Homer is an excellent place to spend a week or so in Alaska (as everyone said it would be). It lies on the coast just below Seward. One of its most memorable and striking features is the Spit, which is a very narrow strip of land that extends out into the bay toward Kachemak Bay State Park. The Strip is touristy, but it’s a cool location. There are bunch of shops, a couple of typical, tourist area bars (one that’s covered in $1 bills), and vendors that ferry you across the bay to the state park. There are a number of bars and breweries to check out, and miles upon miles of shoreline to walk that’s filled with tidal pools and surrounded by views of the mountains and massive glaciers in Kachemak. It rained a lot while we were there, but it overall was a really great week.
Free Camping in Homer – It’s tough to find free camping near Homer. We paid for camping on the Spit the first few nights, then received a local tip that we could boondock on Bishop Beach if we had 4WD. To make this work, you have to drive out onto the beach from the parking lot, and then go as far right as you can (be cognizant of the tide line. It can vary 500 or more feet between high and low tides at spots around Homer. Be sure not to park where the tide will come up past your vehicle while you’re sleeping…). Technically, you aren’t allowed to camp here, but you can probably do it without being kicked out as long as you’re stealthy about it.
Paid Camping in Homer – There are a number of paid campgrounds on the Spit. We stayed at Mariners Park for $15/night for the first few nights. It’s right on the beach. You can walk or run the 4 miles down the beach to the end of the Spit at low tide (you could probably walk the other direction and make it all the way to Bishop’s Beach if you wanted to). The tide varies by 100s of feet between high and low each day, which is pretty cool to watch. I’d highly suggest checking out the tidal pools at low tide. I found one bright red, little, perfectly shaped sea star… It was so perfect that it looked like a toy (see photo above).
Hiking in Homer – In my opinion, the best hiking is along the beaches or across the bay in Kachemak State Park. Next time, we’d spend a few days camping or staying across the bay in the park. Surprisingly, there’s even a little town in one part of the park, and there is some cell service. We wish we would have realized that earlier, and spent a few days exploring and working in the park.