For something totally out of the ordinary, spend time at Cape St. Elias Lighthouse on Kayak Island in the wild Gulf of Alaska 60 air miles southeast of Cordova. This 22-mile-long and 2-mile-wide island was the first place that Europeans landed on the northwest coast of North America. Captain Vitus Bering set foot here in 1741, and the island remains virtually unchanged more than two and a half centuries later.
The nonprofit Cape St. Elias Lightkeepers Association (907/424-5182, www.kayakisland.org) works with the Coast Guard to preserve the lighthouse at the southern end of the island. The old light-keeper’s house still needs work, but you can stay in a comfortable cabin with a kitchen, a woodstove, and space for 10 people for $70 d. There is no electricity or running water, and you’ll need to hike 1.5 hours from where the plane lands on the beach. It costs around $700 round-trip to fly three people from Cordova to Kayak Island. The lighthouse (built in 1916) is of interest, a Steller sea lion haul-out and seabird rookery are nearby, and the beachcombing is some of the best in Alaska, with lots of glass balls.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition