It doesn’t look like much from the air – just a collection of windows tucked between the trees – but that’s the beauty of the West Coast Wilderness Lodge.
With its unassuming simplicity, it feels as though this 26-room getaway could have grown from the hillside itself. It didn’t.
The lodge was built by Paul Hansen, a former educator turned entrepreneur, and his wife Pattie. Their original vision was to create an educational center. Over the years, this vision evolved into a vacation destination known for its recreational activities and exceptional cuisine. But, the lodge’s educational roots remain embedded in its very framework.
Offering a plethora of activities, each guide-led excursion includes an educational element. “Our staff is exceptional. They really know the area. So when you’re out with them, they don’t just tell you about it. They share it with you,” Paul explained while sitting on the deck at sunset.
Kayaking with the Seals
Located at the crossroads of four major waterways, the lodge offers kayaking for individuals of all skill levels. Standard kayak rentals are available. However, the guided tours are exceptional. Guides, like current kayak expert Kevin, know the best inlets and destinations.
Whether you take a tour or not, a trip across the waterway is highly recommended. There are a series of uninhabited islands located directly in front of the lodge. They are a favorite for seals. The sun-loving mammals like to catch some rays on the protective rocks. A curious bunch, the seals will often surround the kayaks as you paddle by, popping up here and there for a look at who is visiting. Don’t be surprised by their cackling calls and husky sneezes. They’re just saying hello.
Additional kayaking excursions include a twilight phosphorescence trip. Due to a natural occurrence, the algae in this area glows at night, making the water look like the sky filled with stars.
Bring Your Appetite
If summer camp and fine dining had a baby, the Inlets Restaurant would have been the result. Powered by executive chef Tim Kozody, the menu’s cuisine offers a bit of backcountry flare. The constantly changing menu might feature smoked potatoes. You could find halibut adorned with fiddlehead ferns. And, you’ll often discover mushroom appetizers infused with foraged goodies.
Oysters here are always a good bet. Spot prawns are sourced from just down the road. Did I mention the mussels? They are cooked in a fragrant broth that perfumes the air even before you get a taste.
The dining room’s soaring ceilings and stunning wood-planked floor are matched by the waterfront view. At the eastern edge of the restaurant rests a curved wood bar. Behind it you’ll often find the Hansen’s son, Lucas. A master of his craft, he leads martini-making classes at 5:00 PM (upon request).
While dinner and cocktails are definitely a highlight, breakfast is not to be overlooked. Those who like to start their morning with something sweet will love the Cinnamon Apple French Toast. It comes topped with candied nuts and a healthy drizzle of true maple syrup.
For the savory breakfast goers, look no further than The Grizzly – a smoked salmon Benedict. This hearty meal features slices of smoked salmon and avocado, two perfectly poached eggs, and a hollandaise that’s impressively delicate. Unlike the thick buttered sauce traditionally globed atop eggs, Chef Kozody’s rendition is bright and fresh. It accentuates the egg yolk-salmon combo for an unctuous bite that will make you a member of the clean plate club.
Ready to start exploring? Book your trip soon. The lodge has a tendency to fill up quickly.
I can’t wait to go!