Picture of a hiker overlooking Clayoquot Sound, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

A hiker takes in a sweeping view of Clayoquot Sound.

Photograph by Jeremy Koreski, Getty Images

By Celeste Moure

Set on Vancouver Island’s west coast is Clayoquot Sound, a wild and wondrous network of offshore islands that comprise thousands of miles of alpine valleys and lush fern gardens, forests, rivers, lakes, and laidback beach towns. The best way to experience this British Columbia gem is by checking in at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, which is located in this fragile reserve, right at the mouth of the Bedwell River where it spills into a nine-mile-long fjord. Here adventure—from hiking and horseback riding to surfing and bear-watching—is around every corner.

When to Go: August and early September are the best times to see black bears, many of which visit a Clayoquot resort hayfield to snack on tender shoots and on nearby spawning salmon.

Where to Stay: Set along the Bedwell River’s edge and beneath a rain forest canopy is Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. The all-inclusive resort offers 20 deluxe white canvas prospector-style tents built on raised wooden platforms and connected by cedar boardwalks. Each is outfitted with antique dressers, lavish area rugs, remote-controlled propane wood stoves, and Adirondack-style beds dressed with plush down duvets. Some of the tents even feature baths with flush toilets and indoor/outdoor showers.

How to Get Around: Guests can do as little or as much as they want, and guides are happy to escort on foot, bike, horse, kayak, canoe, or boat at a moment’s notice. When not paddling to hidden coves, hiking with a First Nations guide, or watching black bears feast on berries, guests unwind at the spa’s wood-fired sauna or with a glass of wine on the deck.

Where to Eat or Drink: Meals at the resort, such as the prosciutto-wrapped halibut fillet with spinach and endive salad, are served in separate tents under heirloom oil lamps and candlelight.

What to Read or Watch Before You Go: Chasing Clayoquot: A Wilderness Almanac, by David Pitt-Brooke with a foreword by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (Raincoast Books, 2005). Both practical guide and a call to protect wild spaces, the book chronicles naturalist Pitt-Brooke’s yearlong exploration of Clayoquot Sound.

Helpful Links: Tourism TofinoTourism Ucluelet

Fun Facts: About 3.2 million oysters are cultivated every year in Clayoquot Sound. And during Oyster Festival weekend, fans slurp back some 9,000 of the marine mollusks.

Originally from Buenos Aires, Celeste Moure has called Vancouver home for almost a decade. She has written about food and wine, architecture, and travel for the Globe and Mail, En Route, Canadian Family, Travel+Leisure, and the Wall Street Journal. Follow her on Twitter.

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