Entries in ‘British Columbia’ Journal

Visit to the West Coast of Vancouver Island, BC Canada

Monday April 16, 2012 at 8:08 AM | 4 Comments

 Things to Do on Vancouver Island, Canada

A recent long awaited return to Vancouver Island was a perfect dose of what fun trips are supposed to be.  Arriving early one morning in Vancouver, we claimed our car rental and headed directly to the ferry where we boarded ourselves and our car for the 1.5 hour trip the port town of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.  The weather was chilly and windy, but hot coffee and Nanaimo Bars, a local confection, warmed us up during the ride.

"Tom Chudleigh"

Tom Chudleigh of Free Spirit Spheres

Driving off the ferry,  our first mission was to locate Free Spirit Spheres, a lodging destination we’d heard about and had designated as a must see.  They offer a unique experience in which you sleep in a 10 foot diameter hand crafted sphere hanging from a tree in the forest.  After a few wrong turns on our way to up the coast, we finally arrived and were given a short tour.  Owner Tom Chudleigh, the sphere designer and builder is the genius behind the idea.  Though we’d seen the pictures, they didn’t do the spheres justice.  They were surprisingly spacious inside and the soft swaying provided a settling sense of comfort.  It was almost like being in a giant Christmas ornament and we both were captured by the concept.  We couldn’t stay though, as we had another destination planned, but these will definitely remain on my bucket list.  They are popular, so book ahead.

Tofino, Canada

"Wickaninnish Inn"

The ocean at your feet in Tofino at Wickaninnish Inn

We eventually made our way to the west coast toward the town of Tofino where we checked in to The Wickaninnish Inn, our hotel and landing spot for the next three days.  While the inn is a Relais & Chateaux property, in this case that appellation is pure gravy because the initial draw here is the location with the ocean right at the front door.  The hotel sits on a rocky point and is designed with maximum views in mind.  The rustic style is casual and comfortable with lots of featured work by local artists in the rooms and common area.  The first night we reserved a table for dinner at the inn’s restaurant, The Pointe, and as self designated foodies, it didn’t disappoint.  We feasted on local oysters, scallops, smoked salmon and Dungeness crab all presented like art on plates.  The art part lasted about three minutes before it was messed up, devoured and totally enjoyed.

Ancient Cedars Spa

"Wickaninnish Inn view"

Soak in the view while you soak your feet at Wickaninnish Inn

On the morning of our scheduled treatments at the inn’s Ancient Cedars Spa it was cool and drizzling, and we wondered what was up when we were offered thick terry robes and escorted outside to a covered porch and given lap blankets.  We shouldn’t have worried.  The seats were warm and within minutes we were soaking our feet and scrunching our toes in copper tubs of warm water filled with marbles, drinking hot herbal tea and watched the waves crashing through the rain.  A foot and leg massage was next, and then it was up and on to the main event where I had my introduction to a hot stone massage.  Big win.  Beachcombing and decompression ruled the rest of that day.

Tofino for whale watching and surfing


Scenic fishing village of Tofino

The scenic fishing village of Tofino is just up the road and is situated on a glassy calm inlet dotted with kayakers.  It’s a popular destination for whale watchers and surfers, and is small enough to explore by foot.  The local shops offer a nice selection of gift, clothing and gear shopping, along with an abundance of First Nations art.  We found several restaurants and pubs and tried our best to eat and drink our way through town.  And though we didn’t get to see any whales, we did visit the Whale Centre Maritime Museum which had some interesting local historical artifacts including a skeleton of a 40 ft. gray whale.

We look forward to returning to the area during winter months for the winter storm watch when the ocean’s 20 foot waves have their way with the coast.

INSIDER TIP – Be sure to ship home some locally smoked salmon from Trilogy Fish Company.  And don’t miss a day trip to Hot Springs Cove.  Accessible by boat or float plane, these remote springs shower down over huge boulders resting at the ocean.  We felt like we’d had a rugged outdoor experience without the physical effort.

"Wickaninnish Storm at Long Beach"

Waves as high as 20 feet hit the coast at Long Beach in Tofino, BC, Canada

If You Go:

For more information on British Columbia,  Canada

Tourism BC is on Twitter. For all things travel-related, follow Nancy D. Brown on Twitter

Related Post:

Things to Do in Vancouver, BC

Photos courtesy of Wickaninnish Inn.


King Pacific Lodge, Things to See and Do, Northern British Columbia, Canada

Friday October 14, 2011 at 12:12 AM | 7 Comments

"Barnard Harbor" "King Pacific Lodge" i

Paddle a kayak around secluded Barnard Harbor where King Pacific Lodge is tied to Princess Royal Island

King Pacific Outdoor Adventure Lodge

If you are interested in outdoor adventure activity,  yet you enjoy gourmet dining, snugly robes and a soft place to rest your head at night, I have just the place for you in British Columbia, Canada. Former San Francisco 49er football quarter back Joe Montana came here with his family and movie star Kevin Costner enjoyed this water world, otherwise known as King Pacific Lodge.

