Finding Nimmo

Anna, our Canadian specialist, recalls her time in Canada at Nimmo Bay and the magical experiences she had there.

The title may seem like a groan inducing play on words, however, Nimmo is pronounced “Nemo” so really it is as it sounds.  Nimmo isn’t easy to find though and that’s its particular charm. Reached by a seaplane or helicopter from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island, you truly feel you have arrived in the heart of the Canadian wilderness, yet with just enough luxuries to make it wonderfully comfortable and I must admit, homely.

Alert Bay (3)

Albert Bay

My trip to Nimmo was to be a brief one. Just two nights and one full day to explore this amazing place, time was of the essence. We travelled into the bay by boat to take advantage of some of the activities along the way.  First stop, Alert Bay where our First Nation guides took us on a journey around a fascinating community where we learned about the terrible oppression they suffered as recently as 40 years ago and how their communities are now recovering. We visited a “Big House” home to their celebratory Polcatch ceremonies and saw the tallest Totem pole in the world.

Alert Bay totems

Albert Bay totem poles

We proceed on our journey through the stunning fjord-like waterways that are to transport us to our final destination.  Eyes peeled for black bears down by the waterline, as well as whales, dolphins and majestic eagles. We turn a final corner and with an awe-inspired sigh, Nimmo Bay looms ahead.  There’s little time to settle in to our accommodations, just a quick peak through to admire the amazing setting and cosy interiors, before returning to the main part of the lodge for evening appetizers.

Nimmo ouotdoor seating

Comfy evening seating at Nimmo Bay

Nimmo appetizers

Delicious appetizers

The evening is clear with just a slight nip in the air as we all gather on the edge of the pontoon around the crackling fire pit. Comfy chairs with fleecy blankets await us as we enjoy a pre-dinner drink and chat over the day’s events. We tuck in to fresh sockeye salmon appetizers with much appreciation and delight before eventually, we are ushered into the lodge dining room and lounge for the main event. Three large tables await us, this is a social place and guests often dine together, enthusing about their day’s activities. Beautifully set and candle-lit, this is a warm welcoming space and perfect for the feast that awaits us. The wine flows and the food surpasses all our expectations, fresh halibut, pork that melts in the mouth, fresh salads decorated with edible flowers and tempting deserts of panna cotta and poppy seed cake with lashings of mascarpone. At the end of dinner as we are all in danger of slipping into a food coma, one of the guides, Francisco, asks us what we would like to do tomorrow.  There’s so much choice and we opt for a pre-breakfast kayak, the morning on the water and the afternoon in the helicopter.

Nimmo from kayak

Nimmo from the kayak

It’s not usually this fast paced, guests can take their time and really enjoy the experience, however, we only have one full day to see everything. Tonight is an early night, we forego the late night hot tub experience at the base of the waterfall for our beds, drifting off into sleep to the sound of the water gently lapping on the rocks.

We rise early and by 6.45am we’re in the drying room being kitted out with wind jackets for our pre-breakfast kayak.  Francisco eases us into kayaking gently but quickly, ensuring we all have hot tea or coffee in our cup holders to stem off the early morning chill. The tide is going out so we could get lucky and see some black bears, we paddle to some of the favourite spots of our furry friends through crystal clear water but alas, we don’t spot anything, however, it’s wonderful to be out on the glassy fjord, enjoying the stillness and fresh crisp air.

We return for breakfast, a hearty feast of fresh fruit, homemade granola, pancakes, scones, sausages and some of the best bacon I’ve had outside of the UK!  Full to brimming, it’s time to head out by boat to explore the inlets in search of local wildlife. We’re in luck, with the lodge owner Fraser at the helm, it is only a short time before we’re powering down the motor and gently drifting in toward a distant beach.  A black blob is definitely moving, turning over the stones with his giant paw in search of tasty morsels left behind by the waning tide. We drift ever closer, he turns and sniffs the air but seems unperturbed by our presence, continuing his search across the beach. We are so close we can hear him crunching on a shell of some sort and the sound of the large rocks as he turns them over as if they were made of paper mache. We sit and watch in awe for a good 20 minutes before Fraser slowly reverses the boat away from him and we continue with our day.


Spotted – a black bear on the waterline

Next, we head in to Queen Charlotte Sound.  Our search is for whales and it is only a short time before we are rewarded by a great plume of water shooting up in front of us.  A flapping tail follows and then another, it’s a mother and cub humpback whale.  This is amazing to watch as they disappear in front of us and we hurriedly scan the waters for them.  They emerge once again a couple of minutes later and the next hour is spent tracking them as they swim along the coast.  We finally lose them in the rocks and turn back for lunch.

We potter to Echo Bay for a visit to Billy’s museum and a picnic to fill our grumbling bellys. Billy has lived in Echo Bay since 1961 and is testament to the simple pleasures that life can be.  Sat next to him is Nicky, a pretty woman with striking bright blue eyes. As we munch on roast beef sandwiches, we listen as she tells us of her need to be part of the wilderness. She’s a fascinating woman who’s spent years living just off the wilderness and what it brings to her. She has amazing stories and we are hanging on every word, luckily she’s also written a book which I’ve since bought, otherwise, we’d have been there for the rest of the day.


The awaiting helicopter

Time is marching on and it’s time for the helicopter.  Tim,our pilot, has been flying in this area for 8 years, which is amazing as he looks so very young himself! We settle in to the helicopter which he has literally plonked down in the back of someone’s garden and strap ourselves in for the second half of our day.  This is where I must admit to my own shortcoming.  I’m not a great flyer and don’t like helicopters and so agreed that I would come along for just the first 10 minute journey across the fjords and peaks back to the lodge.  It was incredible, however, I was glad to be back on solid ground and with a heavy heart, I jumped out and waved the others goodbye.

When they returned they were full of stories of incredible flying over mountain tops, landing on the snow-filled glacier and flying low to look for bears and whales, after suddenly seeing a bear, Tim swooped them around and down for a closer look.  They landed by rivers full of salmon and trout and near pristine waterfalls with no other way of getting there but by air. It sounded amazing, I was sad to have missed it, but unfortunately, such is my lot in life.


Anna braving the helicopter!

The next morning we were to return to reality, in style though, by seaplane from which we had a bird’s eye view of around 100 dolphins down below, with the most amazing memories of our time at Nimmo Bay. We’ll all be back, we have to, there’s so much more to see and experience there, the fishing, the kayaking, the hiking, the paddle boarding, the snorkelling in summer…the list goes on.  Most of all though; Fraser, Becky and the team’s wonderfully warm welcome that ensures you will never forget this extremely special place.

If you’d like to “Find Nimmo”, give one of our North America specialists a call on 020 8682 5030 or visit

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