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
$2,100 to $4,795 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
6-nights
Starts / Ends
Bamfield
Distance
Up to 25 nautical miles (46 km)/day
Physical REquirements
Moderate

Summary

Our 6-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 and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. These expeditions here 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 Brady’s Beach Explore

Our expedition begins with your mid-morning arrival in Bamfield, either by floatplane from Vancouver, via water taxi from Port Alberni or Ucluelet, or by driving 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 Bamfield, including Brady’s beach, locally famous for its white-sand, sea stacks, and tidepools filled with colourful marine life.

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: Introduction to the Human History of Barkley Sound

Day 2
Trevor Channel and Deer Group Islands

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.

Our first boat excursion into Barkley Sound will take us to explore Trevor Channel, the remarkable shoreline between Bamfield and Cape Beale, and the Deer Group Islands, all within the traditional territory of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. We’ll be on the lookout for eagles, seals, sea otters, whales, and black bears feeding along the shore. Weather permitting, we’ll cruise to the outer islands of Bordelais and Folger, visit a sea lion haul out, and watch for gray whales and sea otters around Cape Beale. 

Later this afternoon, enjoy a self-guided stroll along Bamfield’s historic boardwalk or go on a guided sea kayaking tour of Bamfield Inlet.

Evening presentation:  Marine Mammals of Barkley Sound

Day 3
Inner Broken Group and Pinkerton Islands

Start this morning off enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee while chatting with our culinary team in our spacious open kitchen. Or join an early-morning excursion to view black bears and other wildlife.

Our boat-based excursion this morning will take us across Imperial Eagle Channel to the inner Broken Group and Pinkerton Islands in the eastern portion of Barkley Sound. In this area, in particular, we’ll be on the lookout for black bears foraging along the shore and visit a small coastal estuary. Near the Pinkerton Islands we’ll pass the site of the former Sechart Whaling Station (ca. 1910-1920) and discuss the enormous numbers of whales that once inhabited this region prior to industrial whaling, as well as discuss whaling by First Nations along the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Our lunch stop today will be in either of the natural lagoons formed by Dodd, Turtle, and Willis Islands, or Jacques and Jarvis Islands, within the Broken Group Islands Unit of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. We’ll see and discuss shell middens, accumulated through thousands of years of Indigenous habitation, as well as stone fish traps and clam gardens. We’ll also have the opportunity to walk amongst massive old-growth Red cedar and Sitka spruce.

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

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

Day 4
Outer Broken Group Islands

Start this morning with a stroll around the surrounding gardens, forests, and front beach with your coffee and camera in hand. 

Today’s excursion takes us to the outer Broken Group Island, at the edge of the open Pacific Ocean. This is the domain of high-energy shorelines, wind-swept forests, seabird colonies, sealions rookies, sea otters, kelp forests, gray whales, mammal-eating killer whales. It’s also the traditional territory of the Tseshaht First Nation and the ancient village of Ts’ishaa (also known as Benson Island). We’ll go ashore at Ts’ishaa and be joined by a Tseshaht Nation whenever possible guide to learn about the more than 5000-year history of this spectacular place.

The outer Broken Group Islands are also a wonderful area to explore and learn about the colourful and diverse world of the rocky intertidal zone where we’ll find an amazing diversity of marine invertebrates, including giant green anemones, lemon nudibranchs, bat stars, giant gumboot chitons, frilled dog whelks, peanut worms, purple encrusting sponges, and iridescent seaweeds.

Later afternoon or this evening, relax in our ocean-front hot tub or enjoy a luxurious steam shower before turning in for the night.

Evening presentation: Introduction to Coastal Temperate Rainforests 

Day 5
Loudoun Channel and Herring Spawning

Herring spawning season is one of the great ecological events on the BC coast and truly a spectacle of nature. Located on the northwest side of Barkley Sound, Loudon Channel and the shoreline between Ucluelet Harbour and Toquart Bay, is one of the largest spawning sites of Pacific herring on the BC coast. Early each spring (mid-March to early-April) millions of these small but enormously important fish arrive here to spawn and deposit their eggs on the seaweeds and seagrasses found along this shoreline. The result is an ecological bonanza for the predators and scavengers that gather to feast on both herring and herring eggs, including seabirds, whales, seals and sea lions, salmon, eagles, and even bears and wolves.

Although early in the season, this is a wonderful nature-viewing and photography opportunity not to be missed! At other times of the year, Loudoun Channel itself is a hotspot for marine wildlife and a great place to view and photograph seabirds, including murres, murrelets, oystercatchers, turnstones, cormorants, and more.

This afternoon you’ll have the option of participating in a citizen science project monitoring marine fish abundance using a drop camera or ROV.

Evening presentation: Ecological and Cultural Importance of Pacific Herring

Day 6
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 a short distance from the Outer Shores Lodge. Our Huu-ay-aht guide 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 these people 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 a boardwalk through old-growth coastal rainforest, a beach walk and exploration, and our 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:  Expedition Review and Closing

Day 7
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 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 30-May 7 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Spring Migration!
$550 CAD/person/night
New Expedition!
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
May 7-14 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Spring Upwelling!
$550 CAD/person/night
New Expedition!
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
May 14-21 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Spring Upwelling!
$550 CAD/person/night
New Expedition!
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
June 11-18 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Lowest Tides of the Year!
$550 CAD/person/night
New Expedition!
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
June 18-25 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Summer Solstice!
$550 CAD/person/night
New Expedition!
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
July 9-Aug 20 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Return of the Whales
$550 CAD/person/night
New Expedition!
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
Sept 17-24 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Salmon, Bears, Forests!
$550 CAD/person/night
New Expedition!
Bamfield
Booking Inquiry
Sept 24-Oct 1 (3, 4, or 7-nights) Salmon, Bears, Forests!
$550 CAD/person/night
New Expedition!
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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