800s.
Many of the stores in Dutch Harbor stock fishing gear and tackle, supplying clothing and equipment to keen fishers and local commercial operations. However there are also some great stores for local artwork, vintage clothing and accessories; as well as books, jewellery and Russian pieces dating back to the country's imperial presence here in the past.
Being a small community, there are a couple of well-known places to eat in the harbour. Most primarily serve seafood but may also specialise in Mexican cooking, perfect for warming up diners after exploring in the Alaskan chill. Alternatively, you could treat yourself to a delicious seafood buffet and a relaxed dining experience, overlooking the bay and the surrounding mountains.
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