The route from Anchorage to Homer along the Kenai Peninsula takes about 5-6 hours, but there are plenty of reasons to break up the drive by stopping at scenic spots along the way. That's what Andi and I did anyway, and it proved a great way to get the most from our travels. We ventured from Anchorage to Soldotna, then further on to Homer in the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula.
We stopped to stretch our legs at a wayside rest stop in Old Ninilchik Village, a tiny town with deep Russian heritage. Further down the highway, we stopped once more at a roadside pullout to take in the view of the Cook Inlet overlooking the town of Homer. The view was absolutely breathtaking!
This view may not look like much due to the cloudy gray skies, but believe me -- standing there in that moment, taking in the sweeping view of the town below us, left Andi and I awe-struck. The sheer greatness of Alaska -- it's mountains, lakes, streams and ocean views -- were unlike anything we'd seen before.
The first thing Andi and I did when we arrived in Homer was stop by the local farmer's market. We're suckers for the local flavor of a good farmer's market anyway, and this one looked promising. And, boy, was it! What an awesome representation of what this town had to offer. The market was chocked full of vendors selling fresh produce, meats and other sundries. Andi and I did a quick hot-lap around the market, then he purchased some seafood chowder while I made my way to a stand selling the fanciest homemade soaps I'd ever seen. I thought they'd be the perfect "thank you" to give Janie for watching our kiddos.
Andi and I had lunch at Fresh Sourdough Express, a local sustainable restaurant that specializes in fresh breads and pastries. Andi wasn't too hungry after his bowl of seafood chowder at the farmer's market, so he ordered another cup of soup and I had the pesto salmon fillet burger. The food was delicious and our service - excellent.
After lunch, we met up with our friends Kristina and Alex who'd ventured down to Homer from their home in Eagle River. Kristina and Alex planned to camp on the beach of the infamous Homer Spit, but first we all had dinner reservations at The Saltry restaurant that evening. Before dinner, we strolled along the boardwalk of the Homer Spit and stopped in for a drink at The Salty Dog Saloon. Then, we hopped on board the Danny J ferry and set sail for Halibut Cove.
It's a good thing we brought rain gear on this trip because, once again, we needed it on the ferry ride. The light rain made for a mystical view of Halibut Cove as we approached the small island community.
Halibut Cove was once a small fishing village, and is now home to many artists and businesses throughout the summer months. The only transportation is by boat or on foot (no cars or roadways on the island); community members sort of "figure things out" together to make living on the island feasible.
All four of us were in awe as we approached the small wooden dock in Halibut Cove. This place was exactly as I'd imagined Alaska in my dreams -- a lighthouse welcoming our arrival; quaint colorful residences build into the side of the mountains; the calm waters of the Kachemack Bay before us. We all glanced at each other more than once and said something like, "Is this real life?!" It was amazing!
We had dinner reservations at The Saltry for 6:00pm (pro tip: if you go, be sure to make reservations ahead of time; they book up fast!) so we walked up the steep ramp from the dock to the restaurant. Our server seated us below the edge of the covered awning, so we were able to enjoy the breathtaking views without getting wet from the lightly falling rain.
Andi ordered the combination seafood platter for our table to share. For dinner, Kristina and Alex ordered the Octopus and the Pork dishes and Andi and I split the Halibut. It was all delicious!
The Danny J ferry was scheduled to depart Halibut Cove at 9:00pm, so we had some time after dinner to check out the island. We walked along the inner-connected boardwalk for an hour or so, just taking in the sights.
Halibut Cove is definitely a must-see when visiting the Kenai Peninsula. I can't wait to return one day. Next time, Andi and I have already decided we'll say on the island in one of the few rental properties available there. How cool would that be?!