A Local's Guide to Kodiak Island
Stacey Simmons is the director of operations at the Kodiak Brown Bear Center & Lodge, president of Discover Kodiak, and the senior director of shareholder services for Koniag, the Alaska Native regional corporation for the Kodiak region. She grew up in Old Harbor, a small commercial fishing village on Kodiak Island. A Sugpiaq/Alutiiq, Stacey holds a Bachelor of Arts in rural development from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her family has extensive experience in tourism starting with her father as a charter boat operator and her mother and stepfather running a photography safari company out of Katmai National Park & Preserve.
We love to share our rich history and culture with anyone who visits our little slice of paradise. Below are just some of my favorite things to share with travelers who come to visit Kodiak Island.
The Village of Old Harbor
Visits to Old Harbor are at the top of my list! I don’t like to play favorites, but this is my village. Nestled along the sheltered waters of Sitkalidak Strait, Old Harbor is on the southeast coast of Kodiak Island and is one of the most picturesque villages on Kodiak. Tall peaks serve as a dramatic backdrop for the city, which faces Sitkalidak Island. Old Harbor boasts having the only glacier on Kodiak Island and a historical Russian Orthodox Church. You can’t go wrong with any lodge you choose. Jeff Peterson with Kodiak Combos, Jennie and Gary Samson at the Sportsman’s Lodge, or stay with Ray and Stella Krumrey at the Expedition Kodiak/Mountain View Guest House.
Located in Settlers Cove, 19 air miles west of the city of Kodiak, the community of Port Lions is home to about 200 residents. A relatively young community, Port Lions was built to house the inhabitants of Afognak and Raspberry Island after their communities were wiped out by the tsunami accompanying the 1964 Good Friday earthquake. My mother is from Afognak and she and her family were raised in Port Lions after the tsunami.
Port Lions has a small village charm. One of my favorite places to go is the “Falls.” Located in walking distance from the center of town, the “Falls” is a lovely place to fish for sockeye salmon on a terminal run or if you are brave enough to take a dip! I would recommend Kodiak Paradise Lodge. Melvin Squartsoff and his daughter Sara are lifelong residents and will make you feel right at home. Enjoy the gorgeous view of Settler's Cove with a half-mile walking bridge (causeway) right next door. Aleut Dance Charters with Ivan Lukin and Nelson Alutiiq Charter with Abner Nelson are both great options for landing your next big catch!
Larsen Bay is a beautiful village that extends off Uyak Bay on the west coast of Kodiak Island. The first thing you will notice flying into Larsen Bay is the historical cannery built in 1889 by the Alaska Improvement Company. It is currently owned by Icicle Seafoods. Larsen Bay has some of the nicest people on the island. Check out the Larsen Bay Lodge for all your fishing or hunting needs. Mike and Tamaran Carlson are amazing hosts, and you will not only get some awesome fishing in, but eat like kings!
Take a hike
Kodiak has some of the most epic trails for day hikes. Whether you are a novice hiker or just want to go for a short walk, Kodiak caters to all. The Island Trails Network has done a phenomenal job taking care of our trails. Discover Kodiak even has a challenge that you and your whole family can sign up for call the Adjust your Altitude Challenge. You can sign up right at the visitors bureau. There are seven summits in the challenge, and when you complete all summits, you are eligible for prizes.
Downtown Kodiak at its best
The best part about downtown Kodiak is that many great cultural and historical places are within walking distance! I recommend visitors stop into the Alutiiq Museum. The Alutiiq Museum & Archaeological Repository Center is where visitors can explore 7,500 years of Alutiiq heritage. Another can’t-miss landmark is the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral, home to one of the oldest Orthodox Christian parishes in North America, established in 1794. It is just across the street from the Alutiiq Museum. It is also the home one of America's first canonized saints, Saint Herman of Alaska. People come from around the world to Kodiak each August to participate in the pilgrimage to Monk’s Lagoon on nearby Spruce Island where Saint Herman lived. Other awesome locations to visit downtown are the Kodiak History Museum and the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.
Stacey’s favorite things to eat in Kodiak
You guessed it! Food is one of my love languages. Stop by Henry’s in downtown Kodiak for fish and chips. The cod is the best. Hana Restaurant has fantastic sushi. They make custom rolls and cater to both large and small groups. Order the Coastie roll, it does not disappoint. Head out the road to Java Flats and try its life-changing Countryside sandwich…yum. Do not leave without a cookie! The Rendezvous offers not only occasional live music but the best clam chowder that will have you coming back for more. Noodles is the local source for Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. My favorite is the dumpling soup, but they have so many things to choose from and it is all authentic. Monk’s Rock is located at the Y in downtown Kodiak. They are known for their delicious breakfast burritos, pastries, and I would recommend the salmon splash and the butternut squash soup.
Kodiak Brown Bear Center & Lodge
The Kodiak Brown Bear Center & Lodge is located on the west coast of Kodiak Island on Karluk Lake and offers a true Alaska adventure: outstanding and intimate bear viewing opportunities in their natural habitat. The lodge is owned by the Alutiiq people, who have called Kodiak home for over 7,000 years. Most of the bear viewing locations are on privately owned land. The exclusivity is priceless. I always say come for the bears but stay for so much more. We are remote but offer all the comforts you need, including private cabins, Wi-Fi, banya (sauna), kayaking, and paddleboards. The chef is from the island and brings local flair to all her dishes. Love fly-fishing? October brings the best Steelhead fishing to Karluk River, and the Kodiak Brown Bear Center just started an epic fly-fishing program in partnership with FishHound LLC.
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