Since 1966 this green varnished wooden fishing boat has been sailing on the sheltered icy light-blue water of the bay serving as passenger ferry to Halibut Cove. The captain pokes her head out of the small square window to make an announcement. She’s a young looking woman: blond, big eyes, wearing summer boat shoes. She has the smile and the look of someone who was born for these adventures at sea, like one of Wes Anderson’s characters. Welcome aboard the Danny J! Rain ponchos are available on board to protect you from water and rain. Here’s the Gull Island’s sea bird sanctuary, the dream of keen birdwatchers. It is home to a wide variety of birds: Horned Puffin, Tufted Puffin, Pelagic Cormoran, Pigeon Guillemot, Black-legged Kittiwake and Glaucous-winged Gull. Many of them come here during migration and before and after nesting. You can also spot sea otters floating on the water surface lying on their back, or Minke Whale, Killer Whale and Steller Sea Lion, if you are lucky enough.
Suddenly, the mist opens to reveal the entrance to what looks like a quiet paradise. Trees, waterfront cottages, a peach lighthouse, red canoes, wooden jetties and a village, that only exists in fairy tales. Between the early 1900s and 1928, a large-scale herring fishery developed in Halibut Cove, on Ismailof Island. After the fishery collapsed, most residents left and today only a few people live here, mostly fishermen and artists. Halibut Cove extends across twelve blocks of boardwalk ideal for a walk or a cycle.
The Saltry is the only restaurant on the island and one of the most famous in Alaska. It sits at the top of a large wooden dock overlooking Halibut Cove and is decorated with moose antlers, abandoned buoys, Eskimo sculptures and glasses with wild flowers. If the sun is shining, you won’t be in a hurry to order your food. Yet, when the food comes it will be a wonderful discovery. You’ll try the sexiest and most arty food you could ever expect from a multi-awarded chef of new generation. The atmosphere is so relaxed to beat any luxury. Lightly salted butter and black multigrain bread to start with, water with lemon and cucumber, lentil soup with fresh coriander, black cod (grilled cod on noodles in fish broth with Shitake mushrooms and paprika oil). We ask for a Smoked Salmon Salad Sandwich to go. It’s a freshly backed thick rosemary focaccia bread filled with smoked salmon tartare marinated in capers and red onion, aioli sauce with a hint of lemon and roasted potatoes. From Homer, there are 2 rides per day, at 12am and 5pm. We recommend spending the night in a cabin in the woods. We stayed at Cove Country Cabins.