Nimmo Bay Lodge in British Columbia

Nimmo Bay Lodge in British Columbia

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nimmo bay resort
Photos: Christina Pfeiffer

Just around the river bend, in the wilds of British Columbia, lies every fly fisherman’s dream: Nimmo Bay Resort, a luxury haven purpose-built for salmon fishing.

Nimmo Bay Resort is surrounded by the Great Bear Rainforest on the mainland of British Columbia.

Compared to other unique places to stay in the region, such as these Vancouver Island resorts, the main difference is that Nimmo Bay is only accessible by water or from the air.  

You might also be interested in reading 35 Incredible Things To Do In British Columbia and 50 Things To Do In Canada.

Nimmo Bay 

The helicopter trip to Nimmo Bay

the helicopter flight to Nimmo Bay
The helicopter flight to Nimmo Bay is a memorable experience.

The steady whir of the helicopter’s rotor blades fades and I’m cocooned by the voice of Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins singing Flower Duet through my headphones.

My eyes drink in the landscape of wavy mountains, lonely islands and isolated bays.

The recipe of music and scenery is so seductive I want this moment to last forever.

Nimmo Bay Resort

My reverie is interrupted as the helicopter flies around a river bend and Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort appears, enticingly nestled in a bay at the head of McKenzie Sound with a lush forest backdrop of cedar, spruce, balsam and hemlock trees.

Nimmo Bay Resort
Nimmo Bay Resort is right on the water.

If I had to describe heaven, this surely must be it.

A fishing trip at Nimmo Bay Resort is a truly unique experience and one that you’ll always remember. 

The location is pure wilderness with no other inhabitants within 16km of the lodge and the only access is by boat or helicopter.

Cottages are linked by a floating boardwalk to a floating bakery, kitchen and the main lodge, which has a dining room and lounge.

Nimmo Bay
Boardwalks connect the cottages and the main building at Nimmo Bay Resort.
Nimmo Bay Resort
Nimmo Bay is a haven for fly fishing.

The cottages themselves are luxurious yet cosy with their timber walls and floors, mezzanine bedrooms, comfy sofas and throw rugs.

Mine is right on the river, offering a ringside view of the Canadian wilderness, and judging by the guest list – Richard Branson, George Bush Snr, William Shatner – it has plenty of high-profile takers.

Its remote location means the lodge is a Canadian ecotourism venture by default: it has been recycling since 1981, has used a hydroxyl waste-water treatment system since 2000 and electricity comes from a water-driven turbine mounted at the base of a waterfall.

Nimmo Bay Resort
Oysters at Nimmo Bay Resort.
Nimmo Bay Resort after dinner
Gathering around the fire at Nimmo Bay Resort.

“We adhere to the theory that we don’t own the land; the land owns us. “We are lucky just to be here and act as stewards of this miraculous land that we live and work in,” says owner Craig Murray.

I join the other guests on the jetty for a glass of chardonnay and fresh Fanny Bay oysters before gathering in the dining room for the evening’s meal.

Afterwards, we huddle around the open fire outdoors and listen to our host tell wild tales about wildlife encounters and fishing adventures. 

Salmon fishing adventure

The next morning, after being kitted out in chest-high waterproof waders and rubber boots, I climb into a helicopter along with four other guests.

We hover above 1000-year-old cedar trees and salmon-rich rivers in the Great Bear Forest.

Stretching from Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border, it’s one of the world’s largest remaining temperate rainforests and is home to wolves, cougar, elk and moose.

If you love the outdoors you may want to experience camping on Vancouver Island

Our pilot reels off place names as we fly over Salmon Arm, Long Lake and Smith Inlet – but he is vague about our actual destination.

From a distance, we spot a huge grizzly bear feeding on salmon in a shallow river.

When I ask if we can fly in for a closer look, he refuses.

Nimmo Bay Resort
Fishing at Nimmo Bay is the top activity.
Nimmo Bay Resort
An expert fisherman displays his catch.

He lands the helicopter on a rocky clearing by a fast-flowing river near muddy paw marks, which remind us we are trespassing in grizzly territory.

We learn that the bear is only a few bends away and could reach us in no time at all, which is why the pilot keeps his 12-gauge shotgun close by.

Soon I’m standing in knee-deep water, learning to cast and spin in a river brimming with chinook, coho, sockeye, pink and chum salmon.

Our pilot is an expert at spin fishing and reels in salmon after salmon, talking to each fish like a new lover as he gently removes the hooks and releases them back into the clear water.

When the fish stop biting, we pile back into the helicopter and fly to another fishing spot.

Another place in British Columbia that has the “wow” factor is the lost world of Haida Gwaii.

