Pacific Northwest Islands

Wild dolphins playing beside us

This summer we travelled from home without flying. A rare event for us particularly given our home town of Vancouver is far from everywhere. Fortunately it is also in a beautiful part of the world that we often overlook. We made new discoveries in our own backyard as we ventured to the Discovery Islands and stayed on one called Sonora. It is accessible by helicopter or boat. We took a ferry to Vancouver Island, spent a night in Parksville, drove 150/+km north and took a 75-minute water taxi past Quadra, Maurelle and Stuart Islands before reaching our destination.  On the way we had the fortune of seeing Orca whales. We watched one breach and I was thrilled to have experienced it, but wished I had been able to capture a photo of it to share the moment.

Hiking on Sonora Island

Sonora describes itself as an eco-adventure travel destination in a luxury wilderness resort. It is beautiful. It had impeccable service and first-rate food. While there we hiked, ate like kings, swam, relaxed and boated out to see incredible animals in the wild including dolphins, black bears, seals, and hundreds of eagles in a feeding frenzy plucking fish out of the ocean in the narrow passages between the islands when the tides changed. The region is picturesque and the stay was remarkable. I didn’t even know this place existed until recently and I hope to squeeze in a return visit sometime in the not too distant future.

A black bear on the shores of the Bute Inlet

From Sonora we returned to Parksville on Vancouver Island for another night. We stayed here again to split up our travel time before heading to Tofino and Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Parksville is quaint. It is essentially a retirement village where life is slow and easy. It is blessed with a beautiful bay and board walk and the Beach Club we stayed at had idyllic views looking over the water while offering us a pool and a self-catered apartment where we could tend to simple needs, such as laundry. It is a family friendly place to go to relax.

Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet

We returned to Tofino after a long absence. I really like it here and despite not being into surfing I take great satisfaction in watching the waves lap against the shore while being surrounded by lush green rainforest. We stayed at the iconic Wickanninish and while it is a great spot we probably would have benefited from a more self-contained place somewhere nearby instead. Primarily because it wasn’t as child friendly as we had hoped, particularly in the restaurant. We spent three-nights here and our highlights included hiking the big-tree trail on Meres island. Some of the trees here are estimated to be 1000 to 1500 years old! We also meandered through the rainforest near the Wick and did the lighthouse loop of the Wild Pacific Trail. Our best meals were an unexpectedly awesome lunch at a new place called Wolf in Fog, a laid-back dinner of fish and chips at the marina in Ucluelet, and on our anniversary we had Dungeness crab served to us on Chesterman Beach.

Admiring the view in Parksville

Upon leaving we returned to Parksville for yet another night before ferrying back to the mainland and our home in Vancouver.

A few weeks later we crossed the border to the USA for a short visit to Lummi Island (part of the San Juan Islands). Here we were joined by my parents and we stayed at The Willows Inn where Leanne and I indulged in an 18-course farm-to-table meal while the grandparents played with their grandson. The restaurant is the main draw here and for good reason. The chef is renowned and has worked in some of the best restaurants in the world. Our meal was unique, delicious and fun.

Duffy Lake Road

This summer I also managed to do a motorcycle ride that has been on my bucket list. It is on the Duffy Lake Road north of Whistler and it is a rider’s paradise. It is one of the most beautiful roads I have ridden on. In my efforts to visit far-away places I often forget all the amazing places around where we live.

We have now been parents for over a year. Travelling is different, but very enjoyable. It has been a lot of fun having our son on our latest adventures.