This journey to the western shores of Vancouver Island expedition takes you on an exploration of the ecosystems, wildlife, natural history, and Indigenous cultures of Barkley Sound, at the edge of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Available as a 3, 4 or 7 night stay, this experience provides an opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the rhythms, ecosystems, and deep cultural history of this remarkable region. Each day will include morning and evening briefings, and all activities described here are optional. Of course you can simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the view!
Day 1: Arrival, Lodge Orientation, and West Bamfield Walking Tour
Your experience begins with your mid-morning arrival in Bamfield, British Columbia, usually either by floatplane from Vancouver or via the passenger and freight vessel MV Frances Barkley from Port Alberni.
Upon arrival at the lodge, you’ll be greeted by staff who will help you get settled into your room and give you a tour of the lodge and its amenities. After lunch, we’ll enjoy a walking tour of West Bamfield, including local beaches and the historic boardwalk.
Back at the lodge this afternoon, you’ll have time to relax in the ocean-front big room, complete with stone fireplace, as well as explore the surrounding gardens and forest, or enjoy the sauna or indoor steam shower.
Evening presentation: Marine Mammals of Barkley Sound.
Day 2: Beach Walk, Intertidal Explorations, Sea Otters, and Kelp Forests
If you’re an early riser, you might start your day with some pre-breakfast bird watching or photography from the elevated bluff at the lodge, or while walking through the forests and on the beaches of West Bamfield.
After breakfast, we’ll enjoy a guided interpretive walk along Brady’s Beach, a favourite spot of locals, loved for its soft sand, sea stacks, and tidepools filled with colourful marine life. On warm days, this is an ideal place to kick off your shoes and stroll barefoot on this beautiful sandy beach and wave-swept shore interspersed with rocky outcrops. With or without shoes, you’ll enjoy learning about the fascinating lives of intertidal marine invertebrates from our experts, and why the intertidal zone is home to such an amazing diversity of marine life.
Our boat-based excursion this afternoon will take us to explore the remarkable shoreline between Bamfield and Cape Beale, at the edge of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, all within the traditional territory of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. As we cruise closely along the shore we’ll be on the lookout for bald eagles, black bears feeding along the shore, as well as mink, river otters, seals, sea lions, whales, and potentially even the sea otters that are currently returning to this region. Along the way, we’ll skirt the edges of kelp forests and learn about the dramatic ecological transformations that are taking place as sea otters make their come back. Weather permitting, we’ll cross Trevor Channel to the Deer Group Islands and cruise to the outer islands of Bordelais and Folger where we’ll visit a sea lion haul out and watch for grey whales and seabirds.
This afternoon, you might choose to go on a self-guided stroll along Bamfield’s historic boardwalk, take a guided sea kayaking tour of Bamfield Inlet, spend some time on one of the many pocket beaches in the area, or simply enjoy relaxing at the lodge with a book from our resource library.
After dinner, we’ll cap off the evening with a beverage on the bluff as we watch an awe-inspiring
sunset against the ocean and mountain backdrop.
Evening presentation: Return of Sea Otters and Kelp Forests to Barkley Sound
Day 3: Coastal Rainforest Walk, Bear Viewing, and Boat Excursion
Start this morning off by enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee while chatting with our culinary team, or head up to the lookout bluff and enjoy panoramic ocean views and sounds as the morning unfolds around you, and maybe even spot some whales in the inlet! You can’t help but be moved by this incredible setting
This morning’s activity will be a boat-based wildlife viewing excursion along nearby shorelines, during which we’ll have good chances of encountering and observing black bears foraging in the intertidal zone. Depending on the time of year, we also expect to see a diversity coastal birds, including kingfishers, mergansers, harlequin ducks, bufflehead, goldeneye, oystercatchers, cormorants, grebes, loons, turnstones, and, of course, bald eagles. After lunch, we’re off to explore the surrounding coastal temperate rainforests with a casual interpretive walk through the Bamfield/Huu-ay-aht Community Forest. We’ll see the towering cedar, spruce, and hemlock trees that form this globally rare forest ecosystem and learn about the incredible ecological relationships that make these forests some of the most productive on the planet, and explore the fascinating relationships between salmon, bears, rivers, and trees. Back at the lodge later this afternoon, enjoy the warmth, comfort, and ocean views of the
ocean-front big room with a cup of tea or coffee, or a glass of wine. As we do every night after dinner (or before, depending on the season), we’ll enjoy a sundowner beverage on the bluff for the incredible sunset. And once the sun has set, the stargazing can begin.
Evening presentation: Introduction to Coastal Temperate Rainforests
Day 4: Ancient Village and Fortress of Kiix?in
Today, our expedition culminates with an inspiring and insightful guided tour of the ancient Huu-ay-aht Nation village and fortress site of Kiix?in, located just a short distance from the lodge. Our Huu-ay-aht guide and cultural interpreter will lead us on a cultural journey through the history of this remarkable site, situated on a beautiful beach fronted by sea stacks, and surrounded by old-growth coastal temperate rainforest. The moss-laden remains of 12 longhouses, including standing house posts and beams, outline this village that once housed more than 500 people. We’ll learn about the lifeways of the people who lived here and how they constructed and used the adjacent fortress to protect themselves when needed. This is an approximately six-hour excursion that includes a brief boat ride, a stroll along a boardwalk through coastal rainforest, a short beach walk, and a chef-prepared picnic lunch.
After returning to the lodge for the afternoon, enjoy the mesmerizing panoramic views from the bluff while watching for eagles, otters, sea lions, whales, and other coastal wildlife. Or enjoy playing any of the many lawn games we have on hand, such as Bocce ball or cornhole. Once again after dinner, we’ll cap off another day with one more unforgettable sunset, indulging in the incredible shades of red, pink, organe, purple, and more that take over the skies as the sun disappears into the horizon or behind the coastal mountains.
Evening presentation: Introduction to the Human History of Barkley Sound
Day 5: Post-Breakfast Farewells
After breakfast, we’ll formally bring our expedition to a close as we say our farewells and depart Bamfield having explored and connected with this remarkable part of the world, feeling rested, insightful, and inspired.
***Please note that this itinerary is a sample of what can be expected. Exact details of each itinerary such as daily excursions or evening presentations are fluid based on a number of changing factors including season, weather and rotating environmental experts on site.***
Lodge and Guest Services:
Contact us for more information and pricing!
• Transportation to and from Bamfield
• Scheduled Ferry Service from Port Alberni
• Scheduled Float Plane Service from Vancouver Airport (south terminal)
• Chartered Boat from Port Alberni
• Ground Transportation from Nanaimo or Victoria
• Pre / Post nights in Vancouver or on Vancouver Island (Nanaimo, Victoria or Port Alberni)
• Rental Car
• BC Ferry service between Vancouver and Vancouver Island