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Kenai Peninsula Travel Guide: Alaska’s Coastal Gem

The Kenai Peninsula in Alaska calls to the adventurous soul with its raw beauty and unspoiled landscapes. Stretching south of Anchorage, this vast coastal region boasts a breathtaking land of snow-capped mountains, emerald forests, and coastal fjords.

The Kenai Peninsula is one of the best places to visit in Alaska. Personally, I went there for 3 weeks to visit a friend in Homer and went hiking all over the place, from forests to glaciers, as well as experiencing many other delights to be had there.

This is what I recommend for you to do in the Kenai Peninsula to get the best out of the coastal gem in Alaska. There will obviously be many other options of places to go that I didn’t get to, but these are the main popular things to do there.

For getting around in the Kenai Peninsula one of the best options is to rent a carrent a car in Anchorage as public transport is limited.

Kenai Peninsula map:

map of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska

Kenai Peninsula Guide

Kenai Peninsula Alaska

Homer Alaska

Homer is a town towards the bottom part of the Kenai Peninsula and is known for its deep-sea fishing and relaxed vibe.

Sea fishing is excellent, especially for halibut, but you will have to pay for a boat to go out for the day’s fishing.

In fact, Homer is known as the ‘Halibut capital of the world’.

fishing sign in Homer Alaska

The Homer Spit is where you will find most fishing boats that you can go out on fishing trips and there are restaurants, coffee shops, and bars to relax at when there.

The spit is where you will find some of the best and freshest seafood in the Kenai Peninsula.

homer Alaska
The Homer Alaska Spit sticks out from the main town.

Homer itself has a bit of an arty feel to it and is worth hanging around for a night or 2 for local hikes and in order to arrange a visit to Kachemak Bay State Park.

homer Alaska
View across to Homer from Kachemak Bay State Park.

Bishops Beach Park

This is a beach right next to Homer.

It has cliffs with eagles perched in nests all along it and they fly down from above to the beach and back.

Even though the beach is near Homer and has houses up on the cliff it does feel like being in nature. It’s peaceful enough and worth a few hours of strolling.

Facing the sea turn to the right from Homer and just go for a gentle hike on the beach. 

Just be sure to check the tides so you don’t get stuck!

eagle flying homer beach Alaska
An eagle flying from a rock on Bishop Beach Park by Homer.

Getting from Anchorage to Homer is easy if you have your own transport and takes around 5 hours to drive. But there are places you may want to stop and have a look around on the way so it’s best to leave Anchorage early and plan a full day to get there.

Although there are not many things to do in Soldotna, the main city in the Kenai, there are some good eateries to stop at for a meal en route to Homer.

Find places to stay in Homer here.

Hiking in Kachemak Bay State Park

Kachemak Bay state park
View onto Kachemak Bay State Park.

Kachemak Bay State Park is just across the sea from Homer and makes an excellent place to go hiking on the Kenai Peninsula, if not Alaska in general.

I was lucky to have a friend to stay with in Homer who loves hiking. He showed me around a bit and we had a great excursion for a few days to Kachemak Bay State Park.

Kenya peninsula kachemak bay state park
My friend hiking with me in Kachemak Bay State Park.

The place is mountainous and full of pine trees but can be rough going in parts.

It is a remote place to get to and you will have to take a boat from Homer across the bay to reach the area.

The general rule is you tell the boatmen which trail you would like to hike and they will drop you there and arrange with you exactly what date you would like to be picked up on, and at what time.

You can day trip and just do a short hike but it’s best to spend at least one night there, as long as you have camping gear of course.

kenai peninsula camping kachemak bay state park
Camping high up in Kachemak Bay State Park.

Kachemak Bay state park Alaska
View from the mountaintop when hiking in Kachemak Bay State Park.

A really good book for hiking in the Kenai Peninsula is ‘50 hikes in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula’.

Seward Alaska 

I must admit that the town of Seward itself is one of my least favourites in the Kenai Peninsula as I enjoyed the more laid-back vibe of Homer and Hope, but it is an excellent place to base yourself for activities in the region.

Seward Alaska
Seward harbour.

There are a few hotels in Seward to stay at and you can find places to stay in Seward here.

I was camping when there but did hang out in the lobby of the Hotel Seward as they did one of the best coffees in town, and I did take a look at one of the rooms when there just to see what it’s like and it looks good.

Hotel in Seward, Alaska
Hotel Seward is a good option.

Seward has an interesting atmosphere down by the waterfront as many retired people drive their RVs up from all over the United States to travel around Alaska and you will find many of them parked by the sea in Seward where you can meet many people and have some fun chats over a campfire.

If you want to have a bit of nightlife on the Kenai Peninsula, then Seward has the best bars in the area for that.

Hiking in Seward Alaska 

There is a lot of good hiking in the Kenai Peninsula, as I said before, and hiking in Seward makes a good place to get out to some of the best hikes, such as in the Kenai Fjords National Park.

The Exit Glacier Hike

The Exit Glacier is the ‘must-do hike‘ near Seward, if not the whole peninsula, and is in the aforementioned Kenai Fjords National Park.

It’s not far from Seward being around a 30-minute drive and is a beautiful hike alongside the glacier until you reach the top for stunning views across it.

