In our age of information and technology overload, parents are searching for innovative yet simple ways to connect with their children and with one another. At Farewell Harbour Lodge, we create an environment of connection and meaning, through nature, that encourages families to rediscover the quality and depth of their relationships.
Our unique ‘De-Tech, Reconnect’ weekend retreats are dedicated to cultivating healthy, family oriented, nature-based environments for re-connection and reintegration away from technology. These 3 night, 4 day family retreats are led by two seasoned co- facilitators. Ross Laird, Ph.D. is a best-selling author, acclaimed educator and award winning scholar specializing in mental health and youth development. Tim McGrady, M.A. brings over 25 years’ experience as a guide, outdoor educator, and international leadership and communications consultant.
Our program utilizes the latest research on the impact of technology on personal and youth development. We apply emerging trends in experiential, nature-based learning, weaving together innovation and discovery as we help families explore the stunning marine and terrestrial environments of the Great Bear Rainforest that surrounds Farewell Harbour Lodge. The program offers a blend of fun, experiential family, group and individual activity, reflective time in and around the lodge, and engaging evening workshops led by our facilitators. Families also spend unstructured time together, relaxing, exploring, and connecting.
In our age of constant distraction and overwhelming technological immersion, the tasks of nurturing and protecting family relationships are becoming ever more urgent and challenging. At Farewell Harbour, we are dedicated to helping families develop greater resources and fulfillment in those relationships. And, as current research indicates, the natural environment is a uniquely powerful tool for connection, integration, and development. Our goal is to help families and individuals rediscover one another in the act of discovering nature.
The Great Bear Rainforest & Broughton Archipelago
In the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest at the mouth of Knight Inlet, lies an island chain called the Broughton Archipelago renowned not only for its physical beauty but also for its proximity to some of the best Orca and Grizzly viewing on the British Columbia coast. A jewel in this archipelago is Berry Island, most of which lies protected as part of a BC marine conservation area due to its unique natural and cultural history.
Berry Island is also the home of Farewell Harbour Lodge which lies at the epicentre of one of the most biologically active regions on the coast. With eight rooms perched on a bluff at the ocean’s edge overlooking picturesque Farewell Harbour and four more rooms in our floating accommodations below, Farewell Harbour Lodge is centrally located for wildlife safaris to suit all tastes and abilities. Using our comfortable, relaxing west coast inspired lodge as our base, we make daily forays into the Great Bear Rainforest and into famed Johnstone Strait.
Bears, Whales and First Nations Culture
In Johnstone Strait, we witness the sea teeming with wild salmon as they try and elude their mighty predator, the blackfish, or Orca, whose northern resident pods congregate in these waters from July to September as the salmon return to spawn in their natal rivers. Earlier in the spring, we seek out other marine life such as the Steller sea lion, Pacific White Sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoises and Humpback whales.
In our backyard is the southern Great Bear Rainforest with some of the most spectacular and wild rivers on the BC coast, whose wild salmon nourish the planet’s largest intact temperate rainforest. A key benefactor of the annual spectacle of the salmon spawn are the region’s wild grizzly bears. The grizzlies will forage on sedge, roots and berries in the spring and summer in the broad, braided estuaries as they await the fall feast of salmon. Farewell Harbour Lodge takes guests on daily excursions into the heart of these systems in search of wild bears at home in their natural ecosystems.
Of course, a visit to the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest wouldn’t truly be complete without experiencing some of the wealth of First Nations Kwakwaka’wakw (pron. Kwok-walk-a-walk) culture that surrounds us at Farewell Harbour Lodge. The Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations have inhabited this region for thousands of years, developing artistic and cultural traditions that are admired for their subtlety, grace and beauty. Many Kwakwaka’wakw creations were found in some of the world’s leading art museums. Many pieces have now been rightfully repatriated back to their traditional lands and have found a home at U’Mista Gallery in Alert Bay, just a short boat ride from Farewell Harbour Lodge. We offer our guests special opportunities to experience Kwakwaka’wakw art and history as part of our programs if they wish. We are very proud of the partnerships we have established in the region, including with the designer of our logo, Kwamkwamgalis Jason Taylor who descends from the region’s Namgis, Tlowitsis and Mamtagila tribes.
