As our floatplane lifts away from Vancouver, the landscape changes. Gleaming high-rises fall away in favor of towering green pine trees that cover the mountains of Vancouver Island. Small towns dot the valleys, but it’s mostly trees, lakes, and more trees as we fly west towards a small bay north of Tofino. The float plane dips down towards the sparkling Bedwell River estuary, located in the remote Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere reserve. A collection of white tent structures comes into view, and the excitement builds. As far as incredible places for families to discover on BC’s wild coast, visiting Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge with kids will knock family travel dreams out of the park.
It’s hard to believe that in this challenging and remote location, the Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge operates a luxurious all-inclusive glamping experience for only five months of the year. In the tradition of great safari camps, the canvas guest and amenity tents are assembled in mid-May and taken down at the end of September, then stored until the beginning of the next season. As one of the premier Vancouver Island resorts, this wild retreat is glamping at its finest and most luxurious. And yes, families with children aged six years and older are welcome.
Wild Luxury at Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge with Kids
This luxury Baillie Lodges property is the ‘land of firsts’ for many visitors to this coastal temperate rainforest, a thirty minute boat ride from Tofino. Many urban-dwellers and families have never experienced the view from a saddle, nor the rush of salmon fishing, or seeing orcas in Bedwell Sound.
On the edge of the Pacific, Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge offers an experience unlike any other. It’s the perfect get-away-from-it-all for adventurous travelers and families looking to reconnect with nature and each other in pristine wilderness.
Luxurious Glamping Tents
Glamping at Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge reaches a whole new level of comfort. Each white canvas prospector tent is spacious and cosy, decorated with turn-of-the-century antiques from across Canada. There is a propane gas stove heating each tent. Each night, guests can snuggle underneath down comforters and handmade quilts in their comfortable king sized beds.
There are only 20 luxury guest tents at Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge. Luxury Ensuite Bathroom tents have king sized beds, a full-sized day bed, seating area and antique dressers. The ensuite bathroom contains a fantastic outdoor cedar shower. Wash your hair underneath centuries-old fir trees, breathing in the pure air of the coastal rainforest.
Five original Deluxe Outpost Tents are roomy, with king bed and two twin beds or a single day bed. Washrooms and showers are located outside of each tent. Raised and lighted cedar boardwalks connect all of the lodge tents. You can hear the Bedwell Estuary waters come in and out with the tide underneath the tents.
Children six and older can enjoy a special sleep-away camp experience when you request (at the lodge’s discretion) one of a limited number of children’s tents. The tents are smaller in size, with two twin beds or one queen bed. There’s a flush toilet in the private bathroom outside the tent, plus an assigned private shower and sink in a nearby shower house.
Enjoy adventures in the wild
The all-inclusive nature of Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge extends to its extensive menu of wilderness experiences on land and sea. Each evening, the lodge’s Activity Directors discuss and plan the next day’s activities with each guest. The activity plan will depend upon weather, tidal charts, animal sightings and a guest’s age and spirit of adventure.
Activities include half or full day salmon fishing, ocean fishing, ocean and river kayaking, bear and whale-watching (in season), archery, target and range shooting, hiking, mountain biking, and even water-skiing. All the activities are included in the all-inclusive price of a 3, 4 or 7 night stay at Clayoquot Lodge.
Many activity choices will be part of guests’ ‘land of firsts’ list. I enjoyed my first horseback ride on a strong-willed chestnut-brown mare named Cash, went salmon-fishing in the sound, (or in my case, more like rockfish-fishing), and skeet-shooting. The exhilaration of each activity, sense of adventure, and pure joy of being in such a magnificent environment was profoundly moving. It is easy to see how travelers return home changed by their stay at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort.
For those looking to go higher and wilder, take a ride in the lodge’s on-site helicopter. This bird can lift you 4,500 feet above sea level to Cloud Camp near the top of Ursus Mountain. Spend the day in an outdoor playground of high-altitude fishing, hiking, wild foraged food picnics, even yoga (extra fees apply).
Fully certified, friendly guides lead all Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge adventures, including kayaking, salmon fishing, crabbing, hiking, and river-rafting. The lodge provides all helmets, fishing gear, life jackets, rain gear, riding boots and whale-watching suits for all ages. Guests can also have fun with the lodge’s trampoline, ping pong table, gym, yoga studio and games room.
Should anyone tire from all that wild adventure, the Healing Grounds Spa offers massage and body treatments by reservation. The wood-fired hot tubs are open to all guests to sooth muscles or watch the sunset at the end of fabulous day.
Dine on fabulous food
As the Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge is a Baillie Lodges property, the quality of food and drink is of the highest standard. The Lodge prides itself on offering the best modern coastal cuisine of locally raised and grown products. This includes spirits and wine from British Columbia’s Okanagan valley.
The continental breakfast bar opens early at 6:30 a.m. with freshly-baked breads and pastries. There are also several gluten free options, as well as cheeses, fruit, muesli and cereals. Guests can also order hot menu items such as pancakes, oatmeal and eggs benedict from the set menu. The choice and quality of the food options at any time of day in such a remote location is truly incredible. It’s so worth waking up early for!
The open kitchen in the cosy Cookhouse allows guests to see the chefs hard at work from morning to night. The impressive menu highlights the freshest local seafood, such as salmon and shellfish. The array of delicious meat courses and desserts is also fantastic.
Cookhouse staff can easily accommodate children’s tastes as well. Chicken fingers and truffle fries or beef sliders and chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream can be served at every meal. But it’s a great opportunity for kids to try new foods and flavors. If your family catches a salmon or a basket of prawns during your stay, the Cookhouse chefs can prepare them for your dinner, or pack it up for transport home.
The Cookhouse has a colorful, well-stocked Candy Bar that will tempt kids and adults. Freshly baked goodies sit in a glass case, alongside sweet candies and saltwater taffy. The Candy Bar sign gently reminds guests to enjoy the treats, but to save some for others too.
A stay at Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge offers adventurous travelers and families a once-in-a-lifetime experience to connect to the natural world, and reconnect with each other.
How to Get There: Guests fly directly into Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge via seaplane from the Seair Seaplane Terminal at Vancouver International Airport. Flights are included in lodge accommodation reservations. Departures and arrivals are on Thursdays and Sundays.
Guests needing a stay in Vancouver can book the Luxury Gone Wild package at the historic Rosewood Hotel Georgia at either end of their travel schedules. For the best Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge rates, guests are encouraged to contact the resort directly.
Photo Credits: C. Laroye, Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge
Disclosure: The writer was the guest of Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, and thanks Destination BC for its transportation support. As always, her love of incredibly luxurious glamping and activities in the wild are honest and her own.