Boardwalk stroll
Halibut Cove Lures the Romantic

  • Artist Diana Tillion and fisherman Clem Tillion came to Halibut Cove 50 years ago as newlyweds, bought half of Ismailof Island and began creating the ideal home for their children and grandchildren.
  • Before the Tillions came, the Cove was inhabited by a handful of bachelors and one couple left over from the herring fishery which had been wiped out by 1930. Their cohesive spirit pervades the fabric of life here today. Before that, in the days before history was written down here, it was bountiful home for people thought to have migrated across a land bridge from Asia centuries ago.
  • When Clem brought his artist bride to this storybook setting, Halibut Cove began it's evolution toward what the visitor experiences today. With Diana's creative energy as seed, the island blossomed with artists, including one Tillion daughter, Marion Beck who focused a part of her boundless creativity on adding the only "commercial" establishments -- an elegant little restaurant and a gallery to showcase Cove talent.
  • Other artists came. Twenty-two years ago, potter/sculptor/painter Alex Combs settled on the far end of the isthmus that links the two halves of the island, anchoring the enclave. Jay Greene began creating delicate distinctive jewelry from ebony wood inlaid with abalone and mother of pearl. Youngsters grew up in pottery shops and studios, and went on to develop their own artistic interests and styles. Visiting artists return to hold workshops; a few stay, enriching the aggregate talent as they make Halibut Cove their home.
  • The Gallery focuses the visitor's attention on fine samples of the artists' creations, but as the traveler meanders beyond this stop, he'll find his experience heightened by natural beauty, enhanced by man. Bluebells bobbing from granite cliffs. A garden protected from woodland creatures by a hanging of fishnet. And as you stroll, you might be greeted by a llama, a pig, a horse or two -- maybe even chickens.
  • The artistic work of the residents is most definitely not confined to the few galleries dotting Halibut Cove. It spills over in paintings and ceramic whimsies mounted on exterior walls along the wooden walkways. The boardwalks and their supports, reflected in the peaceful waters, form their own poetic lacework. Inverted illusion stairs meet real stairs leading from the water to architectural delights -- the homes of the sixty or so residents.
  • A walk up the trail to the natural stone arch which guards the entrance to the west end of the cove takes you through forests of towering Sitka spruce, vying with bright varied undergrowth for your attention. Below you, the curve of the isthmus garlands the sparkling bay with driftwood. A stroll through and beyond Alex Combs' gallery and workshop puts you on a trail where bright red raspberries beckon from lush greenness.
  • Approximately 10,000 guests a summer are allowed to visit, limited by the capacity of the picturesque little wooden ferry, the Danny J, that brings them the five miles from the Homer harbor to the dock below The Saltry Restaurant.
  • There are rarely more than 60 guests in Halibut Cove at one time, but even so, some residents feel crowded at times. They agree to limit access to the afternoon and evening, with the Danny J making two daily runs to transport guests. A few come by private boat as well, but charters are not allowed.
  • Visitors who come to Halibut Cove with senses attuned to beauty return to the mainland mightily enriched by this island that is a work of art.

Halibut Cove, Alaska

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