To say I was under prepared for the beauty that is Kodiak, Alaska is an understatement. Though I only got to see a relatively small portion of the Island, I was in awe of the natural beauty, quiet softness of seclusion and the palpable energy emanating from the untouched land.
Kodiak is breathtaking and expansive. It is the second largest island in the US (second only to the Big Island in Hawaii). The deep emerald green of the mountains, the thick dense forests and the deep sapphire blue water surrounding the archipelago was almost too much to take in.
We rented a car in advance, (the airport is VERY small so I highly recommend doing this in advance to ensure availability), and headed to our Airbnb which was located in the neighborhood of Bells Flats. (Click here for the link to book).
A few photos at our AirBnb
Our Airbnb host was wonderful, super friendly and our spot was ultra - cozy and plush and had a great view overlooking the neighborhood, great for the rainy Kodiak evenings.
Bells Flats is an adorable little neighborhood that is a little off the beaten path (about twenty to twenty-five minutes outside of the town center). We chose this spot for the quiet solitude, while still maintaining a relative close proximity to town, (which is helpful for seafood/grocery trips) and WI-FI connectivity. Our first night, we just loaded up on groceries and some fresh seafood which we got at Kodiak Fresh Seafood. Super fresh, locally fished, and the staff was very friendly and helpful.
Kodiak is largely undeveloped. In fact, two third of the Island (about 1.9 million acres) is dedicated to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is home to many species of animal but perhaps the most widely known is the Kodiak Grizzly Bear. These bears are roughly 300-500 lbs larger than other Grizzly Bears found on the mainland of Alaska and other parts of the United States. Kodiak is home to roughly 3,500 Kodiak Grizzly Bears. Though the locals say that these grizzlies are much more docile than their mainland cousins, I highly recommend traveling with bear spray if you are doing ANY hiking on the Island. TSA wont allow you to travel with it, but there are plenty of supply stores on the Island where you can purchase some.
In terms of hiking your options are almost limitless. There are trails everywhere and since there are only two major roads in the developed part of the Island, they are very easy to find and well-marked. Here are the few hikes that we took during our stay.
This historical State Park is certainly worth a visit. It contains 182 acres of land and many well groomed and heavily trafficked trails with tons of parking and picnic tables, making it great for larger groups or families with small children. During our hike, we saw bald eagles, foxes and at the end of one trail, at Miller Point which overlooks the ocean, we even spotted a couple of whales playing in the waves. Also, if youre a history-buff you’ll enjoy the various cannons and bunkers still remaining from the Park’s time as a functioning military fort during WWII.
Sadly, we started this trail too late in the day to finish the loop completely but the views from our brief expedition were breathtaking. The hike is pretty vertical so I can only recommend it if you are an experienced hiker and it likely wont be suitable for most children. The trailhead is clearly marked by a sign and there is plenty of parking below at the entrance. The hike itself is wide open, not much brush or forest cover so don’t forget your sunscreen!
Gorgeous hike, but not for the faint of heart. You’ll be trekking through dense forest and the hike is relatively steep at the beginning. Don’t forget your bear spray, play loud music and talk loudly when you’re on the trail to avoid accidentally sneaking up on and startling any bears on your journey.
Three Pillar Point
Gorgeous dense forest. This trail can accommodate ATVs, so the pathway is wide enough for your to have clear visibility into where you are trekking. This trail is also relatively muddy but the grating laid down for the ATVs does help with that. I'd recommend boots for this one.
This dark sand beach is heavily pocked with bleached white driftwood which is a stunning color combination. We didn’t go at low tide so we didn’t get to see any of the fossils the beach is known for, but apparently they are visible in the cliffs when the tide is low.
On our way out there we saw some friendly bison, and by some I mean A LOT.
White Sands Beach
This one was my favorite. The mountain backdrop in the background is stunning and the lush green forest seems to just dive right into the blue of the ocean. It’s a lot to take in. There are fire pits and picnic tables and plenty of parking. A great place to spend the day or a sunny Kodiak evening.
Mill Bay Beach
Another stunning beach/ vista point that I stumbled upon during a morning run. This had a great view of Mill Bay and steps that lead down to the shore.
Below are some snaps from various beaches we happened upon during our drive around the Island. I pulled over at least 20 times to take pictures.
Truly stunning beauty at every turn.
There are very few restaurants on the Island, and the selection is mostly limited to pizza and pub fare. However, with some of the best seafood found anywhere in the world, its not a bad place to let your inner chef shine.
Here are some recommended stops during your stay:
What to Pack
The weather in Kodiak varies greatly from day to day. I would recommend packing a warm pair of hiking boots (even in the summer) a waterproof jacket (it rains A LOT) and bug spray (the mosquitoes were intense in some places) and always dress in layers.
Also, something to mention, in the summer the sun doesn’t set until close to 11:30 PM so make sure wherever you’re staying has blackout curtains, or pack a sleep mask just to be safe.
If you’re craving wild natural beauty and seclusion, Kodiak is a great place to get both. It is also one of the largest fishing ports in the county, so if you’re into that, make sure to charter a fishing trip while you’re there. The king crab and salmon do NOT disappoint.
Happy Exploring xo