The playful dolphins glide effortlessly alongside our boat.
Now and then, they break through the surface of the glassy water, rolling sideways to show off their slick white underbellies.
By the time they leave us 20 happy minutes later, our guide has just spotted a king of the forest on the nearby shore – a solitary black bear.
We’re on a nature boat safari from Nimmo Bay Resort (aka Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort).
Nimmo Bay Resort
At this point, you might ask: Where is Nimmo Bay?
The luxury resort is tucked away among the islands of the Broughton Archipelago in British Columbia.
It’s right in the middle of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest.
Home to bears and other wildlife, this vast area of unspoiled temperate rainforest and 10,000-year-old glaciers spans 2,470 square miles of terrain (6.4 million hectares).
It stretches for about 250 miles (400 kilometers) along the province’s north-central coast.
And that black bear?
Now getting back to that black bear…
We’ve seen many bears before.
Still, to observe them undisturbed in the wild in their natural habitat is special.
Tickled by our good luck, we crawl to the front of the boat and, wrapped in warm blankets, watch the bear go about his business.
With his giant paw, he turns over pumpkin-sized boulders on the beach as easily as flipping pancakes. Muscles rippling underneath his shiny fur, he scoops up tiny crabs and other delicacies to eat.
He’s alert though.
Every so often, he lifts his head and sniffs the air. Perhaps he’s wary of an even greater bear that lives in this forest – the grizzly bear?
Once sated, he ambles off into the shaggy evergreen forest.
Nimmo Bay: From dream to reality
This pristine natural setting of the Great Bear Rainforest nurtured the dreams of Nimmo Bay’s founder, Craig Murray.
In 1981, Craig, an avid outdoorsman, moved with his wife Deborah and their toddlers into a one-room float house (without electricity), moored in Nimmo Bay.
The reason? He’d discovered a waterfall, perfect for producing the power needed for a fishing lodge.
They labored for a year to build a dam above the rushing waterfall flanking their home-cum-lodge and install a hydro-electric system. They then offered fishing to their guests.
In the coming years, their children learned to kayak, forage for salmonberries and catch crab and prawns.
The game changer was when the Murrays started offering heli-fishing to guests.
Nimmo Bay lodge grew, and its reputation reached new heights.
Craig’s son Fraser and his wife Becky (who’ve passed on the family’s love of the remote wilderness to their own children, Fauna and River) now run the luxury eco-resort.
Nimmo Bay cabins
There are only nine two-bedroom cabins at Nimmo Bay Resort.
Six are red-roofed intertidal cabins hugging the bay (with water views), and three are green-roofed forest cabins beside a gurgling stream. All of the private cabins have two bedrooms and a bathroom.
We stay in a two-storey intertidal cabin.
A living room with a vaulted ceiling and wall-to-wall windows looks out over the water. Balcony doors open onto a large cedar deck with a couple of red rocking chairs, where we can sit and watch the tides roll in and out (the tides change by up to 18 feet).
Inside, the cabin sports wood plank floors with wool and Persian rugs.
A comfy black leather sofa and arm chair in the living room invite us to kick back and munch on the house-made chocolate chip cookies (delicious and chewy!) that greet us as a welcome amenity. The cabin also comes with a fridge stocked with complimentary wine, beer and juice.
Both bedrooms have king-size beds; the upstairs bedroom is tucked away in a loft. We particularly love the linen sheets and linen duvet covering.
The spacious bathroom has a glass-tiled shower, complete with a cedar stool, convenient while lathering up with the organic rainforest bath products provided (they’re made by a local Victoria business).
After dinner our first evening, we return to our cabin to find a basket containing fleece slippers, sleeping masks, ear plugs and a jar of “sleepy time” herbal tea leaves.
We’ve rested our heads in many fine places around the world – from overwater bungalows in Bora Bora to some of the best hotels with in-room pools. And we can tell you these Nimmo Bay cabins will please even the pickiest travelers.
Outdoor activities at Nimmo Bay
Catch-and-release fly fishing is still on the menu of adventures offered at Nimmo Bay Resort (harking back to its roots as a fishing lodge).
But the resort is more a wilderness adventure lodge these days.
So you can also enjoy bear watching. (We spy another black bear scampering away from us on one coastal hike.)
There’s guided kayaking and hiking, whale watching (boat tours take guests out to see humpback whales and sea lions), wilderness picnics, stand-up paddleboarding, yoga and massages in a treehouse spa too.
You can even enjoy helicopter adventures. Fancy heli-biking, where your chopper drops you off on remote sand beaches to ride fat-wheel bikes?
All activities are bespoke and for your small group alone, whether you’re a family or just a couple.
Each evening, suggestions are offered and you’re asked what you might like to do the next day.
