Aleutian Islands

Overview

Introduction

Alaska's Aleutian Islands are a string of 200 islands 650 mi/1,045 km southwest of Anchorage and stretching more than 1,000 mi/1,600 km; they separate the Bering Sea from the Pacific Ocean. They played an important role during World War II: Two islands (Attu and Kiska) were occupied by Japanese troops, who also bombed an American naval base at Dutch Harbor. Military bunkers and other reminders of World War II are still visible throughout the Aleutians.

Only six of the islands are inhabited. The bustling fishing port of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor is the center of activity (it gets few visitors, however, and has sky-high prices for transportation, food and lodging). On Attu Island, the only residents are Coast Guard Relay Station operators, but the island still receives a small number of bird-watchers every year.

In general, the Aleutians will appeal mostly to travelers who have a special interest in World War II history, wildflowers, marine mammals and birds. Be advised that the weather is generally cold, windy and drizzly. Flights to the islands are frequently delayed for days at a stretch because of poor weather.

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