Farewell Harbour Lodge
The lodge, owned and operated by the Brockway and McGrady families, is located in Farewell Harbour on Berry Island on 10 acres of beautifully forested land. With the exception of the lodge property and 3 adjoining acreages, Berry Island is within the border of world renowned Broughton Archipelago Marine Park, which is located between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia with Queen Charlotte Strait to the west and Knight Inlet to the east. Farewell Harbour is a beautiful protected anchorage along the famed inside passage route to Alaska and we may see the twinkling anchor lights of a few yachts moored further out in the bay in the evenings. In fact, Farewell Harbour was named in 1870 by Commander Pender and officers of HMS Beaver, a Royal Navy surveying vessel. It was Commander Pender’s last survey stop and his crew had ‘fared well’ here before also bidding ‘Farewell’ to the BC coast for the long journey around Cape Horn and back to England.
The primary lodge building and common area features a comfortable lounge and dining room, bar and a large brick fireplace surrounded by large windows and a wrap around deck boasting spectacular views of the harbour with its south and west exposure (great sunsets!). The expansive decks continue as a boardwalk along the shore, leading to eight, private oceanside suites with ensuite bathrooms, a cozy stove and two extra-long double size beds. A ramp leads off the main lodge to our floating accommodation featuring four additional rooms each with a private bathroom for twelve rooms in total.
All guest rooms and common areas have unique design features incorporating natural cedar and local materials and art from the area that offer a distinctive, relaxing ‘west coast’ feel.
In addition to our De-Tech & Reconnect retreats Farewell Harbour Lodge offers 4 day all- inclusive packages departing daily from Alder Bay on northern Vancouver Island to Farewell Harbour and into the heart of the rainforest featuring a full day marine excursion in search of marine mammals and a full day excursion in search of bears. Our De-Tech & Reconnect retreats blend our unique retreat programming with the best parts of our wildlife program for maximum benefit.
Guests who have a vehicle can connect with our tours in Alder Bay where the Farewell Harbour water taxi awaits to whisk you the short ride across Johnstone Strait directly to the lodge. Alder Bay, on Vancouver Island, is a short drive on a well maintained road off of Highway 19 near Telegraph Cove, just south of Port McNeill. Free parking is provided for guests courtesy of Farewell Harbour Lodge.
For guests without a vehicle, or connecting direct via Vancouver Airport, we operate a complimentary shuttle service direct from the Port Hardy Airport to Alder Bay and our waiting water taxi. The shuttle takes approximately 35 minutes from Port Hardy Airport to Alder Bay.
Upon arrival at Farewell Harbour Lodge, you’ll be warmly greeted by our staff and provided with a short orientation, a snack and then settled into your rooms before heading out onto the water for an afternoon marine mammal viewing excursion or optional sea kayak paddle in the protected waters around the lodge. After your afternoon excursion, join your fellow travellers in our dining room for a sumptuous supper. After supper, sit fireside in the lounge for a fun and experiential session with Ross and Tim that will help foster connection and meaning.
The following day, after an early morning breakfast, you will head out on your first full-day excursion.
Our bear viewing excursions can take us deep into one of several different river systems in search of wild bears. We typically travel 90 minutes to a system by a covered water taxi before disembarking onto one or two smaller zodiacs. By zodiac we will motor quietly or propel silently under oar to position ourselves for optimal viewing of bears foraging on the river or in the estuaries. In some systems, we will disembark the zodiacs and proceed on foot or on small motorized vehicle and explore the lush rainforest in search of bears. We seek bears in their natural environment and view from small zodiac or from land on the same eye level as the wildlife around us. We can’t guarantee sightings but our trained staff benefit from many years of experience with bears in the wild.
