Alaska is the largest state in the U.S., but it remains a mystery to many people. One great mystery is the islands off the coast of the state, the largest of which is Kodiak.
Kodiak Island is a place of almost indescribable beauty, untamed wilderness, and great adventure. Every year, thousands of people venture to this island to experience everything it has to offer. And Kodiak has a lot to offer.
Along with many exciting experiences and opportunities to explore, Kodiak has something else: safety. It’s not a widely known fact, but Kodiak Island has some of the fewest incidents of texting and driving in Alaska.
Where is Kodiak Island?
While many people are familiar with Alaskan cruises or the larger metropolitan areas of Alaska, few people are familiar with the island of Kodiak. It’s one of the more off-beat vacation destinations. A frequent question is, “Where is that?”
Kodiak Island is the largest island in the Aleutian chain. More specifically, it’s the largest island off the southern coast of Alaska. This makes Kodiak the second-largest island in the United States. The mainland of Alaska and the island are separated by the Shelikof Strait.
Even with this large size, Kodiak only has 87 miles of road. The island itself is largely a protected area and a large national wildlife refuge. Kodiak is the name of the main town on the island, and it has a lot to offer visitors and tourists.
History of Kodiak Island
One of the biggest attractions of the island is the culture and deep history. The island itself has seen five periods of evolution or change. Each period marks a distinct way of life and moment of culture.
The earliest period focuses on the ocean bays that surround the island. At this point in history, the earliest settlers arrived on the island because of its climate and dry land.
Shortly after this early period, the Kodiak people began to focus on the fishing industry and trade. They developed a method for harvesting larger quantities of both cod and salmon. This period helped shape the industry and lifestyle of modern-day Kodiak.
About 800 years ago, Kodiak experienced a shift in weather patterns that caused the Alutiiq people to further develop their fishing techniques. It was at this time that families and tribes began to consolidate into distinct areas, and chiefs emerged.
The Russians traveled to the island in the 1780s through the fur trade. The Russians colonized the island and transferred their ideas and culture to the Alutiiq people. Their influence is still evident around the island today.
Alaska became a part of the United States in 1867. The purchasing of Alaska led to an explosion of the fishing industry and a further receding of the Alutiiq culture. Fortunately, the Alutiiq culture came back to the forefront in the 1980s and is still prominent today.
What is Kodiak Island known for?
Kodiak has a lot to see, but there are few things most visitors want to see or experience. The natural wilderness of the island offers so much beauty and adventure.
Kodiak Island is known for its furry predators: Kodiak bears. The Kodiak bear is one of the largest bears alive today. The only bear bigger than the Kodiak is the polar bear. These fierce creatures roam freely around the entire island.
The population of Kodiak bears is so large on the island that locals say you are never more than three miles from a bear. Even with a large number of bears around, few people interact with these giants. They prefer to stay away from large populations of people.
Kodiak is a great place to see whales. Many guests of the island take tours and boat rides to catch a glimpse of a whale spouting. But you don’t have to go out on the water in search of a whale. Many people can see whales from their front doors.
Even though Kodiak is part of Alaska, it has more temperate weather. Temperatures can reach temperatures as low as 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and winters are full of snow and other wet weather. This, however, isn’t as cold as some states in the lower 48.
On the other end of the spectrum, Kodiak experiences summer temperatures in the mid to upper 70s. This is a comfortable range and allows for people to spend most months outside.
Kodiak is Alaska’s largest fishing port. Fishers set out from this port to catch everything from crab to salmon.
What can you do in Kodiak?
Kodiak Island is really one of a kind. There are few places in the United States where you can hike a mountain in the morning and then enjoy the sunset on a beach. Kodiak has everything from cultural experiences to thrill-seeking adventures.
Hiking and Exploring
Many people spend their time on Kodiak exploring the island. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or someone who needs more of a hiking guide, Kodiak has a mountain for you. There are a dozen different mountains to summit, ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced.
There are two main ways to explore the island. Some people hike up the hills and mountains for amazing views. Others choose to drive the coastline and take in the soaring mountains from below.
One of the most entertaining parts of the island culture is the naming conventions of the landmarks. Many of the names are descriptive and help identify the purpose or function. There is a large mountain near the airport called Barometer. It’s used as a barometer and helps pilots gauge whether it’s safe to fly.
Swimming and Tide Pooling
Because Kodiak is an island, there are a lot of opportunities for beachside activities. You can take a quick but chilly dip in the ocean or explore the hundreds of tide pools.
Many of the beaches are rocky or full of shells, but there is a more traditional sand beach. This beach, Surfer’s beach, has more opportunities for sandcastles and surfing.
Visiting Local Hot Spots
There are many local shops, restaurants, and historic places to see while visiting the island. Many locals and tourists alike enjoy lunch and shopping at Monk’s Rock. Java Flats is a fantastic local coffee shop that offers breathtaking views.
Fort Abercrombie is both an abandoned military base from World War II. It’s now a state park spanning over 182 miles of Alaskan wilderness. It has more than a dozen hiking trails and many opportunities to see Alaskan wildlife up close.
Dangers of Kodiak
Kodiak is known for its wild beauty and adventure. It’s one of the few places in the U.S. you can visit and experience the raw beauty, power, and danger of the natural world. Even with its beauty, Kodiak has its dangers.
Not only are there bears freely roaming the island, but there are rare threats of earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis. The island has experienced these natural disasters in the last decade.
One thing you don’t have to worry about while visiting Kodiak Island is texting and driving. While texting and driving is an epidemic in many states, Alaska falls at No. 3 on the list of states with the least occurrences.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the national average of teens who text while driving is an astounding 39.2%. In Alaska, however, that average plummets to 28.6%.
This means the roads are safer for everyone. Young teens, and other drivers, are more focused and less likely to cause accidents while distracted by their phones. Car insurance rates may be cheaper for safer drivers.
It’s just one more reason on an expansive list of reasons to visit Kodiak, Alaska. Experience everything this little but mighty island has to offer. You’ll be planning your return trip by day three.