No roads lead to Halibut Cove
Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the unique community might not be easy to get to, but its breathtaking views and abundance of wildlife will make your trip worth the effort.
Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 06:01 PM
Tucked away in Alaska's Kenai Mountains along the Kachemak Bay is a tiny community where the homes are built on pilings and the mail is delivered twice a week to one of the nation's few floating post offices.
There are no roads to Halibut Cove. In fact, there are no roads in Halibut Cove.
The census-designated place sits just 12 miles from the famous Homer Spit and is reachable only by boat or seaplane. The community's few residents get around mostly by kayak or by walking along the boardwalk.
While Halibut Cove's summer population can reach 100, year-round residents typically stay in the 20s.
Many of the residents are artists, but others make their livelihood in the surrounding waters, fishing or maintaining oyster farms.
In the early 1900s, Halibut Cove experienced a population boom, thanks to its rich herring stocks. The herring fishery employed more than 1,000 people during its height, but by 1927, pollution from fish processing had caused a decline in the fish population.
By 1928, the herring were gone and Halibut Cove was a ghost town. Few people remained and buildings were torn down to provide material to the growing village of Homer.
It wasn't until the 1960s that the community began to experience a rebirth. Alaskan resident Clem Tillion moved to Halibut Cove to raise his family, where they fostered an artistic community.
In 1968, Tillion began offering boat rides from Homer to his wife's art gallery, which featured her paintings done in octopus ink.
Since then, other galleries have opened, as well as the family-owned Saltry restaurant, which is hailed as one of the best eateries in Alaska.
But constructing a restaurant along the cove proved a bit of a challenge. Built from a restored boat, the Saltry was floated into the channel on moving day, which was chosen for its 23-foot tide.
When the tide was at its highest point, the barge was eased into place, and then pilings were erected from the beach at low tide to brace the restaurant from underneath.
The Saltry, which harvests its own salads and serves locally sourced seafood, is open for only a few months of the year, and to dine there, visitors must reserve a seat on the restaurant's boat, The Danny J.
Many of the businesses in Halibut Cove are owned and operated by Tillion’s family, and charter boats and commercial water taxis are prohibited from entering the cove.
Tillion's daughter, artist Marian Beck, says they seek to maintain the tranquil environment of Halibut Cove, which is why charter boats are limited and the boardwalk is open only from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
In addition to the Saltry and the galleries, Halibut Cove is also home to several houses, a coffee shop, a lighthouse, and its tiny floating post office.
Stroll along the boardwalk and you see domestic animals like horses and chickens, but you'll likely also spot an abundance of wildlife, including otters, puffins, bears, starfish and octopus.
See more of Halibut Cove and its stunning scenery and wildlife in the photos below.
All photos: Cody Wellons
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