Lonely Planet Writer

Explore the "Galapagos of Canada" from a floating eco-hotel

Canada is offering eco-travelers a luxury floating lodge experience in the ‘Islands at the Edge of the World’.

The lakeside exterior. Image by Ocean House

Only a handful of places remain in the world that are truly unspoilt. Canada’s Haida Gwaii is one of those places. Roads don’t exist on this rugged archipelago, located 80km off the coast of British Columbia, and the only way in is by plane or boat. Nicknamed the ‘Galapagos of the North’, the islands are teeming with distinct fauna and unique native land mammals which can’t be found anywhere else on earth.

This summer a floating, five-star retreat opened its doors on one of the most remote parts of the islands, allowing visitors to experience its wild and wonderful beauty in a luxury setting. Ocean House is a 12-room resort anchored to a secluded bay in Stads K’uns Gawga, an unspoilt location on the west coast of Moresby Island.

Cedar wood sauna. Image by Ocean House

Built and operated by the Haida – the people who have protected and called the islands home since the end of the last ice age – the resort focuses on sustainable and cultural tourism in a luxury setting. This is a place for visitors to enjoy spectacular scenery, wild adventure, Haida First Nations culture and type of peace that’s only interrupted by whalesong or the rustling of leaves.

Formerly a fishing lodge, the resort went under 18 months of renovation and was brought to life by renowned Haida interior designer Gina Mae Schubert. The rooms make use of the island’s natural materials with cedar wood detailing throughout and bespoke Haida artwork. Shared amenities include a cosy library, media room, spa and a communal lounge with a wood-burning fire and bar – the perfect place to curl up and relax in after a day of adventure. There’s also a studio for artists-in-residence with a weekly rotating roster of carvers, weavers, painters, and storytellers.

Dolphin watch. Image by OceanHouse

Guests can enjoy guided treks through the rainforest, boat trips to spot whales, orcas, sea lions, and otters, as well as guided cultural tours to see totem poles and ruined ancient villages. Dining in the resort is all about fresh, local ingredients and guests are treated to traditional Haida cuisine with a modern twist from the kitchen of celebrated Haida chef Brodie Swanson.

The island’s west coast. Image by OceanHouse

Haida Gwaii used to be known as Xhaaidlagha Gwaayaai – the ‘Islands at the Edge of the World’ – and although it feels a million miles away from urban life, it’s just under a two-hour journey from Vancouver. Guests take a 70-minute plane ride up the coast of British Columbia, before embarking on a 20-minute private helicopter journey to the Ocean House resort from Sandspit Airport.

Forest walk. Image by OceanHouse

Ocean House offers three all-inclusive packages for guests, including a three-night, four-night and seven-night stay, as well as custom group packages for weddings and special occasions.