As a matter of fact, you cannot drive to Seldovia – they are “off the road system” and can only be reached by water or air. Once there, however, there are cars, trucks, and the oh-so-popular quad runner. Seldovia is small and we walked it.
Seldovia Bay Ferry
We chose the Seldovia Bay Ferry, rather than a tour boat, which gave us more time to wander around Seldovia. This ferry, at 83-feet, was a little smaller that the glacier tour boats we road in Portage or Seward, but we could still go out on the top deck to experience the trip over.
The trip through Kachemak Bay took about 1 hour, 15 minutes and included a pre-recorded narration for tourists, supplemented by the ship’s captain commentary about places we were seeing and weather conditions we were experiencing (more on that later). They also had a couple of flat-screen monitors displaying our GPS location, speed, and headings that we could follow along with.
The left screen shows our location as we passed Gull Island. The right screen shows us heading into the port behind the breakwater barriers.
Passing the Gull Island Seabird Rookery
According to the Alaska Fish and Game Department, as many as 20,000 seabirds build nests in the craggy rock faces and cliffs of Gull Island, on the south side of Kachemak Bay, about three miles from the Homer Spit.
You can watch the rookery action from a mountaintop live camera by visiting the Pratt Museum website.
Marine Scenic Byway
Like much of Alaska, the shoreline around Seldovia was devastated by the 1964 Good Friday earthquake. The local visitor center museum showed historical photos of how the locals would use the shore to move about during low tide and use boardwalks during high tides. After the earthquake, the boardwalks were no more and the businesses and homes were pretty much destroyed. The locals voted to accept government restoration grants and they literally tore down and burned what was left and started over. Today, there are new marinas, some small stores and a few eateries that make up the “new” town of Seldovia.
We walked a couple of streets and discovered the unique homes and shops belonging to the folks that call Seldovia “home'”.
Unfortunately, the Main Street Market that offered “Elder Parking” was out of business. The church is a reminder of the Russian influence in this part of Alaska.
Chainsaw Art Competition
Each Memorial Day Weekend, Seldovia hosts a Craft Invitational Chainsaw Carving Competition and the winning entries are displayed all around town.
Luke had to try out this bench.
Lunch in Town
We had been told not to expect much in the way of restaurants, but we actually had a delicious lunch overlooking the pier at the Tide Pool Cafe. We ate indoors and each table had unique shell displays beneath the glass table tops.
Afternoon on the Trail
After lunch we cinched up our shoe laces and headed for the Otter-Bahn Trail that climbed up over a couple of hills and took us to the isolated Outside Beach. Locals have been upgrading this “rustic” route and have included a few boardwalks across lagoons and signage reminding us we were sharing the trail with the local wildlife (we did not see any on this hike). As mentioned in a previous blog, we are strollers, and not hikers, so the trail had our pulse rates going up a few times.
The destination was worthwhile!
Returning to Homer
The winds picked up considerably while we were ashore and when we boarded the ferry at 4:30 p.m. the Captain suggested we might want to sit inside the cabin and reminded us to use all the available handrails if we needed to move about on the trip home. A “small craft wind warning” was in effect and we would be encountering 25 mph winds as we crossed back across Kachemak Bay. The whitecaps on the water in front of the Outside Beach we had visited during our hike gave us a clue as to what was ahead. A few brave souls sat on the aft deck and got pretty wet from the spray. We chose to stay warm and dry inside. While we had a few rough waves, we actually had a tail wind the kept the catamaran skimming the tops of the waves. We obviously arrived back in Homer safely.
Not a bad way to spend a day touring yet another unique part of Alaska.
NEXT: Kenai, Salmon, and Fish Camp