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The Short Version: Spirit of the West Adventures has spent the last 20 years organizing all-inclusive kayak tours and inviting people to experience the splendor of the coast of British Columbia. Friendly and knowledgeable guides take people into the wilderness and set up remote sites with everything they need to feel at home. In recent years, Spirit of the West has expanded its tours to take guests to more off-the-beaten-path destinations, including Chile, the Bahamas, and Greenland. You can take a romantic getaway to these shores to enjoy home-cooked meals, wildlife sightings, and educational, eco-friendly tours. On a Spirit of the West excursion, you can create lasting memories while surrounded by the unrivaled beauty of nature.
In late September 2017, Ananda K. and her husband went on a glamping (glamorous camping) trip on the coast of British Columbia. Spirit of the West Adventures handled the logistics of setting up a comfortable camp, preparing delicious meals, and leading kayaking expeditions, so all Ananda and her husband had to do was remember to bring the binoculars to help them spot wildlife.
“We were rewarded with more animal sightings than ever on this trip,” Ananda said in a five-star review. “So happy to see the humpback population doing so well, even treating us to an acrobatic breach which left everyone with lifetime memories.”
Amanda said they slept well, ate heartily, and came away with a magical experience.
Since 1997, Spirit of the West has invited couples, like Amanda and her husband, to forget their everyday cares and gain a greater appreciation for the beauty, wonder, and serenity of nature.
The husband and wife team who own the travel company understand the inherent romance of these trips. Breanne Quesnel and Rick Snowdon met when they were working as kayak guides for a travel company, and they bonded over their shared passion for outdoor exploration. Starting their own kayaking tours seemed like a natural fit for the pair. They now own Spirit of the West and organize kayaking trips in British Columbia, Chile, the Bahamas, and Greenland — and they’re always looking to expand.
Couples can go on these intimate trips to enjoy a wilderness adventure under the care of experienced and personable guides. Spirit of the West gives people the chance to unplug and unwind in a breathtaking outdoor environment.
“I always thought a camping trip is a good tester for a relationship,” Breanne said. “You get out of your comfort zone, and that shows a person’s true colors.”
Based in Quadra Island in the northern Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Spirit of the West Adventures endeavors to showcase the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. The company specializes in wildlife-focused tours on British Columbia’s coastal areas, but it has also expanded to include kayak tours to Chilean Patagonia, the Bahamas, and Greenland.
People of all ages, from 5 to 92, have gone on guided trips through scenic waterways and untamed wilderness. Spirit of the West aims to please people of all experience levels and backgrounds.
Breanne said the company’s most popular and accessible tour is Whales and Wilderness Glamping, a four-day kayak tour of Blackfish Sound on northern Vancouver Island. Blackfish Sound was named after the killer whales that frequent the nutrient-rich waters, so visitors often get close-up views of orcas and humpback whales. And they don’t have to leave the comforts of home behind during the trip.
Spirit of the West goes the extra mile to ensure guests are comfortable on this tour. The spacious white tents furnished with two twin beds or a king-size bed that have six-inch soya foam mattresses. The basecamp also has a wood-fired hot tub, a hot shower, and a coastal library to help guests relax after a busy day of whale watching. A full-time professional chef prepares all the meals on the Glamping tour — just to take things up a notch.
“You’re still getting out to see the wildlife,” Breanne explained, “but you’re doing it in style.”
Couples can ask for the honeymoon tent which is a little further from the main camp so they can have some added privacy. The kayak guides can also arrange for couples to have a private dinner in a scenic spot. If you let them know you’re celebrating a special occasion, they can make arrangements, such as sending flowers or a bottle of champagne to your tent, to make the tour more romantic and enjoyable.
Exploring the wilderness from a kayak is certainly a unique experience, but what makes Spirit of the West Adventures’ tours truly special is the knowledge and affability of its wilderness guides.
From preparing breakfast in the morning to telling campfire stories at night, the kayak guides take good care of guests on the tours and make sure everyone has what they need to have a great time in the outdoors.
“Everyone does it because they love it,” Breanne said. “Our team has a range of experiences and backgrounds. They’re all interesting people, who are obviously skilled at what they do, and they bring their own stories and personalities to their work.”
Spirit of the West employs over a dozen experienced guides who can adapt to adverse weather conditions and solve problems with a positive can-do attitude.
“We can’t control the weather or the wildlife,” Breanne said, “but we can control the food, staff, and facilities, so we try to get those things right.”
“Essentially you are staying in a hotel room that happens to be under canvas,” said lesd50 on TripAdvisor. “Between kayaking explorations, we were pampered at the base camp with hot showers, hot tub, snacks in an open-air lounge before supper.”
In August 2017, just in time for the solar eclipse, Sausti traveled to the Johnstone Strait with her husband to celebrate their anniversary, and Spirit of the West Adventures made sure they had an outstanding experience. “A big factor that contributes to these trips being so wonderful is the guides,” she said in a review on TripAdvisor. Sausti and her husband saw humpback whales, orcas, dolphins, sea lions, and other animals while on excursions planned by knowledgeable outdoor experts.
“It was well worth it! My husband and I don’t often do group trips, but this is the perfect scenario to do one,” she said. “We were sad to leave such beauty.”
“It was a truly magical trip, and we made memories that will last a lifetime.” — Erika Dallimore, a guest of Spirit of the West Adventures
Another reviewer called Whales and Wilderness Glamping “the trip of a lifetime.” Vawaterdr went with his wife and a group of friends to experience the outdoors without roughing it too much. “We will definitely return for another vacation,” he said. “It is a great way to get away from everything for four days.”
Sophia Romano said she had to convince her partner to go on the kayak tour of the Johnstone Strait, but he ended up enjoying it so much that he’s already planning to book another tour. “We saw so much wildlife, so many birds, seals, whales! We had orcas come so close to the boat,” she said in a Facebook review. “I honestly can’t thank the tour guides, Todd and Brandon, enough. They made the trip so exciting and such a learning experience.”
“This is one remarkable experience. Two out of three mornings we woke up to the sound of Humpbacks just offshore from our tent.” — Foodtwosome in a review on TripAdvisor
Sustainable travel and environmental awareness is essential to the mission of Spirit of the West. The guides share a lot of information about what everyday actions people can take to protect the environment and its wildlife. For instance, they give everyone a souvenir travel mug at the start of the trip to reduce the waste of using plastic cups.
“We’re always trying to tie sustainability and environmental education to what we do and show people ways they can help,” Breanne said. “We empower people to make positive changes in their lives — without being preachy.”
Amanda K. said that after their wondrous expedition with Spirit of the West Adventures, she and her husband can’t wait to go on another kayak tour. The romanticism of being out in the wilderness together is appealing to many outdoorsy couples. Spirit of the West’s guided tours provide the perfect balance between outdoor exploration and personal comfort, allowing guests to witness the wonder of the great outdoors without a lot of effort and planning.
During these kayak tours, you can remove yourself from the distractions of daily life and reconnect with your partner in a gorgeous part of the world. It’s a chance to see incredible sights, enjoy a unique experience, and make lasting memories with your loved ones.
“We love the area and want to share it with people,” Breanne said. “We give people the opportunity to step out of their normal lives and cultivate a greater appreciation for the coast. I really believe it feeds your soul to be out there.”
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