Seventy miles southwest of the city of Kodiak on Kodiak Island and tucked away in the sheltered waters of Sitkalidak Strait is Old Harbor, a lively little port for commercial and sport fishing activity.
About Old Harbor (Sugpiaq: Nuniaq)
One of the most picturesque villages on Kodiak Island, the community of 200 residents is nestled on a narrow beach at the foot of a lush, green mountain while more dramatic peaks tower overhead to the northeast. Standing tall in the center of Old Harbor is Three Saints Russian Orthodox Church, the link to its rich past and the hub of community activity today. Three Saints Bay became the first Russian colony in Alaska but within four years a tsunami destroyed the settlement. Two more earthquakes struck before 1792 and the following year, Alexander Baranov moved the trading post northeast to St. Paul Harbor, now known as Kodiak. A settlement was reestablished at Three Saints Harbor in 1884 and the Old Harbor post office was opened in 1931.
The Alutiiq people had already lived in the area for more than 7,000 years when the Russians first landed on Kodiak Island in 1763. The abundance of sea otters attracted the attention of Siberian fur trader Grigorii Shelikhov, arrived in nearby Three Saints Bay in 1784 with 192 men and a cache of muskets and cannons. Shelikov’s attempts to “subdue” the indigenous people resulted in a bloodbath in which more than 500 Alutiiq were massacred and an equal number drowned in an effort to escape.
Things to do
Old Harbor is home to both fishing lodges and charter boat operators who target king salmon in May and silver salmon in September, often producing the winning fish in local salmon derbies. Charter captains often offer custom hunting, kayaking and wildlife adventures as well. The area is an excellent destination for viewing large sea mammal haul-outs and the archipelago's largest puffin colony, located on nearby Flat Island.
Old Harbor is home to charter boat operators who target king salmon in May and silver salmon in September and often help their clients catch the winning fish in local salmon derbies.
Old Harbor is home to several fishing lodges that offer fly-in packages that include lodging, meals and charter fishing adventures or other activities such as bear viewing.
The largest puffin colony in the Kodiak Archipelago is located on Flat Island near Old Harbor. Lodges in the community can arrange birding trips to the island with charter boat captions.
Three Saints Russian Orthodox Church
The crowning jewel of Old Harbor - and the hub of community activity - is the historic Three Saints Russian Orthodox Church that first established by the Russian priest in 1795. When the church survived Old Harbor the tsunamis that followed the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake, locals viewed it as a miracle considering the entire surrounding town site had washed away.
A favorite activity for visitors to Old Harbor is whale watching. Charter captains offer custom wildlife adventures that include watch watching as well as viewing other marine wildlife as the area is home to sea mammal haul-outs.