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Bear spotting in Homer

Bear spotting in Homer

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At the end of the Sterling Highway on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska lies Homer. Approximately 5000 people live here, a fairly substantial size for a place in Alaska. Homer is known for its milder climate and beautiful seaside location, attracting a number of artists and retirees. The town is comprised of different areas that are enjoyable to explore, such as the small old town center. The liveliness with shops, restaurants, and tour operators can be found in another part of the city: the Spit. There are plenty of activities to do from this eight-kilometer-long sea spit, but choices must be made as the surroundings have much to offer!


Halibut capital of the world

Homer originated in the 17th century due to the presence of natural resources such as coal and the abundant availability of fish. Halibut fishing is a top attraction here. Especially during the weekends, tourists from Anchorage come for this national sport.

This takes place from the Spit, where large plastic halibut fish catch the eye. This narrow sea protrusion has developed into a tourist area with a view of Kachemak Bay State Park. The Spit also features several harbors, camper parks, and a few hotels. It gets busy during the day, but calm returns in the evening. It serves as the starting point for a visit to Kodiak Island or Kachemak Bay State Park. There is plenty to explore in this place and its surroundings!


Attractions and day trips from Homer

Weather is a determining factor when planning activities. If the sun is shining and there is not too much wind, the sea is a good starting point. In less ideal conditions, the surrounding area is great for hiking. The various museums are a good optionin bad weather. In short, there are options for every type of weather.

Taking the ferry to the picturesque Seldovia

On our first day here, the weather is beautiful. We opt for a boat trip with the ferry to Seldovia. It is a 45-minute journey over the sea to a beautiful village on the peninsula. It is not possible to drive to Seldovia by car. We hope to spot some whales on the way, although the beginning of September is not an ideal time for this. We only meet the first sea creatures in the harbor of Seldovia. They are two otters peacefully floating on their backs, completely ignoring everything and everyone. The village has colorful houses standing on stilts above the water. This is due to the significant tidal difference in the area, creating a beautiful picturesque scene.


Two fellow passengers on the boat suggest taking the Otterbahn Trail. We take their advice and embark on this walk. Suddenly, halfway through the walk, we come face to face with a black bear for the first time. We startle a bit and take a step back, even though we realize that the bear is actually trying to hide from us. With two hikers following behind us, we determine the strategy. After clapping our hands and shouting, the bear disappears, and we continue our journey. We arrive at a beautiful bay by the sea and walk back to Seldovia via the road. It’s a great place to have lunch with a view of the sea.

On the return journey by sea, we enjoy the view of Kachemak Bay State Park. We share our bear encounter experience with the same fellow passengers we met on the way there. They find it quite entertaining and conclude, “and you’re still alive!”


Spotting wildlife

We visit several kiosks in the harbor to see if there are any offers for a plane trip to Kodiak. This is the place to observe bears in their natural habitat. Bear spotting is fun, but it’s also expensive. The standard price for such an excursion is around $1300 per person. At the end of the season, we are able to join this trip for $1000 per person. It turns out that on a quiet day, you can negotiate at the sales points. This allows us to save $300 per person. There are several excursions available for bear spotting, ranging from half a day to a full day. The different sales points display stunning images of bears fishing for salmon. However, we choose to forgo this experience for now and opt to explore the surroundings of Homer on foot.

Our next bear experience occurs at night when the dog at our B&B barks vigorously. We hear some commotion outside by the garbage cans and find them overturned the next morning. This is the work of bears searching for food around houses. The next morning, we also see large pieces of meat hanging on the neighbor’s porch. The hunt has yielded an elk that night.

Game meat

Hiking in Homer and surroundings

In the vicinity of Homer, you can enjoy great walks. We start our journey at the short Reber Trail (Reber Road) and then walk to Bishop Beach Park. From a wooded area, you walk towards the coast, an area with a large tidal difference. Part of the route goes along the beach. At Bishop Beach Park, besides a wide view, you can also find some art objects. A round like this can be nicely combined with a visit to the downtown area. By the way, our attempt to have a cup of coffee here strangely fails everywhere. Closed on Tuesdays, not yet open, or busy with other matters.

The surroundings of Homer are hilly and offer many other hiking opportunities. This is also the case from our B&B in the higher part of Homer. The nature here shows a lot of variation, and you mostly have a beautiful view of the sea. Here too, there are plenty of chances to see moose and bears during your hike.

More information about walking in Homer or its surroundings.

Rental car

Pratt Museum: a mix of art and history

This small-scale museum showcases the history of Kachemak Bay and Homer. It is nicely arranged and provides a lot of information about the history and fishing in this place. Understandably, as fishing is important for Homer, not only for halibut but also for salmon and crab.

You will also see a temporary exhibition, art related to the surroundings. All in all, it’s a nice and interesting museum. But after an hour, you’ve seen it all. The other museums in Homer focus more on the flora or fauna in this area.

Pratt Museum

Food market

On Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings, there is a food market with local products. This is announced on signs just before entering the Spit and in brochures for tourists. We visited this market on Wednesday afternoon. In early September, the number of occupied stands is limited. You can see some fresh vegetables or some form of homemade crafts. At this time, the market seems to have passed its peak. There may be more activity earlier in the season. There is a sign at the entrance to the market that reads, “Carrying weapons is prohibited in this place.” Just so you know.

Food market

General impression of Homer

For many road trips, Homer is the final destination. A last place to get to know the nature and culture of Alaska. A good place to let the travel experiences sink in, as our experience shows. Thanks to the pleasant climate and beautiful surroundings, it’s a great place to stay. Additionally, there are several good restaurants and many opportunities for excursions or walks. Feel free to plan a few extra days to spend here and enjoy everything that Homer has to offer.

glass of wine

Answers to practical questions about visiting Homer

Where is Homer located?

Homer is located at the end of the Sterling Highway, making it the southernmost place on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska that is accessible by road.

How is the best way to reach Homer?

The most common way is by car, via the Sterling Highway. There are also buses from Anchorage, Soldotna, Kenai, and Seward.


Homer has a small plane airport and a seaplane landing spot, making it easily accessible via domestic flights. Lastly, Homer has a port, and ferries operate from Homer to places in the surrounding area.

What are activities that you should do in Homer?

From Homer, you can book various excursions. The agencies where you can do this are mainly located on the Spit. The most popular excursions go to Kodiak (bear spotting) or Kachumak Bay State Park.


Seldovia is a picturesque place accessible by ferry (or by plane). Here, you can enjoy beautiful walks.


Homer itself has the Pratt Museum: a small but informative museum about the history of Homer.


If you enjoy fishing, Homer is also the place to fish for halibut.

Where are the good places to stay in Homer?

We stayed at the Cozy Cove Inn. A lovely and spacious apartment with its own entrance, cooking facilities, and a beautiful view. All amenities are well taken care of, and a friendly hostess. We found this to be the most beautiful location during our stay in Alaska. It is located 10 minutes outside the village, but the location makes up for it. You can take several walks from the accommodation (bear spray is available), and from the window, we regularly saw moose passing by. Good value for money.


Other accommodation suggestions in Homer.

Where can you eat well in Homer?

Homer has several good restaurants:

  • Captain Patties Fish House. You can find this popular seafood restaurant on the Spit. We had a great seafood meal here. It's advisable to make a reservation as it tends to be busy.
  • Two Sisters Bakery is a nice place for lunch. Please note the opening hours as they are only open from Wednesday to Saturday.
  • For meat dishes, you can go to AJ's Oldtown Steakhouse.

These are according to connoisseurs the best restaurants in Homer.

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