There’s a quote that goes something like this, and it fits Stillpoint Lodge to a T:
“The human spirit needs places where Nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.”
I forget who first said these words, but I think about them every time I visit the tiny floating village of Halibut Cove, Alaska. My home state, while still considered remote, has a penchant for creating enormous places to accommodate equally-large numbers of people wanting their little slice of 49th state grandeur. And while they do an overall admirable job limiting impact, these places are still, well, enormous. For the traveler looking for quiet, peaceful hamlets, the usual destinations don’t seem to fit.
Stillpoint Lodge, located on a forested swath of land originally established as a spiritual and fine art retreat, wants to be more than a place for quiet contemplation paired with get-out-there moments that take the breath away. According to JT Thurston, son of original owners Jim and Jan Thurston, they want to be the best at what they do. And they’re on their way as far as my two-night visit was concerned.
Take getting there. Stillpoint Lodge is located across Kachemak Bay from Homer, and while still considered a remote lodge by the adventure and luxury travel market, is actually quite accessible. While many Alaska lodges are several hundred miles by float or Bush plane from the nearest airport, Stillpoint is a mere 60 minutes by plane from Anchorage, and a short, 30-minute boat ride from the tip of the Homer Spit. Along the way, I saw the venerable humpback whale, a flotilla of sea birds, otters, seals, and a plethora of other boats, both fishing and pleasure. The ride alone will lower the blood pressure, unless a whale decides to blow a fishy spray in front of the boat. Then adrenaline sets in and the first of a thousand “Oh wow!” moments begins.
But once at Halibut Cove, known best for its “no cars – no roads” policy and a dedicated cadre of artists and writers and longtime Alaskan residents (only a few year-round), it appears as if you’ve arrived at another point in history. The 1930’s, perhaps, or even earlier. It’s quiet, save for the chattering of eagles and the occasional roar of a boat engine starting up. The lodge itself sneaks into view while you’re busy taking in the quiet, green water and colorful homes dotting the cliffsides.
Lodge manager Beka Thoning greets new arrivals with a smile, collecting luggage and guiding guests toward the main building just up a hill dotted with fireweed, salmon berry bushes, and quirky little reminders that yes, this is a place of artistry and whimsy.
The main lodge at Stillpoint is meant for meals and entertaining; an expansive deck out back looks out over the mountains and a beautiful garden that winds around a gravel pathway. Inside, a living room features more great views and a stone fireplace for chilly days.
Guests sleep in luxurious log cabins, each with fluffy comforters, soft lighting, and a front porch upon which I sipped my morning coffee in contemplative ecstasy. Kids will love falling to sleep at night listening to sea otters noshing on shellfish they’ve cracked open with rocks laid upon their fuzzy bellies, and waking to a saucy eagle pair fighting over a salmon. Each of the eight cabins has its own unique theme and artwork, much of it created by original Stillpoint owner Jan Thurston.
An excellent upgrade to the cabins has come in the form of ultra-modern showers and flush toilets added on to each cabin (trust me, this is a huge step of convenience for luxury travelers or anyone who is tired of the old composting type). Traveling with kids to the wilderness is made much easier through these facilities, and I appreciated the detail in each one while still retaining the charm of the cabins themselves.
Cabins are spread out but all are strategically accessible to the main lodge, where guests gather for family-style meals and conversation. The short walk makes it easy to spot squirrels, eagles, and the occasional bear wandering the beach.
Halibut Cove is fortunate to be surrounded by Alaska’s first state park, Kachemak, and thus is afforded a wealth of land and sea activities that suit nearly any form of recreation. Stillpoint Lodge guide Lucas Thoning sees potential in any sort of recreation, and as dad of two, is constantly looking for the next great adventure. During my short stay, I paddled a kayak to the mouth of the cove, where whales often appear to feed on krill or herring; hiked to Grewingk Glacier, a five-mile trek to one of the most scenic locations in Kachemak State Park. Guests have the option of kayaking out toward the glacier, then hiking back to the pick-up spot, a short boat ride from the lodge.
Other ancillary activities include paddle boarding, fishing, bear-viewing, or flight seeing, in addition to the ever-present opportunity to merely sit on the deck or in one of the cushy chairs with a book or cup of coffee.
Kids receive special and custom attention from the Thonings, who have two girls and enjoy the atmosphere of young people frolicking among the trees and in the garden. Kids can help harvest vegetables, explore the nature trails, play on the beach, and accompany the grownups on all the above mentioned activities. On nice evenings, the fire pit is readied for a bonfire and s’mores, where conversation flowed and music came at the hands of Lucas and his guitar.
Extra special time
Autumn is an excellent time to visit Stillpoint; the leaves are in the midst of transitioning from one season to the next, and wildlife are preparing to do the same. Families wanting a special, uncrowded, luxurious experience in Alaska might want to consider a fall visit. The lodge is open through the end of September.
Sometimes, it’s the unique that captures your attention. Sometimes, it’s the ordinary. In the case of Stillpoint Lodge, it’s the combination of both, woven among the coves and crannies of this very special Alaska destination.
Who should visit
- Guests seeking a luxury, private setting
- Families with children age 6 and up (any age is welcome with reservation of entire facility). Kids 6-12 receive 1/2 off regular overnight rate.