By 'Live the Adventure' Club Ambassador Nancy Besharah
Would you embark on a West Coast Safari in Nimmo Bay, British Columbia?
“Keep an eye out for little splashes on the surface of the ocean,” advised our captain and guide Andy, before igniting the dual Yamaha XTO Offshore outboards.
We were departing Nimmo Bay Wilderness Lodge on Fathom, a fully outfitted eight-passenger ocean vessel for a daylong coastal safari in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest. My family and I had a decent-sized wish list of marine creatures we hoped to see, and dolphins were in the number one spot. Luckily, Andy had just shared his best tip on how to spot dolphins in their natural habitat. From a cushy window seat, I kept my eyes on the horizon for the dolphin’s tell-tale splashes.
We motored out of the deep inlet where lush cedar and balsam fir trees stretch to the Pacific. Andy cut the engines near a fog-shrouded islet in the Broughton Archipelago Marine Park. Within moments, a roly-poly sea otter popped up in front of Fathom's bow and proceeded to backstroke into a nearby kelp patch. Sea otters and many other marine animals use these dense 'forests' of brown algae that resemble giant underwater trees for food, shelter and rearing young. We were amazed to learn that sea otters often carry a tool like a rock in their pouch and use it to crack open food like shellfish and sea urchins.
As we cruised into Queen Charlotte Strait, a large body of water between the northern coast of Vancouver Island and British Columbia's mainland, we spotted a pod of humpback whales. Barnacle-crusted bellies breached the surface and booming tail slaps sent salty spray flying. Deep breaths sent canons of water shooting from their blowholes before the whale's sleek, black humps disappeared into the deep.
We were fortunate to be traveling upwind when we encountered a raucous colony of Steller sea lions on a sandstone haulout, so named because it is where the mammals haul-out of the ocean to rest. While it was entertaining to watch the antics and listen to the Steller's throaty growls and belches, they were stinky, so we didn't stay long!
As the fog crept back along the rugged coast, we turned toward Nimmo Bay. Outside of the inlet, I noticed a few splashes off Fathom's port side and asked our keen-eyed captain if he saw the fish jump. He hadn't and turned the boat around to take a closer look. Moments later, Pacific white-sided dolphins appeared under Fathom’s hull and encouraged us to go faster by swimming right under the boat’s bow. Fathom surged forward along with the dolphins. Shouts and screams, including a few things I shouldn’t repeat, erupted from onboard, while the dolphins leapt and surfed in the wake.
After the dolphins peeled off, Andy turned to me and said, "I feel like you manifested the dolphins." However it happened, I’m grateful for all of nature's riches experienced on this coastal safari.
If you go
Nimmo Bay Wilderness Lodge is accessible by air and sea. Most guests travel to Nimmo Bay by float or amphibious plane from Port Hardy.
Daily rates start at $1,495 per person, with a reduced fee for children. This rate includes meals, snacks, drinks (including alcohol) and access to adventure activities and resort amenities. The daylong coastal safari is available at an additional cost of $500 per person and includes a gourmet picnic lunch.
During COVID-19, Nimmo Bay Wilderness Lodge has implemented strict safety protocols, including masks where physical distancing isn't possible, generous supplies of hand sanitizer throughout the property and deep cleaning of guest cabins.
Disclaimer: The author had her stay covered but paid out of pocket for the Coastal Safari.