Floating sauna and hot tubs
At the resort – surrounded by virgin wilderness, where mist streaks the jade-colored mountains, the tides rise and fall hypnotically, and bald eagles soar majestically overhead – we feel the stresses of daily life seep away.
Purely sybaritic pleasures, where nature adds a whole new dimension, add to our feeling of wellbeing.
Like the wood-fired sauna at sea.
It’s a key talking point in all Nimmo Bay Resort reviews!
The only way to reach this one-of-a-kind sauna, perched on a floating dock, is by kayak, boat or paddle board.
Anchored in a secluded bay away from the resort, it’s kitted out with an enormous picture window.
From inside, you look out over nothing but the mirror-smooth inlet waters and ancient cedars and Sitka spruce cloaking the slopes.
Get toasty. Jump into the refreshing ocean. Repeat.
Then don bathrobes and slippers for a picnic lunch. Maybe tummy-warming chili, strawberries and wine at a table (dressed with a tablecloth) set up for you on the dock.
Keep an eye out for inquisitive sea otters!
Back at the lodge, two streamside hot tubs beside the cascading waterfall also invite us to soak away any remaining cares of the world.
When blissfully hot, we tiptoe down steps for a bracing dunk in the natural rock pool at the waterfall’s base, then dash back up to the outdoor hot tub again.
Indeed, the waterfall spilling 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) from the top of Mount Stephens is the centerpiece – and lifeblood – of the resort.
Apart from its Insta-perfect beauty, this glorious waterfall supplies Nimmo Bay Resort with the water we drink and the clean green power for the kitchen.
And oh, the food!
The dining room is in a striking new building with a roof shaped like the wings of an eagle. You’re welcomed by cedar dining tables placed by enormous floor-to-ceiling windows with breathtaking views of the bay.
The fresh coastal cuisine is clean but gourmet.
Before dinner, we gather for cocktails outside by the firepit on the floating fire dock.
Our favorite cocktail is the “Sea-to-Cedar Sour” – a cedar-infused gin concoction with lime juice, green chartreuse, lemon juice, egg white and a dash of whiskey bitters.
And for dinner?
Maybe fresh mussels and clams in wine broth to start.
Then a green salad with wild strawberries and salmonberries foraged earlier that day from the forest, followed by wild Pacific salmon with mint green peas.
On our last night, it’s the popular crab-and-seafood boil.
A large family-style dish is filled with crab fished a few hours before, shrimp and other seafood. Smashed potatoes and kale salad accompany that.
Expert sommeliers pour local British Columbia wines. The Blue Mountain Pinot Noir (from a winery in BC’s Okanagan Valley) is especially delectable.
Yes, it rains in the rainforest
It rains gently for part of our stay at Nimmo Bay.
No matter – rain gives life to the coastal rainforest and is to be expected here.
We curl up on the rocking chairs on the covered deck of our cabin at the water’s edge. Meditative raindrops splatter the still silver sea licking the stilts on which our cabin rests. We’re lulled into a deep sense of Zen-like calm.
This immense wilderness is not only a sanctuary for the bears and wildlife living in harmony with the forest.
It’s also nature’s cathedral for restoring our inner spirits.
How to get to Nimmo Bay Resort
Located in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, Nimmo Bay Resort is only accessible by air and sea.
Most Nimmo Bay guests arrive by float plane from Port Hardy, via Vancouver.
Flights are arranged from the Vancouver International Airport to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island (a 50-minute flight). You then transfer to a sea plane for the 20-minute scenic flight to the resort.
We live in Victoria, so we organized our stay as part of a Vancouver Island road trip.
Leaving Victoria, we drove up to Telegraph Cove, where we stayed for a couple of nights. We were then picked up by high-speed boat in nearby Port McNeill for the 1½-hour ride to the resort.
Nimmo Bay Resort price
A trip to Nimmo Bay, British Columbia, comes at a price – but it’s really one of the most special places to go in Canada for a summer vacation.
You can choose to stay for 3 nights or 4 nights.
The all-inclusive rate covers accommodation, meals and beverages (including wines and alcohol) and activities such as sea kayaking, hiking, picnicking, visiting the floating sauna, paddleboarding and bear viewing boat safaris.
Experienced guides accompany you on all excursions.
Expect to pay about $2,000 CAD ($1,600 USD) p.p. per night from mid-June to the end of the season.
Full-day boat excursions, heli-adventures, guided wellness activities, private yoga sessions and spa treatments are extra. Transfers to the resort (flights, etc.) are also not included.
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We were invited as media guests to experience a stay at Nimmo Bay Resort for a travel article for Magnifissance magazine. See a copy of that article here.
Photo credits: 9, 10, 16, 17, 20, 22 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Remaining photos courtesy of Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort