Shishmaref is located on Sarichef Island, in the Chukchi Sea, just north of Bering Strait. Shishmaref is five miles from the mainland, 126 miles north of Nome and 100 miles southwest of Kotzebue. The village is surrounded by the 2.6 million-acre Bering Land Bridge National Reserve. It is part of the Beringian National Heritage Park, endorsed by Presidents Bush and Gorbachev in 1990. It lies at approximately 66.256670° North Latitude and -166.07194° West Longitude. (Sec. 23, T010N, R035W, Kateel River Meridian.) Shishmaref is located in the Cape Nome Recording District. The area encompasses 2.8 sq. miles of land and 4.5 sq. miles of water. The area experiences a transitional climate between the frozen arctic and the continental Interior. Summers can be foggy, with average temperatures ranging from 47 to 54; winter temperatures average -12 to 2. Average annual precipitation is about 8 inches, including 33 inches of snow. The Chukchi Sea is frozen from mid-November through mid-June.
It is a traditional Inupiat Eskimo village with a fishing and subsistence lifestyle. The Shishmaref Erosion and Relocation Coalition was created in 2001 to address the immediate and future threats posed by erosion and flooding to the village.