Homer is one of the most charming towns in Alaska. Tucked away in a far corner of the Kenai Peninsula along the shores of Kachemak Bay, it boasts a magnificent setting with the soaring Kenai Mountains dominating the skyline just across the water. It’s also the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World, drawing visitors with hopes of that trophy catch arriving from across the globe.
Just outside of the Old Town, stretching the mouth of Beluga Slough is Bishop’s Beach, perhaps the icing on the cake. Many feel it’s worth the visit to Homer alone as one of the most enchanting places you’ll likely ever visit. You can simply relax and watch for the bald eagles that often fly overhead or sit perched in the black spruce trees while keeping an eye out for the myriad of marine life in the water too. That includes humpback and orca whales who can travel in and out of the bay as they search for food. When the tide recedes, peer into the pools where all sorts of creatures are often seen.
To make the most of your visit to Bishop’s Beach, consider one or all of these options that are sure to be unforgettable.
Take a Tidepooling Tour
As mentioned, the Bishop’s Beach tidepools are teeming with life. The big summer low tides suck the sea out to expose rocks and tidepools that reveal anemones, starfish, sea cucumbers, nudibranch, chiton, marine invertebrates, and the occasional octopus. Naturalists put on their rubber boots, grab their identification charts, and head out to explore. You can too with naturalist-led tours throughout the season.
Free tours are offered when there is a good low tide at Bishop’s Beach, hosted by the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. If you prefer to head out on your own, the Coal Point area nearby is a great place to go. You can pick up a tide book for free at just about any local store, with the best time for tidepooling on a low tide of -1 or below. And an extra-low tide of -5, is an especially ideal time to discover the most interesting sea life, including octopus. The lower the tide, the more time you’ll have to find it.
Hike the Beluga Slough Trail
The trailhead to the 1.2-mile loop Beluga Slough Trail is located in Bishop’s Beach Park, offering a scenic trek that delivers jaw-dropping views of Homer. It’s suitable for just about everyone, taking less than 30 minutes to complete. It will take you along lower Beluga Slough, which is a saltwater marsh where the 25-foot tides of Kachemak Bay mix with the freshwater of Beluga Lake. It passes through a forest, edges a lush meadow, and leads to a sand and gravel beach.
This is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with spring bringing waterfowl and migrating shorebirds to forage for small fish and invertebrates, while summer is the time to see bald eagles and cranes.
The best sightings can be enjoyed from the boardwalk just as the tide starts to ebb. This is when the shorebirds are most visible. When the tide ebbs further, you can walk on the beach, watching for all types of birds no matter what the season. Be sure to bring your binoculars.
Grab a Delicious Meal for a Picnic on Bishop’s Beach
For one of the most memorable meals, pick up something to go from the Chart Room Restaurant at Land’s End which sits at the end of the Homer Spit. While dining in brings the chance to enjoy a breathtaking view, this eatery delivers when it comes to the food as well so why not enjoy it outdoors?
Wild-caught seafood is the focus with Alaskan salmon often the favorite, which happens to be found in abundance here. It has a melt-in-your-mouth flavor, served as filets or steaks, perhaps cooked over charcoal or an open flame, with the result extra tender.
Take it to-go and enjoy a picture-perfect picnic right on the beach. Enjoy your meal as bald eagles sit nearby enjoying the same views as you are. With any luck, you might even get to watch floating sea otters or breaching whales.
What could be better than accommodations that will put you right on the Homer Spit? You’ll be a short drive from Bishop’s Beach while enjoying a prime spot for wildlife watching and recreational activities.
There are a variety of room options to choose from plus luxurious two- to four-bedroom beachfront homes. Almost all come with private balconies that face the bay so you’ll be able to enjoy those views whenever you like. Plus, with a staff that treats every guest like family, happy to provide tips, advice, and any other information to help you navigate during your stay, you’ll likely be planning your return trip by the time your vacation is over.