(This is part 4 of our 4 part Alaska series)
200 miles south of Anchorage, we reached Homer. Homer is a very quirky place in Alaska, known as either the “End of the Road” as it ends the Sterling Highway in Alaska or the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World.” The town of 5000 is made of a funky mix of fisherman, artists, and foodies and the atmosphere is decidedly friendly and laidback. Not a lot of tourist traps are here, but authentic restaurants and artsy boutiques perfect for the final 5 days of our 2 weeks Alaskan journey. We stayed at the Kenai Peninsula Suites which I cannot more highly recommend. They have a simply stunning location on a cliff overlooking the Kachemak Bay and their lodging consists of either cabins or these very unique bunkers. These bunkers are underground cabins that you enter from above and descend into the cabin built into a grassy bluff. Once inside, a huge floor to ceiling slider grants views of the blue waters of the Kachemak where you can spot whale spots right from your bedroom. We stayed in the Bear’s Den which also included a kitchenette and outdoor grill.
Our first exploration in Homer was the Homer Spit…it is a 4.5 mile expanse of land jutting into the Kachemak Bay. It’s a fantastic place for a stroll with restaurants, galleries, and places to hop onto a fishing charter. It’s most famous landmark is the Salty Dawg Saloon. The interior of the saloon has every inch covered with signed one dollar bills and tourists, including those that don’t even drink, stop by to see the authentic Homer feel. We definitely made a pit stop for a beer and then browsed some of the local boutiques. Homer is an artist’s enclave and you can find a lot of local art throughout the Spit. Definitely stray off the main road and onto the beach as the tides on the Homer Spit can fluctuate markedly, with an average of 16 feet.the pebbly beach at low tide unearths all kinds of marine life in the tidal pools, and if you look out on the bay you can see whales and otters.
Kachemak Bay State Park
After our time on the Spit, we caught a boat across the Kachemak Bay the next day to Kachemak Bay State Park. This massive park covers 80 miles but in our day trip we opted for the 4.5 mile hike from Glacier Spit to Glacier Lake. We used Mako’s Water Taxi which operates the 30 minute water taxi from Homer over to the Park. We detoured from the beautiful woodland hike to cross a river via the Grewingk tram just for the experience of operating our first hand tram. One of us got in the metal basket while the other pulled the rope to send the tram slowly over the rushing river. Once at the glacier, we unpacked our lunches and had the blue glacial waters speckled with chunks of ice calved from the Grewingk Glacier as our backdrop. We felt as though we had this park entirely to ourselves as we saw no other people the entire day we were threre. After lunch, we connected with the Saddle Trail that led us to a protected cove where our water taxi picked us back up to travel back to Homer with a few lovable otters along the way. Kachemak Bay was amazing…from the moment our water taxi left, the quiet was overwhelming. Sitting on the beach of the lake with no one else in the world surrounded by mountains on all sides was magical.
Our other days in Homer, we visited a few other local spots. We loved 2 Sisters Bakery where we often grabbed breakfast and a few cookies.The Homer Brewing Company is definitely worth a visit. They have a low key brewery, cool t-shirts, and often have an oyster food truck just outside. Also, the Bear Creek Winery is a small winery with 2 main brands, Bear Creek and its sister wine, Glacier Bear. They both focus on Alaskan grown fruits to create unique blends involving fruits like rhubarb, strawberry, and blueberry. Tastings are offered from 12 to 6 most days and it was a delicious few hours. We also made a stop at the local theater for the annual Homer Documentary Film Festival where we saw the film The Great Alone about the Iditarod. The festival usually runs at the the end of September. Most nights though, we relaxed at the Kenai Peninsula Suites where they have a hot tub and a fire pit looking out onto the Kachemak Bay…not a bad way to end a day…and Homer wasn’t a bad place to wrap up our ambitious 2 weeks in Alaska. After hopping to a new destination every night or two, it was very relaxing to wind down and spend a final five days in Homer. They say that even if you see a million acres a day, you would still need over a year to see all of Alaska…so I guess we’ll have to plan a trip back!