View of glacier near Whittier, Alaska
Holidays to Whittier, Alaska
The tiny town of Whittier is a fascinating place, and not just for its outstanding scenery. Arriving here is an experience in itself, travelling through the 2.5-mile, one-way tunnel (it switches direction every 30 minutes) and emerging to a monumental wonderland of glaciers and mountains. The US Army created the tunnel as a supply route in World War II when Whittier was identified as the perfect location for a secret military installation thanks to the year-round cloudiness and tucked-away situation.
Quite unlike anywhere else, in Whittier almost all the residents live in the same building – the Begich Towers. It’s bleak looking block that sits awkwardly in its awesome surroundings, built as an army barracks in 1974, but now housing Whittier’s residents, the police station, grocery store and school.
In summer, Whittier enjoys a whopping 22 hours of sunshine a day, boosting the Vitamin D exposure of the plethora of visitors that come here to experience the fine kayaking, fishing and glacier viewing in and around the Prince William Sound. Scuba divers are treated to glimpses of Great Pacific octopuses, wolf eels and giant crabs. Whittier’s docks are packed with cruise ships and the sound of idling water taxi engines can be heard, their skippers waiting to transport visitors into the wildlife-rich waters of Prince William Sound. One of the most popular boat trips is to the glacial Blackstone Bay and Harriman Fjord.
More than a dozen waterfalls cascade from the icefields into Prince William Sound outside of Whittier, with the most remarkable being the plunging Horsetail Falls. Bird watchers come here to spot bald eagles, great grey owls and peregrine falcons, as well as the largest kittiwake bird rookery population in the North Pacific.