Pacific Rim national Park reserve

Passing Cloud comes to  Outer Shores Lodge in Bamfield

West Coast Vancouver Island, Canada | Credit: James Thompson Photography

Season(s)
Spring (March - May)
Duration
4-nights, 5-nights, and 7-nights
Pricing
$3,795 to $5,950 CAD/person
Starts / Ends
Outer Shores Lodge, Bamfield
Overview

Join us each Spring aboard the schooner Passing Cloud sailing from Outer Shores Lodge in Bamfield as we explore and experience Barkley Sound and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. These exciting and new expeditions combine the luxury and comfort of a private ocean-front lodge with the expedition-cruise opportunities provided by our beloved 70' classic wooden schooner.

Beginning in 2023, the schooner Passing Cloud will spend each Spring sailing and exploring throughout Barkley Sound and the world-famous Broken Group Islands Unit of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Uniquely, our base of operations for these expeditions will be Outer Shores Lodge, located in the remote coastal community of Bamfield and traditional territory of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. Here, you will enjoy both our nature-based excursions and experiences aboard Passing Cloud, balanced with the comfort, luxury, and amenities offered by our private ocean-front lodge and its surrounding forests and seascapes.

Join us for an experience in the sprawling island archipelagos of ancient rainforests and wave-carved coastlines, a magical place where herring spawn in kelp forests, bears forage on beaches, gray whales sift the shallows, and killer whales hunt for salmon and seals. From our inflatable skiffs and on shore excursions, we’ll explore the unique natural history of this region – islands, beaches, old-growth forests, rocky intertidal zones, kelp forest communities, seagrass meadows, estuaries, and fiords – and the diversity of wildlife it supports.

You’ll also explore and learn about the ancient and contemporary cultural history of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations who have lived here for thousands of years. You’ll see and learn about shell middens, stone fish traps, and clam gardens, and you’ll enjoy a guided tour of the ancient village and fortress site of Kiix?in. We’ll also delve into the “post-contact” era of this region – from sea otters to basking sharks, and from whaling stations to marine research stations.

Highlights

Day excursions, guided explorations, and sailing aboard our 70' classic wooden schooner, combined with the luxury accommodations and ammenities provided by Outer Shores Lodge.

Diverse wildlife and habitats, including gray, humpback, and killer whales, black bears, sea otters, seals, sea lions, eagles, seabirds, kelp forests, eelgrass meadows, rocky intertidal, and old-growth coastal rainforests.

Cultural experiences including a guided tour of the ancient Huu-ay-aht village and fortress site of Kiix?in (pronounced "kee-hin").

Sample Itineraries

Duration
4, 5, and 7-nights
Starts / Ends
Outer Shores Lodge, Bamfield
Distance
Up to 25 nautical miles (46 km)/day
Physical REquirements
Moderate

Summary

Our 4- and 7-night Herring Spawn and Grey Whale Migration expeditions sailing from Outer Shores Lodge aboard the schooner Passing Cloud give our guests the opportunity to witness two of the great ecological events on the BC coast.  Each March and early April, millions of adult Pacific herring arrive on the northwest side of Barkley Sound, depositing and fertilizing their eggs along the shoreline. At that same time, thousands of grey whales migrate along the west coast of Vancouver Island, making stops along the way at key locations, like Barkley Sound, for the herring spawn. The result is an amazing early spring congregation of coastal wildlife that arrives in Barkley Sound to feast on herring eggs and the herring themselves. We hope you’ll join us to witness this remarkable natural phenomenon.

Day 1
Ferry to Bamfield, Arrival and Orientations, Afternoon Excursion

Our Herring Spawn & Grey Whale Migration expeditions begin with your arrival in Bamfield. We recommend travelling to Bamfield via the passenger and freight carrying vessel, MV Frances Barkley. This historic vessel is operated by Lady Rose Marine Services and departs Port Alberni at ~8:00 am. The 3-4-hour cruise down the Alberni Inlet and into Barkley Sound gives you the chance to enjoy sightseeing and wildlife viewing along the way. You’ll disembark at the West Bamfield dock by noon and there you’ll be greeted by our lodge staff. Your luggage will be delivered to the lodge and, after an easy three-minute walk through the rainforest, you will arrive at Outer Shores Lodge.

Given the time of day, our first order of business will be to enjoy a delicious chef-prepared lunch, followed by lodge orientation, settling into accommodations, and preparing you for our first excursion aboard Passing Cloud the following morning. Afterward, we’ll enjoy a walking tour of West Bamfield, which includes the historic boardwalk and Brady’s Beach, famous locally for its sand, sea stacks, and tidepools filled with colourful marine life.

Back at the lodge this afternoon, you’ll have time to relax in our ocean-front great room or explore the surrounding gardens and forests and beaches, or take in the panoramic views from the lookout bluff. 

Evening presentation: Introduction to Herring Spawn & the Grey Whale Migration

Days 2-4
Herring Spawning, Wildlife Viewing and Photography, Boat Excursions, Lodge Amenities

For the next three days you’ll enjoy an adventurous and luxurious balance of daily excursions aboard Passing Cloud to witness the herring spawn and grey whale migration, along with all the other wildlife that congregates here with it. You’ll also have plenty of time to enjoy Outer Shores Lodge’s amenities, morning and afternoon self-guided activities (like beach and forest walks, birdwatching, photography, and panoramic views from “the bluff”), the community of Bamfield, wonderful chef-prepared meals, and evening educational presentations.

Each day after breakfast (~8:30 AM), we’ll embark on Passing Cloud for a leisurely cruise some 15 nautical miles (~ 26 km) to the northwest shoreline of Barkley Sound, the region’s historic centre of the herring spawning and everything that comes with it. There we’ll explore, keeping an eye out for both the large greenish-white plumes of water that indicate where the herring spawning is taking place, and all the coastal wildlife that typically accompanies this incredible natural phenomenon. 

To get a closer look, we’ll board our inflatable skiffs and watch for massive flocks of surf scoters, as well as gulls, eagles, and other seabirds, like murres, auklets, cormorants, and grebes. We’ll also be on the lookout for the California and Steller sea lions that frequently gather here in huge numbers to feast on herring while also staying vigilant in their watch for the killer whales that show up to hunt them.

Meanwhile, grey whales on their way to the Bering Sea stop by to slurp herring eggs off the seagrasses and seaweeds. And finally, we’ll be watching for the land mammals, like black bears and wolves, who arrive on the scene to eat the herring eggs when they get exposed during low tides.

Each day we’ll take a new route through the Broken Group and Deer Groups Islands, learning about the remarkable natural and cultural history of Barkley Sound and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve along the way.

Day 5
Post-Breakfast Activity, Expedition Wrap-Up, Depart Aboard MV Frances Barkley

This morning, after a leisurely breakfast and an optional morning activity, like a tour of the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre or low tide exploration at a nearby beach, we bring our expedition to a close, reflecting on all that we’ve experienced and learned over the past few days as we say our farewells, before you leave feeling rested and inspired.

Featured Blog Posts

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve 2023

Featuring Schooner Passing Cloud from Outer Shores Lodge!

New for Spring 2023, from March to May we are combining an Outer Shores Lodge stay in Bamfield with short sailing voyages aboard Passing Cloud! Join us as Passing Cloud makes West Vancouver Island her home port for 4-night, 5-night and 7-night combination lodge stay/sailing experiences exploring Pacific Rim National Park all spring long.

Date
Price
Status*
Depart / End
Booking
March 11-18 (7-nights) Herring and Grey Whales
$5,950/person
Waitlist
Outer Shores Lodge
Booking Inquiry
March 18-22 (4-nights) Herring and Grey Whales
$3,795/person
Waitlist
Outer Shores Lodge
Booking Inquiry
March 23-27 (4-nights) Herring and Grey Whales
$3,795/person
Waitlist
Outer Shores Lodge
Booking Inquiry
March 28-April 1 (4-nights) Herring and Grey Whales
$3,795/person
Waitlist
Outer Shores Lodge
Booking Inquiry
April 8-15 (7-nights) Pacific Rim Explorer
$5,950/person
Available
Outer Shores Lodge
Booking Inquiry
April 15-20 (5-nights) Pacific Rim Explorer *Photography Tour*
$4,750/person
Available
Outer Shores Lodge
Booking Inquiry
April 20-25 (5-nights) Pacific Rim Explorer
$4,750/person
Available
Outer Shores Lodge
Booking Inquiry
May 6-13 (7-nights) Pacific Rim Explorer
$5,950/person
Waitlist
Outer Shores Lodge
Booking Inquiry
May 13-18 (5-nights) Pacific Rim Explorer
$4,750/person
Available
Outer Shores Lodge
Booking Inquiry
May 18-23 (5-nights) Pacific Rim Explorer
$4,750/person
Available
Outer Shores Lodge
Booking Inquiry

Please inquire about our lodge-based expeditions in Barkley Sound and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve with the Schooner Passing Cloud!

Testimonials

This trip was more than I could have asked for as a person living in a world where the future of our planet and all of her inhabitants is in question. This trip gave me hope – not only that the Great Bear Rainforest still exists, but seeing the conservation work people are doing first hand, including providing the opportunity for this beautiful place to be seen and to inspire others. Anyone wanting to experience adventure, inspiration, the most natural beauty, profound animal encounters, once in a lifetime photography experiences, and the trip of a lifetime with genuine and amazing people who truly care about you having the best excursion possible – travel with Outer Shores.

— BARBARA, AB, CANADA

Thank you for a truly awesome trip. The highlights – there was almost nothing but highlights – the bears, the whales, the natural world, the sounds, the seas – above all the companionship.

— BARBARA, AB, CANADA

The inspiration provided by this trip will live on for years to come. Highlights: Spirit bear, humpback whale breaching near Whale Point, the Crew (Graham, Molly, Joel, and Russ). Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

— Owen, BC, CANADA

Every time I come aboard, the Passing Cloud feels more and more like home. This is partly due to the heart and soul of this ship, but mostly because of the people on board. From the mystical Kermode (Spirit) bears to the breaching whales, this trip has been a journey like no other. To the ship, the crew, and our undeniably charismatic Captain Russell, thank you for the trip of a lifetime.

— Lauren, MT, CANADA

“Leaving Passing Cloud and the Great Bear Rainforest after an amazing journey – both physical and spiritual. The ship, crew, and of course Russ, have transcended our expectations with a truly spectacular environment.”

— RenÉE, Mt, CANADA

“Everything was impressive about this trip. Every day stunning adventure, scenery, megafauna, and the friends we’ve made and been able to share the days with. We will share with all our friends an understanding and realization of a pristine and vulnerable coast.”

— Sharon & Hans, BC, CANADA

Resources

Preparing to go to Outer Shores Lodge and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve?

Barkley Sound is an ecologically and culturally remarkable region on the west coast of Vancouver Island and home to the Broken Group Islands and Cape Beale Headlands/West Coast Trail Units of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Below is a list of websites that will help you prepare for traveling to and experiencing this amazing place.

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