How to Visit the Great Bear Rainforest in BC: Where to Go and What to Do

Unique Indigenous Places to Stay in British Columbia

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Guest post by Rod Charles

One of the best ways to have an unforgettable vacation experience is to meet welcoming people who are keen to share their knowledge and insights of the places they call home.

When it comes to warm hosts, the people of British Columbia’s Indigenous communities are experts. For them, whales, grizzly bears, rivers, artwork, and good food are not just recipes for a successful getaway—they are a cherished way of life.

You can hang out with a sea lion at Kwa’lilas Hotel or step back into history and see petroglyphs at Spirit Bear Lodge. At the end of the day, sit back and tell jokes with your new friends at Hiellen Longhouse Village’s outdoor barbecue or impress your friends back home by purchasing gifts at the Dockside Smoked Fish Store during a stay at House of Himwitsa.

Here are some unique Indigenous experiences to consider for a getaway. Members of Indigenous Tourism BC operate all of these lodges, hotels, and resorts.

Spirit Bear Lodge, set on the ancestral lands and traditional territory of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation. Photo: Cael Cook

Spirit Bear Lodge

How’s this for a unique stay? Head to the ancestral lands and traditional territory of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation peoples and explore the natural habitat of the world’s only Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy. Located in Klemtu, Spirit Bear Lodge offers four- to seven-day tour packages in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest on BC’s wild coast.

At Spirit Bear Lodge, education becomes part of your vacation experience. See the rare Spirit bear and majestic grizzly and view petroglyphs and totem poles. Enjoy the hatchery and when the day is over, kick back and relax in the lodge, where each room comes with a king-size bed, private bathroom, and jaw-dropping views.

Best Western Tin Wis Resort

The Best Western Tin Wis Resort in Tofino.

The Best Western Tin Wis Resort in Tofino. Photo: Indigenous Tourism BC


Located on Mackenzie Beach off British Columbia’s Clayoquot Sound, the Best Western Tin Wis Resort has a wide variety of activities for all ages, including hiking, bear watching, or relaxing over an excellent meal. Located just four kilometres (two miles) from local galleries, shops, and culinary delights, this full-service Tofino hotel is owned by the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and features guest rooms with gorgeous ocean views.

If you love the water you won’t go wrong at Best Western Tin Wis. Whale-watching tours, hot springs, deep-sea fishing, paddle boarding, and kayaking are just a handful of activities available.

Sasquatch Crossing Eco Lodge

Sasquatch Crossing Eco Lodge, east of Chilliwack.

Sasquatch Crossing Eco Lodge, east of Chilliwack. Photo: Indigenous Tourism BC


Sasquatch Crossing Eco Lodge, located in Sts’ailes, a 20-minute drive east of Chilliwack, features comfortable accommodations with warm and inviting hosts ready to share their lovely 35-hectare (87-acre) property, complete with peaceful trails and places to meditate.

This gem features a secluded waterfall that provides green energy to the property 10 months of the year. At the end of the day, settle down in one of nine guest rooms (complimentary breakfast included).

Camp, fish, and more at Cluxewe Resort, on the north end of Vancouver Island. Photo: Indigenous Tourism BC

Cluxewe Resort


Camp, fish, watch birds, or just gaze at the stars with friends and family at Cluxewe Resort, located in the land of the Kwakiutl people on the north end of Vancouver Island. Activities include golfing, birding, wildlife viewing, kayaking, hiking, and a grizzly tour. When the day is over, head for the Cluxewe Waterfront Bistro. Stay in one of the cottages and relax as you listen to the Pacific Ocean crash gently into the shoreline.

Feeling more adventurous? Get outside! A unique feature of Cluxewe Resort is the camping, featuring 147 sites ranging from tent-only to full- and partial-hook ups for campers and RVs.

Wya Point Resort

Wya Point Resort on Vancouver Island.

Wya Point Resort on Vancouver Island. Photo: Indigenous Tourism BC


Whether your interest is hiking, sitting back and enjoying the stars, or savouring a delicious meal, Wya Point Resort will appeal. Located in Ucluelet, Wya Point Resort offers lodges, yurts, and camping options, fishing charters, whale-watching tours, and the Ucluelet Aquarium. With secluded sandy coves, clear water, and hidden rock pools, the beaches at Wya Point provide plenty of recreational fun. Get acquainted with the Ucluelet First Nation (also known as the Yuu-tluth-aht First Nation) and immerse yourself in their living culture in a beautiful setting.

Tsa-Kwa-Luten Lodge/Cape Mudge Resort

Tsa-Kwa-Luten, located on Quadra Island, a 10-minute ferry ride from Campbell River.

Tsa-Kwa-Luten, located on Quadra Island, a 10-minute ferry ride from Campbell River. Photo: Indigenous Tourism BC


Located on Quadra Island, a 10-minute ferry ride from Campbell River, Tsa-Kwa-Luten lives in a region teeming with life, Indigenous history, and a strong spiritual presence. Created by the We Wai Kai Nation, this lodge offers authentic Pacific Coast native architecture, art, and culture based on traditional Kwagiulth historical values.

When evening arrives, enjoy a varied selection of gourmet West Coast cuisine. All dining areas offer mountain and ocean views and if you are visiting on a Wednesday, be sure and stick around for Prime Rib Night.

Kwa’lilas Hotel on the eastern tip of North Vancouver Island. Photo: Indigenous Tourism BC

Kwa’lilas Hotel


Meaning “place to sleep” in the Gwa’sala Nakwaxda’xw language, Kwa’lilas Hotel offers exceptional dining and activities. Situated on the eastern tip of North Vancouver Island, Port Hardy is an eye-candy feast of mountain ranges and forests. See marine mammals such as whales and sea lions on a scenic boat and wildlife tour, participate in drum making, cedar weaving, or check out the Port Hardy Museum.

When the sun goes down and the stars come out, feast on Aboriginal-inspired West Coast cuisine, served daily in the restaurant.

Haida House at Tlaal, Haida Gwaii. Photo: Indigenous Tourism BC

Haida House at Tlaal


Proudly 100% Haida-owned, Haida House at Tlaal offers everything you need for a vacation on Canada’s west coast. Lose yourself in this region known as the “Island of the People,” a land of ancient rainforests and rivers. Packages are available at Haida House at Tlaal, including alpine adventures and helicopter tours.

At the end of the day enjoy a traditional Haida tapas-style meal with local seafood, meat, and fresh produce.

Hiellen Longhouse Village


Located in Tow Hill in Haida Gwaii, Hiellen Longhouse Village features traditional Haida-style cedar, hemlock, and spruce longhouses that provide comfortable accommodations that can easily sleep four. Owned and operated by the Old Massett Village Council’s Economic Development Team, this pet-friendly stop has a gas stove top, an outdoor barbecue, and a wood-burning fireplace. Visitors can hike to Tow Hill, discover Naikoon Park, or rent a car and explore Haida Gwaii.

Header image: A Kermode Bear (Spirit bear) in the Great Bear Rainforest. Photo: Getty Images

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