Like to cruise? Most boats that run the Pacific coastlines make a docking in Ketchikan, “The Salmon Captiol of the World.” If you don’t like cruising (and most days, I don’t blame you) you can still make it to town, just get on a milk-run flight and puddle hop your way to the island. Many folks once in town will know about the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour, but if you’re in-the-know like a local (but you don’t have the skiff and crab pots to truly be Alaskan) then the next best option is George Inlet Lodge.
While Alaska may make your bucket list more for adventures and nature than for culinary quests, don’t be fooled when you’re back at home, craving the delights of your vacation for years after! One such place that will inspire drooling when you think back on it is in Ketchikan, Alaska. I’m sure you’re thinking this is an unlikely place to find both adventure and a mouth-watering meal. Well friend, bon appetit!
Adventures Meets Appetite in Ketchikan
We had some spare time while in Ketchikan and, naturally, wanted to eat as much crab as we could before going back to the rural reaches of the Midwest. You can leave your heart in San Francisco, but after living in Alaska for years, you leave your tastebuds. There is no comparing seafood fresh from the big blue! Once you eat seafood so fresh you’ll feel like you’re a crusty sea salt yourself, you’ll not want the tour to end and will resist the homeward bound flight or ferry for fear you’ll never taste something this perfectly wild again! The tourists that mill around town eating at the downtown diners or worse, the Golden Arches that are present in town, will not know that the best kept secret in town if you aren’t a local able to fish for your own crab is a mere 15 minute drive away. Here’s where you’ll find out how to get in on the shellfish indulgence!
We were really skeptical about whether or not our kiddo at three years old could handle a float plane. They are magical and my husband and I both regularly caught rides on Beavers, Otters, and Piper Cubs (oh my!) while working in the mountains as natural resource professionals, so we knew they’d be a tad noisy, somewhat cramped, and potentially disastrous if the mood struck our preschooler. To be clear, I’d choose this option with any kid over five years for sure. We would have probably been fine with our three year old. But no one wants a crying, puking, cranky kid in the close quarters of a float plane. So we went with the crab-catching cruise (named “Wilderness Exploration and Crab Feed” on the Experience Alaska Tours site) and it was a fine option for kids. For us, since we’d subsisted for a few years by tossing pots in the water and retrieving crab, the boat ride was more of a pleasure cruise. For the average tourist it’s fun and pretty hands on. Our son got to hold a crab which was a proud moment for him! Some of the stories and jokes and vernacular the young tour guide up for the summer from Utah used were a tad off color, but nothing so terrible that anyone seemed too offended.
There is a motor coach tour to a Rainforest Sanctuary that sounds like a good option for land lubbers. They’ve really provided opportunities for every kind of tourist and traveler to see a wilder side of Alaska, which is why we truly enjoyed this tour. It’s super accessible (we had our preschooler and he was happy as a
clam crab, and the elderly folks next to us who had traveled to nearly every part of Alaska who were having a great time too!)
This is the real deal here. We’re not talking Crabby Patties, SpongeBob! The perfectly boiled, slightly salty, moist, delicate crab meat is something I still dream of today. The majority of your tour will be spent on the boat; you have about an hour to feast and a feast it is. You’ll enjoy a remarkably delicious, fresh salad. (I don’t usually enjoy rabbit food, but it is garnished with mandarin oranges and even I loved it!) For folks that don’t love crab (I’ve heard those types exist, but I can hardly imagine not loving the delectable shellfish) they also have chicken. Of course, we ordered the chicken for our three-year-old, thinking he’d detest crab without really giving it a fair shot because, well, he was three. He has my genes. So, we ended up cracking crab for him too and taking his chicken breast for him to snack on later! We were so proud to know our offspring got our fine dining flair! The servers keep it coming, hot and fresh. We were even able to surprise my husband with a “crab cake” for his 35th birthday — the tastiest cake he’s ever had to blow candles out upon! You’ll be stuffed, that’s a promise. Mashed potatoes, rolls, and rich candle-melted butter all at the reach of your fork. Eating the freshest crab possible certainly has every other experience eating seafood at home in the Midwest, from now on beat!
You simply cannot go wrong with Alaskan crab, unless you’re allergic to shellfish. But barring that unfortunate circumstance, this tour and the food is simply divine. If you’re going to do a shore excursion or opt into a tour while in town on your own, Experience Alaska Crab Feast should be at the top of the list. The last bit of the tour we’ll keep secret for those looking to experience the fun firsthand, but it made the entire experience solidly family-friendly. If we could afford to hop a plane tomorrow, we’d fly to Ketchikan, drive out the road, and take in the crab tour and feast at George Inlet Lodge again!