So it's been awhile....
As you'll notice by my last post (which was AGES ago!) I had broken my collarbone when I was dirt biking this spring. The recovery wasn't so bad. Okay, it kind of sucked. But that's no excuse for why it's taken me so long to get back into the swing of things, I mean, I've been pretty much healed up for a couple of weeks now. Luckily, I was fairly healed in time for my Grizzly photo expedition, so it's all good. But that just also happens to be my excuse. I was having waaaay too much fun this summer road tripping around Vancouver Island and shooting. I went in search of the grizz (twice) and stayed in cabins and yurts and treehouses and on tugboats and - well, maybe I'll just show you ;-)
First Stop: Soule Creek Lodge in Port Renfrew.
These spacious and luxurious yurts have views for DAYS. The owners were super welcoming and I was glad I had the foresight to book myself in for a reservation for dinner during my stay. I wish I'd thought to bring my swimsuit as they have an amazing outdoor hot tub with incredible views and surrounded by little fairy lights for evening soaks after a day of hiking.
The owners also happen to be experienced international chefs that put the abundance of fresh local fare to good use. (Seriously, the food is incredible).
There are loads of things to explore and do in Port Renfrew, especially if you're into hiking and outdoor adventure. Definitely hit up The Renfrew Pub if you're making a run into town, too.
Next Stop: Cluxewe Resort in Port McNeill.
I was particularly sold on Cluxewe Resort prior to even booking as it was recommended to me as an all Indigenous owned and operated resort.
But the location was even better than I could have dared hope for. Cozy little cabins right on the oceanfront (book early for these ones because they go fast!) and firepits in front of each one, for those amazing summer nights sat by the campfire, listening to the waves crash in and watching the stars put on a show. The sunsets there are pretty spectacular too.
They also have, on site, a fantastic waterfront bistro with high end fare. Reservations are recommended.
Next Stop: Free Spirit Spheres at Qualicum Beach.
Yes, these are THOSE spheres. The ones you see on nearly every bucket listicle of amazing places to stay before you die. And they absolutely live up to the hype. From the moment I arrived, I was warmly welcomed and made to feel at home. The host, Jamie, greeted me with an unbelievable welcome "snack" basket. I use quotes for the word snack because it would have fed me for 2 days, easily.
He showed me around the property, and, upon seeing me hauling my sizeable amount of camera gear out of my trunk, made sure to point out the baby hummingbirds that were *just* on the verge of flying their nest.
I stayed in "Eryn" and honestly, it was just so....perfect. I didn't even want to leave my little sphere, even to explore the beaches nearby. I simply put on my playlist (and they have a bluetooth speaker for you to connect to in your sphere!) pulled out a book, and swayed with the breeze through the treetops. Honestly, it was heaven.
Each sphere comes with it's own compostable toilet at the foot of the steps, or you can walk a few steps further and use the rather luxurious full service washrooms, complete with hot showers (again, one for each sphere).
Next Stop: Swept Away Inn in Port Alberni.
I stumbled across this gem while googling points of interest on the island. I was delighted to see that they had a room available on the date I would be coming through (to be honest, I kind of re-routed my trip a wee bit just for the chance to stay here!) and quickly booked myself in for a night. As an afterthought I booked myself in for a dinner too while I was there.
Do that. Book yourself in for the dinner. Holy cow.
I mean, staying in a cute little bunkroom on a tugboat on the water is a cool enough experience, but when you add a home cooked family style meal of French Moroccan fare cooked in the little galley on board? Whoa.
Owners Daniel and Bouchra are unbelievably warm and welcoming. I promise you won't want to leave. And if they'd kept feeding me, I probably wouldn't have.
Next Stop: Seine Boat Inn in Alert Bay.
I booked this place merely as a "base camp" for my Grizzly expeditions, but in hindsight, I wish I'd booked myself in for an extra day or two to explore Alert Bay.
Such a unique little town off the Northern tip of Vancouver Island (you have to take a ferry from Port McNeill to get there), there's plenty to see and do while you're there.
Unexpectedly, my husband and daughter were suddenly able to join me for this leg of the trip (minus the grizzly expedition). The only problem though, is that we had our little pug with us, and hadn't planned any pet friendly accommodations on our route. No problem. I called the owner at Seine Boat Inn and she agreed to squeeze in my husband, my daughter, AND my dog into the small single room I'd booked. We made it work :)
The Inn itself is a true hidden gem. It's literally (on stilts) ON the water, and, if you splurge a bit and get yourself an ocean view room, it's 1000% worth it. While we didn't have an ocean view room, we still had our own little patio from which we could hear the waves rolling in quite nicely. Pop out the "back door" of our room, and there it was, the ocean view.
While visiting, I recommend a trip to the local museum, a whale watching tour, and a meal at Pass'n Thyme Restaurant (preferably at sunset).
Next Stop: Oyster Bay Resort at Campbell River.
Another stop that I wished I had more time at; Oyster Bay Resort. These gorgeous little cabins have an uninterrupted view of beach and ocean and come equipped with full kitchens, HUGE soaker tubs with jets, and a BBQ on every balcony.
They also have pet friendly options!
The owners here, too, were super accommodating (I think it's an island thing!) and let me park my car there for a couple of days before our arrival as we were headed up North Island and didn't want to drive 2 vehicles all the way up and back.
Close enough to Campbell River that you can pop into town and do some shopping if you like, but far enough away that you feel like you're getting away from it all and having a legit beach holiday.
Two recommendations while there: Driftwood Restaurant down the highway a bit serves up huge portions of delicious Chinese food.
Westcoastees in Campbell River has some of the best selection of unique Vancouver Island style clothing you'll ever come across. I now own 5 shirts from there. Maybe more. Don't judge.
Next Stop: Seaview Game Farm in Black Creek.
I'm almost reluctant to even post this one because I don't really want anyone to go there! It's a little patch of heaven and I'd like to keep it that way. Fortunately, you have to book (way ahead) to get in, and there's a limited number of spots available, so it won't get swamped with tourists and looky-loos.
Seaview Game Farm offers a select few oceanfront camping sites and one incredible yurt, also overlooking the ocean. The yurt itself contains a full kitchen, upstairs loft with 2 single beds, downstairs bedroom with double bed, a dining room and a sitting area with a pullout couch, as well as a spacious bathroom with soaker tub and separate shower. A wraparound deck outside is equipped with deck chairs to while away the day with a book, or you can head down to the small bluff overlooking the beach and chill out by the campfire.
It's also, as the name indicates, on a working game farm, so the kids can do a farm tour and meet, pet and feed the animals. There's also a small shop on site where you can purchase their cheeses, meats, a few snacks, etc.
If you're lucky enough to book in here, book yourself in for a few days to really soak up those good good island vibes.
And that's it! This summer's ramblings just made me fall more and more in love with the island, and I feel like I only got a taste of all it has to offer. Good thing I'm only a short ferry ride away, because I've got the feeling I'll be back again soon for more adventure :)