Homer (Photo:oksana.perkins/Shutterstock)
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Amber Nolan
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Homer

Homer, "the end of the road," is located about 200 miles from Anchorage on the gorgeous Kenai Peninsula. The town's modern roots date to the 1890s, when con man Homer Pennock attempted to lure others with promises of gold. Homer saw brief success as a coal mining town but was eventually abandoned, due to lack of demand. By 1920, 46 people lived in an area designated as Homer Spit and Vicinity, but it wasn't until the 1940s that it took on the makings of a bona fide town with an airport and general store. These days, more than 5,000 people call the "cosmic hamlet" home, and it is often considered one of Alaska's jewels.

On a clear day, Homer is straight out of a postcard, and from several vantage points, visitors might be able to see all five active volcanoes known as the "ring of fire." The Spit, a geological landform that stretches five miles into Kachemak Bay, has always been a place for travelers and drifters and is now home to campsites, tourism shops, bars and restaurants. Two theories exist for how the Spit was formed: tidal swells or receding glaciers. Either way, it is one of Homer's claims to fame -- that and halibut fishing.

The Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby began in the summer of 1986, and since then, the city has been declared the "halibut capital of the world." The annual derby takes place in the summer, and on any given day, fishermen can be seen cleaning and preparing the fresh catch at the Spit. The mild-tasting fish can also be found gracing the menus of seafood restaurants.

Homer has developed into an unpretentious foodie destination, and you'll find outstanding dining options with a wide range of cuisine -- many with local and organic products. The sustainability movement is established in the dining scene in Homer, but it has also found a place in tourism attractions and eco-adventures. Visitors can easily experience the natural beauty and wildlife of the area by kayaking, hiking and on boat trips to Alaska's first state park.

About Homer


Pro

Enjoy a fresh and organic foodie scene, award-winning halibut, a winery and a brewery

Con

It's at the tip of the Kenai Peninsula, so a bit isolated from surrounding sites

Bottom Line

Homer's unique Alaskan blend of nature, art and cuisine make it a complete destination


Find a Cruise to Homer

Where You're Docked

Cruise ships share the terminal at the Deep Water Dock on Freight Dock Road with the Alaska Marine Highway ferry. Cruises drop off passengers at the Spit, but you have to walk around the harbor to reach the main area where the shops and attractions begin (about a mile and a half). A shuttle that connects cruise ship passengers from the dock to the "main hub" of the Spit if they opt not to walk.

Good to Know

Hikers should use proper precautions: It is bear country. Tell someone where you are going, bring bear spray, and try not to startle them (singing as you go around hidden curves is an excellent idea).

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Believe it or not, Homer is still in America (it can seem worlds away), so U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere. Passengers may have difficulty finding places to exchange Canadian dollars, so if the ship visits Vancouver or other Canadian ports before arriving in Alaska, it's best to spend the currency in Canada. ATMs can be found on Homer Spit Road between Ramp 1 and Ramp 3. Smaller shops and restaurants might not accept credit cards.

Language

English is predominant, but Alaskans use a number of terms unique to the state, some of which are lighthearted and humorous sayings and others that are practical. Alaskan lingo includes terms like snow machines (snowmobiles), cache (elevated storage cabins), the bush (area inaccessible by roads) and cheechako (a newcomer).

Shopping

Handmade artwork from one of Homer's galleries and a jar of delicious wild berry jam make excellent gifts.

Best Cocktail

Alaska is home to incredible breweries, so save the pina colada orders for the Caribbean and grab a quality pint. The Alaskan Brewing Company is one of the larger breweries, or if you really want to go local, the Homer Brewing Company has everything from pale ales to porters.