It can get busy on this hike as it’s so popular so don’t expect to have ‘peace with nature’ all to yourself, so to speak.

hiking exit glacier Seward Alaska
Hiking up to Exit Glacier.

exit glacier Seward Alaska
Exit Glacier near Seward.

exit glacier Seward Alaska
On top of Exit Glacier.

The Primrose Trail Hike

The Primrose Trail was actually my favourite hike near Seward, more than Exit Glacier.

It was far less busy and I only met one other person during the whole 7 hours of hiking it.

primrose trail Seward Alaska
At the lake at the halfway point of the Primrose Trail.

The trail takes you through the forest for the first few hours then breaks into mountain views at the top where there is a small lake, before descending at the end of the hike through the forest again for the last 1-2 hours.

primrose trail Seward ken peninsula Alaska
The forested part at the end part of the Primrose Trail (from the Seward direction).

Caines Head State Recreation Area

The fun thing about heading to Caines Head State Recreation Area is that you can reach it by kayaking from Seward.

Along the way, playful seals will most likely come and join you for a bit until you reach the starting point for the short hike through forest trails up to a viewpoint of the area.

kayaking Seward Alaska
Kayaking to the hiking area.

caines head state park Alaska
View from the top in Caines Head State Recreation Area.

Hope Alaska

sign for Hope Alaska

Hope is a small funky little town and makes a great ending for the Kenai Peninsula trip on your way back to Anchorage (or wherever you go).

It’s the kind of place that people from Anchorage come to for the weekend to camp under the stars, enjoy some live music at the lively bar by the waterfront, and go for short hikes along the coast.

Cafe in Hope Alaska Kenai Peninsula
This is the cafe and bar that has live music most weekends and lots of people drinking.

Hope is where I personally had my first wild bear encounter in Alaska. When on one of these short hikes by the coast I came around a corner to a mother bear and 2 cubs with a few other hikers trapped on the other side.

Thankfully we all slowly backed away giving the mother bear and cubs space to get away, which they then did.

Wildlife on The Kenai Peninsula

The Kenai Peninsula has your standard Alaskan wildlife.

You will find plenty of brown and black bears (during the bear season), moose, eagles, and more.

Bears can be dangerous, but during the salmon run, they are mostly preoccupied and distracted with the catching and eating of the fish.

But you never know, so definitely be careful and never get close. A mother bear with her cubs is the most dangerous as she will be protective of them.

bears kenai Alaska
A brown bear catches salmon during the summer season.

Although moose look relatively harmless they can be dangerous so stay a reasonable distance away if you see any and don’t try to pet them.

moose kenai Alaska
Moose in the bushes.

And as you have seen earlier you will see lots and lots of eagles in Alaska.

eagle flying homer beach Alaska
Eagle near Homer.

Fishing in The Kenai Peninsula

salmon fish caught in Kenai Peninsula
Salmon in the Kenai Peninsula (stock pic to show, as I didn’t go fishing there).

If you want to do some fishing in Alaska then the Kenai Peninsula is one of the prime places to do so. In the summer it’s the place to go salmon fishing in Alaska. They are everywhere during that time, but be careful as that’s when all the bears are out fishing as well.

I’ll be totally honest and say I didn’t do any fishing in the Kenai Peninsula as I was out hiking during the day most of the time and my friend I was staying with in Homer made me lots of salmon from his yearly quota of salmon he was allowed.

I’m mentioning it here though for people who like to fish and are going to the Kenai Peninsula then you should definitely do some fishing there.

The deep-sea halibut fishing from Homer came highly recommended by some visitors to the Kenai Peninsula I met.

A great book about Kenai fishing is Fishing Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula: A Complete Angler’s Guide.

Kenai Peninsula Itinerary

There are a lot of options for things to do in the Kenai Peninsula and it really depends on your interests. But if you’re visiting for say 1-2 weeks then the places mentioned here are some of the best things to do.

Around 4 days in Homer and Kachemak Bay State Park followed by around the same time in the Seward area and a night in Hope at the end.

In between all that, there are so many more options for hiking, fishing, and other outdoor activities in Alaska.

Kenai Peninsula Facts

Some information for you to understand the Kenai Peninsula Borough a bit better before going.

Kenai Peninsula population: around 60’000 as of 2021.

I recommend using SafetyWing Travel Insurance for your trip, just in case, it’s best to be prepared.

Visit The Kenai Peninsula in Alaska 

The Kenai Peninsula as stated is one of the best places for easy accessibility to go for day hikes and nature near Anchorage.

It makes sense though to spend your time there in the towns of Homer, Seward, and Hope, to get the best out of the area without having to rush.

When you are in Anchorage take a look at the 10 best things to do in Anchorage when there.

A really good map of Alaska to use is the DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer: Alaska.

For more great Alaska travel inspiration check out my friend’s post who lived in Homer for a number of years. He did various road and hiking trips all over Alaska.

A really good book for hiking in Kenai Peninsula is ‘50 Hikes in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. It will help out a lot in planning your hikes in the area.

A good guidebook for the overall region is the Moon Anchorage, Denali & the Kenai Peninsula guide.

Also, one of my favourite places in Alaska to visit outside of the Kenai Peninsula was the Wrangell-St-Elias National Park. There you will find a very unique atmosphere.

If you liked this article about the Kenai Peninsula a share would be cool:

Kenai Peninsula in Alaska photo collage.

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