Touting itself as one of Alaska's best-kept secrets, the small town of Seldovia harkens back to a time when fishing was the mainstay of the region's economy and roads were few and far between.
Seldovia, which translates as "Herring Bay," was once one of the busiest seaports on the Kenai Peninsula, supporting a population of more than 2,000 that worked on fishing boats or at the town's canneries. The 1964 earthquake destroyed much of that industry, however, and today, less than 300 residents call Seldovia home. Fishing still plays a large role in the town's economy, but tourism and a few yearly festivals now give the town an economic boost.
Seldovia lies off the road system, located on the south side of Kachemak Bay some 15 miles southwest of the Homer Spit. Access to Seldovia from Homer is by boat, airplane and the Alaska Marine Highway System. Tours to Seldovia run daily and are provided by Alaska Coastal Marine, Rainbow Tours and the new Kachemak Voyager, operated by the Seldovia Bay Ferry and the Seldovia Village Tribe. Air taxis fly year round between Homer and Seldovia. Once in town, however, you are just as likely to see four-wheelers cruising the streets as automobiles. Roads and trails extend up Seldovia Bay and along the lower Cook Inlet coast to Jakolof Bay.
Industries such as logging, fox farming and commercial fishing have all played a part in Seldovia's economy over the past 100 years. Today, the Susan B. English School, the Seldovia Village Tribe and tourism have taken the lead.
Several bed and breakfasts, small lodges, shops and restaurants are in downtown Seldovia. A few sport halibut charters start their day in Seldovia. The local chamber of commerce produces a map offering a self-guided walking tour of the historic town.
Visitors can check out a Russian Orthodox Church built in 1891, stroll the boardwalk along Seldovia Slough and hike the 1-mile Otterbahn trail to the picturesque beaches outside of town. There also is a visitor center located on Main Street.
Salmon return to the slough each summer, and can be caught along the shore or from the Seldovia Bridge. When the season is right in late summers, berry pickers can fill their buckets along the road to Jakolof Bay.
Relatively new attractions, such as guided ATV rides up to Red Mountain along a logging road, provide exceptional views of the Kenai Mountains. Hiking trails around town lead travelers to several area peaks.
Most visitors comment on the laid-back and peaceful atmosphere of Seldovia even during the busiest summer months, but that all changes on the Fourth of July, when thousands of visitors flock to town for festivities.
This all-day event starts with a breakfast early in the morning and includes a foot race, a colorful parade on Main Street and games of skill like the crowd favorite tug-of-war and canoe jousting.
In June the Seldovia Arts Council draws visitors and musicians to town with the two-day Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival. The council also brings other Alaska artists to town throughout the year.
Visit www.seldovia.com for more information.