Population: 6,022 (city), 13,451 (Kodiak Island Borough)

The Kodiak Island Archipelago lies in the Gulf of Alaska, southwest of Cook Inlet and the Kenai Peninsula. The city of Kodiak is located near the northeastern tip of Kodiak Island, at the north end of Chiniak Bay. By air it is 55 minutes from Anchorage. By ferry from Homer it is 9 to 10 hours. 

Visitor Information

Kodiak visitor information is located at 100 E. Marine Way, Ste. 200, Kodiak, AK 99615. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday–Friday year-round. A very helpful place to stop: Knowledgeable staff will answer questions, help arrange tours and charters, and make sure you don’t miss anything on Kodiak Island. Free maps, brochures, and hunting/fishing information available here. Good view from visitor center of The Starr of Kodiak, a WWII Liberty ship now used as a cannery. Contact Discover Kodiak: phone 907-486-4782; email [email protected]; visit http://kodiak.org.

Kodiak Island, home of the oldest permanent European settlement in Alaska, is known as Alaska’s Emerald Island. It is the largest island in Alaska and the second largest island in the United States (after Hawaii), with an area of 3,588 square miles and about 87 miles of road. The Kodiak Island Borough includes some 200 islands, the largest being Kodiak (about 100 miles long), followed in size by Afognak, Sitkalidak, Sitkinak, Raspberry, Tugidak, Shuyak, Uganik, Chirikof, Marmot and Spruce islands.


Stephen Glotov, a Russian explorer, discovered the island in 1763. The name Kodiak, of which there are several variations, was first used in English by Captain Cook in 1778. It is derived from the Alutiiq word for island, qikertaq. Kodiak was Russian Alaska’s first capital city, until the capital was moved to Sitka in 1804.

Kodiak’s turbulent past includes natural disasters such as the 1912 eruption of Novarupta Volcano, on the nearby Alaska Peninsula, and tsunamis resulting from the 1964 earthquake. The Novarupta eruption covered northern parts of the archipelago with a black cloud of ash. When the cloud dissipated, Kodiak was buried under 18 inches of drifting ash.

On Good Friday in 1964, the greatest earthquake ever recorded in North America (8.6 on the Richter scale, Mw 9.2) shook the Kodiak area. The tsunami that followed virtually leveled downtown Kodiak, destroying the fishing fleet, processing plants, canneries and 158 homes. Giant waves also destroyed 3 Alutiiq villages.

Alaska completed a strategically important defense triangle with Panama and Hawaii across the Pacific Ocean, referred to as “Plan Orange” in a 1936 defense plan. Federal funds were allocated for military facilities on Kodiak, due to its ice-free harbor and milder climate. Construction of the Kodiak Naval Operating Base began in 1939. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, then Dutch Harbor in June 1942, prompted construction of coastal defense outposts by the army. Fort Abercrombie, now a state historical park and a national historic landmark, was one of the first secret radar installations in Alaska. Concrete bunkers still remain for exploration by the curious. The Coast Guard occupies the old Kodiak Naval Station.

Kodiak Coast Guard Station

Coast Guard Base Kodiak is the largest Coast Guard base in the country. It supports several tenant commands in Kodiak and remote units throughout western Alaska.

The base is home to Air Station Kodiak, which operates HC-130 Hercules airplanes, MH-60 Jayhawk and HH-65 Dolphin helicopters. Cutters that call Kodiak home are the 378-foot Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WHEC-724), 270-foot Cutter Alex Haley (WMEC-39) and the 225-foot Cutter SPAR(WLB-206). Cutters are designed as multi-mission platforms to carry out the Coast Guard’s many safety, security and stewardship roles, some of which include enforcing federal laws at sea, conducting search and rescue operations and protecting homeland security.

A 12-foot star, situated halfway up the side of Old Womans Mountain overlooking the base, was rebuilt and rededicated in 1981 in memory of military personnel who have lost their lives while engaged in operations from Kodiak. Originally erected in the 1950s, the star is lit every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Take the Near Island bridge to St. Herman’s Bay Harbor to catch a glimpse of Kodiak’s commercial fishing industry. (©Serine Reeves, staff)

St. Paul and St. Herman harbors are homeports to 800 local fishing boats and serve several hundred outside vessels each year. Commercial fishing is the backbone of Kodiak’s economy. Kodiak is one of the largest commercial fishing ports in the U.S. Some 1,000 commercial fishing vessels use the harbor each year, delivering salmon, shrimp, herring, halibut and whitefish, plus king, tanner and Dungeness crab to the 11 processing companies in Kodiak. Cannery tours are available with prescheduling. Kodiak’s famous seafood is pre-marketed, with almost all of the commercially caught seafood exported. Kodiak is also an important cargo port and transshipment center. Container ships stop in Kodiak twice every week.