Our marine excursions take us into famed Johnstone Strait. Literally at our front door, Johnstone Strait is renowned for its Northern Resident Orca population. The Orca come into these waters mid to late July and stay into late September and early October although exact timings can change from year to year. Prior to July and continuing throughout our season, our marine excursions take us on a search for majestic Humpback whales, thrilling Dall’s porpoises or Pacific White Sided dolphins in addition to the many Bald Eagles and seabirds. Our marine excursions can also afford an opportunity to learn about the cultural traditions of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations as we pass ancient villages sites, mysterious and moving rock art called pictographs and other evidence of a rich history and vibrant presence in the region.
Throughout your stay Ross and Tim will seamlessly weave themes of connection and meaning using nature as the tie that binds. Ample reflection time will be provided throughout the day and evenings in addition to the sessions that Ross and Tim will lead.
Our last day affords one more opportunity for a short morning powerboat excursion or an opportunity to relax around the lodge, try sea kayaking, go on a rainforest walk or fish off our dock before the water taxi for the short trip back to Alder Bay and ongoing connections. Once again, our complimentary shuttle can transport guests back to Port Hardy Airport for flight connections back to Vancouver Airport.
Anyone over the age of 10 years old who is active and mobile with curiosity, passion and a desire to embrace nature away from technology is suitable for our tours.
2018 Retreat Date & Inclusions
2018 Retreat Dates Shoulder Season: May 31 - June 3 2018
Guests may depart from either Alder Bay or purchase an add-on and fly direct from Vancouver to Port Hardy. Farewell Harbour Lodge reservations office books the Vancouver to Port Hardy flights with Pacific Coastal Airlines.
De-Tech & Reconnect Program (3 night / 4 day package)
Round trip water taxi from Alder Bay to Farewell Harbour Lodge and complimentary round trip ground shuttle from Port Hardy Airport or hotels to Alder Bay if required
4 days/3 nights accommodation in private room at Farewell Harbour Lodge with private ensuite bathroom and shower
Welcome briefing and orientation to the program, tours, viewing opportunities and facilities
All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and snacks starting with lunch on day 1 and ending with lunch on day 4
All transportation on all wildlife excursions
Marine tour excursion on arrival day
One full day excursion to one of our grizzly viewing areas
One full day on marine tour excursion or an additional grizzly viewing excursion
Short optional excursion on marine tour or sea kayaking on departure day
Presentations/slideshows and mini-workshops by Ross Laird and Tim McGrady
- BC Government Hotel Tax
- $10 per person carbon offset fee (see our website for more details on our carbon offset program)
Rates are per person in $CDN; child rates are based on the child staying in a room with two double guests.
Double Occupancy: $4155
Single Occupancy: $5765
Triple Occupancy: $2950
Child (10-16): $2710
Not Included in pricing:
5% Goods & Services Tax (GST)
Gratuity for lodge staff (recommended $30.00 per day per guest)
Items of a personal nature while at the lodge (laundry, alcoholic beverages except wine with dinner etc.)
Daily Departure Times
Our programs begin and end at Alder Bay Resort 15km south of Port McNeill on Vancouver Island. For a map of Alder Bay Resort, and to easily get driving distances and times from various locations on Vancouver Island, see this link.
On arrival in Alder Bay, guests should check in at Farewell Harbour Lodge Reception. Complimentary parking is available for Farewell Harbour Lodge guests. Guests can obtain a parking pass from Reception.
The package includes round trip water taxi transport from Alder Bay to Farewell Harbour. You will depart Alder Bay Resort at 12 noon via water taxi arriving at Farewell Harbour Lodge at approximately 1230pm.
For your boat transfer to Farewell Harbour you must check in at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. Guests are permitted 23 kgs (50 lbs) per person of checked baggage. Guests may leave excess baggage in our secure storage at Alder Bay. Please contact us if you require a shuttle to or from the Port Hardy Airport or local hotels. Our complimentary hotel and airport shuttle offers pick up at Port Hardy Airport meeting the first Pacific Coastal Airlines flight of the day from Vancouver every day. Pick ups from local hotels are between 930am and 1030am daily. Please contact our office to schedule a pick up.