Once you have landed in Barnard Harbor via float plane, you’ll be greeted with a glass of champagne and ushered to your room in the luxury lodge. But don’t head inside just yet.  The back deck behind King Pacific Lodge is the place to watch  sea otters dive for fish heads after the fishing boats have returned or maybe you’ll get lucky and spot an eagle.

Seeking solitude at King Pacific Lodge

Love fishing and getting away to the great outdoors? Walk the decks and docks of the floating King Pacific Lodge.  There is always somewhere to go for quiet contemplation, to read a book or savour a glass of wine or a cigar after dinner.

After a busy day outdoors, come inside and relax in the great room by the stone fireplace. Craving something sweet? The cookie jar is always stocked.


While King Pacific Lodge is located in the Great Bear Rainforest, don’t let the rain keep you inside. The  Lodge provides guests with Mustang Survival Suits that will keep you warm and toasty out on the Pacific Ocean. When you do find yourself inside for an afternoon or evening, book  yourself a spa treatment or simply hang out at the hot tub, then take a dip into the cold plunge pool.

"Black Bear"

Go bear watching at King Pacific Lodge in northern British Columbia, Canada

When you come to King Pacific Lodge, get your picture taken by a fishing guide as you reel in a salmon; in front of the waterfall that tumbles down the mountain behind the lodge; or in a kayak heading off for some bear watching.

Meat lovers or those in need of gluten-free food will be happy to know that King Pacific Lodge will accommodate special dietary requests. If you love seafood, order the Catch of the day – being located on the coast you know that everything on the menu is going to be as fresh as possible.

"Heber Reece"

Coast Tsimishian Artist Heber Reece carved eagle and frog on cedar

It’s true that King Pacific Lodge is not the place to go for shopping retail therapy, but if you are interested in  First Nations art – from jewelry to artwork, drop into the store and consider taking home a special memory.

For the ultimate guided trip, go heli-hiking and let the lodge helicopter drop you on one of the neighboring mountain ridges so that you can enjoy above-tree-line trekking or access one of the numerous snowfields that linger well into the summer.

"Sea lions"

Bring your camera to King Pacific Lodge and Sea Lion Rock

A camera is a must for a trip to King Pacific Lodge. You may see Orcas and humpback whales – on a whale watching trip you might be lucky enough to see a whale breach; bears – black bears or, if you are very fortunate, a ‘spirit’ or Kermode bear; or just walk amongst 1000-year-old hemlocks and fern-clad canyons and feel dwarfed by these majestic giants. The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of one of the remote islands a short boat trip from King Pacific Lodge. On a day hike you can scramble to the summit of an island and have 360-degree views of the Great Bear Rainforest and pristine beaches.

Did I mention that King Pacific Lodge is perched on a 15,000 square foot floating barge? Ask for a “behind the scenes” tour of King Pacific Lodge. The lodge was built on an ex-US navy barge and a tour of the back of house reveals a fascinating world under the public spaces.

Looking for some exercise? Hike amid the old-growth forests of the Great Bear Rainforest; paddle a kayak to Cameron Cove to watch the salmon. At low tide you’ll see the world’s largest sea stars. Keep your eyes peeled for bears browsing on sedge grasses. My favorite walking route is the hike to the waterfall on the wilderness side of the lodge.

"Kermode Spirit Bear"

The fall is the best time for viewing a Kermode Spirit Bear in the Great Bear Rainforest

First Nations Gitga’at Village

If you are interested in First Nations culture, be sure to ask about a trip to the Gitga’at village (rhymes with Kit Kat) of Hartley Bay, where First Nations traditions of fishing for salmon, then smoking the fish to sustain the community in the winter months have gone on for thousands of years.

If you plan a trip to King Pacific Lodge in the spring,  look out for bears waking from hibernation and young bears keeping close to mother bear.

In the summer you’ll fish for Chinook salmon – the largest of the Pacific Ocean salmon, often growing up to 50 lbs.

The fall is the pinnacle time for bear viewing – grizzlies, black bears and the rare white Kermode or ‘spirit bear’ as it is known by the natives, greedily feed on migrating salmon so plentiful that the rivers and streams appear black. The guides know just where to take you on wildlife watching tours for that incomparable glimpse of the temperate rainforest’s most magnificent carnivore.

"Humpback Whale"

Go whale watching in Drummond Bay by Banard Harbor

Whale watching with pros

Go whale watching with Janie Wray and Hermann Meuter, whale researchers at the remote CetaceaLab.

Get out on the water and go kayaking around Barnard Harbour, or grab your hiking boots and hit the forest.

If you have kids, the Family Adventure Package, where adults and kids share adventures and kids learn to tie a fly, master a few words in Sm’algyax (the language of the Gitga’at) and fill their Adventure Passport, may be just the ticket.

Have you been to King Pacific Lodge in the Great Bear Rain Forest? What are your favorite things to do in Northern British Columbia, Canada?

Thanks to  Jayne Lloyd-Jones and Liz Sperandeo of Spectacular Ink for assistance with this post. Bear photos and whale fluke courtesy of Chris Vadden and Tanja Betz. Additional photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of King Pacific Lodge and Tourism British Columbia.

Related Post:

Things to See and Do in Vancouver, British Columbia