The City of Kodiak is the main city on an island populated by almost 14 thousand people. Accessible only by sea and air, daily flights and ferry services provide transportation to Alaska's Emerald Isle. The Kodiak Archipelago contains several islands located some 48 kilometers from the Alaska Peninsula. The Kodiak Archipelago is about 285 kilometers long and covers an area the size of the State of Connecticut. The Port of Kodiak is the main population center on the island, but there are many villages where modern subsistence living reveals a rich heritage. Visitors can find lodging and guides at many of these villages, although they can only be reached by boat or air.
Beginning 145 kilometers southwest of the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island is called Alaska's Emerald Isle due to its lush green summers. In the past, natives in kayaks or seamen in tall sailing ships harvested the sometimes violent seas around the Port of Kodiak and the island. Today, modern fishing vessels with sophisticated fishing equipment based in the Port of Kodiak do the same thing. Located in the Aleutian Trench where the Pacific and American plates meet, tremors, tsunamis, and earthquakes are common in the Port of Kodiak. Through it all, the sea is the all-encompassing environment that both threatens and supports this vibrant place.
The sea dictates the climate and weather in the Port of Kodiak. While there is not much freezing, there are frequent clouds and fog. During the summer, temperatures range from the low 20s (70s Fahrenheit) to around 4 °C (40 °F), with an average of 13 °C (55 °F). Rain and wind are common, and the weather can change very quickly. On June 21st, the longest day of the year, the Port of Kodiak gets about 20.5 hours of sunlight. Temperatures range from an average high of 16.6 °C (62 °F) in August to an average low of -4 °C (25 °F) in January.
Visitors to the Port of Kodiak will not want to miss a trip to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge was established in 1941 to conserve Kodiak brown bears, sea otters, salmon, sea lions, marine mammals, and migratory birds as well as to provide for ongoing subsistence lifestyles and to protect water quality and quantity. The Refuge area of more than 1.9 million acres contains pristine waters and mountainous terrain where bears, bald eagles, salmon, and a diverse community of fish and wildlife thrive. The Refuge encompasses four Kodiak Island villages: Karluk, Larsen Bay, Akhiok, and Old Harbor. Located on the island's west coast, Karluk had the world's biggest salmon cannery until overharvesting forced its closure in the 1930s. Larsen Bay, known as Uyak by the Natives, has been inhabited for two thousand years by the Alutiiq people. Akhiok, on the south end of the island, was a sea otter hunting settlement but is now a fishing settlement. Also inhabited for two thousand years, Old Harbor is home to commercial fishermen.
The Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository highlights the 7500 year history of indigenous culture in the Port of Kodiak and on the island. Home to one of the biggest collections of Alutiiq artifacts in the world, the museum has a gallery, a research laboratory, and storage for over 190 thousand local artifacts. The museum store offers Native art, jewelry, and books. The museum also sponsors special events, lectures, and classes.
The Port of Kodiak's Maritime Museum, the "museum without walls," is located on the St. Paul Harbor sidewalks. The museum's displays describe the rich marine resources of the area and explain Alaska's commercial fishing industry.
Whale watching is one of the most popular activities in the Port of Kodiak. Whale migration to these waters begins in April when the Gray whales begin to arrive. In June, visitors can see Fin, Minke, Humback, and Sei whales. From June to November, humpbacks and Fins are common. While you can see them from the cliffs and beaches on Kodiak Island, there are many charter boats available for marine wildlife and whale-watching tours. For the last 13 Aprils, the Port of Kodiak has been home to Whale Fest Kodiak, a 10-day festival celebrating the return of Gray whales to Alaska's waters and their summer feeding grounds. During the festival, in addition to whale watching, visitors can attend lectures and environmental forums and enjoy local music and art.
Another popular activity in the Port of Kodiak is bear viewing. From July to September, experienced guides take visitors on air taxis for half-day viewing trips, or local lodges offer multi-day treks. There are also kayak outfitters and boat charters specializing in viewing bears and wildlife. The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and Kodiak's Alaska State Parks office offer special-use cabins. Visitors are recommended to make reservations for bear-viewing trips several months in advance.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Kodiak and Kodiak Island can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.