Location / Coordinates: Homer, Alaska is on the tip of the Kenai Peninsula, on the north shore of Kachemak Bay. The Homer Spit protrudes into the easterly side of the mouth of Cook Inlet. Coordinates: Latitude 59.64 & Longitude 151.55.
Population / Elevation: Roughly 4,000 people live in Homer, Alaska—the envy of many Alaskans. Homer rises steeply from sea level, on the Homer Spit, to the top of Lookout Mountain (aptly named) to about 1,200 feet.
Description: Driving south on the Sterling Highway, the road rounds the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula. During the summer season, Fireweed is in bloom—carpeting large meadows in a brilliant magenta. An overlook takes in Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay. Homer is just down the road. The scenery here is magnificent—Augustine Volcano is puffing to the southwest on the other side of Cook Inlet, whales are playing in Kachemak Bay, Bald Eagles are soaring overhead. It’s beautiful. Homer is in the middle of all of this.
Spread out over several miles, Homer hosts a number of artists, potters sculptors painters and jewelers and their galleries. Homer is bustling with art galleries, a nice visitor’s center, a theater, the Pratt Museum, a couple of eateries, lots of fishing charter places, shopping and businesses to book tours in and around Homer. The Homer Spit is like a long beach with shores on both sides of the spit. There is a lot of fishing and camping on the Homer Spit especially during the summer season. The Land’s End Resort, a great place to stay and to eat, is on the very end of the spit.
What to do there: Many people come to Homer to fish. Some of the best, if not THE best, Halibut fishing in the world is done in Homer. Every summer, the Annual Jackpot Halibut Derby, sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce, is held in Homer. To enter the derby, purchase a $10 ticket and start fishing! There are monthly prizes from First Place $1,000, Second Place $750, Third Place $500, Fourth Place $250, Fifth Place $125, to a $10,000 Released Fish Prize – awarded by a random drawing of all anglers releasing a fish weighing over 80 pounds. If you catch a fished that has been tagged you could win anywhere from $500 to $10,000. This is just a sampling of the many prizes awarded each summer. Everyone is welcome—this is a great way to spend time with kids too!
Homer is a jumping off spot to view bears. Just across the Kachemak Bay is Katmai National Park. Brooks Falls is one of the best places to view bears in the wild. July and September are the best times to go for bears—they’re catching salmon at these times.
History: Coal, not gold, is the reason Homer, Alaska exists today. First mined from seams along the north shore of Kachemak Bay by the Russians in the middle 1800s, coal was soon mined economically by American companies within the next decade. With coal mining came miners, and the town of Homer was established at the end of what is now called the Homer Spit. A little railroad, Alaska’s first railroad, carried coal from the underground mines to the end of the spit where a large wharf had been built to accommodate shipping.
Gold seekers arrived in Homer and headed to the goldfields of Hope and Sunrise, further north on the Kenai Peninsula. A prominent gold miner and goldmine promoter by the name of Homer Pennock arrived in the new establishment in the spring of 1896. Being a promoter, Pennock named the establishment after himself, Homer. He stayed in the area for about a year, then headed north to find his fortune in gold.
The company town on the Homer Spit ceased to be in the early 1900s, after the coal operations stopped. Homer’s few remaining residents moved inland and tried their hands at farming and fishing. A short distance across Kachemak Bay, Seldovia built a cannery for processing salmon. Fishing soon became an economic mainstay for the area. Homesteaders continued to arrive in Homer to farm and raise livestock.
In 1964, the Good Friday Earthquake claimed the waterfront and the wharf at Seldovia. Everything was rebuilt in Homer. The Homer Spit was reduced to about half of its width in the earthquake as well, but enough of it survived to become a popular destination for both the tourist and locals.
How to get there: Driving to Homer, Alaska is a very pleasant way to go from both Anchorage and Seward. The views of Cook Inlet and the volcanoes are spectacular. In the summer season, the brilliant magenta Fireweed is in full bloom and carpets the landscape. Take the Sterling highway south as far as it goes—it ends in Homer, Alaska.
The Homer Airport is attended and it has a terminal building. The asphalt runway is a little over 7,000 feet long. The Alaska State Ferry Terminal is located at the end of the Homer Spit, just across the parkinglot from the Land’s End Resort.
Facilities: Homer has a number of accommodations in which to stay—Inn’s, bread & breakfasts, motels, hotels, lodges, and cottages. It’s always a good idea to inspect your room before you commit if you can.
There are several new places to eat around town, Fat Olive’s is great for lunch, Land’s End Resort is good for breakfast and dinner.
RV info: There are quite a few RV parks in town with full hook-ups, laundry facilities, and other extras. They are right on or very close to the beach.