Lunch on a glacier

As lunchtime approaches, we pack our fishing rods away once more – into the helicopter’s purpose-built hatch.

Nimmo Bay Resort
Nimmo Bay helicopter flight lands on a glacier.

We down at the lodge briefly to pick up the cool boxes then we take off again, this time towards the distant snow-capped mountains.

Hundreds of glaciers sculpt the landscape of British Columbia.

Sadly, like many glaciers in tropical and temperate zones, BC’s glaciers have been retreating for the last century due to climate change.

Helm Glacier in southwest BC and Illecillewaet Glacier in the interior of the province have both retreated by more than 1100m.

These changes in glacier run-off have major consequences for water supplies, hydroelectricity generation and fish populations.

The reduced amount of cold water flowing into mountain streams and rivers during hot summer months may eventually threaten the salmon spawning cycle.

Our helicopter hovers above a small glacier, dwarfed by a vast slow-moving body of snow and ice. This glacier is one of many and doesn’t have a name.

Our pilot sets up a small square table and covers it with a white tablecloth.

He lays out a feast of thick-cut gourmet sandwiches, bottles of beer and wine from the Okanagan Valley.

I dangle my legs over a rocky ledge eating a sandwich and sipping red wine while I soak up the scenery.

Looking for a destination with farm fresh food and good wine? Try BC’s Okanagan Valley between Oliver and Kelowna. Here’s our suggested three-day itinerary.

The contrast of the deep lush valley below and the towering mountain of blue ice and grey rock above is awe-inspiring.

It’s a moment that to me is worth far more than dining in the flashiest restaurant in the most expensive city in the world.

Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort‘s motto (a clever play on Einstein’s famous equation): E2=MC means “expectations exceeded = memories created”.

Nimmo Bay Resort
Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort is one for your bucket list

My expectations at Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort have been well and truly exceeded; definitely squared – maybe even cubed.

I, for one, am totally hooked.

How to get to Nimmo Bay

Charter a floatplane

You can book a private charter floatplane from Vancouver, Tofino, Victoria or Seattle. 

There’s a choice of several companies and types of floatplanes including VIH Execujet’s Cessna Caravan Amphibian, which can put down on land or water, Harbour Air Seaplanes (from Victoria, Nanaimo or Vancouver), Seair Seaplanes from Vancouver and Northwest Seaplanes from Seattle. 

The flight from Vancouver takes around two hours while the flight from Seattle is a little longer, about three hours. 

Vancouver to Port Hardy

The closest airport to Nimmo Bay is Port Hardy Airport (YZT), which is at the northern end of Vancouver Island. You can fly to this airport from the mainland as it’s large enough for 737s to land. Pacific Coastal Airlines and Westjet fly from to Port Hardy.

Another way to get to Port Hardy is to take the ferry from Vancouver. It’s a cheaper alternative and will give you the opportunity to explore other parts of Vancouver Island along the way. 

As Nimmo Bay is in the southern part of the Great Bear Rainforest, From Port Hardy,  you’ll need to transfer to Nimmo Bay by floatplane or helicopter. 

The 20-minute floatplane flight is an experience you won’t want to miss as you’ll see spectacular landscape along the way. Floatplane transfers are $170 CAD per person each way and can be arranged by the resort. 

If you’ve booked a Heli-Fishing or Heli-Venture package helicopter transfers are included in the price. .

Nimmo Bay Lodge in British Columbia
Nimmo Bay Lodge in British Columbia
Nimmo Bay Lodge in British Columbia. #canada #britishcolumbia #nimmobay #lodge #travel #travelguide
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I'm a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia, when I'm not on the road. I've lived in three continents and my career as a travel journalist has taken me to all seven continents. Since 2003, I have contributed travel stories to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. I have won many travel writing awards and I'm a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I have always read that you cannot beat the fishing in Canada. It looks like that is true just by reading through the post that you have here. I might have to take a guided trip there sometime with my husband. It would be a great, new experience.

  2. port alice is easier to access, just turn left after port mcneil and before port hardy, and fishing with a local man, Regan Hickling was a lot cheaper. for those who want to see black bear, otter, seals, deer, humpback, orca, sea lions, bald eagles (fed them and watched them snatch up the cod) and fish for crab, prawn, halibut and a few varieties of salmon I would try there… The area is stunningly beautiful and the fishing is amazing, my partner was asking Regan how long it would take to hook and fish, as Regan was polishing a flasher, hanging it just over the gunneling, and then bang, a salmon grabbed the hook… what a surprise and yes, we kept the fish… barbecued it that evening… the crab traps were full, the prawn traps the same, a perfect day.

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