Just 15 miles across Kachemak Bay from Homer but in a world of its own is Seldovia, a small coastal community oozing with old-Alaska charm.
Locals call their town the “City of Secluded Charm,” and it’s hard to argue with them. Set among a maze of peninsulas, straits and lakes, the isolated community of 284 residents has managed to retain much of its character. It is an enjoyable escape, whether you stay a week or just a day.
Originally inhabited by Russians seeking sea otter pelts and timber to repair ships, Seldovia became an important shipping and supply center for the region. Salmon and herring runs supported several canneries by the 1920s. After the Sterling Highway was completed to Homer in the 1950s, Seldovia’s population and importance as a supply center began to dwindle, but it was the 1964 Good Friday earthquake that caused the most rapid change in the community. The earthquake caused the land beneath Seldovia to settle four feet, forcing residents to rebuild much of their community on higher ground.
Things to do
Seldovia is amazingly compact – even the airport is only a half-mile walk from town. You can see most of it on foot in a relatively short period of time. Within a few blocks of the small boat harbor are shops, galleries, restaurants and a short stretch of the original boardwalk. Hike a block uphill and you arrive at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church perched idyllically on a knoll. The church is a national historic site and was built in 1891.
For a longer walk there’s the Otterbahn, a foot trail that heads 1.2 miles from town to Outside Beach, a beautiful spot with beachcombing and a spectacular view of Kachemak Bay. Along the way keep an eye out for blueberries. The wild berries grow so thick you can often rake your fingers through the bushes and fill a two-quart bucket in minutes. Low-bush cranberries and salmonberries are also abundant.
Seldovia's nearly carless streets and outlying gravel roads make for ideal mountain biking, which can be brought over from Homer or rented in town. The most popular ride is a leisurely pedal along the Jakolof Bay Road, which winds 10 miles along the coast towards the head of Jakolof Bay. Along the way there are panoramic views of Kachemak Bay, Kasitsna Bay and Jakolof Bay, while McDonald Spit is a favorite spot for seabirds and marine life. Eagles are also a common sight and occasionally sea otters. Watch for whales in the bay during spring and fall migrations. At low tide you can explore the sea life among the rocks and take in Mount Redoubt and Mount Iliamna across the bay.