Getty Images/First Light

Kodiak Island

Kodiak is the island of plenty. Consider its famous brown bears, the second-largest ursine creatures in the world (after the polar bear). Thanks to an unblemished ecosystem and an unlimited diet of rich salmon that spawn in Kodiak's lakes and rivers, adult male bears can weigh up to 1400lb.

Part of the wider Kodiak Archipelago and the second-largest island in the US after Hawaii’s Big Island, Kodiak acts as a kind of ecological halfway house between the forested Alaskan Panhandle and the treeless Aleutian Islands. Its velvety green mountains and sheltered, ice-free bays were the site of the earliest Russian settlement in Alaska and are still home to one of the US’s most important fishing fleets.

The island’s main attraction – beyond its bears – is its quiet Alaskan authenticity. Only a small northeastern section of Kodiak is populated. The rest is roadless wilderness protected in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.