The best Tourist Attractions in KodiaK, Alaska

The best Tourist Attractions in KodiaK, Alaska

The best Tourist Attractions in KodiaK, Alaska

You don’t exactly go through Kodiak Island (pop. 15,000) on your way to somewhere else. You’ve got to go there on purpose, and once you get there, you won’t see hordes of vacationers. This out-of-the-way quality is part of what we like about the island.

Tourism takes a back seat to the area’s main occupation, commercial fishing. Bounty from the sea has been the chief source of prosperity for the island since its earliest days as home to the indigenous Konings. When the first Russian traders arrived in the 1760s, they also used the island as a base for fishing, whaling and fur trading.

These days, the 700 locally-owned boats are joined by up to 2,000 vessels from the Lower 48 each summer. They provide a steady stream of salmon, halibut, herring, sablefish, cod and shellfish, keeping 13 canneries busy processing and shipping seafood around the world.

1. The best Attractions & Things to Do in KodiaK, Alaska

Good Friday Earthquake of 1964 in KodiaK, Alaska

As you stroll around town, you may notice several plaques that describe the devastation wreaked by the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964. The quake, which lasted five minutes, was followed by a huge wave that devastated the town. 

Mill Bay Road Good Friday Earthquake of 1964 in KodiaK, Alaska

Look for the plaque showing the high-water mark at the Kodiak Police Station, corner of Mill Bay Road and Thorsheim Street. (Another marker across the street shows the resting place of one of the large fishing boats tossed ashore.) Today, Kodiak shows little evidence of the disaster. Its healthy fishing economy continues to insulate the island from the boom-and-bust cycles of most other parts of the state.

Kodiak has several excellent museums KodiaK, Alaska

has several excellent museums, wonderful places to learn a bit about the area’s Native, Russian, and natural history. If the weather’s wet, a common situation, the museums provide a welcome respite.

Baranov Museum in KodiaK, Alaska

The Baranov Museum is housed in the oldest wooden building in North America (sea-otter pelts were stored there). The museum has a very impressive display of prehistoric artifacts, Russian icons and household items from the 1800s, as well as a World War II exhibit. Nearby on Mission Road is the Holy Resurrection Church (you can’t miss it—it’s blue and white with an onion dome). The parish dates from 1794. The church is open only for services (you’re welcome to attend), but it’s fascinating to walk among the Russian gravesites in the back.

famous Kodiak brown bears KodiaK, Alaska

Try to see the famous Kodiak brown bears, if you have time: It’s an experience you won’t soon forget. Most of the 3,000 bears reside in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, which covers about two-thirds of the island (about 1.8 million acres/729,000 hectares) and can be reached only by floatplane or boat.

famous Kodiak brown bears KodiaK, Alaska 2

The best way to see bears is to sign up for a tour. You could join a ship-sponsored trip or contact an operator yourself nearly every air charter service offers bear-viewing trips. Some operators run strictly flightseeing trips, while others will land when they find a good viewing spot. In addition to bears, you’re likely to see mountain goats, whales and streams full of fish when the salmon are running. You can also see old cannery sites and watch the salmon fleet at work (during season).

Buskin River State KodiaK, Alaska

If you’d rather explore nature on the ground, there are plenty of hiking trails in and around Kodiak, including those at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park and Buskin River State Recreation Site. Check with the visitors center about local trails a non-fee permit may be required to traverse trails that pass through private land.