As you touch down in Anchorage International Airport, prepare to be welcomed by truly spectacular views. Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage is your gateway to the pacific rim and the first stop on your Alaskan adventure. Surrounded by breathtaking natural wonders, the city is blessed with unique views of the icy glittering waters of the Cook Inlet and the rugged sky lines of the Chugach Mountains. After your long journey, you’ll want to head straight to bed at The Captain Cook Hotel. Lay your head down and drift into dreams of the adventures that await you.
Wake yourself up with a strong cup of coffee and indulge in a hearty American breakfast (we suggest the pancakes topped with bacon and maple syrup), before flying to Homer. Upon boarding the small plane, you’ll be treated to a big chocolate chip cookie to eat along the way. Sit back and take in the sights of the vast sapphire waters and magnificent mountain ranges around you. You’ll touch down in Homer Airport. Incredibly tiny in size, Homer Airport is likely to be the smallest airport you’ve ever travelled to. You’ll be greeted by a local who will pick you up and drive you to the heart of the city, Homer Harbour.
No trip to Homer would be complete without going to the Salty Dawg Saloon and trying their famous Duck Fart – a layered shot with Kahlua, Baileys and whisky. The Saloon has been a witness to the evolution of Homer as a town site since the late 19th century. It’s had many lives since it was built in 1897– as a post office, railroad station, grocery store and coal mining office. It was opened as the Salty Dawg Saloon in 1957 and has been a favourite of locals and tourists alike since. The first thing you’ll notice when stepping foot in the cabin are the hundreds of dollar bills covering every inch of the walls and signed with messages from people from all around the world.
Tutka Bay Lodge awaits you, so hop aboard the water taxi and head to your lodgings for the next two nights. The Lodge sits on an eleven acre property and is nestled between deep inlets, stunning coastlines, glorious mountains, thick forests and pristine beaches. From the moment you catch sight of it as the water taxi pulls in, you’ll know that you’ve arrived somewhere extraordinary.
You’ll be welcomed by the warm and friendly hands on team who will guide you across the weaving boardwalks connecting the main lodge to the sauna, hot tub, boat house, and most importantly, your cabin. After settling in, head back to the main lodge where you’ll enjoy a simple but delicious corn beef sandwich - just the fuel you’ll need for the afternoon ahead.
You’ll be desperate to get back out onto Kachemak Bay. Take out one of the lodge’s sea kayaks with your very own guide. As you kayak into the deep dark blue waters, nothing will prepare you for the extraordinarily humbling experience ahead.
Paddling in your single kayak, a powerful realisation of the immeasurable scale of nature will dawn on you as you look out to the endless expanses of water and up to the looming mountain ranges towering above you. Seals frolic, otters dive for oysters and orcas swim alongside your kayak, bobbing in and out of the water and popping up as if out of nowhere. Coming less than a meter from your kayak, this is a totally surreal experience.
When you return back to the main lodge, you’ll be greeted by a mug of hot chocolate – the perfect evening treat to warm up after an afternoon out on the water. As the sun begins to set, take part in some relaxing catch-and-release fishing off the dock before heading back to the cabin to get ready for dinner.
One of the co-owners of the lodge, Kirsten Dixon is an acclaimed chef herself and is passionate about cooking delicious meals with fresh local produce. The three course meals are a blend of sophisticated gastronomy and homely flavours. A true family-style meal, you’ll enjoy dinner with your fellow lodgers at the main cabin before retiring for the night.
Wake up to serene views of the bay bathed in a mystical morning glow. Make yourself a cup of fresh coffee and walk onto your personal balcony to take in the peaceful ambience before the other lodges begin to stir. Surrounded by nothing but the sounds of chirping birds and the water softly ebbing and flowing against the shore, take a moment to really appreciate this meditative time for yourself. When you’re ready, follow the smell of freshly cooked breakfast and make your way to the main lodge for your first meal of the day.