Kodiak is internationally recognized for its efforts toward using 95 percent renewable energy. After surpassing the goal, Kodiak’s model has been implemented worldwide. Using hydroelectric generators, a 6.5 ton flywheel and 6 wind turbines, the system has allowed Kodiak to move away from the use of diesel fuel.

Lodging & Services

There are hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfast accommodations in the downtown area as well as near the airport. A variety of restaurants offer a range of menus and prices and the Kodiak Island Brewing Co. serves locally brewed beer. Shopping is readily available for gifts, general merchandise and sporting goods. There is a movie theater and 750-seat performing arts center.

Choose from more than 30 remote fly-in hunting and fishing lodges in the Kodiak area; roadhouses on the island road system; public-use cabins within Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Shuyak Island and Afognak Island state parks; and private wilderness camps and cabin rentals available throughout the Kodiak area.


There are 3 state campgrounds: Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park, north of town; Buskin River State Recreation Site, south of town, a good choice for big rigs; and Pasagshak River State Recreation Site. There is also Leave No Trace free camping along rivers, on beaches above high-tide line, and beside roads (be sure to park so that you do not interfere with traffic). Inquire locally about permits from the Leisnoi Native Corp. A dump station is located at the Petro-Express station on Mill Bay Road.


Air: Scheduled service to Kodiak via Alaska Airlines. On island, charter services offer flightseeing, bear viewing, fishing and hunting transport.

Ferry: The Alaska Marine Highway System serves Kodiak from Homer (9- to 10-hour ferry ride). Kodiak is also the port of departure for Aleutian Chain trips in summer. For additional details on the ferry system, see “Ferry Travel” in the TRAVEL PLANNING section, or contact AMHS: phone 1-800-642-0066; visit www.ferryalaska.com.

Cruise Ships: Cruiselines planning to make Kodiak a port of call in 2022 include Holland America, Regent Seven Seas, Silverseas and Viking Cruises.

Highways: There are 4 roads on Kodiak Island. The 11-mile Rezanof–Monashka Bay Road leads from downtown Kodiak north to Fort Abercrombie and Monashka Bay. Chiniak Highway leads 42.6 miles south from Kodiak along the island’s eastern shore to Chiniak Point. Pasagshak Bay Road branches off Chiniak Road and leads 16.4 miles to Fossil Beach at Pasagshak Point. Anton Larsen Bay Road branches off of Chiniak Highway at Milepost K 4.8 and leads 11.7 miles to Anton Larsen public dock.

Car Rental: Available at the airport and downtown.

Taxi: Kodiak City Cab, 907-486-5555.

Kodiak History Museum

The Kodiak History Museum, operated by the Kodiak Historical Society, is located at 101 E. Marine Way, Kodiak 99615. The building is the oldest in Alaska, built in 1805–1808 as a warehouse by the Russian American Company. It is the oldest Russian-built structure in the United States. Purchased by the Alaska Commercial Co. around 1867, it was sold to a prominent Kodiak businessman, W.J. Erskine, in 1911; the Erskine family lived there for more than 30 years. In 1962, it was declared a National Historic Landmark, and opened as a museum in 1967.

Many items from the Alutiiq, Russian and American eras are on display, in the 3 exhibit rooms, with an emphasis on the last 200 years of Kodiak’s history. In the gift shop, work by local artists and crafters and Russian art and handiwork, including nesting dolls, are for sale.

Admission $10 per adult, free for children 12 and under. Phone 907-486-5920.

Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge

Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, located at 402 Center St., is operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and features unique and detailed sculptures of Alaskan animals found in Kodiak, such as Kodiak brown bears. A very unique display of a fully articulated gray whale skeleton can also be seen there. Other exhibits depict salmon life-history, birds commonly found in Kodiak, and “A Bear’s Supermarket,” where you can learn about all of the wild foods that sustain Kodiak’s iconic brown bears. There are various hands-on interactive displays, a bookstore and gift shop operated by the non-profit Alaska Geographic, public talks and films about Kodiak’s wildlife and the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. For more information phone 907-487-2626.

Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository

The Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in downtown Kodiak interprets the history of Kodiak’s Native people. The museum houses and displays artifacts from archaeological sites around Kodiak Island as well as historic items, Native clothing and contemporary Alutiiq artwork. Visitors can watch short videos on Alutiiq traditions and try hands-on activities in a children’s corner and rotating exhibits. The museum store features local and Native-made artwork, jewelry and books. Located at 215 Mission Rd., First Floor. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday–Friday; noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission fees: $7 adult, children 16 and under free. Phone 1-844-425-8844; website: www.alutiiqmuseum.org; email: [email protected].

Alutiiq Ancestors’ Memorial

The Alutiiq Ancestors’ Memorial is a City park dedicated to honoring the Alutiiq people. The small, contemplative space includes seating around a memorial ring, interpretive signs that discuss Alutiiq history, and a beautiful view. This is a public park open to all visitors. It is located behind the Alutiiq Museum on the corner of Upper Mill Bay Road and Kashevaroff Drive.

Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Cathedral, a prominent landmark in downtown Kodiak, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (©Serine Reeves, staff)
Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Cathedral

Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Cathedral, at 410 Mission Rd., is a prominent landmark in downtown Kodiak and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The church was founded in 1794 but has burned down 3 times since then. The current structure dates back to the 1940s. The church interior provides a visual feast which visitors are encouraged to photograph. Phone 907-486-5532. Donations are appreciated. The All Saints of Alaska log chapel, a scale replica of the original Holy Resurrection church building, is located nearby on the grounds of St. Herman Theological Seminary on Mission Road.

Visit Kodiak’s Harbors

Kodiak offers a full range of dockage, boat yard and marine services for commercial fishing, cargo, passenger and recreational vessels. The City of Kodiak’s Harbor Department operates 2 marinas: St. Paul Harbor downtown and St. Herman Harbor on Near Island.

The 2 harbors provide protected moorage for 650 vessels up to 150 feet in length. Large vessels, including the state ferry, cruise ships and cargo vessels are moored at the 3 deep water piers. Call or visit the Harbormaster’s office for more information, phone 907-486-8080. Harbor staff may be reached 24 hours per day, 7 days per week on VHF channel 12 or 16. The office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday–Friday.

Kodiak Public Library

Kodiak Public Library at 612 Egan Way is a good spot to spend some time on a rainy day. The library has computers, internet access, magazines, newspapers and 70,000-plus books. Open Monday–Saturday; closed on Sunday. Phone 907-486-8686.

Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park

Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park is located north of Kodiak city on scenic Miller Point. WWII gun emplacements, concrete bunkers and building foundations are scattered along the high bluffs and in the forested area of the park. The park also offers picnicking, hiking trails and camping (primarily for tent campers) in a setting of lush rainforest, wildflowers, seabirds and eagles. In summer, look for the massive orange salmonberry (tastes like a raspberry). Whales and other marine wildlife are often seen from the overlooks and cliff side trails.

Kodiak Military History Museum

Make your first stop in the park the Kodiak Military History Museum, located inside the Ready Ammo bunker on the bluff by Miller Point. The museum features displays of WWII memorabilia, including relics from the Aleutian campaign. The bunker that houses the museum has a roof that is 5 feet of steel reinforced concrete; bronze door hinges to prevent sparks; and light fixtures designed to prevent exploding bulbs from hitting anything explosive. Try the old short-wave radio, telephones and typewriter. Interesting for kids and adults. For current hours and group tours phone 907-486-7015.

Self-guided historical walking tour maps of Fort Abercrombie are posted in multiple areas of the park or pick up a brochure at the Kodiak Military History Museum or the State Park office at 1400 Abercrombie Dr.; phone 907-486-6339. Day-use parking fee at Fort Abercrombie is $5 per day per vehicle, or purchase a $60 annual Alaska State Parks pass; phone the Kodiak District State Park office for details, 907-486-6339.

Naturalist programs may be offered at various times from June through August at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park. Programs may include plant lore, outdoor photography, sea kayaking, tidepool exploration and more. For more information on park facilities and program times and dates, contact the State Park office; 907-486-6339; http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/aspunits/kodiak/fortabercrombieshp.

Shuyak Island State Park

Shuyak Island State Park encompasses 47,000 acres and is located 54 air miles north of Kodiak. Access by boat or floatplane only. Hunting, fishing and kayaking are the major recreational activities. Four public-use cabins are available at $80 per night. Cabins are 12 feet by 20 feet and sleep up to 8 people. Afognak Island State Park has 3 additional public-use cabins, 2 on interior island lakes (access via floatplane only) and 1 saltwater cabin on the north side of the island on Discovery Bay. Phone the State Park office at 907-486-6339 for more information. Make reservations at www.reserveamerica.com.

