A Wild Idea

BC’s West Coast Wilderness Lodge marries fine food with outdoor adventure

By: By Janice Mucalov

The Details

Kenmore Air has twice-daily, regularly scheduled flights from Seattle to the dock at the West Coast Wilderness Lodge. There are also daily scheduled flights from Vancouver and Whistler.

Nightly rates start at $100 through May 30 and $141 June through Sept. 30.

West Coast Wilderness Lodge
Commission: 10 percent

Float Plane and Train Adventure

Explore the city lights of Vancouver, discover the Sunshine Coast wilderness and tour the resort village of Whistler (home of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games) on an innovative five-day/four night deluxe adventure. Starting at $1,920 per person, plus taxes, the Lodge Between Two Fairmonts package is ideal for clients as a pre- or post-Alaska cruise add-on. Available June 30 to Sept. 30, this package includes:  

• The first or last night at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Vancouver or at the Vancouver airport.

• Float plane to the West Coast Wilderness Lodge for two nights, with all meals, full-day boat trip to Princess Louisa Inlet, and choice of a guided hike to Skookumchuk Rapids or leisurely guided kayaking tour.

• Float plane over glaciers and mountains to Whistler for one night at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler (perhaps to play a round of golf?).

• First-class train ride on the Whistler Mountaineer back to Vancouver.

Only Online

Scroll down for information on a plane and train adventure that includes a stay at the West Coast Wilderness Lodge

White spray from a cascading wall of water envelops us in a thick moist cloud as we approach the safety barrier to the falls at the head of Princess Louisa Inlet. "Incredible!" shouted my husband over the deafening sound of the crashing water. More than 60 waterfalls plummet down the 7,000-foot-high granite walls lining the glacial-carved gorge that makes up this royal inlet. But the Chatterbox Falls, thundering down in front of us, are the most awe-inspiring.

The lounge at the West Coast Wilderness Lodge // (c) Janice Mucalov
The lounge at the West Coast Wilderness Lodge

An all-day boat trip 35 miles up massive fjords into the remote Princess Louisa Inlet — described by some as one of the earth’s most beautiful places — is the signature tour when staying at the West Coast Wilderness Lodge.

The environmentally friendly lodge is a relatively undiscovered jewel on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. It has 20 rooms in weathered, cedar buildings scattered among the forest along a cliff edge. Ten rooms feature a king-size bed with a seating area; 10 other smaller standard rooms have a queen or king bed. All the rooms are clean and comfortable with private bathrooms and a simple decor. But people don’t come here to spend time in their rooms.

One might come, however, for the lodge’s Inlets restaurant. A couple on our Princess Louisa Inlet tour booked a weekend at the West Coast Wilderness Lodge simply because they loved the restaurant so much when they found it by accident the previous year. Each summer, at least 100 floatplanes drop in from Vancouver and Whistler with guests who come just for lunch.

The view through the restaurant’s windows is breathtaking — Canada geese honk as they skim over the sparkling water, and snowcapped mountains rise in the distance. And if the view doesn’t capture clients’ attention, the food does. It’s masterfully prepared from organic and high-quality local and seasonal ingredients.

Dinner is a four-course affair. One night, we started with tomato gazpacho soup with creme fraiche, followed by a wild halibut and cod appetizer with an arrugula chiffonade. Next, a choice of pan-seared Arctic char with dill-caper berry remoulade or beef tenderloin and asiago risotto. And for dessert? Warm chocolate lava cake with bourbon chantilly cream or white truffle tiramisu.

Although the food is amazing, the great outdoors truly motivates visitors.

"We built this lodge because we wanted to access the outdoors," said owner Paul Hansen, who personally greets guests upon arrival and chats with them in the dining room to make sure their stay is pleasant.

In addition to the Princess Louisa Inlet boat tour, guided kayaking in the still waters fronting the lodge is highly recommended. Clients can paddle to Seal Rock to see a colony of up to 100 harbor seals. Around a small broken island group, we spotted countless clusters of purple and orange sea stars.

Another must-do activity is the one-hour hike through the rainforest — past fields of ferns and moss-hung tree branches — to the Skookumchuck Rapids. Here, the tide squeezes through a narrow channel, forming rapids considered among the fastest in the world. Time your hike right, and you’ll view spectacular whirlpools and swirling whitewater.

And then it’s back to the lodge for another fine meal in this wilderness paradise.