Port Protection Alaska: What is real and what is not about living in Port Protection

Living in Port Protection like the cast of Port Protection Alaska can seem like a dream, but not everything you see on the show is entirely accurate.

Fans of the National Geographic extreme survival docuseries, Port Protection Alaska (which is sometimes referred to as Lawless Island) have been watching the handful of residents of this quaint, off-the-grid community go about their daily lives for almost a decade.

The reality of living in Port Protection

The residents of Port Protection, a small community at the northern-most tip of Alaska’s Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, pride themselves in doing things their own way.

But while the show is certainly always entertaining to watch, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between real life and reality television.

And while living in Port Protection will certainly afford you all of the relative peace and privacy that any water-locked community will – this far-off life also comes with a few real-life drawbacks and challenges.

Port Protection: A brief history

Port Protection’s history is just as varied and interesting as the residents who call this area home. But some of the key points can be outlined as follows:

Year Description
1900 Wooden Wheel Johnson gives Port Protection its name
1946 The first Port Protection trading post is established
1981 The Port Protection community is established as part of Alaska’s land disposal program
2015 The Port Protection Alaska series first premieres

Real: Port Protection is remote

If you have watched just about any episode of Port Protection over the course of the last nine years, you will no doubt already know that Port Protection is quite far away from the nearest town.

But what you might not realize when you are watching along from home, is just how far away from everything Port Protection truly is.

For a start, Port Protection is really only accessible by plane (weather-permitting) or by boat. But travelling to Port Protection via boat will still not be a quick-and-easy venture.

The Inter-Island Ferry, which runs between Ketchikan and Hollis daily takes about three hours for each trip.

And Morgan Turcott has revealed that traveling to town in a fast boat takes her about 2 hours, but the trip can take up to eight hours in a bigger, slower boat.

Bad weather is also likely to affect the travel in and out of Port Protection, which means that residents cannot always rely on having their much-needed supplies, or even their mail, being delivered on time and that unexpected trips to the nearest hospital (which is about 4 hours away) can be delayed quite easily.

Not real: Life in Port Protection is not always as idyllic as it seems on television

There is no denying that Port Protection is beautiful and that living tucked away, deep in the Alaskan wilderness can seem like a dream. But living in Port Protection is not as simple as it may seem at first glance.

Mary (a beloved Port Protection cast member) recently had to leave the area due to continued health issues and we have seen many of the show’s other cast members struggle with things like gathering supplies, maintaining their homes, and gathering enough food over the years.

Port Protection does have limited services and a small trading post, but these are often only available in-season.

Morgan also shared a special, behind-the-scenes TikTok providing a glimpse of what the unpredictable Port Protection winters are like in real life.

And with about 60 knots of wind blowing, we would venture to guess that the area is also often much colder than it seems on television.

Also read: How the Port Protection Alaska stars earn a living

Real: You need a wide variety of skills to live in Port Protection

Melissa Matecki, a real-estate agent who listed a property in port Protection in 2020, shared that life in Port Protection is perfect for “adventurous people who want to live life on their own terms and don’t want to get caught up in the rat race and the hustle and bustle.”

This kind of independence can certainly feel empowering, but as we have seen countless times on Port Protection Alaska, it also means that you are left to your own devices entirely when things go wrong.

Chef Ellard from the Culinary Edge YouTube channel visited Port Protection during an excursion eight years ago.

And based on his video series, it is evident that surviving amongst the Port Protection locals means being able to balance basic survival-skills such as fishing and clamming, with other skills like being able to control your boat, shopping for supplies, canning your supplies, preparing your own food, cooking your own food, hiking, gathering wood, burning your garbage and more. 

Can anyone just up and live in Port Protection Alaska?