A morning of deep-sea fishing awaits you. Come aboard Jim’s fisherman’s boat and head out on the water for a fairly bumpy and very entertaining one-hour boat ride to the perfect spot for catching halibut. Jim will share with you the history of Homer, divulging fascinating and funny stories from the local area along the way. The huge swells are a big contrast to the glass-like water of the protected bay and deep sea fishing is certainly a work out – the bait itself is astoundingly large! Although far from relaxing, the deep sea fishing experience is a lot of fun and you can expect lots of laughs.
Once back at your lodge, freshen up with a quick shower before heading to the main lodge for afternoon tea. After some refreshments, it’s time to get to know a bit more about Homer so hop on the water taxi which will take you into town.Your first stop is the bustling docks where you can watch the fishing boats coming in and see the fisherman going about their daily duties of loading hundreds upon hundreds of fish into their crates as the local fish-mongers come to select their daily produce. Known as the ‘Halibut Fishing Capital of the World’, Homer’s dock feels like the very pulse of the city itself. Wander around the town and be sure to visit The Home Museum to discover the region’s fascinating past.
Upon your return to Tutka Bay Lodge, enjoy your final evening here by treating yourself to a log sauna and long soak in the wooden hot tub on the deck where the team will bring you snacks and beverages. When you’re ready, head to the main lodge for a final three course dinner at Tutka Bay before an unforgettable night-time experience.
Head back to your cabin and put on your warmest layers – it’s time to get back on the midnight-blue water to go humpback whale watching. You’ll hear them before you see them – the hypnotic and powerful sound of the whales breathing alongside you is indescribable. As the water from their blowholes shoots majestically up into the sky above you.
After enjoying your morning ritual of taking in the stunning views over an energising cup of coffee, make the most of your last few hours at Tutka Bay by taking a long walk around the property. The maze of wooden boardwalks provide the perfect guide to take you around the space with several lookout points to take in the views.
Before embarking to your next lodgings, take part in a unique culinary experience at the acclaimed Tutka Bay Cooking School which has made its home on the Widgeon II, an impressively restored crabbing boat. The school specialises in programmes that celebrate local Kachemak Bay cuisine, offering three-course menus that champion local seafood such as halibut, salmon, crab and Kachemak Bay oysters. If you’re not interested in cooking, the school is worth a visit regardless, purely to see the amazing three-storey restoration of the boat.
Your stay at Tutka Bay Lodge has come to an end so say farewell and board the seaplane to go bear viewing. The flight is beautiful. Gliding just beneath the clouds, it feels like travelling through a watercolour painting with soft blue hues from the clouds, skies and seas all melting into one another. As you approach the coast line the soft blues transform into rich deep greens as you fly over thick forests before suddenly, you come to a striking emerald green lake where the plane begins to descend.
So opaque, green and placid, when you touch down on the lake, you won’t be able to help but question if it is in fact water or land. Your local guide will take you on a pontoon boat to traverse down the river and watch the bears. Another breathtaking window into the wonders of nature, you’ll be astounded by just how close you get to these beautiful creatures. A glimpse into the fascinating behaviours of bears, watch as families frolic along the waterside, play in the water and teach their cubs to fish.
After a lunch of fresh salmon and a tasty salad of seasonal vegetables, the sea plane will take you to your accommodation for the next two nights, Winter Lake Lodge. Watch as the topography of the land beneath you changes as you’re met with thick lush forests and earthy, woody tones as you fly further inland. Be sure to keep an eye out for the more elusive black bears that roam in these thicker woodlands.
While Tutka Bay Lodge gifted views of the waterside, Winterlake is situated further inland and is surrounded by lush green forest interiors. Located on the western edge of the Alaskan range, it is the perfect spot from which to embark on wildlife viewing adventures. A northern haven of incredible scenery, the lodge is surrounded by mountains and glaciers and is nestled along Alaska’s famous Iditarod Trail. The cabins are all hand built from pine and offer a wonderful balance of comfort and adventure – the perfect dwellings to relax in after a long day of exploring.
