A fly-in enclave perched precipitously at land's end, mystery cloaks Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge like a thick West Coast fog. As writer Bianca Bujan learns, those who make the journey aren't surprised by the five-star creature comforts so much as the version of themselves they meet in the wild.
Donning a helmet, wetsuit and life jacket, my friend slides down a slippery rock and disappears into the rushing rapids that rage below. Her head pops up and she swims swiftly to the other side, welcomed by a circle of high fives. I turn my head away and my body shivers–it’s my turn next, and I’m terrified.
My heart is racing. I pause to look down at the faces that line the rocks on the other side of the river. They’re cheering me on, coaxing me to the edge of the cliff, and reassuring me as I retract from the edge. Then I do it: I squeeze my eyes tightly shut and drop into the water. As my head pops up, adrenaline takes over. I’m beaming as I climb out of the river; the rush propels me forward as I continue on my way.
Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge
We’re heading back down Bedwell River, completing a four-hour signature canyoning experience offered by Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge which includes a scenic upstream paddleboard, bouldering alongside glacier-fed rapids, and creeping and wading through water-filled tunnels and channels. The peak point of our day’s journey is reaching a glacier-fed waterfall that rushes into a crystal-clear pool–a paradise for snorkelling and swimming amongst hundreds of salmon that call the swimming hole home.
Our four-day stay is filled with one-of-a-kind experiences that are equally as thrilling: riding horseback through rivers and rainforest trails; taking in the "Sights of the Sound" on a wildlife-viewing Zodiac tour where we spot black bears, orcas and sea lions; hiking the Ursus Valley through old-growth trees and lush fern gardens; dipping in crystalline rock pools; and kayaking through intertidal waterways. While each experience in the wild wows, I later affirm with my group over dinner that canyoning is the top choice.
Clayoquot Wilderness LodgeClayoquot Wilderness Lodge
Bianca BujanAdventure is aplenty at this wildly remote, all-inclusive wilderness lodge that sits snug in the centre of the UNESCO-designated Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve and on the traditional territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. But a stay here is so much more than pulse-quickening outdoor pursuits. Nights are spent in private, luxury safari tents that are accessed by long, tree-lined wooden boardwalks–each tent kept warm by the heat of a wooden stove and adorned with brand-new king-sized beds that are dressed with organic linens and plump pillows.
Clayoquot Wilderness LodgeBianca BujanBianca Bujan
Sore muscles are soothed in private outdoor showers while gazing at the trees above, or with a visit to the spa, where massages are enjoyed seaside and languid soaks in large, cedar barrel hot tubs restore energy as silent serenity sets the mood.
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
Bianca BujanAfter satisfying our thirst for adventure, we refuel with five-star cuisine created by Executive Chef Asher Blackford and his talented team, who bring a rotating variety of earthy dishes to the table, made of ingredients that have been locally sourced, foraged or garden-grown on site. From a lingcod ceviche starter to a roasted Berkshire pork with foraged sea herbs, the three-course, rotating dinner menu flaunts the flavours found on Vancouver Island with seasonal flair.
Evenings are spent watching the sunset while sipping on creative cocktails (the Maple Bacon Sour quickly becomes a preferred tipple). I catch up with friends, taking in West Coast wilderness views through the floor-to-ceiling windows of The Ivanhoe bar and from the rooftop patio.
Clayoquot Wilderness LodgeThe Ivanhoe | Clayoquot Wilderness LodgeBianca BujanAs my stay draws to a close, I don’t want to leave.
The days were packed with fully immersive outdoor excursions that pushed me out of my comfort zone, challenging me mentally and physically. Lured into the untouched landscape, I discovered a newfound love and appreciation for the wilderness. I learned more about nature and even more about myself; the experience was truly transformational. And though it felt worlds away, it was all found within an hour of home.
When you go
Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge
How do you get to Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge?
The easiest and most scenic way to reach Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge is by seaplane. Departing from Seair's South River Terminal in Richmond, it takes 45 minutes to reach the Lodge's dock. One-way transfers cost $625 per person.
Alternatively, guests can travel to Tofino and arrive at the Lodge 35 minutes later via boat. Complimentary car parking is available. Boat transfers cost $300 each way, per group. (Up to seven guests.)
What exactly is included in the all-inclusive rate?
Can I bring my kid/dog to Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge?
Children who are six years and older are welcome to visit. Due to the abundance of wildlife, pets are prohibited. (Dog-lovers don't stress, there are resident pups on property.)
How long does the season run?
Mid-May to the end of September.