By Rebecca Agiewich, Writer, Editor, Blog Consultant
Photos courtesy of Paul Malboeuf
Day 1: We arrived at God's Pocket Resort after a bracing boat cruise through the Queen Charlotte Strait, on a tour organized by Sea Kayak Adventures, which has exclusive use of the resort for lodge-based sea kayak tours.
I've been curious to see the God's Pocket Resort because my boyfriend Dave used to stop here with his father in their boat enroute to Alaska from Seattle. He raves about how friendly and quirky it is, and how beautiful - set in a little pocket cove that's protected from the elements in the strait (hence the name God's Pocket).
The islands off Port Hardy on the northern tip of Vancouver Island are now included in God's Pocket Provincial Park, in part created at the urging of Jacques Cousteau due to its incredible underwater diversity. The lodge doesn't disappoint. It's funky and comfortable. Flowers line the wooden walkway and deck that looks out at the water. Colorful kayaks sit waiting for us at the dock and a robust chocolate lab comes bounding out to greet us when we arrive.
We take our first paddle in cool (but not cold) gray weather, exploring the shoreline of Hurst Island. Bald eagles are everywhere! We also see Harlequin ducks and a variety of other birdlife - all of which our guides Hillary and Terry can easily identify (and expound upon).
I'll have to do a lot of paddling here to work off all the delicious food that they're feeding us. Tonight's dinner: pork chops, pakoras, stir fried vegetables, salad, and cheesecake - all of it fresh and delicious.
Terry giving nature talk Already I feel so far away from everything out here and don't want to go back.
Days 2: After a breakfast of blueberry pancakes, fruit salad, and granola, we paddle around nearby Balaclava Island.
It's foggy when we start out, which gives everything a dreamy, mysterious air. We see the spray of a humpback whale; the head of a porpoise; and many bright-colored starfish and anemones: orange, purple, and blue.
The fog eventually burns off and by the time we're all gathered for happy hour on the deck of the lodge, the sun has come out. Everyone is smiling, laughing, and relaxed. How could you not be here?
Day 3: Dinner last night was the best pasta I've ever had, plus Caesar salad, chocolate mousse and chocolate crinkle cookies. Cooking for yourself is definitely overrated.
Today's paddle takes us to Nigei island in calm sunny waters, where we hike across the island through mossy forest to a place called Clam Cove. Our animal sightings today include harbor seals, deer, bald eagles, rhinocerous auklets, Harlequin ducks, and numerous other birds whose names I can't remember.
I especially like today's paddle because it takes us through so many small islands and along sheer rock faces. In the morning, especially, the water is so calm and glassy it's as if we were paddling on an alpine like.
By the time we're ready to go back, the wind picks up. On our last crossing of the day, from Balaclava to Hurst Island, we make sure to stay together. It's a little challenging in the wind, but I feel safe with everyone else around.
After dinner, Dave and I hike to a viewpoint high on the Hurst Island. Louis the chocolate lab joins us there. It's nice to see the water from this birds-eye view after being right on it. We don't linger too long, having heard just today that the native tribes in this area believe that Sasquatch roams Hurst Island.
Beachside LunchDay 4 & 5: Today is an amazing day for wildlife sightings. First we saw orcas passing through the strait this morning right from our deck. Then, right after we'd gotten in our kayaks for the day's paddle, all sorts of birds started dive-bombing the water nearby, including at least 9 or 10 bald eagles.
Turns out there was a herring ball that they were after - a silvery churning mass in the water that occurs when a school of herring gets attacked from below and they "ball" up to protect themselves. It also turns into a feeding frenzy from above as birds try to get the fish on the outside of the ball. It was a powerful and exhilarating experience to see that - especially with all those bald eagles. Apparently some herring balls can get to be as big as several football fields put together!
Anyway, that was all before we'd even started paddling. Our other adventures included paddling to the Scarlett Point Lighthouse, where we got a tour from the lighthouse keeper. It's a breathtakingly beautiful place. We also paddled around a nearby "lagoon" and took a hike to Harlequin Bay on the north side of Hurst Island. During yesterday's paddle to Bell Island, we saw both sea lions and seals - a mother and a baby.
Hard to believe the trip is almost over. This has been one of the most relaxing vacations ever. The scenery has been great, the weather cooperative, the food delicious. And you can't beat happy hour every afternoon on the deck of the God's Pocket Resort!
We have one more little adventure to do, and that's a night paddle this evening after dinner to check out the bioluminescence in the water, which is apparently quite spectacular…
The bioluminescence was indeed something to behold! Every stroke of our paddles caused the water to "light up." My favorite part was seeing the fish jump and their outline be all sparkly. The whole experience had a magical, otherworldly quality to it, paddling along in the dark light that, with the water glowing all around us. What a way to end the trip!
Day 6: Today held still more adventure though. After leaving God's Pocket (definitely a sad moment) we really wanted to do some more whale watching. The Sea Kayak Adventures folks recommended Mackay Orca Whale Watching in Port McNeill - and they did not disappoint! I saw more orcas than I could ever have dreamed of - jumping, swimming, slapping their tails. There were humpbacks too, obligingly flipping their tails out of the water in a most photogenic manner. Let's just say it was "whale-tastic!" A great ending to one of the best vacations in recent memory.
Rebecca Agiewich is an author and freelance writer based in Seattle. (www.RebeccaAgiewich.com)