There are two main travel options for people wishing to visit Kodiak Island, Alaska: by ferry or by plane. Our decision to fly to the island was solidified pretty quickly when my father-in-law lovingly referred to the ferry as the “Dramamine express”. I think Hubs would have risked it for the views the ferry offers, but my motion sickness was not something he wanted to deal with for hours on end when flying was an option.
Flying to Kodiak Island
The whole experience of flying from Anchorage to Kodiak was a bit surreal. We arrived at the airport the (East Coast) customary 2 hours in advance and the place was desolate. We grabbed a quick bite to eat before walking to our terminal via a series of never-ending hallways. Arriving at our gate, we were taken aback once we realized that we hadn’t gone through any security screening. Soon enough, the gate agent made an announcement that she would be checking our ID’s and tickets prior to boarding. It was a bit bizarre for as we live in the DC area where security is always a top priority.
TIP: Grab breakfast at your hotel or on the way to the airport if possible, at the very least, grab food near the ticket counters. At the time of our visit, only the main terminal had food options or convenience stores. Our gate area/terminal didn’t have any food options or convenience stores, so we were thankful we grabbed something near the ticket counters.
Would now be a good time to mention that I dislike small planes? Because I do and of course we would be taking one to and from Kodiak Island. Hubs had tried to mentally prepare me for the small planes, but I wasn’t quite as ready as I thought. Now, I know my issue with small planes is basically unfounded, but I can’t help but think of all the stories I have heard about small plane crashes everytime I see them. My unease with them doesn’t stop me from getting on board, but it does make me stop and think twice before I do.
Once our ID’s and tickets were checked by the Ravn Alaska flight crew, we walked across the tarmac and boarded our twin-prop plane. We grabbed our seats and prepared for takeoff. The plane layout was rather tight and crowded, but as the flight was rather short, it wasn’t terrible. We ended up sharing our flight with a great group of people heading to the island to work, fish, take bear tours, and visit family.
The flight path to Kodiak Island took us over Cook Inlet. I loved seeing the mountains meet the sea, viewing glaciers from the air, and watching the sun twinkle on all the snow. I was glued to the window the entire flight and honestly, for this nature-lover, the views alone were worth the flight! (Pardon the window glare in the photos below!)
Renting a Car on Kodiak Island
We had no issues renting a car on Kodiak Island. The Kodiak Airport had two national rental car options and both had reasonable “Alaska” rates. It is impossible to miss the rental car counters in the one-room Kodiak Airport. They are mere steps away from the bathrooms, entrance, and boarding gate. This is honestly the smallest airport I have ever been in and I grew up in rural Wisconsin!
Before booking, we read online that some of the roads were not up to the standards of visitors from the Lower 48. Many reviewers said that an SUV would be required for travel on the island. Taking their advice, we decided to pay a little extra for the SUV. In the end, the roads we traveled on weren’t any worse than typical gravel roads in the midwest. However, the SUV did provide good peace of mind as we spent the majority of our time exploring the island by road.
TIP: Rental car companies are not responsible for broken car windows or punctured tires. Each renter must sign a waiver that indicates that will pay for any damage done to the windows or tires on their rental car. While surprising, the road conditions in certain areas of the island are rough and should be driven “at your own risk”.
Flying from Kodiak Island
We arrived at the airport 1.5 hours before our scheduled flight time. It only took 15 minutes to return our rental car. So, we read and played games on our phones for an hour while waited to board. Most of our fellow travelers didn’t bother to show up at the airport until about 20-30 minutes before the flight. Again, in hindsight, I would have arrived 30 minutes prior to boarding. However, if the weather is an issue, you might want to give yourself more time.
Our flight from Kodiak Island to Anchorage was just as beautiful as the flight to the island. We ran into one small hiccup when they announced before boarding that the flight was overweight. In Kodiak, this means people caught too many fish and had overloaded the flight. They then announced that they would hold several bags until the next flight. Can you guess where this is going?
Of course, our bags did not make it. Unfortunately, the customer support desk for Ravn Alaska closed minutes after our flight touched down. This meant that we had to return to the airport to pick our bags up in the morning. I was fuming! At the request of the check-in desk, we had checked our small carry-on size daypacks. We had left our larger suitcases at the bookend hotel we stayed in Anchorage. At the hotel, we had clothes and toiletries, but I did not have my medicine I needed to take that night. I hadn’t felt comfortable leaving it in our luggage at the hotel. I have learned my lesson to never check it!
Pictures from our visit in 2015.