From serene strolls along iconic west coast beaches to thrilling boat-based adventures, Outer Shores Lodge offers a wide range of immersive experiences that balance escape, relaxation, adventure, learning, and connection. Learn about the marvels of the intertidal, and enjoy wildlife viewing excursions, encounters with black bears, wildlife photography, sea kayaking, paddle boarding, rainforest walks, headland hiking, and snorkelling kelp forests. Dive into Huu-ay-aht First Nations culture at the ancient village of Kiixin, and conclude each day with rest, rejuvenation, and the rhythmic embrace of nature. While all activities are optional, in this post we describe 9 signature experiences that are truly emblematic of the experiences our guests can expect at Outer Shores Lodge. We hope you enjoy!
1. Strolling Brady’s Beach – Beach Combing, Tidepools, and Sea Stacks
One of the first things that many of our guests do upon arriving at Outer Shore Lodge is to walk to nearby Brady’s Beach. It takes approximately 15-20 mins to get there, and upon arrival at “Brady’s”, without exception, there’s always an “ahhh” moment as you step onto this beautiful beach of sand and shell, and softly breaking surf, mixed with sea stacks and tidepools. At this point, many people kick off their shoes, roll up their pants, and just start walking, exploring, and feeling like kids again! Depending on the tide, season, and weather, there’s always lots to see and discover as we survey the latest tideline of seaweeds, shells, and various flotsam and jetsam. Ravens call, eagles soar, harbour seals watch curiously, the blowhole blows, a navigation buoy groans in the distance, and tidepools brimming with colourful marine life capture our imagination. Collectively, the sights, sounds, and smells of Vancouver Island’s west coast welcome you to Outer Shores Lodge.
2. Intertidal Explorations – Nudibranchs, Anemones, and Clingfish?!
With a tidal range of more than three meters (>10 ft), the west coast of Vancouver Island boasts a spectacular diversity of intertidal marine life and the opportunity to get up close and personal with everything from lemon peel nudibranchs and iridescent seaweeds to giant green anemones and northern clingfish. And one of the best places to do this is our front-beach at Outer Shores Lodge. Whether on your own or led by our guides, exploring and learning about the marine life found in the tidepools, surge channels, and rocky shoreline here has quickly become a very popular highlight experience for our guests. This is fitting, too, as our name “Outer Shores” was inspired, in part, by a never-completed book by the same name, by the famous marine ecologist Ed Ricketts who first described these intertidal communities nearly a century ago.
3. Sea Kayaking Touring – Connecting with Nature
There’s something uniquely calming about silently gliding along a beautiful shoreline in a sea kayak, below overhanging cedar trees, while gazing into the marine realm below. Glimpses of crabs and sculpins, waving kelp fronds, chortling of eagles and ravens, and chance encounters with mink, river otters, and black bears – sea kayaking is an experience of being welcomed into nature itself. Whether you’re an experienced paddler or completely new to the activity, kayaking provides a level of intimacy with the ocean that just doesn’t compare to other modes of ocean travel. We offer guided and self-guided kayak touring in the protected waters of nearby Bamfield and Grappler Inlets, as well as along the incredibly beautiful exposed outer shores stretching from Bamfield to Cape Beale and the Deer Group Islands.
4. Boat-Based Explorations and Coastal Wildlife Viewing
At the heart of all Outer Shores Lodge experiences is our proximity to the rugged ‘Outer Shores’ of Vancouver Island’s west coast. Not only is our lodge nestled on the outer coast, but with the protected waters of Bamfield Inlet only steps away, our excursion vessel is always at the ready to take our guests out to experience the rich ecology and incredible scenery of Barkley Sound. Our 2-3 hour tours are guided by qualified mariners and career ecologists and marine naturalists who are eager to share the natural history of the surrounding ocean, shorelines, islands, beaches, and forests with our guests. Wildlife that we often encounter includes humpback whales, Northern and California sea lions, sea otters, river otters, black bears, bald eagles, and numerous species of seabirds.
5. Black Bear Viewing – From Rock Rollers to Salal Surfers
We are incredibly fortunate to live in a part of the world where encountering bears simply going about their lives can be a near daily experience. Thanks to an abundance of food sources and the absence of grizzly bears, Vancouver Island enjoys abundant populations of black bears that are amenable to viewing. While following best practices for sustainable bear viewing, observing and photographing black bears in the wild is always a treasured and fascinating experience for our guests and guides alike.