Go for a Hike.

Hiking trails around the Kodiak area provide access to alpine areas, lakes, coastal rainforests and beaches. Waterproof hiking/birding trail guides available at the visitor center (907-486-4782) and at other locations around the city. Pay attention to notes regarding footwear and clothing, tides, bears, trailhead access and weather conditions.

Picnic and camp on the beach. 

There are some outstandingly beautiful, unpopulated beaches along Chiniak Road and Pasagshak Road (see logs this section). Excellent beachcombing. Watch for Sitka black-tailed deer and fox. Be cautious of the bison herds along Pasagshak Road.

Go Mountain Biking or Surfing. 

Kodiak is known for its premier mountain biking, attracting racers and enthusiasts. It is also known for its accessible surf breaks at Cape Chiniak and Pasagshak Bay.

Visit a brewery. 

Visitors may taste test local beer at the Kodiak Island Brewing Co., located at 117 Lower Mill Bay Rd. Phone 907-486-2537; www.kodiakbrewery.com.

Bear Valley Golf Course. 

The 9-hole course is located on Anton Larsen Bay Road, accessible from Milepost K 4.8 Chiniak Highway. Owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, the course has a driving range, putting green and pro shop. The course is open to the public from May until mid-October, depending on weather. The pro shop carries golf items and clothing, rental equipment, and snacks. Hours of operation vary according to weather and daylight hours. Phone 907-487-5323; www.kodiakmwr.com/golf.shtml.

Wind turbines on Pillar Mountain. Drive the 2.2-mile gravel road up the mountain for fabulous
views of the island from this spot. (©Serine Reeves, staff)
Pillar Mountain

Drive up Pillar Mountain. The 2.2-mile winding gravel road up Pillar Mountain dead ends at the wind turbines. Fabulous island and ocean views on this drive. To get there, take Mill Bay Road to Birch; follow Birch to Thorsheim; follow Thorsheim to Maple; head up Maple until it becomes Pillar Mountain Road.


See Kodiak by Kayak. One of the best ways to experience Kodiak’s beautiful coastline, and view marine mammals and seabirds, is from a kayak. Day kayak tours around the nearby islands are available for all skill levels. Multi-day trips also available. Ask at the visitor center for recommendations and names of area providers.

Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge

Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 1.9 million acres on Kodiak, Uganik, Afognak and Ban islands. The Refuge was established in 1941 to preserve the natural habitat of the famed Kodiak brown bear and other wildlife. Biologists estimate that more than 3,500 bears inhabit the Kodiak Archipelago. Most bears enter dens by November and remain there until April. Bears are readily observable on the Refuge in June through August, when they congregate along streams to feed on salmon. Visitors to the Refuge typically go to fish, observe and photograph wildlife, backpack, kayak, camp and hunt. There are primitive public-use cabins available for rent by reservation at www.recreation. gov. NOTE: The Refuge is accessible only by floatplane or boat. More information is available at the Kodiak Refuge Visitor Center located downtown at the corner of Center Avenue and Mission Road. Visit www.fws.gov/refuge/kodiak or phone 1-888-408-3514 or 907-487-2600.

Area Fishing

Kodiak Island is in the center of a fine marine and freshwater sport fishery and possesses some excellent fishing for rainbow, steelhead, halibut, Dolly Varden and 5 species of Pacific salmon. Visiting fishermen will have to charter a boat or aircraft to reach remote lakes, rivers and bays, but the island road system offers many good salmon streams in season.

Roads access sockeye salmon fisheries in the Buskin, Saltery and Pasagshak rivers. Introduced chinook runs are available at the American, Olds and Salonie rivers. Humpies and coho salmon are found in virtually all road accessible streams including the Buskin, Saltery, Salonie, American, Olds and Pasagshak rivers, and Monashka, Pillar, Russian, Roslyn, Sargent and Chiniak creeks.

Afognak and Raspberry islands, both approximately 30 air miles northeast of Kodiak, offer excellent remote hunting and fishing. Both islands are brown bear country. Hikers and fishermen should make noise and stay in the open, use bear-proof food containers, and discard fish waste in rivers. If you take a dog, make sure it is under control. Dogs can create dangerous situations with bears.

CAUTION: A paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) alert is in effect for all Kodiak Island beaches.

The PSP toxin is extremely dangerous and can be fatal. There are no approved beaches for clamming on Kodiak Island. For more current information, call the Dept. of Environmental Conservation in Anchorage at 907-269-7501.