Kodiak Main

No lions and tigers, but oh, my, the bears - about 3,000 Kodiak brown bears, as a matter of fact. And fish, from salmon to halibut the size of your front door. This, make no mistake, is Alaska. And when the locals call this the "Emerald Isle," don't think it's just a case of misguided northern exposure humor: Because of the strong marine influence, it's rain, not snow, that shapes the landscape - which does turn a dazzling green in summer.

Summer is when most visitors arrive for the hunting and fishing. In recent years, eco-tourism has also been a catchphrase here, with tours (some of them by kayak) for bear-watching and whale-watching (gray whales during spring or fall migrations, orcas in spring and summer). The wildlife is abundant (Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge covers about two-thirds of the island), the hiking trails plentiful. And when the call of the wild slows down a bit, residents here find amusement with a rodeo, a carnival, a music festival, even a golf "tournament" of sorts (only one hole, up the side of 1,400-foot-high Pillar Mountain).

A commercial fishing center since the late 1800s, Kodiak has survived hard times and natural disasters, from volcanic eruptions to earthquakes and tsunamis. It's not your palm-tree-and-mai-tai tropical getaway, but if you're happiest with a fishing rod in hand or photographing some of the best nature has to offer, you probably won't be disappointed.