Last Day Logistics
On the last day of the package, we will have guests back in Alder Bay about midday for ongoing connections.
Farewell Harbour Lodge offers round trip air options for guests wishing to depart directly from Vancouver International Airport’s South Terminal (YVR South). The pricing for this option is $475 plus 5% GST and includes complimentary ground transport from Port Hardy Airport to our water taxi base at Alder Bay.
Booking And Cancellation Policy
When making your booking please inform us of any health concerns or special dietary needs. As well, if you have any allergies we must be notified prior to arrival. All guests will be required to sign a waiver prior to joining us on our tours.
The waiver can be viewed here.
$500.00 CDN deposit per person at time of booking with balance due 45 days prior to arrival
From time of booking a $125 per person fee applies to cancellations or reservation date changes; if the Vancouver Add-On is booked there is a $185 per person fee for any flight cancellations, date changes or name changes
45 - 90 days prior to arrival: $500 per person cancellation fee
30 - 44 days prior to arrival: 60% of package price per person cancellation fee
0 - 29 days prior to arrival: no refund
We strongly recommend that all of our guests purchase cancellation insurance.
Bookings Contact Information
To make a booking please get in touch with our reservations office.
1111 Sandpines Crescent
Comox, BC · Canada · V9M 3V3
On the web at farewellharbour.com
We can secure the booking with a $500 per person deposit which is payable by Visa or MasterCard, check or wire transfer. Once your space is confirmed we will send you confirmation details.
Smoking and Scent Policy
Please note that smoking is not permitted inside any of our buildings, on our vessels or during our wildlife excursions. Bears in particular have one of the keenest senses of smell of any mammal and smoke can affect our viewing opportunities. We have a designated covered smoking area at the lodge. Likewise we ask guests to restrict the use of scented products and perfume while out on bear excursions.
Please note all guests will be required to sign the waiver. It can be viewed and completed online here.
Below is a sample itinerary for our De-Tech & Reconnect package. The actual itinerary may vary based on guests’ interests, weather and wildlife activity. Farewell Harbour Lodge reserves the right to adjust these itineraries based on these variables. Creating memorable experiences in the Great Bear Rainforest is our ultimate goal.
De-Tech & Reconnect Itinerary (4 days/3 nights)
Day 1: Depart Alder Bay at 12 noon aboard our water taxi for the scenic 30 minute service to Farewell Harbour. Greet Farewell Harbour Lodge staff at the dock. Check in, receive welcome orientation and lunch. Relax, you’re here! After settling into accommodations, join an afternoon tour in search of marine wildlife in the waters of the famous Johnstone Strait and Robson Bight Ecological Reserve. Return to the lodge by 430pm. Buffet dinner at 6pm, followed by next day activity briefing. Evening presentation at 7pm by Ross and Tim.
Day 2: After breakfast, meet on the dock at 8am for first full day bear viewing adventure to one of our main grizzly viewing estuaries! Our bear viewing takes us to one of several estuaries where we view either from a zodiac or on foot depending on the tide. Throughout the day we will weave in our themes of connection and meaning using fun, experiential tools. Return by 430pm; buffet dinner at 6pm followed by evening workshop by Ross and Tim.
Day 3: 7am breakfast, then on the water at 8am for your choice of another bear viewing safari or a more extensive exploration of the the incredibly rich waters of Johnstone Strait and the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve. Orcas typically return to these waters mid July although Humpbacks and other marine life can often be seen throughout our season. Return by 430pm for dinner and evening program.
Day 4: Choose from one of the following options:
A short morning sea kayak excursion in the protected and crystalline waters near Farewell Harbour Lodge
A marine mammal excursion
Guided interpretive rainforest hike
Return to the lodge for the water taxi back to Alder Bay, arriving about midday for ongoing connections.