Sampling life in Alaska's Pribilof Islands
To describe this archipelago of four islands as “remote” would be the understatement of the century. They sit in the middle of the Bering Sea, 300 miles from Alaska’s mainland. They’re part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Finally, fur seals on the islands outnumber humans by an astronomical ratio. Today, a handful of small cruise ships (including some operated by Silversea Expeditions) journey to the Pribilofs from mainland Alaska, namely St. Paul and St. George. Most of these excursions include a port stop at Saint Paul, the largest Aleut community in the world. During this time at dock, avoid the kitschy tourist kiosks and instead get out and interact with Aleuts about their lives, their homes, and the emphasis they place on family. Also, pay close attention to the Russian influence around town; the islands were under Russian rule for about 100 years in the 1700s, and nobody has tolerated it ever since.
By Matt Villano
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St Paul, AK 99660, USA