Kodiak, Alaska, US

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Kodiak is all about bears. And what bears! This unique subspecies named for the Kodiak Archipelago where they are found evolved in isolation for around 12,000 years and can reach heights of 3 meters, or 10 feet, when standing on their hind legs. One of the world’s largest carnivores, the bears have a diet that goes far beyond meat (they can sleep for up to eight months, then wake up ravenous to feast predominantly on grass, plants, berries and fish). About 3,500 live on this tiny island, meaning you have a great chance of seeing one, if not many, from May through October!

Shrubs and bushes cover the rolling hills here, giving Kodiak its Emerald Isle nickname. It was once a prime native hunting ground for the Alutiit, but their population plummeted after Russian traders and fur trappers settled the area in the late 1700s. Bought by the United States in 1867, Kodiak grew into a commercial fishing center. Today both the island and the hardworking town that shares its name attract anglers, hunters, adventure travelers and nature photographers. Top highlights include the Baranov Museum, the Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church and the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.