What tends to appeal most to our guests is not just seeing black bears, but having the opportunity to encounter and observe these animals in a variety of settings and habitats, from the mudflats of quiet coastal estuaries, to wave exposed rocky shores, or the stunning backdrop of old-growth coastal temperate rainforest. We typically encounter black bears when they are rolling rocks in search of food along nearby shorelines or eating salal berries at the forest edge. But we can also come across them while kayaking, beach walking, or even from the comfort of our ocean-facing Great Room!
6. Headland Hiking – Surge Channels, Sea Caves, and Blowholes
If you’re up for a more physical adventure, our Headland Hiking excursions may be just the experience for you! The shorelines of Vancouver Island’s exposed outer coast are composed of rugged geological formations, creating remarkable surge channels, headlands, sea caves, and tidepools the size of swimming pools. We plan our hikes based on low tide series that allow us to navigate around headlands and explore brilliant intertidal marine life along the way. At the same time, we’re also likely to encounter coastal wildlife including bald eagles, ravens, mink, river otters, and even black bears that come out to take advantage of the low tide buffet. As we carefully make our way along the shore, a pervasive sense of anticipation and natural wonder propels our guests and guides, not knowing what we’re going to discover before the next flood tide once again covers this magical world.
7. Snorkelling & Free-Diving – Mesmerizing Marine Life at Our Doorstep
One of the many unique features of Outer Shores Lodge is the fact that its shorelines are home to truly world-class intertidal and shallow subtidal marine life. As marine ecologists and educators at heart, we are thrilled to help our guests experience these colourful and diverse communities first hand. One of the ways we do this is by providing the wetsuits and snorkeling gear required for our guests to literally immerse themselves into this underwater realm, and as a result this has become an incredibly popular activity!
Along with our knowledgeable guides, our curious guests immediately enter a mesmerizing world alive with activity, diversity, and colour – kelp forests, iridescent seaweeds, hermit crabs, giant green anemones, nudibranchs, sea stars, sea cucumbers, striped and shiner perch, kelp greenlings, abalone, giant red sea urchins, and even octopus if you’re very lucky! After returning from this weightless world, enjoy a long soak in the hottub and reflect on all that you saw and learned.
8. Huu-ay-aht First Nations Ancient Village of Kiixin – Past, Present, Future
Located just a short distance from Outer Shore Lodge, in a small bay surrounded by sea stacks, kelp forests, and old-growth temperate rainforest, is the ancient Huu-ay-aht First Nations village, fortress, and National Historic Site of Kiixin (pronounced “kee-hin”). Once the cultural and political center of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, this village and adjacent fortress have an estimated 6000 years history of human occupancy that continued until the late 1800s. Today, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations lead guided tours to Kiixin during which visitors explore the remains of the massive long houses that once stood here. Standing and fallen house posts and beams, now slowly being overgrown by the rainforest, help visitors truly appreciate the immensity of these houses and envision the ancient lifeways of the thriving Indigenous communities that once lived here. But perhaps most importantly, our Huu-ay-aht guides not only bring to life this history of this village, but also provide an incredibly authentic experience highlighting the past, present, and future of Huu-ay-aht culture. As such, visiting Kiixin has truly become a signature experience that we proudly offer our guests at Outer Shores Lodge.
For information, please visit:
Huu-ay-aht First Nations – Ancient Spirit, Modern Mind: https://huuayaht.org/
Kiixin – Journey with Our Ancestors: https://kiixin.ca/
9. Relax, Play, Learn, and Connect
Central to all the experiences and activities that are available at Outer Shores Lodge is the lodge itself, the surrounding environment, and all the various motivations and ambitions for going on a vacation in the first place. Our ambition is to create a personalized suite of experiences that makes our guest’s stay with us everything they hope it could be. Inevitably, this will involve striking just the right balance between more restful and restorative activities, and those that are more active and adventurous. Regardless of what that balance is, we know that relaxation and restoration – both mind and body – is the overarching goal of everyone’s stay with us. With so many fun and adventurous options available, we encourage our guests to remember that they are just that, options, and therefore optional. Spend time on the lookout bluff soaking up the panoramic views, eagles in the treetops, sunsets, and stargazing. Enjoy beautiful chef-prepared meals featuring healthy, sustainable, and locally sourced ingredients. Settle into the great room with your coffee, tea, or glass of wine, and enjoy reading or playing a game or just conversing. Soak in the outdoor hot tub while reflecting on the events of the day. And fall asleep to the gentle sound of ocean waves and a cool ocean breeze.