In this part of Alaska, heading south by road will eventually take you to only one place—the city of Homer, literally the end of the road.
Nestled among rolling hills overlooking Kachemak Bay, Homer offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains, glaciers and bay, as well as serving as the gateway to a world of outdoor adventure. Often described as the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World, Homer is a captivating little town with something to offer for everyone—from families to diehard outdoors enthusiasts alike. It might be the last place a road-bound angler can end up, but it should be the first place we think of when planning our next trip.
Homer is located at the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula. It can be reached from Anchorage by a 4 ½-hour scenic drive or a short 30-minute flight. With the breadth of activities on offer, the sights to see and excursions to enjoy, plan to stay at least a week to fully experience Homer.
Some of the most popular activities are hiking, fishing and bear-viewing, but don’t miss out on sea kayaking, paddle-boarding, bird-watching, cycling, kite surfing and whale-watching. And for those down-days recuperating, there is shopping, a winery, brewery, art galleries and museums. The outdoor activities may be plentiful, but Homer also has renowned restaurants and is known as a “foodie” town. You can shop at an outdoor Farmers’ Market, dine at organic bakeries and lunch spots, enjoy fresh seafood and sushi and sample the range of local cuisine. There is no other small town in Alaska with the number of top restaurants open year-round. In the evening, relax at one of the many B&Bs, hotels and log cabins open all year.
While in or around Homer you could see moose grazing, a black bear crossing the road, puffins, seabirds, soaring eagles, sea otters, porpoises, killer whales, porcupine, harbor seals, beluga whales and more. A simple drive on any of Homer’s back roads or a morning boat tour on the bay will make wildlife viewing easy and enjoyable.
For the real adventurous members of your group, Homer has several air charters that will fly you over the Harding Ice Field and Pacific Ring of Fire volcanoes, or drop you off at a wilderness cabin on a secluded lake where you can fish for trout, char and other species. Another highlight is a chance to kayak in the pristine coves along Kachemak Bay. Experience the diverse landscape of fjords, forest, islands, lagoons, jagged mountains and unspoiled wild coastline. Or take a water-taxi from the Homer Spit across the bay to Grewingk Lake Trailhead and then hike to a glacier lake or take your stand-up paddle-board out among icebergs. Homer also offers guided fly-out bear viewing trips to Katmai National Park from June through late September for up-close-and-personal time with Alaska’s famous bruins.
Across the bay, Kachemak Bay State Park offers over 30 miles of trail and 375,000 acres of wilderness, provides excellent backcountry hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, lake- and stream fishing, and cabin rentals. Visit scenic Halibut Cove, a remote fishing and artist’s village where the streets are paved with water. And don’t miss Seldovia, where berry-picking, hiking, kayaking and mountain biking are just a few of the activities in the town known as “The City of Secluded Charm.”
Fishing, however, is truly the highlight of this bountiful region, and Homer is known across the planet for its world-class halibut and salmon fishing. Saltwater anglers can fish at the Fishing Lagoon right on the Homer Spit, a long, narrow finger of land jutting four and a half miles into Kachemak Bay, or they can choose from a large variety of half-day, full-day and extended fishing charters, all of which begin at the Homer small-boat harbor on the Spit.
The harbor is home to over 700 year-round charter and commercial-boat operators—a number that grows to over 1,500 in the summer months. With everything to see and do in and around Homer, and with the amount of infrastructure available for boaters, Homer serves as an excellent port of call and a growing number of Alaskans are choosing to store their boats here year-round, having quick access to the thriving fisheries of Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet.
Anglers enjoying the marine environment out of Homer can do well for salmon and sea-run Dolly Varden by fishing in or near the stream mouths just about anywhere in the bay. These clear-green waters are home to both natural and enhanced runs of salmon, as well as a rich assemblage of shellfish and bottomfish. Halibut, rockfish and lingcod anglers can target the shoals and reefs found in deeper water. Similarly, the majority of Chinook anglers target mature, stream-bound kings in the outer bay from about mid-May through early June, while trollers in search of the smaller, ‘feeder’ kings can have productive days year-round (every March, there is a winter king salmon derby held in Homer that attracts anglers from around the state).
However, in Homer, halibut is king, and one of the largest charter fleets in Alaska operates out of the port bound for more remote areas of the bay and lower Cook Inlet. Kachemak Bay is ideal for small craft as well as larger sport-fishing vessels, and it’s typically only a short run from the boat-launch facilities at Homer Harbor to the south side, where the majority of the good angling takes place. From year-round king fishing, which peaks in June and July, to silvers, lingcod and rockfish and the ever-present halibut, it’s more than worth a few days of any excursion to dock at the end of the road.