Islands and Ocean Center
Located on the edge of Homer, this extraordinary facility provides an introduction to the 4.9-million-acre Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, some 2,500 islands, spires, and coastal headlands scattered from Southeast Alaska to the Arctic. These remote islands provide the largest seabird refuge in the United States, with millions of them nesting on rugged cliffs.
Inside the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center (95 Sterling Hwy., 907/235-6961, www.islandsandocean.org, daily 9 a.m.–6 p.m. late May–early Sept., Tues.–Sat. noon–5 p.m. early Sept.–late May, free), a grand two-story glass lobby faces Kachemak Bay, and visitors can take a stunning voyage to the islands via a 14-minute award-winning film, step into a room that re-creates the sights, sounds, and smells of a bird rookery, and learn about the birds and marine mammals that inhabit these remote places, and the researchers that work there, through interactive exhibits.
During the summer, guided bird-watching and estuary walks are offered. The building also houses Kachemak Bay Research Reserve (907/235-4799, www.kbayrr.org), whose hands-on Discovery Lab is open to the public several times a week.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition