West Vancouver Island

Outer Shores Lodge at the edge of Pacific Rim National Park

West Coast Vancouver Island, Canada | Credit: James Thompson

Season(s)
Spring, Summer, Fall
Duration
3-nights to 7-nights
Pricing
$1,650 to $3,850 CAD/person
Starts / Ends
Outer Shores Lodge, Bamfield
Overview

There are few places in the world that can match the natural beauty of Vancouver Island’s remote west coast. And nowhere exemplifies this region like Barkley Sound and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Beginning in 2022, our base of operations for all of our West Vancouver Island expeditions will be Outer Shores Lodge, located at the edge of Barkley Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island,  in the small historic fishing community of Bamfield and traditional territory of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. Here, our guests will enjoy nature-based expedition experiences balanced with the comfort, luxury, and amenities offered by this private ocean-front lodge and its surrounding forests, gardens, and seascapes.

Join us at Outer Shores Lodge for an expedition into 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. Through boat-based and shore excursions we’ll explore the unique geography 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.

We’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. We see and learn about shell middens, stone fish traps, clam gardens, and 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

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").

Amenities of Outer Shores Lodge, including ocean-facing great room, outdoor hot tub, indoor steam shower, resource and presentation room, chef-prepared meals in a beautiful open kitchen, surrounding gardens and forests, and panoramic views afforded from the adjacent "bluff".

Itineraries

Duration
4-nights
Starts / Ends
Bamfield
Distance
Up to 25 nautical miles (46 km)/day
Physical REquirements
Moderate

Summary

Our 4-night West Vancouver Island expeditions take us on an exploration of the ecosystems, wildlife, natural history, Indigenous cultures, and the post-contact era of Barkley Sound, at the edge of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. These expeditions (also available as 3- or 7-night stays) give our guests the opportunity to fully immerse themselves into 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. You are always welcome to simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the setting and amenities of Outer Shores Lodge itself.

Day 1
Arrival, Lodge Orientations, and West Bamfield Walking Tour

Our expedition begins with your mid-morning arrival in Bamfield, typically either by floatplane from Vancouver or via the passenger and freight vessel MV Frances Barkley from Port Alberni. Upon arrival at Outer Shores Lodge, you’ll be greeted by our expedition staff who will settle you into your accommodations 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 relax in the ocean-front big room with stone fireplace, explore the surrounding gardens and forest, or enjoy a soak in the outdoor hot tub or indoor steam bath.

Evening presentation: Marine Mammals of Barkley Sound

Day 2
Beach Walk, Intertidal Explorations, Boat Excursion, Sea Otters and Kelp Forests

If you’re an early riser, you might start your day with some pre-breakfast bird watching or photography around the lodge or the forests and beaches of West Bamfield.

After breakfast today we’ll enjoy a guided interpretive walk along Brady’s Beach, locally famous for its white-sands, sea stacks, and tidepools filled with colourful marine life. On warm days this is an amazing place to kick off your shoes and stroll bare footed 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, 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 this 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 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 otter 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, a guided sea kayaking tour of Bamfield Inlet, or simply enjoy relaxing at the lodge with a book from our resource library.

Evening presentation: Return of Sea Otters and Kelp Forests to Barkley Sound

Day 3
Coastal Rainforest Walk / Bear Viewing / 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. 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, oyster catchers, cormorants, grebes, loons, turnstones, and, of course, bald eagles.

After lunch today 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 among the most productive on the planet, including the fascinating relationships between salmon, bears, rivers, and trees.

Back at the lodge this later this afternoon, enjoy the warmth, comfort, and ocean views of the ocean-front big room with a cup of tea or glass of wine.

Evening presentation: Introduction to Coastal Temperate Rainforests 

Day 4
Ancient Village and Fortress of Kiix?in

Our expedition crescendos today 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 Outer Shores 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 tour that includes a short boat ride, strolling along a boardwalk through coastal rainforest, a short beach walk, and a chef-prepared picnic lunch.

After returning to the lodge this afternoon, enjoy the mesmerizing panoramic views from the bluff while watching for eagles, otters, sea lions, whales, and other coastal wildlife.

Evening presentation: Introduction to the Human History of Barkley Sound

Day 5
Post-Breakfast Farewells

This morning after breakfast we’ll formally bring our expedition to a close as we say our farewells and depart Bamfield and the Outer Shores Lodge having explored and connected with this remarkable part of the world, feeling rested, insightful, and inspired.

Featured Blog Posts

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

Dates & Rates

Date
Price
Status*
Depart / End
Booking
April 26-30 (4-nights) Spring Migration!
$550 CAD/person/night
Sold Out
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
April 30-May 5 (3 or 5-nights) Spring Migration!
$550 CAD/person/night
Available
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
May 6-9 (4-nights) Spring Upwelling!
$550 CAD/person/night
Sold Out
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
May 10-14 (4-nights) Spring Upwelling!
$550 CAD/person/night
Available
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
May 14-21 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Spring Upwelling / Open Bookings
$550 CAD/person/night
Available
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
May 21-28 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Spring Upwelling / Open Bookings
$550 CAD/person/night
Available (4 of 12)
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
June 11-18 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Lowest Tides of the Year / Opening Bookings
$550 CAD/person/night
Available (6 of 12)
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
June 18-25 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Summer Solstice / Open Bookings
$550 CAD/person/night
Available
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
July 9-Sept 3 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Summer Expeditions / Open Bookings
$550 CAD/person/night
Available
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
July 9-Sept 3 (3, 4, or 7-nights) PRIVATE LODGE: REUNIONS/ RETREATS/ WEDDINGS
Inquire for pricing quote
Available
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
Sept 17-24 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Salmon, Bears, Forests!
$750 CAD/person/night
Available
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
Sept 24-Oct 1 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Salmon, Bears, Forests!
$750 CAD/person/night
Available
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry

Notes on Pricing

Our prices are based on double occupancy, quoted in Canadian dollars, and subject to 5% Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST). All payments must be made in Canadian dollars, by cheque or credit card. All prices are subject to change without notice.

Resources

Preparing to go to West Vancouver Island?

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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