The Kenai Peninsula is one of the best places to visit in Alaska. I went there for 3 weeks to visit a friend in Homer and went out hiking all over the place as well as experiencing many other things.
This is what I recommend for you to do there to get the best out of the area. There will obviously be other options of places to go to that I didn’t, but these are the main popular things to do in the Kenai Peninsula.
For getting around in the Kenai Peninsula one of the best options is to rent a car in Anchorage as public transport is limited.
Kenai Peninsula map:
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’.
The Homer Spit is where you will find most fishing boats that you can go out on the fishing trips and there are restaurants, coffee shops, and bars to relax at when there.
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.
Bishops Beach Park
This is a beach right next to Homer.
It has cliffs with eagles perched in nests all along 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 strolling.
Facing the sea turn to the right and just go for a hike on the beach.
Just be sure to check the tides so you don’t get stuck!
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 at 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 for a meal en route to Homer.
Hiking in 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 as well and he showed me around a bit and we had an great excursion for a few days to Kachemak Bay Stae 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.
A really good book for hiking in the Kenai Peninsula is ‘50 hikes in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula’.
I must admit that the town of Seward itself is one of my least favorites in the Kenai as I enjoyed the more laid-back vibe of Homer and Hope more, but it is an excellent place to base yourself for activities in the region.
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.
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.
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 on the whole 7 hours hiking it.
The trail takes you through the forest for the first few hours that 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.
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.
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.
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 bear (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.
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.
And as you have seen earlier you will see lots and lots of eagles in Alaska.
Fishing in The Kenai Peninsula
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 Kenai fishing 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.
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.
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.
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 for planning your hikes in the area.
A good guidebook for the overall region is the Moon Anchorage, Denali & the Kenai Peninsula guide.
The United States is an expensive place for medical treatment so be sure to take out travel insurance for your trip just in case. I use World Nomads and have found them to be excellent and it would be a great option for adventures in Alaska.
Also one of my favorite places in Alaska to visit outside of the Kenai Peninsula was the Wrangell-St-Elias National Park.
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