After your brief orientation by the welcoming team, get settled into your cosy cabin and treat yourself to a reinvigorating massage to mark the midway point in your Alaskan adventure. Your expertly trained masseuses will tailor your massage exactly to your personal needs. Make your way to the main lodge for your first dinner at Winter Lake. Like at Tutka Bay, dinner is a three course family style dinners prepared with fresh local Alaskan produce. After your meal, take a stroll back to your cabin and enjoy a nightcap out on your private balcony, taking in the serenity and peace of Winter Lake at night time.
After a hearty home-cooked breakfast in the main lodge, head back to your cabin and prepare for a morning of exploring. Layer up with warm clothes, put on your hiking boots and get ready for a lot of walking. The Gordillo Mountain area is bursting with local fauna and flora all of which your local guide will know like the back of their hand. Follow them on the long walk and let them intrigue and educate you with fascinating facts about the surrounding areas.
Salmon fishing is a widely popular activity in Alaska and you wouldn’t be having a true Alaskan Adventure without trying your hand at it. Back at the lodge, a helicopter will pick you up and take you to Canyon Creek. Teeming with these famously strong fish, it’s the perfect spot to practice your fly fishing technique.
Dressed in your waders, walk out into the knee-deep fresh water. Before starting, take a moment to enjoy the stillness and quiet of your surroundings. It’s just you and your guide for miles on end so let a sense of calm and stillness wash over you. Your guide will teach you the technique and once you get the hang of it, the repeated motion will become therapeutic.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch on the waterside. The bubbling creek and sounds of nature around you will provide an ambient soundtrack for you to lose yourself in the sheer majesty of your surroundings.
The afternoon is yours. Before dinner, take the opportunity for a bit of you time - there’s nothing quite like being alone with nature. Take a soak in the outdoor hot tub, take out a canoe for a gentle ride or head to the dock for some meditative catch and release fishing – whatever you decide, this is your time to really soak it all up. After dinner back at the main lodge, enjoy drinks with your fellow lodgers before retiring back to bed for a long and restful sleep.
Wake up to soft sunlight streaming through your windows and prepare yourself a quick coffee before following the delicious scent of freshly cooked breakfast wafting over from the main lodge. It’s time to head for the skies again and board the helicopter to take you up to otherworldly glaciers. On your flight, your pilot will act as your guide, telling you all about the formation of the moon-like landscape from above.
Once you land on the glacier, you’ll feel the temperature drop dramatically so be sure to bundle up! The experience is so surreal, it is as though you have landed on another planet. Put on your cleats and take your first steps onto this out-of-this-world terrain.
Your guide will take you on a two hour glacier walk, showing and explaining to you the formation of the crevices, dirt cones and glacial pools along the way. Rich, bright and almost neon shades of blue surround you – their striking colours a result of the glacial salt that turns the ice so crisp and sapphire-like. Stop and fill up your water bottle in the streams of the purest, freshest and coldest water to have touched your lips.
After the walk is over, like a scene out of a James Bond movie, watch as the Helicopter beats down to pick you up and give you an airborne tour of the glacier allowing you to see it from above, an epic and wholly unique experience in itself.
It’s time to say goodbye to Winter Lake Lodge. Enjoy your last delicious breakfast before hopping onto the seaplane and journeying back to Anchorage for a final taste of Alaskan life. As you fly over the wonderful scenery, take it all in as it’s the last view from above that you’ll have before the end of your trip.
For an early dinner, treat yourself to deliciously fresh oysters at The Bubbly Mermaid. A hole-in-the-wall champagne and oyster bar that sits about twenty people, it’s very intimate, cosy and cool, and offers a huge selection of champagne and all kinds of oysters prepared in all the ways you can imagine. Sit back, enjoy and savour the last moments of your Alaskan adventure before heading back to the Captain Cook Hotel for your last night before saying good bye and flying home – you just may have to pinch yourself to remember that the past week wasn’t just a surreally beautiful dream.