If you’ve heard of Homer, Alaska, then you likely know it’s a famous fishing destination. As a matter of fact, Homer is the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World, but people flock there to catch other varieties too, including salmon, rockfish, and lingcod.
“The end of the road,” or the Homer Spit, also attracts visitors. A 4.5-mile-long strip of land that extends from the mainland into Kachemak Bay, it serves as a boat harbor for commercial and charter fishing and tour boats and is lined by campgrounds, seafood eateries, art galleries, and beaches.
We had the privilege of spending a week and a half at Mariner Park on the spit, not far from the mainland, parked about 50 yards from Cook Inlet at high tide. Although in close proximity to our neighbors on either side, the setup didn’t feel tight, thanks to the expansive body of water in our backyard.
Greeting us with beautiful views out our rear window every morning, the shore beckoned us to it. We took daily walks on the beach to hunt for special rocks and seashells, navigate across streams without getting wet, and survey our surroundings.
One day, we got brave enough to take off our shoes and wade through the streams and into the surf. The water temperature didn’t feel too bad. Before long, though, my ankles ached from the cold. Another day, we spotted a bald eagle on our walk that let us get pretty close to it.
History of Homer
Inuit Eskimos and later Tanaina Indians settled in the Homer area, likely drawn to its many resources. In the late 1800s, Homer Pennock convinced others to follow him there for the promise of gold. Within a year, the hope of finding any gold there vanished, as did Pennock, but his name and reputation as a conman remained.
Homer officially became a city in 1964, just in time for it to receive federal relief funds after enduring a 9.2-magnitude earthquake five days later. Hitting at low tide, the quake spared the Homer Spit, but the strip dropped nearly 6 feet. The area sustained flooding, toppled chimneys, and broken windows.
The town’s most famous building, the Salty Dawg Saloon, was among those flooded. Built in 1897, the former cabin was moved to the spit in the late 1940s, where it’s been a staple ever since. Although it’s fully operational today, we didn’t go inside to see what all the hype is about, but we did hear people rave about the place.
Things to Do in Homer, Alaska
Despite the city’s small size (25.5 square miles), it offers many activities: fishing charters, ferry rides to Kodiak and other destinations, float plane rides for bear and whale watching, shopping, rock and shell collecting, kite flying and surfing, wildlife tours, and bike rentals.
We looked into taking a fishing charter but found it a bit pricey and difficult to fit in around my work schedule. Plus, we didn’t know what we’d do with 70 pounds of fresh fish. Opting for the next best thing, we purchased some locally caught halibut at a seafood shop on the spit. Bob made a delectable meal, and we didn’t feel like we missed out.
The adventure bug and the desire to see whales led us to Rainbow Tours, where we booked a trip to Seldovia for a chance to view aquatic birds and wildlife along the way. Although we didn’t spot any whales, we did observe sea otters, puffins (from a distance), bald eagles, and myriad other birds, including cormorants.
After the boat docked in the small town of Seldovia, passengers disembarked for 2.5 hours of fun on their own. We ate lunch and wandered around town before finding our way to the Otterbahn Trail, a hiking path that took us through the woods and over a boardwalk to Outside Beach. From there, we navigated to a road and took that back into town, stopping briefly at a cemetery where numerous Russian settlers are buried.
The return boat trip didn’t uncover any whales, but it did reveal more sea otters and a sea lion. The morning fog had cleared, and we relished the ride at the bow of the boat, outside the cabin.
For another excursion, we set out with Gulliver down East End Road after getting a tip from my cousin. The route meandered out of town and toward the bay, offering spectacular views of two glaciers. Pavement gave way to dirt, and the road got sketchy. We followed it down a tree-lined path.
Right before a curve to descend further, we got out and snapped some pictures. That was the end of the road for us. We wanted to make sure Gulliver could get back to the spit.
We had planned to spend only one week in Homer, but the peacefulness of the water and waves and the laid-back atmosphere encouraged us to linger, enjoying a fraction of the 6,640 miles of Alaska coastline.
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This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.