Two brown bears sit in the grass at the edge of the water.

Kodiak brown bears. Photo © Shelly Lawson/USFWS, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Alaska’s “Emerald Isle,” Kodiak Island is a world unto itself. Located 250 air miles southwest of Anchorage, the island is best known for its enormous brown bears, but also features everything from gourmet restaurants to missile launches. Visitors typically fly into Kodiak from Anchorage, but a more scenic route is via the state ferry from Homer, which passes around the remote Barren Islands.

Kodiak Sights

Start with the Baranov Museum, in town, with its remarkable gift shop selling fine Russian china and nesting dolls, followed by the old Russian Orthodox Church, the Alutiiq Museum, and the recently opened Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center. When the weather cooperates (or if you’ve got good rain gear), a hike up Pyramid Peak provides fine views.

For adventure outside of town, rent a car to explore the many miles of backcountry roads spanning out from Kodiak. Chiniak Highway heads south of town to Pasagshak Bay (good salmon fishing), past a rocket launch complex and grazing bison to Fossil Beach with its fossilized shells and sandy shoreline.

Be sure to see the Kodiak brown bears for which the island is so famous. Local air taxis offer half-day floatplane trips (around $550) to salmon streams on Kodiak or to the coast of Katmai National Park.

Accommodations and Food

If you have the time (and cash), book one of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge cabins for a few nights. Access is by float-plane, and you’ll be entirely on your own, so come prepared for a true wilderness experience. Budget travelers may opt to camp at Fort Abercrombie State Park, a great place to hike in the moss-draped rainforest or to explore rocky shoreline for nesting puffins. For a relaxing dining experience in a beautiful setting, hop on-board a Galley Gourmet dinner and wildlife cruise. If you’re staying on land, don’t miss the fresh sushi The Old Power House Restaurant.

Excerpted from the Tenth Edition of Moon Alaska.

Map of Vicinity of Kodiak, Alaska

Vicinity of Kodiak