The Beaches of Kachemak Bay

One of the great calls of Alaska is the North Pacific Ocean. And while Alaska isn't the first place people think of when they hear the word "beach," the beaches of Kachemak Bay offer their own kind of magic. Unique in climate, scenery, wildlife, and tides, the beaches around Homer are simply not to be missed.

With a nearly 30 vertical foot difference between our lowest low tides and our highest high tides, the tides alone are an endless adventure. And the beaches and tidepools uncovered at low tides are teeming with marine life of all kinds. Explore with us these unique spaces in and around Kachemak Bay and Homer.
seagull on the beach

Relax on our Private Beach!

Second Star Mansion has a wooden walkway to our private beach just for the use of our guests. Imagine waking up after a blissful sleep on one of our luxurious pillow-top king-sized beds and being captivated by the sparkling blue of the ocean off the deck. Do you feel its pull? Throw on some shoes, and wander past the wildflowers and green of the lawns to the wooden path. After a short walk, you are standing on the sand and rocks just feet away from incredible power of the Pacific Ocean.

At high tide, the waters come up just below the bottom of the path. At low tide, the water's edge is thousands of feet away. Kachemak Bay has the 2nd biggest tide changes in the world (keep reading to learn more), and the rocks below Second Star Mansion are perfect to enjoy the seals sunning themselves on as the tide goes out. We've counted as many as 15 seals on one rock!

Whether you sit and take in the feel and sway of the ocean, or wander the beach in either direction, the beach is a perfect way to connect to the majestic beauty that surrounds you. Notice as you walk the beach the chunks of coal and blackened areas...Homer sits on an ancient coal bed, and its shoals spill out across the sands. Keep your eyes peeled for feathers left behind by the bald eagles that soar in front of the Mansion day and night.

 Bishops Beach

Bishop's Beach is a long sandy beach, filled with charm, the remnants of old piers embedded in the sand or barely poking out of the water, depending on the tides. 

You can access the beach near Old-Town Homer, a charming place in its own right with a creperie, a steakhouse, and Two Sisters Bakery, a staple in Homer wildly popular with tourists and locals alike.

One of the suites at Second Star is named for this beach: the rocks from it sit beneath solid marble tub and its driftwood and shells decorate the custom-made king-sized bed and netting around the windows.

But we really love it for the sunsets. Sunsets in Alaska last for hours, with vibrant colors of orange, pink, purple, and yellow casting their light on the ocean and mountains surrounding this incredible beach.  
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  Halibut Cove

Directly across the bay from Second Star sits the artists' community of Halibut Cove, a jewel tucked away in Alaska's very first state park: Kachemak Bay State Park. While the park totals more than 400,000 acres of mountain peaks, pristine glaciers, deep forests and rugged coastline, Halibut Cove is a slice of paradise all its own. Only reachable by boat or float plane, this community boasts the only floating Post Office in the United States.

This coastal village was originally settled in 1911 by Scandinavian fishermen, and the nutrient-rich waters are home to an oyster nursery, wild mussels, and fantastic beachcombing. Plus, with a coffee shop, a highly-rated restaurant, and an art gallery, it's a popular destination for visitors. Let us know if you want to visit this gem and be captivated by its unbelievable beauty and wild remoteness.

Homer Spit and End of the Road

Homer is famous the Homer Spit, the remains of an ancient glacial moraine that extends approximately 4.5 miles directly out into the middle of the Kachemak Bay.  Explore the dozens of shops, stores, restaurants, fishing and adventure businesses along the boardwalks and land of the Homer Spit, as well as the Homer Harbor—where hundreds of boats moor and launch from.

You can drive its entire length, surrounded on either side by the magnificent ocean, and culminating in the literal "end of the road," at a property called Land's End with a magnificent beach all its own.

And its beach is fabulous. Whether you wander the shops, visit the famous Salty Dawg Saloon, Seafarer's Memorial, or meander along the water's edge over sand with millions of flat, round rocks, you shouldn't miss this special place.  

Alaska Tides

Coastal living in Alaska—and especially Kachemak Bay—is strongly guided by the incredible force of the tides. Yes, there are tides everywhere that there is ocean. But in Kachemak Bay, we experience the incredible power of the 2nd biggest tide differentials in the world.

So what does that mean? It means that there is almost a 30-foot vertical tide difference between the lowest low tide and the highest high tide. And just to make that clear—that's a vertical difference.  The beach you stand on near the water's edge at low tide is nearly 30 feet under water at the highest.  So, if you have a gradual slope to the ground, the difference from where the water touches land can be dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of feet.

And the tide changes approximately every six hours. Literally millions and millions of cubic feet of ocean gushes into and out of the bay. And it does this twice a day. Every day.  Not every tide is the lowest, nor the highest, but the sheer power of ocean water moving in and out is an endless adventure of being in Homer. And because of the moon and, well, science you can always know exactly when the tide is going to change, and what it's going to be.

Factor that into your planning. If you are dying to do some amazing beachcombing, check the tides and plan your trip when the tides are negative—the bigger the negative, the better the beachcombing.

If, on the other hand, you're an angler with an obsession with fishing, come when the tides are the least extreme (higher low tides, lower high tides) and the fishing will be easier. And better. Fighting a strong tide makes fishing a lot more difficult—on both you and the fish.

Whatever wild Alaska dreams you've been dreaming, though, you will probably need to take the tides into account. Oh...and are you wondering where the biggest tide differentials in the world are?

The Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Low tide in Halibut Cove.

The tides are always moving, so you can't help but notice the water. Sometimes moving as fast as a river.

There is NO water here!
halibut cove low tide
Mid-tide in Halibut Cove

Tides are caused by the moon, the topography, and the shape of the ocean floor, almost a funnel here.

Whoa! That water's coming up fast! Hope you didn't leave anything on the beach.
High tide is my favorite.

The water kisses everything: the trees, the grass, the rocks. You feel in it, a part of it, it surrounds you, and it's magic.

Now the water's under the house! Same exact view as the first picture!


What to Know about Beachcombing

With this incredible tide difference comes amazing beachcombing opportunities. Just like you can go shell hunting or snorkeling on other beaches, in Alaska there is teeming marine life and tide pools everywhere.

Imagine being able to see exactly what the bottom of the ocean looks like, without the distortion of water in your eyes and all around you. Hermit crabs and sea stars of every shape, size and color abound, limpets, and worms, sea urchins and anemones...a phenomenal assortment of tiny, slimy sea life everywhere you look.

Imagine the smell...decay and fish and salt; imagine the sound...the whistling, popping, squishing sucking sounds of water disappearing and clams squirting. In Kachemak Bay the beachcombing is wonderful and magical simply because—at a very low tide—you get a glimpse of the ocean floor, which rarely touches the air.
Exploring the beaches of Kachemak Bay can relax and thrill you. Enjoy and be inspired by the amazing Alaska coastline.


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