Homer, Alaska is a small town on the coast of the Kenai Peninsula. The town overlooks Kachemak Bay, which is teaming with wildlife, including a few different kinds of whales. The whale watching opportunities are limited, and in fact there really isn’t a specific whale watching cruise you can book, but there are wildlife tours and charter boat companies, so there are ways to see whales while visiting Homer. Since the options are limited, we explored the topic in some depth and compiled our findings in a concise guide to whale watching in Homer, Alaska.
A single road – Highway 1 – runs down the Kenai Peninsula, and it terminates in Homer, a town of 5,000 people. For this reason, Homer is commonly referred to only as “the end of the road.” It is also referred to as the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World,” which is related to whale watching in two ways. First, some whales – particularly killer whales – eat halibut, so the large fish population draws whales to the area. Second, Homer is a fairly famous place to fish, and the commercial fishing operations draw in plenty of visitors, which in turn can support a wildlife tour company (more on this company in a moment). The most common types of whales to see off of Homer are humpback whales and the aforementioned killer whales. However, blue and grey whales are occasionally spotted, and on rare occasions you might see another species, like a minke whale. Lots of other marine life can be seen in the area as well, including sea otters and a variety of seabirds.
The outfit that offers the closest approximation of a whale watching cruise is Rainbow Tours, the wildlife tour company mentioned earlier. They have several different offerings, including the Seldovia Wildlife Tour, which is largely focused on seeing the wide range of animals in the Kachemak Bay region, including whales. The tours are seven hours long, including a stop in Seldovia, a tiny village with a population of only about 250. The ticket prices for the Seldovia Wildlife Tour are $59 for adults, $49 for seniors, and $39 for juniors (a term that is undefined). In addition, Rainbow offers a number of “custom tours” for private groups, which generally have a more targeted focus than the Seldovia Wildlife Tour. None of the suggested private tours on the Rainbow website focus exclusively on whales, but such a cruise could presumably be arranged.
Rainbow is really the only company based in Homer that offers something like a whale watching cruise, but it is worth mentioning that you could always see a whale on any sort of trip that takes you out on the water. People on fishing trips routinely see whales, and you could also spot whales and other marine wildlife while engaged in activities like sea kayaking. (Alaska Kayak School, which offers guided kayaking tours, is based in Homer.) It might also be possible to set up a type of whale watching excursion with a local charter boat operator, or to combine whale watching with some other boating activity.
So, unlike a lot of Alaskan towns, there are no regularly offered “whale watching cruises” per se, but there are wildlife tours that allow you to see whales, and whales could be spotted on any trip to sea. If you really want to see whales, it is probably best to work with a company like Rainbow Tours – you might even set up a custom cruise for whale watching. If you would merely like to see whales, but are not necessarily attached to it, you could do a number of other sea-based activities and just hope that you see whales while you are out on the water. For more general information, check out our article on whale watching cruises in Alaska.