Story and photo by Lisa Maloney
If you walk anywhere in Homer, Alaska, it won’t be long before you receive a smile and a warm “Hi! Where are you visiting from?” It’s not that the entire city’s population acts as de facto ambassadors, although in some senses they do. It’s just that anyone who’s lived in Homer for very long really does know almost all the locals – so they can identify you as non-local by the simple fact that they haven’t seen you around town before.
With that said, Homer’s residents really do rank unusually high on the friendly spectrum, and I have a couple theories as to why. Could it be all that water surrounding this coastal town? Residents are never very far from miles of sandy beach (a truly unusual find here in Alaska) and the spectacular, 4.5-mile long Homer Spit, a thin sliver of land that stretches into Kachemak Bay and houses some of the city’s best gift shops and outfitters.
Or could it be pride of place and ownership? Homer draws all manner of visitors, from cruise ships to private sailboats and vacationing Alaskans from other parts of the state – but almost every single attraction and shop in town remains locally owned. That’s a real achievement in any cruise port.
And of course, Homerites – Homerinians? Homernans? – get to enjoy the same delicious restaurants, amazing recreation opportunities, and stunning scenery that draw visitors in… and they never have to leave. There’s a reason Homer is routinely hailed as the fishing, foodie and arts capital of Alaska, all in one place – and no matter where you look, there’s something beautiful to see, from that all-encompassing ocean to hills blazing with the bright pink blooms of fireweed and mountain ranges lurking on the horizon.