If you're looking for a destination that offers a perfect blend of history, nature, and
adventure, then Old Harbor in Kodiak Island, Alaska, might just be the place for you.
Nestled on a narrow beach at the foot of a lush, green mountain, Old Harbor is a
picturesque village of about 230 residents, home to an Alutiiq community with spiritual
ties to the land.
One of the highlights of Old Harbor is the Three Saints Russian Orthodox Church, a
historic church that dates back to 1795. This church survived tsunamis that followed the
1964 Good Friday Earthquake, and locals viewed it as a miracle. Today, the church is
the hub of community activity, and it stands tall in the center of the village, reminding
visitors of the town's rich past.
But Old Harbor is not just about history. It is also a thriving fishing port and home to
fishing lodges that offer saltwater and freshwater fishing charters, targeting a range of
species, including king salmon, silver salmon, halibut, lingcod, rockfish, and Dolly
Varden. Several fishing lodges offer packages that include cozy lodging in scenic
waterfront settings, meals, and charter fishing adventures, or other activities such as
hunting, photography, wildlife viewing, and hiking.
If you're interested in birding, Old Harbor is the place to be. The largest puffin colony in
Kodiak Island is located on Flat Island near Old Harbor, and most lodges can arrange
birding trips to the island. Marine wildlife viewing is another popular activity, with
opportunities to see whales, Steller sea lions, sea otters, and more.
Old Harbor's economy is historically based on commercial fishing and is supplemented
by ecotourism today. The protected waters of Sitkalidak Strait, which borders Old
Harbor, are home to abundant species of fish, including salmon, herring, halibut, and
cod, harvested by commercial and sports fishermen, as well as for subsistence use.
Old Harbor is also unique in its blending of cultures. The Alutiiq/Sugpiaq people lived in
the area for more than 7,000 years before Russians first landed on Kodiak Island in
1763. Today, the community of Old Harbor has a modern airstrip, a harbor for its fishing
fleet, and modern amenities such as water, sewer, electricity, internet, satellite, and
In the past 15 years, many of the community's Alutiiq descent have been experiencing a
resurgence of pride in their culture. Old Harbor has an active Native Dance Group, the
Nuniaq Alutiiq Dancers, which perform locally and travel to share their culture. Similarly,
many residents and former residents are respected and accomplished artists. At Old
Harbor's public school, there is an annual Alutiiq Week celebration where students learn
and practice cultural skills. Additionally, Native arts and crafts are made throughout the
community, the Alutiiq language is taught at the school through the Alutiiq Museum's
Language Revitalization program, and Nuniaq cultural camp is held on Sitkalidak Island
Getting to Old Harbor is relatively easy, with regular scheduled air service available from
Anchorage to Kodiak. From there, a 30-minute air taxi flight brings visitors to Old
Old Harbor is a gem tucked away in Kodiak Island, a place where visitors
can immerse themselves in the history and culture of the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq people while
enjoying the beauty and adventure that nature has to offer. With its thriving fishing
industry, unique wildlife, and cultural richness, Old Harbor is a destination that'
definitely worth a visit.