This article originally appeared in the second issue of Boundless Magazine in March 2021.
Author: Chloe Berge
Mist from a nearby waterfall prickles my cheeks. Dewy, spongy moss cushions my bare feet. I’m taking a forest bathing walk at Nimmo Bay Resort in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, a 15.8-million-acre expanse of remote wilderness on the north and central coasts of British Columbia that stretches 250 miles between Knight Inlet and the Alaska Panhandle. Accessible only by plane or boat, the noise of the modern world drops away behind the forest’s shadowy curtain.
The walk grounds me in this tranquil setting. Briny ocean air moves through towering Douglas fir, spruce, and cedar, carrying their fresh, herbaceous scent.
“It’s a mindfulness activity that allows you to tune in to and fully experience your surroundings; the colors , sounds, textures, and smells of the forest are healing for the body, mind, and spirit,” says Becky Murray, director of operations at Nimmo Bay. The experience ushers me into a state of calm, an extension of the total immersion in nature that began the moment I disembarked onto Nimmo Bay’s dock.
Nestled among trees or facing the ocean’s moody swells, each room is decorated with antique furnishings and carpets handpicked by the owners. After a short rest in our room, which is adjacent to a cascading waterfall and cedar hot tub, we’re outfitted with kayaks. We glide over the calm bay in total silence, except for the sound of my paddles knifing through the inky-blue water.
Overhead, an eagle sails across wisps of cloud, guiding us to our resort’s floating sauna, tucked away in Little Nimmo Bay. Leaving our kayaks at the dock’s edge, hours slip away as I alternate between cold, invigorating ocean plunges and steamy, detoxifying stretches in the cedar sauna. Inside, an oversized window frames a view of emerald-green Mount Stephens. Between the hydrotherapy circuits, I sip sparkling water and wine on a lounger below the gray sky.
That evening at a floating restaurant, even the menu seems designed to nourish. Under cathedral ceilings in a new minimalist cedar lodge, English-born chef David Hassell serves a tasting menu using wild ingredients foraged from the surrounding land and sea. Balsam fir tea is first, drawing on a Gwawaenuk (“gwah-way-ee-nook”) First Nation tradition that touts digestive, medicinal qualities. The aromatic tonic tastes like the forest. Later, I devour wild mushrooms and buttered leeks showered in truffle shavings, and seared local sablefish and spot prawns simmered in kelp dashi.
The following morning begins with a restorative yoga class. The gentle ocean waves and murmur of the waterfall outside the studio seem to be rhythmic with my deep breathing. A sense of well-being is at the core of many Nimmo Bay activities, including yoga, guided hikes, or massage treatments amongst the forest. But the real magic comes from simply being here and doing nothing at all. Time slows as I enjoy a private picnic at the water’s edge and sit by a fireside on the floating dock, watching the setting sun turn the bay pink. These quiet moments feel like an invitation to witness a beauty and peace far from everyday life.
Choose a different adventure at one of these West Coast lodges.
Sonora Resort, Sonora Island
From Sonora Resort’s remote location off the west coast of British Columbia, a helicopter transports adventurous travelers over the Coast Mountains. Zigzagging around jagged peaks and soaring over colorful alpine meadows and ancient glaciers, the tour ends at a remote glacial lake among the clouds. Only accessible during the summer months, guests can take out kayaks or stand-up paddleboards to weave through icebergs on this aquamarine waterway.
Spirit Bear Lodge, Great Bear Rainforest
In the northern reaches of the Great Bear Rainforest, guests of Spirit Bear Lodge have the rare opportunity to spot a spirit bear, also known as a Kermode bear. From the lodge, boats take small groups of four to ten guests through steel-colored waterways hugged by rainforest, eventually arriving at smaller estuaries.
Here, the safari continues on foot with a guide from the Kitasoo/Xai'xais (pronounced “ki-ta-soo/hai-hais”) First Nation who tracks signs of the bear while guests immerse themselves in the landscape. A cultural tour is often incorporated into the excursion, where guests visit a historic Klemtu big house and see other significant sites, such as petroglyphs and culturally modified trees.
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Vancouver Island
While Clayoquot Wilderness Resort offers heli-adventures and wildlife safaris to rival other resorts, its pioneer spirit sets it apart. Luxurious tented accommodations and dining spaces create the ultimate glamping experience. Horseback riding excursions take guests across glacial rivers and through wildflower meadows, heightening the feeling of old-world adventure travel.
Discover more about Super, Natural British Columbia, set between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.